§ Mr. Speaker
Before I call the Lord Privy Seal, I think I should indicate to the House.that I have selected for consideration the Amendment standing in the name of the Leader of the Opposition and other right hon. and hon. Gentlemen.
§ 3.31 pm.
§ The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Edward Heath)
I beg to move,That this House reaffirms its decision of 3rd August, 1961, and urges Her Majesty's Government to use every effort to bring the negotiations to a conclusion acceptable to Parliament.The Motion refers back to the Motion of August of last year, which set out the task which we have to pursue in these negotiations to see Whether satisfactory arrangements can be made to meet the special interests of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the European Free Trade Association. That Motion went on to give the pledges of Her Majesty's Government to Parliament that no agreement affecting these special interests or British sovereignty will be entered into until it has been approved by this House after full consultation with other Commonwealth countries by whatever procedure they may generally agree. These remain the pledges of Her Majesty's Government, to which the Government will fully adhere.
This is the first opportunity that I have had of reporting fully on the course of the negotiations since the debate last June. I was sorry to be absent from the debate in July, but, as the House knows, the negotiations were in progress in Brussels. In the June debate I endeavoured to explain to the House the background to the negotiations and the characteristics of the Community with Which we were negotiating and the influence that had on the solutions we were trying to find. I endeavoured to set this in the context of the political and economic considerations which governed the decision of Her Majesty's Government to enter into these negotiations.
This afternoon I do not propose to go over that ground again. I do not propose to discuss the general considerations; these have been much debated in public 976 recently. The second reason fox not doing so is the nature of the Amendment tabled by the Leader of the Opposition and 'his right hon. and hon. Friends. To take up the first sentence, the amendmentwould support the entry of Great Britain into the European Economic Community provided thatcertain arrangements were made.
Therefore, it seems to me that this means that the Tight hon. Gentleman and his right hon. and hon. Friends accept, broadly speaking, the general conception of the European Economic Community and, provided that the arrangements can be made, that it is in the interests of Britain and of the Commonwealth to enter into the European Economic Community. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I say that some of us found it rather difficult to discern in his speech at Brighton the earnest support for this approach; but that means that it is with all the greater pleasure that we shall listen to what he has to say today when he moves the Amendment.
It therefore seems that there is general ground between, let us say, the majorities of the three parties in the House today. The differences of view are about the arrangements which should be made for entry into the Community. There may be also differences of judgment about the arrangements which have so far been made, but it becomes clear that the decision rests on the arrangements which are made and the final judgment upon them. That is the reason, therefore, why I propose to devote the greater part of my speech today to a detailed examination of the arrangements which have so far been made in these negotiations.
I should like to say something about the state of the negotiations with each of the three Communities, and then deal with the position of the E.F.T.A. countries. I want, thirdly, to say something about 'the matter raised by the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends concerned with planning and public ownership, and, fourthly, to comment on the present situation regarding political union, which, of course, includes foreign policy.
I turn to the provisional arrangements which have so fax been made. It is perhaps rather surprising that there should 977 be any attempt to form a judgment upon these provisional arrangements as they are at the moment. They are all incomplete. I would ask right hon. Gentlemen opposite why it is that they should want to pass a judgment upon provisional arrangements at this moment, and without having had the opportunity of reading the texts of the arrangements, which can, of course, be published only at the conclusion of the negotiations.
I wonder whether it is a misunderstanding of what was our objective at the end of July. We then had the objective of achieving an outline over the whole negotiations. It was agreed by all the countries taking part in the negotiations that we should have this objective.
I have no doubt at all that the fact that we set ourselves that objective enabled us to achieve much more in the negotiations jointly in that time than would otherwise have been the case. But I must emphasise again that there was no question of a dateline against which we were negotiating. That was itself proven by the fact that when we reached the stage where it was necessary to have an adjournment for the summer holidays, we adjourned although we had not reached our objective of achieving the outline. In fact, we achieved about two-thirds of the outline over the whole field. The remainder has still to be negotiated.
I have endeavoured to give progress reports to the House about each stage of the negotiation, but I should like to tell the right hon. Gentleman that the progress report which was published in August after the August meeting was not meant to be a definitive exposition of the position in the negotiations or of all the arrangements which had been reached in detail. I hope, therefore, that there will be no misunderstanding about that.
§ Mr. Heath
The Prime Ministers were never told that this was the definitive position of the negotiations. In their communique they recognised that the negotiations were incomplete and that judgment could be passed only when the negotiations were completed. However, 978 it is the case that what we had been able to negotiate provided sufficient information for a full and detailed discussion at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.
As a result of the points which the Commonwealth Prime Ministers made then, both in general and in detail, I explained to each of the members of the Community bilaterally, either on the visits of their own Ministers to London or in their capitals, exactly what were the points Which the Commonwealth Prime Ministers had raised. In particular, I emphasised the two themes running through the speeches of so many of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers. The first was the urgent need to find markets for the industrial goods of the developing countries, and the second was the need to deal with the problems of surpluses of foodstuffs and other raw materials produced by not only the developing, but also the developed Commonwealth countries.
Let me come to the details of the arrangements which we provisionally negotiated. I must apologise to the House for going into some detail, but if judgments are to be passed at this stage it is important that the House should realise what is the content, so far, of each arrangement. I turn' first to the question of the arrangements for association under Part Four of the Treaty of Rome. There is to be a new convention which, over the past few months, has been freely negotiated with the existing 18 associates of the European Economic Community.
Let me describe what the convention does. First, in the trade sphere it enables the countries to sell in the Community countries without hindrance all their produce, be it raw material, foodstuffs, or industrial goods which they are developing. They have, therefore, a preference against the outside world in their sales to the Community.
These preferences in this renegotiation have been reduced by between 25 and 40 per cent. When we expressed our views about this, we urged this upon the Community because we believed that it was in the interests of the other developing countries of the world, in particular, South America and Central America.
979 Secondly, the new convention arranges for a development fund for aid and development in the associates of 800 million dollars over five years. Thirdly, it arranges for institutions, in other words, a Counciil of Ministers, possibly an assembly and a court of justice, in which the Ministers from the associates and from the Community will be represented with equal status.
This arrangement gives undoubted economic advantages to the associates. We negotiated the offer from the Community to all our dependencies, with the exception of Hong Kong, Aden and the High Commission Territories which have special problems with which we are now dealing. This means about 10 million people. In addition, the offer was made to the independent Commonwealth countries of Africa and the West Indies, about 62 million people, an offer altogether for 72 million people covering almost all the dependencies and the African and West Indian Commonwealth.
The effect would have been to safeguard their interests in the United Kingdom entirely. It would have been to remove the discrimination which exists against them at the moment in the European Economic Community, and this is important when one sees that, for example, 38 per cent. of Ghana's cocoa goes to the Community and 12 per cent. to the United Kingdom, or in the case of Nigeria, 33 per cent. to the Community and 26 per cent. to the United Kingdom, or, in the case of Tanganyikan coffee, 32 per cent. to the Community and 7 per cent. to the United Kingdom. It is, therefore, desirable to remove this discrimination. What is more, in addition to safeguarding their interests in the United Kingdom, it would have opened up the whole of the enlarged Community market to them.
This, therefore, was an economic arrangement without any political contentofany kind. The institutions which are to be formed can discuss the economic arrangements as is appropriate, but there is no political content. As the House knows, Trinidad and Tobago wish to accept the offer. Jamaica and Sierra Leone are considering it further in regard to certain special commodities, sugar and citrus. Nigeria, Ghana and Tanganyika do not wish to accept the offer.
980 This is naturally a matter for regret to us. It semed to many of us in negotiating this that this was an opportunity for removing at least some of the divisions in Africa which Europe has often been blamed for creating in the nineteenth century. It would not have removed them all, but we were not claiming to do that. The barriers between former French, Belgian, Dutch and Italian territories have been removed, and here was an opportunity of removing more of them. It is a matter of great regret that not all of that opportunity is being seized.
In his speech at Brighton, the right hon. Gentleman blamed French policy for this. The arrangements for association are Community policy. I do not wish now to enter into any discussion of the rights and wrongs of the policy of any particular colonial Power in the past, but Community policy in association must be separated from the policies which any of the former colonial Powers still follow towards the territories which were formerly associated with them. In other words, I have no doubt that the Commonwealth countries which accept association will expect us in the Council of Ministers and in other spheres if we become members to do our utmost to look after their interests, and quite rightly so. But that must be distinguished from any bilateral policies which we pursue towards Commonwealth countries, or which any other Power pursues.
The position now is that we proceed to negotiate alternative arrangements for the countries which do not wish to accept association. The right hon. Gentleman also said that these countries must not be penalised. There is no question of penalising a Commonwealth country which has decided not to accept association. Our endcavour is to negotiate alternative trading arrangements to protect their interests. At the first Brussels meeting, in October, I put forward certain guide lines to deal with this—that we must avoid damage to the economic interests of these countries, that we must take account of the interests of the existing and future associates which have undertaken the economic obligations of association, and that we must also look after the interests of 981 the Commonwealth countries in particular commodities where they have not been offered association.
At the last Brussels meeting, I made proposals that there should be trade agreements or commercial arrangements with these Commonwealth countries and interim arrangements of various kinds meantime. I further asked that the opportunity to apply for association should be kept open for them, so that if there were a change in their policy, they should be able to come to the enlarged Community and ask that association should be arranged for them.
The present association consists of 55 million people. The additional associates for which the offer was made by the Community total 72 million people. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends and other hon. Members would like to bear this fact in mind when they are considering whether or not the Community is outward looking in making suitable economic arrangements for the underdeveloped countries of Africa, the West Indies and the dependencies.
To sum up, therefore, economically this arrangement safeguarded the interests of these countries and opened up much wider markets to them.
I now turn to the arrangements for India, Pakistan and Ceylon. These consist of a number of individual arrangements in what might be termed a package. The first thing that I wish to discuss is the offer of comprehensive trade agreements. The right hon. Gentleman treated this with a certain amount of scorn and said that it was just an airy-fairy promise. It is nothing of the sort. It is a solemn obligation by the countries who would have to put their signature to it. The purpose of this trade agreement is to develop mutual trade for the purpose of maintaining and as much as possible increasing the level of foreign currency receipts of those countries, and, in general, facilitating the implementation of their development plans.
That, therefore, is a firm purpose—to maintain overall their foreign currency earnings and as much as possible to increase them. It is in the light of that undertaking that the other arrangements must be examined. This is, I believe, the 982 first time that an offer of a trade agreement with a binding obligation of that kind has been made to any country. No British Government has made an offer of that kind to a Commonwealth country, to make a trade agreement to maintain, and as much as possible increase, foreign exchange earnings. This is the importance of the offer which is being made.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
This is a very important point. Do I understand from what the right hon. Gentleman says that if trade agreements are not reached which safeguard these purposes Her Majesty's Government will then be free to retain the existing Commonwealth preferences? If not, is he really pretending to compare the concessions which we have already agreed to make with vague promises for the future?
§ Mr. Heath
The hon. Gentleman refers to vague promises. I would have thought that he would have realised that Governments which make a promise of this kind are binding themselves with a very firm undertaking, and I have no doubt at all that the Governments of India, Pakistan, and of an enlarged Community are in earnest in negotiating a trade agreement of this kind.
§ Mr. Heath
I am coming to the question whether we should be free or not, because this deals with the Leader of the Opposition's point that these agreements ought to be negotiated before we go into the Community.
The arrangement for these agreements is that they should be concluded as soon as possible, that it should be not later than the end of 1966. This arrangement was made at the specific request of India, who wishes to be free to carry on negotiations until the end of 1966, again for a perfectly valid reason, that in that year, 1966, there will be qualified majority voting in the Community and not unanimous voting.
The agreement will be valid for a number of years and renewable. The means which can be used are set out in the arrangements, tariff policy, export policy, quota policy, the development of financial relations, and private investment, as well as technical assistance. The trade agreement therefore covers the 983 whole of that field. [Interruption.]If the hon. Gentleman is going to carry on negotiations on the basis that everybody is working in bad faith, it will be impossible to negotiate at all.
§ Mr. Heath
No, I will not give way.
What I want to say on this point is that a trade agreement of this kind safeguards the trade of these countries, not only into the United Kingdom, which is the obligation which we are negotiating, but into the whole of the enlarged Community, and that with us outside the Community there would be no obligation of this kind between the Community and these three countries.
I turn now to the transitional and special arrangements which we have made. First, on cotton textiles. The House well knows that this is the most difficult single item with which to deal in negotiations. What has been negotiated here is a special and gradual rate of application of the tariff in four stages. First, there is an application of 20 per cent., which means, in fact, that the first application of the tariff will be between 3 and 3½ per cent. as an absolute tariff, which is a low tariff when one takes into account imports of Indian and Pakistan textiles.
But the important part of this arrangement is that if the trade in these items from these countries suffers in the United Kingdom, then remedial action has to be taken to redress that balance. That action is taken by the Commission making proposals, and the Council of Ministers deciding, or within two months by the Commission giving the United Kingdom authority to take the remedial action herself, and I suggest to the House that a period of two months is a short time in trade matters in which to take remedial action on figures which have to be analysed and the proper action worked out.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I am interested in the effect of this on Lancashire, because it would seem that if some remedial action were permitted and, therefore, became as it were compulsive on the Government to make good in this country any losses those countries suffered on the Continent, 984 this would inevitably be at the expense of the Lancashire industry.
§ Mr. Heath
The hon. Gentleman has raised an important point. Throughout the negotiations on textiles we have had to have in the forefront of our mind the interests of the Commonwealth and of the textile producers in this country, but perhaps I could come on to the arrangements governing the United Kingdom situation in a moment.
If the exports drop below the base line of 1959–60—we have specifically negotiated to miss out 1961, which was the year the right hon. Gentleman took for his comparisons at Brighton of the imports into the Community from these countries, which was a bad year, which is why they asked us to omit it—action has to be taken. This is allowing each year for the 5 per cent. growth rate under the Geneva Textile Agreement, a point on which the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) has always shown particular interest, but this remedial action is for the whole of the Community and not just for the United Kingdom. Once again, therefore, it safeguards these countries over the Community.
With this—and I come now to the hon. Gentleman's point—we have accepted a control system between the United Kingdom and the other countries of the Community so long as the external tariffs on these items are not aligned, in other words, until the beginning of 1967. This means that there will be a continuance of voluntary limitations on exports from India and Pakistan on approximately the present position as far as this agreement is concerned. If there is an abnormal expansion of foreign textiles from the United Kingdom to the Community as a result of imports from India and Pakistan, then the United Kingdom itself will take action to deal with that expansion.
Dealing with the point raised by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne about the impact of textiles in this country, of course this will come about only if there is a fall in the amount of Indian and Pakistan grey cloth coming in, and that would not be at the expense of the British textile industry. Before a common tariff is applied there will be a complete review of the imports of these textiles from all countries in the world, which 985 will give the opportunity of seeing what can be done to help the developing countries in this matter.
There is also to be a change in the arrangement for jute goods, a changeover from the present mark-up system to the tariff system, and we have proposed reductions of these tariffs.
For other manufactures and canned and dried foodstuffs from these Asian countries, we have arranged a gradual decalageand on some, especially tropical foodstuffs, spices, and oils, a nil tariff. But one of the main items in this connection is tea, on which the 18 per cent. duty is to be abolished for the whole of the Community and a nil duty substituted.
I noticed that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was very scornful about this in his speech at Brighton: He said:Oh, they get, of course, free entry for tea; but the revenue duties in Europe are some 80 to 90 per cent. and the customs duty which goes is 18 per cent. It is true we are not obliged—it is very kind of them!—to impose a customs duty on tea here. We are allowed to drink our national beverage as we like. Very handsome!Those hardly seem to be the cool, calculating, words of an economist.
§ Mr. Heath
The fact is that only in Germany is the Excise duty on tea anything like the figure mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman. It is 70 per cent. In France, it is 20 per cent., in Italy and Belgium it is 12 per cent., and in the Netherlands even less.
The point that I want to make to the right hon. Gentleman is that this is not the important factor. What is important is that in the two countries where the fiscal duties are high the duty on coffee is higher than that on tea. Therefore, for the first time tea is given an advantage over coffee. This provides the opportunity for the sale of tea in Europe. But if the right hon. Gentleman is not interested in the European position— although the Indians are—perhaps he will agree that this arrangement safeguards 40 per cent. of India's trade with this country, and 83 per cent. of Ceylon's trade with this country. I suggest to him, therefore, that this is not a negligible matter to be sneered off, but 986 is one of the greatest importance. The arrangements which I have described cover all but 9 per cent. of India's trade and all but 4 per cent. of Pakistan's trade. We are now negotiating the rest which are requests for nil tariffs on a number of items.
All these arrangements are to be studied in the light of the undertaking to have a trade agreement with the purposes which I have described, and I believe that this can be satisfactorily negotiated. There were two requests from the Prime Minister of India and the President of Pakistan. One was that negotiations should begin as soon as possible. At the last Brussels meeting it was agreed, in response to this request, that they should begin within three months of our entry into the Community. This, therefore, has met the first point raised by the Prime Minister and the President.
The second point was that no action should be taken in this arrangement until a trade agreement was concluded. I therefore suggested that there should be a suspension of the tariff on this point, but the Community found itself unable to agree to this, because it would upset the balance of the whole of the arrangements which had been negotiated. That was the view that the Community put forward. What it did offer was that at the end of the conference we could review the situation to see whether an improvement could be made, in the interests of India and Pakistan, by a simplification of the tariff arrangements.
The right hon. Gentleman said very firmly in his speech at Brighton that these trade agreements should be negotiated during these negotiations, before we go into the Community. The countries themselves have never asked for this. They wish to carry out the negotiations themselves, with ourselves as members of the Community. That is why the arrangement has been made in the way it has. This sums up the arrangements for India, Pakistan and Ceylon. Malaya has asked that there should be a similar arrangement for a trade agreement for the future Federation of Greater Malaysia, and at the last Brussels meeting I put that proposal forward, as a request, in the negotiations.
Those are all developing countries of the Commonwealth, and I ask the House 987 to consider for a moment the attitude of the Community towards them. We pride ourselves on having an outward-looking approach to these matters. In the negotiations we have constantly urged that the arrangements we make should be as outward-looking as possible. At the same time, we should not overlook the arrangements winch the Community has made and is prepared to make in the interests of the developing countries. In particular, it is bound by Article 110 of the Treaty of Rome, dealing with the increase in world trade. It has itself already taken considerable action to reduce tariffs and eliminate quotas. It made the offer of 20 per cent. in the Dillon Round.
It has its responsibilities towards the associated countries, which it has just renegotiated. In the last debate in June I gave the totals of its gross national products devoted to the developing countries and, in addition, the advantage which they already give to the Commonwealth countries themselves. The main problem is the problem of the industrial goods of these countries. As one listened to each of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers saying, in turn, "I am just beginning to industrialise. My country wants to industrialise. We may not be able to do it for a few years, but we want to do it in five or ten years' time", one began to realise the immense problem of this country's ever 'being able to cope, alone, with the industrial products of the Commonwealth, and the fact that, in the enlarged Community, we should be able to take a larger share of these products.
The fact remains that it will be necessary for the developing countries themselves to develop their own markets for their industrial goods. Indeed, India is already doing this. But it can be done only if there are reasonable arrangements for the commodities and raw materials which they produce. That is one of the main reasons why we have been looking to the commodity arrangements to provide the basis on which this can be done. I tell the right hon. Gentleman that we cannot solve all the problems of the developing countries in these negotiations. There is a limit to the arrangements which can be made, and we have endeavoured to lay the basis for 988 the development of the Commonwealth countries themselves.
Now I turn to the third group of Commonwealth problems, Which affect Canada, Australia and New Zealand. There are four groups of problems here. Only in one case was the negotiation completed. Therefore, it is impossible to form a judgment on the position for the old Commonwealth countries. The arrangement concerning industrial goods, which I have already explained to the House, was for the gradual application of the tariff; consultation to review the effects on trade on two occasions—in 1966 and 1969—and also the arrangements for the negotiations in what has now become known as the Kennedy Round as the result of the passage of the American trade legislation for the reduction of tariffs on industrial goods, which will be of interest to Canada in particular.
The second group of problems concerns foodstuffs. Here what is important is that the old Commonwealth should be able to have access to the enlarged Community for its foodstuffs. Our first approach to this problem was a quantitative one, with comparable outlets. This was not—as I have explained to the right hon. Gentleman—a question of guaranteed sales; it was a question of having opportunities on terms as nearly as possible equal to what they have now. At the same time, the whole arrangements will have to be reviewed together. There will be no limitations in the enlarged Community except in the case of the disruption of a market. That we already use ourselves, and are using at this moment in the case of butter.
But when the common agricultural policy was worked out there was no quantitative arrangement in it. In fact, the common agricultural policy deliberately refrains from quantitative arrangements. It was, therefore, necessary for us to change our approach and to try to achieve these arrangements for the old Commonwealth countries' foodstuffs, and the fresh approach is in four different parts.
I realise that this is interlocking and complicated, but I ask the House to bear with me while I deal with it. The four parts are: first, a reasonable price policy for internal production in the enlarged 989 Community; secondly, the attempt to achieve world arrangements for commodities; thirdly, in the event of the failure of this, to achieve limited arrangements; and, fourthly, the transitional arrangements which go on while these events are taking place.
I take, first, the question of a reasonable price policy. On this will depend the level of European production, including our own. It is the key to the opportunities for access, and the arrangement is without limit of time. Our objective has been to make this as precise as possible, within the context that quantitative arrangements are not possible. The Community will make a declaration to define its price policy as soon as possible, and it is now working upon the criteria for a price policy for cereals. It is the intention of the enlarged Community to pursue a reasonable price policy, in conformity with Articles 110 and 39 of the Treaty of Rome, which deal with world trade and also with the standard of living of the farmer and the agricultural worker. It will do its utmost to achieve the harmonious development of world trade, including a satisfactory level of trade between the Community and other countries, including Commonwealth countries. This policy Which the enlarged Community intends to pursue wild also offer reasonable opportunities in its markets for exports of temperate agricultural products.
The second part of this arrangement is world-wide agreements. Here, we have agreed on an early initiative—if possible, in 1963—on the principal agricultural products which are specified in the arrangement as cereals, meat, dairy produce and sugar. An agenda for the agreements is set down; the price, production, stock-piling policy, minimum and maximum quantities in world trade and special aspects of trade with the developing countries.
I believe that there is a better opportunity for getting world commodity agreements with the enlarged Community than ever before, that is, between the enlarged Community and the other producing countries of the world. But should it not materialise in particular commodities, we have the opportunity of limited agreements between willing countries, including Commonwealth countries.
990 The fourth part is the transitional arrangements which go on while this is being negotiated. These arrangements are complicated but can best be illustrated by cereals, first on the non-preferential cereals in particular and then on those on which the Commonwealth has a preference at the moment. The Community will arrange for its own intra-Community preference, which lasts until 1970, at a level which will not cause a sudden or considerable change in extra-Community trade. Should it be necessary, it has undertaken to review the intra-Community preference.
On the preferential cereals, the Commonwealth countries will benefit from the intra-Community preference, but the amount is still to be negotiated. In this respect the agreement is incomplete. A safeguarding clause also applies to the preferential cereals and these transitional arrangements will apply to all commodities for which there is a levy system.
I have already said that this sphere is incomplete because we have not yet negotiated particular commodity arrangements or the degree of intra-Community preference. This incompleteness I at once accept. It was not completed by 5th August. We have endeavoured to make it as precise as possible and if the right hon. Gentleman will query the normal terms used in international trade between countries, and in G.A.T.T. then he will query some of the things in this arrangement.
Regarding the review of a particular arrangement which is not working well, this is a normal procedure and is part of this arrangement. However, we cannot in these agreements—and we do not do it as a country—have a form of arrangement which, in fact, freezes the pattern of world trade. The Commonwealth has emphasised its anxiety about, first, maintaining a reasonable level of prices within the Community and, of course, they have our full support in this. Secondly, the Commonwealth has expressed anxiety about the prices at which it will be able to sell in the Community markets; in other words, world prices.
Here, I believe that the solution must lie in some form of wider arrangement which will deal with the price levels for 991 these foodstuffs as well as the arrangements for dealing in some way or other with surpluses. We have been urged to set down, instead of an agenda, agreed principles on which these agreements will be founded. It is not possible for us to lay down the principles on which other food producing countries of the world—the United States, Argentine, and so on—are to carry out their agreements.
We have further been urged by the right hon. Gentleman to negotiate all these before we go into the Community and I put to him some practical considerations. First, these negotiations are quite complicated enough already without grafting on to them a whole series of negotiations for world agreements over all the major foodstuffs with the major foodstuff producing countries of the world. Secondly, these negotiations must be carried out not by us but by the enlarged Community as a whole, which is not yet in existence and which will have other members deeply interested in these arrangements and committed to them.
Thirdly, the policies of the countries which are not yet members of the Community may well be different if they stay outside the Community from what they will be if they came inside. That applies in some respects to this country's policies in these matters. It is not possible, therefore, to work on the basis that one should negotiate these arrangements before going into the Community and then decide whether or not one is going to enter. The negotiating must be done on the basis of agreement about the agenda, the purpose and the timing. We must then negotiate in earnest and with sincerity to achieve results.
The remaining items to be negotiated are the canned and dried foodstuffs which are all of great importance to these Commonwealth countries and which are to be discussed at ministerial level next week. In addition, there are important nil tariffs for which we have asked regarding important raw materials, minerals, and so on. On some of the smaller items we have arranged a nil tariff. On wood pulp the duty-free arrangements for all our domestic requirements are to be examined at the conclusion of the negotiations with the Scandinavian countries. Last time we dealt with aluminium and newsprint, on which we reached no agreement.
992 I ask the House not to underestimate the individual problems involved in the countries of the Community in dealing with these major items—the legalities and other matters as well as problems which are involved for us. There is a special problem concerning New Zealand's dependence on the United Kingdom market in the major commodities of butter, cheese, mutton and lamb. The Community recognises this problem and is prepared to deal with it in a special way.
The French Government have not accepted any particular principle or means of dealing with it, but the Community as a whole, at the end of August, accepted the special position of New Zealand. This matter must be negotiated and there was no suggestion that there should be a verbal promise to New Zealand. It must be negotiated in detail and this will be done when the general arrangements for these commodities have been negotiated. It will then be possible to say what additional requirements are necessary to meet the special needs of New Zealand. I want to sum up these general trade arrangements by saying that they vary from case to case. There has been an attempt to work out, in the long run, a stable basis for trade between the enlarged Community and these Commonwealth countries and in the short-term, transitional arrangements to prevent damage to their interests while the change-over is taking place.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture will be able to deal in great detail tomorrow with the negotiations so far conducted about agriculture. I will say here that what we have been especially negotiating is the Annual Review on a Community basis and the long-term assurance which goes with it over those areas which may find that larger farming incomes are not keeping pace, or their appropriate pace, with the income of the community as a whole.
These are two major changes in the common agricultural policy of the Community and they have been brought about by these negotiations. They illustrate the way in which we have been trying, in dealing with the problems of British agriculture, to solve them on a Community arrangement. We ourselves keep our individual national Review. It contributes to the Community Review. It allows members of the Government to form a judgment of their attitude in the Council 993 of Ministers. At the same time, we cannot compel the other members of the Community to have national reviews if they do not wish to do so. The Commission itself is then responsible for obtaining the information to carry out the Community Review.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
May I revert to a point which the Leader of the Opposition raised yesterday? What is the view of the Government about the 1957 Act? Is it not a fact that the Government are committed to maintaining that Act for the duration of this Parliament? What would be the situation if, as appears at the moment, that Act would have to be revoked to meet the Community's present commitments?
§ Mr. Heath
The position is that in the opening statement in Paris on 10th October last year I stated that we were bound to retain the 1957 Act for the life of this Parliament. That remains the position. I restated it in the Brussels negotiations last week, when dealing with the transitional arrangements. At the meeting the week before last we discussed the transitional arrangements and proposed, as the House knows, to phase out the deficiency payments system in the course of the transitional period over whatever period might be negotiated. The Community proposed that the change-over should take place on our entry into the Community and our deficiency payments system should be replaced by a system of consumer subsidies and, in exceptional cases, by producer subsidies.
Our view is that there are serious objections, both of policy and of administration, to the proposals put forward by the Community at the meeting last week. This matter is a matter of very great importance to our farming industry as are, of course, the implications of the alternative proposals for the whole of the people of this country and its economy. It was therefore agreed at the last Brussels meeting that we shall return to this at a future ministerial meeting.
§ Mr. Desmond Donnelly (Pembroke)
May I get this quite clear? It is absolutely clear that we cannot alter the present agricultural system in this country within the lifetime of this Parliament. Is this what is implied in the words the right hon. Gentleman has just spoken?
§ Mr. Heath
That, I think, is a paraphrase of exactly what I said.
I should like to place before the House two things which I think are of importance. The first is to summarise the broader opportunities for the Commonwealth in Europe. First, the opportunities for trade agreements with India. Pakistan and Ceylon and the others for which we have put forward proposals. Secondly, the association for the dependencies and independent countries who wish for it. Thirdly, the remedial action on textiles. Fourthly, the tariff reductions and nil tariffs for the whole enlarged Community. Fifthly, the reasonable price policy for the production of temperate foodstuffs. All of these items are concerned with connecting Commonwealth countries with the wider Europe of the enlarged Community, which was one of the objectives which, at the end of his speech at Brighton, the Leader of the Opposition said he wished to be achieved.
Other things to which I wish to draw the attention of the House are the policy developments we have so far worked out jointly with the Community which are the result of these negotiations. First, there is the attempt to secure world agreements, secondly, limited agreements, thirdly, the comprehensive trade agreements, fourthly, the reasonable price policy for agricultural production, and, fifthly, to reframe an assurance for domestic agriculture and Community agriculture as a whole.
Perhaps one of the major impacts of these negotiations has been on American legislation, because I do not believe that the Trade Act would ever have been put before Congress or passed were it not for the possibility of the creation of the enlarged Community, a very large trading bloc,and the desire to reduce industrial tariffs.
There is a great deal of ground to cover, for which I apologise to the House, but perhaps I can deal briefly with the next two items in the negotiations, Which are Euratom and the Coal and Steel Community. They are, of course, of great importance to us domestically. They do not have very great Commonwealth implications. We have made our opening statements—I expect to hear the reply from Euratom 995 on the 14th of this month and we continue our negotiations with the Coal and Steel Community on the 19th of this month.
With the Coal and Steel Community we have reached agreement about points to be examined in the negotiations. The deputies have now been working on two major ones, the compatibility of the present arrangements in this country for coal and steel with the Treaty of Paris, and, secondly, a comparative study of production costs in these industries, particularly in regard to wages, social charges and taxation.
I now turn to the position of the E.F.T.A. countries. Our obligations to the E.F.T.A. countries are very clear and have been meticulously observed. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition will find that each of the E.F.T.A. countries at the meeting at Oslo a fortnight ago emphasised their satisfaction with the way the E.F.TA. countries were observing their obligations. Denmark has made considerable progress in its negotiations. Norway, Sweden, Austria and Switzerland have all made their opening statements. Portugal has made its application and hopes to make its opening statement soon.
Our obligations are to maintain full consultation with each of the E.F.T.A. countries. That is the first of the obligations. That has been done to the utmost and I know of no criticism in the E.F.T.A. countries about this, and they have kept us fully informed. Secondly, each E.F.T.A. country should be given an opportunity in negotiation of satisfying its legitimate requirements. Thirdly, the arrangements when made are to come into operation at the same time. Those were the obligations to which we all adhere. The E.F.TA. countries are fully aware of the problems which this presents as far as timing is concerned. I am confident that they will do their utmost, as we have done, in order to arrange the timing and carry through their negotiations as speedily as possible.
The right hon. Gentleman, at Brighton, engaged in almost an orgy of speculation about arrangements for the E.F.T.A. countries. [Interruption.]I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman could describe the amount of detail which 996 I have been giving the House this afternoon as speculation. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is."] It is the detail of the arrangements. I was merely about to suggest that the right hon. Gentleman rather concerned himself with every rumour which wanders round the lobbies of Europe as to the future of the negotiations with the E.F.T.A. countries. He should agree that what matters is negotiation between the Community and each country for which it is responsible. We have no direct responsibility for the individual negotiations, but our view is that we adhere to our obligation.
We support the E.F.T.A. countries in their desire to negotiate an appropriate arrangement to meet their legitimate interests. We must not underestimate the burden of negotiation which this places on the E.F.T.A. countries and on the Community as a whole, nor the problems which are involved in working out a commercial policy for the Community with so many countries of diverse types at the same time. Nevertheless, we believe that it is essential to achieve this in order to create the wider community in Europe.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
Could the right hon. Gentleman clear up this point? He has outlined the obligations on us towards the E.F.T.A. countries. Can he say whether there is any obligation on us not to accept membership for ourselves unless the aspirations of those countries are met?
§ Mr. Heath
That was what I thought I had very clearly described. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes. I will read the actual undertaking:The members of E.F.T.A. should coordinate their actions and remain united throughout the negotiations.That is the first obligation. It means full consultation. The second obligation is thatE.F.T.A. would be maintained at least until satisfactory arrangements have been worked out in negotiations to meet the various legitimate interests of all the members of E.F.TA.The third part of the obligation is:and thus enable them all to participate from the same date in an integrated European market.I said firmly that the Government adhere to these. I do not see quite what purpose the right hon. Gentleman seeks to achieve 997 by constantly in public casting doubts on the obligations which we have accepted.
The Leader of the Opposition has referred to questions of public ownership and economic planning and the question of political union. He knows that there is nothing in the Treaty of Rome which prevents industries from being in public ownership. France and Italy have probably more public ownership than we have. The Italian Government have just completed the nationalisation of electricity. There is nothing to restrict economic planning. The French plan is well known, and it goes on in the Community.
But I should like to make this point: we cannot isolate ourselves from the rest of the Community, and so often the tenor of what the Leader of the Opposition has been saying is that he is prepared to become a member of the Community in certain circumstances, but, above all, he wants to be able to isolate the United Kingdom in certain circumstances from the general life of the Community.
§ Mr. Heath
If I may explain to the right hon. Gentleman, it is a community, which is working out common policies in the interests of its members. Therefore, if one country wishes to isolate itself to the detriment of the other members, it cannot expect to be accepted as a member of the Community. From the point of view of the general economic arrangements, there is nothing new in carrying on co-ordination of economic policies with other countries. I think that the Leader of the Opposition knows that full well.
I can summarise that by saying that there is nothing in the Treaty of Rome against this, but if we are to become a member we should look at it from the constructive point of view of achieving things and not from the point of view of isolating ourselves within the Community.
I turn to the point about political union. Perhaps one could say, in order that we may elucidate the two different 998 strands, that the Treaty of Rome governs a Customs union and an economic union. It does not, therefore, affect the Crown in this country. It does not affect defence, foreign affairs, colonial or Commonwealth affairs, or other domestic matters, or matters of religious denomination. It does not affect them in any degree. It is concerned only with the economic and the Customs union.
But the second strand is this: at the beginning of the Treaty of Rome it sets out to establish the foundation of an ever-closer union. There is no provision in the Treaty of Rome for political union. It can, therefore, be established only by a new treaty—and a new treaty which is agreed unanimously. I have reported to the House the discussions between the six Governments about the possibility of a new treaty. We expressed our views very clearly about this in Western European Union on 10th April, and I then said that we wished to see a closer unity in Europe and that we wished to play our full part in it.
I therefore take exception to the Leader of the Opposition when, in public, he accuses the Government, and the negotiating delegation, in particular, of speaking with one voice in the House of Commons and in London and with another voice in Brussels.
§ Mr. Heath
The hon. Member is repeating it now.
There is no truth whatever in that accusation. Our position was clearly stated at Western European Union, and it is exactly the same as we stated in Brussels. The situation at the moment is that the countries of the Community have agreed generally to give priority to the economic negotiations rather than to the political negotiations for a political union, and, therefore, these political arrangements are not discussed in Brussels and we do not negotiate them there. The questions which the Leader of the Opposition raises will, of course, come up in future discussions about political union, and there we must discuss any questions of foreign policy which he wishes to raise.
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
The right hon. Gentleman, at the beginning, made a general statement that the union 999 is primarily economic. Has he ever met a representative of the Brussels Commission who did not say at the beginning, "We entered into this determined to have a political union and without that aim the economic union does not make sense"? If that is so, is he telling the House that he will take the country into the Community before that second aim is fully visible and before he can account for what he intends to do in the future?
§ Mr. Heath
I was trying to explain that the Treaty of Rome deals with an economic union and a Customs union. The purpose behind it was to create a wider European unity, and this can be achieved only through a new treaty. In these discussions, we have put forward our views. We asked to be consulted. But this aspect is taking second priority at the moment to the economic negotiations. At the end of the economic negotiations, if the Six are to resume their discussions for the political unity, we should still be in a position in which we should wish to be consulted before any final arrangements were made. On the question of timing, one cannot say what relationship it will bear to the timing of the negotiations.
The right hon. Gentleman has constantly asked whether this means federation. He gives the implication that he thinks that anybody who does not admit that it will lead to federation is being dishonest. I cannot for one moment accept that from him. There are some who think that federation is inevitable. That is their judgment. There are others who think that federation may be desirable in order to achieve a democratic control of the organisation of the Council of Ministers and the Commission. [HON. MEMBERS: "What do you think?"] I have always expressed my view frankly and I will express it again now. I am one of a third group of people who believe that a closer unity will develop pragmatically and that it will come as a result of the members of the economic and Customs union working closer together.
§ Mr. Heath
The hon. Member immediately shouts, "What will it be like?" I should have thought that anybody 1000 brought up in the British parliamentary system would have said that this will develop pragmatically in order to meet the needs of these countries working together. The degree to which institutions will be created or their powers developed will depend upon the requirements of these countries. Let us accept it that many people in Europe today have different views about it. The texts which were brought forward were, broadly speaking, confederal texts and we saw no great problem about them for the first stage of political union. I believe that that is the attitude of the countries in Europe today.
§ Mr. Heath
I have tried to deal in detail with the pattern of the negotiations as they have emerged. At the same time as we are negotiating, the situation both inside and outside Europe is changing rapidly. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would bear that in mind when he says that there is no need to bother about negotiations, perhaps for several years. He says, let things develop. But he will have seen the plans put forward for the future of the Commission and the Community. If we are to become members, then I think that he will agree that it is desirable that we should play the fullest part in the conception of those plans and in working them out.
That in itself is a most important factor in the timing of these negotiations. They are bound to be lengthy and detailed, and I have never disguised from the House the immensely difficult problems with which we are faced in the negotiations in reconciling differences. We are now moving to the stage where the individual problems of the Commonwealth, which I have mentioned, the tariff arrangements, the processed foodstuffs, and the domestic agricultural situation, are some of the most difficult problems with which we have to deal.
Therefore, I hope that the House will recognise that there are bound to be formidable negotiations ahead. We shall pursue them with patience and with determination and we shall do our utmost to secure a successful conclusion which is acceptable to Parliament.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:would support the entry of Great Britain into the European Economic Community provided that guarantees safeguarding British agriculture, the vital interests of the Commonwealth and the European Free Trade Association countries are obtained and that Great Britain retains her present freedom to conduct her own foreign policy and to use public ownership and economic planning to ensure social progress within the United Kingdom; it regrets however that the terms so far provisionally negotiated do not satisfy either these conditions or the binding pledges given by Her Majesty's Government; and therefore calls upon Her Majesty's Government to negotiate terms which secure these essential conditions and fulfil the Government's own pledges".In one respect at least the speech I intend to make will resemble that of the Lord Privy Seal. Like him, I do not intend to deal with the great issues of principle, with the general economic arguments for and against, with the questions of the sovereignty of Parliament, but to concentrate on the points made in our Amendment. Those points are concerned with the conditions and the pledges given relating to our entry into the Common Market. I shall deal with more general matters only in so far as they arise out of these conditions or pledges.
The Government themselves have given and repeated from time to time three clear, firm pledges—regarding agriculture, the Commonwealth and our E.F.T.A. Mends. I do not think that it is necessary for me to read out these pledges again. There are quite a number of texts to choose from, and nobody in the House doubts that they were firmly given. To those three pledges we added two other conditions—the retention of two freedoms, the freedom we have at present to conduct our own foreign policy and the freedom to plan our economy in the interests of the United Kingdom. I shall come to these additional conditions a little later.
About these pledges and conditions three things must be said. First, making these conditions means that, if we do not get them, we stay out. It means that it is better for us to do so. Therefore, there is no question, once conditions of this kind are made, of accepting an 1002 overriding advantage in going in. That follows. Equally, if the conditions are fulfilled—we have said this; we repeat it again in our Amendment today—we must support entry. Therefore, it follows that we also take the view that there can be no overriding reasons against entry. That is the position.
If it were argued that it would be a disaster for us to stay out—from time to time members of the Government have talked in those terms—pledges should never have been given, for if that had been the case clearly it would have been our interest and our duty to go in. The laying down of these specific conditions, however, is a quite different approach from going in on any conditions or from adopting the rather dressed-up version of it, namely, getting the best possible conditions.
There are some hon. Members who, perfectly legitimately, would have preferred us to go in on the best possible conditions. We know that there are such hon. Members on both sides of the House. The fact is that neither the Government nor the official Opposition —neither the Conservative Party nor the Labour Party, at any rate—have taken this view. What the Liberal Party really thinks about this I never quite know, but perhaps we shall have another explanation today.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
There have been so many contradictory explanations as to whether the Liberal Party would go in unconditionally. Perhaps members of the Liberal Party will clear it up again. But the Government and the Opposition have, and we must have, sticking points. It is important that the Government should never forget this. Their posture in the negotiations, both in public and in private, should be based upon it.
I believe that, on the whole, this was the case to start with, but in recent months, particularly in August and September, we have heard less and less of the conditions and more and more of the general arguments in favour of entry. As a typical example of this, the Prime Minister's own pamphlet, "Britain, the Commonwealth and Europe", mentions, but dismisses, the 1003 conditions in a single sentence and makes no further reference to them.
The second point is that laying down conditions is not the same as going in first and negotiating afterwards. We have heard a great deal about this. The fact is that the conditions and the pledges relate to our entry. The Government have said—we agree with them— that we should not go in unless these safeguards are obtained. So it is not enough for them to say, "We will negotiate about that afterwards. It will be quite all right in due course".
The third point to remember is that the conditions were made for very good reasons. There would have been dangers to us without them. I think that we all understand the reasons for this.
As to the Commonwealth, the character of the E.E.C., the fact that it is a Customs union, the fact that, therefore, our entry, in principle at any rate, was bound to mean abandoning the whole system of encouragement to trade within the Commonwealth and replacing it with a system of encouraging trade within Europe, including ourselves, was bound to give rise to the gravest anxieties as to what its consequences could be.
It could have meant—it could still mean—a serious loss of trade to us in Commonwealth countries which, being deprived of the commercial advantages they have hitherto enjoyed in our market, would feel obliged to reciprocate by taking away from us the advantages we still, have with them. Equally, we have an obligation to ensure that the economies of the Commonwealth are not damaged, as otherwise they almost certainly would be.
There are political implications as well. I will return a little later to the points raised by the Lord Privy Seal, but, without going into detail, none of us would disagree that there are possible political implications here which, if we do not lay down conditions about them, could certainly have the very gravest consequences to the Commonwealth.
As to agriculture, again the nature of the E.E.C. system, even the nature of the various systems before they worked out their own agricultural policy, is very different from ours. I think that the 1004 Minister will agree that it undoubtedly affords much less security to the farmers than does ours at home. Therefore, it was very essential that we should ensure that there were adequate safeguards.
As for the E.F.T.A pledge, I would defend that on the ground that the E.E.C., as I understand, insisted that we should not negotiate with the Community together with E.F.T.A. In other words, the E.E.C. insisted on our applying separately and all the other members of E.F.T.A. applying separately. Faced with that situation, it was very right and proper that we should give the solemn pledges which have again been repeated this afternoon.
As to our two additional conditions, they were added because of specific fears we had, the first principally about the possibility of maintaining full employment, and the second concerning the r61e which we wish this country to play in world affairs. In a broader sense these conditions, when we spell them out, give us a picture of the kind of European unity that we wish to see.
We wanted a larger Europe; not just seven, but ten. or eleven. or twelve, as the case may be. We wanted a Europe not cut off, but closely linked with the outside world through the Commonwealth. We wanted a Europe with a special sense of responsibility to developing countries. We wanted a Europe with lower tariffs all round and thinking of itself in a world setting; not concentrating on its own particular selfish interests. We wanted a Europe that involved a looser association. We did not want it to develop any sense of Chauvinism or extreme nationalism. We wanted to leave freedom to individual Governments both politically and economically within, of course, the limits set by the essential conditions of the customs union.
For all these reasons we laid down the five essential conditions. We wanted to be sure that the creating of new links did not mean the breaking of old ones. We did not want—I must say this—at any rate at this stage, and perhaps not at all, to start an idea of a new nation, a new bloc, being created, with all the instability and repercussions in the world which this might have. We look to the world as a whole still as really the place where the most vital issues must be decided. We do not think that the unity or disunity of 1005 Western Europe is really going to determine the great issues which, as I think we all know, relate to the relations between East and West, and the relations between rich and poor countries.
Expressed in this way, this kind of Europe was, and still is, a great ideal. This would be a tremendous advance, something that I think would appeal to all of us. But I repeat that it could not be realised except on our conditions. These conditions are, in principle, not impossible—not in the least. Whether they are realised or not depends upon the negotiations; on the one side on the attitude and bargaining position adopted by Her Majesty's Government and on the other by the attitude of the Six with whom we bargain.
I come to the fulfilment of the conditions. Have they, so far, been fulfilled? We have had a year's negotiations and much still remains to be settled. But we do have some very basic agreements, especially with the Commonwealth. The Lord Privy Seal started his speech by implying that nothing had been settled, that it was all provisional. The right hon. Gentleman was at great pains to criticise us for our Amendment. I will tell the right hon. Gentleman why we came to a different conclusion. We came to a different conclusion because, after the issue of the August White Paper and during the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, it became perfectly evident from the statements issued to the Press and made to the Press by Ministers—in particular, by the Lord Privy Seal and the Secretary of State sitting beside him— that, in fact, a great deal has been settled
I have here a number of quotations. I will read only one, but there are plenty more if anyone wants them. This quotation is from the Daily Telegraphof Friday, 14th September:Mr. Sandys and Mr. Heath both said "—presumably at the Press conference—with unflinching finality that in those areas where provisional agreements have been reached with the Six, and they already cover most of the ground, with a few wide gaps, there is no hope of going back on these agreements. There may be room here and there for changes in detail, but certainly not for changes in principle.I must tell the right hon. Gentleman that I was deeply shocked by these reports that came out day after day during that conference, showing that the 1006 Government, instead of treating these agreements as purely provisional, something we were in the middle of discussing, something which we would go back to Brussels and talk about when we had heard the views of the Prime Ministers, were saying to the Press and to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, "This is it. You must take it. You must swallow it."
§ Mr. Heath
Perhaps I may tell the right hon. Gentleman exactly what the position was. I did not speak to a single Press conference during the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference so that this is not a report of anything I said to the Press. Secondly, these arrangements as they were negotiated, were provisional arrangements. There is no question about it. That was agreed at the conference.
The question whether it is advantageous or wise to reopen certain agreements which you have reached after a very long argument is a matter for judgment, and it must be a matter for judgment for the Government and for those negotiating. But nobody ever said to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, "You must take it or leave it". What one does say is that this principle is a principle of the Community, and which we have negotiated. If there is another principle, it is not likely to be negotiable. Surely we owed it to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers to say that, if that were the case.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
If the Lord Privy Seal was not taking Press conferences the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations was. There is no doubt about the briefing that he gave them which appeared day after day. Hon. Members know that this is the case.
But even what the Lord Privy Seal has just said leaves it unaffected. These were agreements made. It was, at any rate, profoundly difficult to reopen them. Therefore, we have something to discuss. Therefore, we have to make up our minds, apparently. I wish that this were not so; that we could take them and go back to Brussels, but we were told that it could not be reopened.
On examination, I must say, after studying the White Paper of August and examining the previous statements made by the right hon. Gentleman, that we are 1007 driven to these conclusions: first, that the agreements so far made do not fulfil the conditions and pledges laid down: and, secondly, that they put into our minds very grave anxieties about the fulfilment of other conditions, unless a notable change takes place in the character of the negotiations. In these circumstances we feel bound to give the Government, and indeed the country, a serious warning now, before it is too late.
How does the outcome compare with the expectations? That is one way of judging whether the conditions have been fulfilled. Another, of course, is to take them on their merits. Do they safeguard the Commonwealth? Do they safeguard agriculture? Regarding the first question, one naturally wants to know what the Government originally had in mind. One of our difficulties throughout the negotiations is we have seldom been informed exactly what the right hon. Gentleman proposed at Brussels. But there was one occasion when, by good fortune, we managed to find out. There was a leakage of his famous speech in Paris on 10th October, 1961. Faced with this leakage the right hon. Gentleman very properly arranged for it to be published as a White Paper. So let us take that statement of his at the opening of the negotiations and see what was proposed and compare it with what he has got.
First, he asked that the status of associated overseas territories should be granted to all the less developed members of the Commonwealth. There was no distinction between Africa and Asia. They were all treated as being in the same position. The right hon. Gentleman did not get it. That was turned down. Of course it was turned down, as we know perfectly well, because of the competition which was feared from Indian manufacturers.
After discussing the possibility of A.O.T. status, the right hon. Gentleman went on to say this about this problem of Asian manufacturers—I am quoting from the White Paper:You will probably agree that it would not be in the general interest that the United Kingdom should erect fresh tariff barriers to cut back such trade.That is what the right hon. Gentleman has now done.
1008 Thirdly, he proposed that there should be Morocco-type agreements as a possible solution. A Morocco-type agreement, of course, means that the mother country—in this case ourselves—would continue, would be allowed to continue, to give free access to the products of particular territories, even though the rest of the Community did not. This was agreed for Morocco and Tunis by France. Has the Lord Privy Seal got any Morocco or Tunis type of agreement to offer us? There is nothing available.
On individual commodities, the right hon. Gentleman asked for zero tariffs for the five major commodities—aluminium, wood pulp, copper, lead and zinc. He has just told us that we may have a dutyfree quota of wood pulp, but, so far, that is all. On temperate foodstuffs, he introduced the famous phrase that the producers of temperate foodstuffs should in the future be given the opportunity of outlets for their produce comparable with those they now enjoy. Those words do not appear in the August White Paper; they have been replaced by others, to which I shall come later.
No doubt, bearing in mind all the difficulties, the Lord Privy Seal specifically suggested for agriculture a number of possible solutions: duty-free, levy-free or preferential quotas, market-sharing agreements or long-term contracts. But none of those is in the White Paper of August—not one of them.
I realise, of course, that the right hon. Gentleman may suppose, or may argue, that he was just bargaining; putting forward ideas to start with which he knew he could not get across, but which, nevertheless, made a good starting point. That is not what he told the House of Commons on 2nd November, 1961, in the debate on the Address. He will remember that he then said:I should like to say something about our approach to the negotiations. All those who have been engaged in negotiations recognise that there are two ways in which one can approach them. One can take an extreme position and argue every line and comma of the matter with which one is dealing and expect those negotiating with one to respond with an equally extreme position, and then, after a long period of haggling, reach a point in the middle with a gap which one may or may not bridge. But that is an unsatisfactory method of trying to negotiate in the circumstances in 1009 which we find ourselves, particularly with the imperative necessity of creating greater unity in Europe.The Government decided, therefore, that they should take a realistic position in these negotiations and put forward realistic proposals. That is what they have done.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd November, 1961; Vol. 648, c. 347.]Therefore, that particular argument cannot be advanced to defend the failure of the right hon. Gentleman to achieve virtually any of the objectives he set out for himself in his famous speech in Paris.
I turn now to the second way of judging whether conditions have been fulfilled—to take the various pledges that have been given and to examine them one by one. I will begin with the Commonwealth pledge. That, as the right hon. Gentleman said, has to be broken down into various subjects, so I shall begin with temperate foodstuffs. After all, what has happened here is this. We have accepted, and this, apparently, cannot be overturned, the whole of the agricultural policy of the Community. That means—let us be perfectly clear about this—that, at the very least, all the preference system goes; no more free entry for Commonwealth products into this country, but a preferential position for Europe.
But it means more than that, because included in this agricultural policy is the variable-levy system. If ever there was a cast-iron protectionist device this really is it, for it means that one only allows into Europe as a whole products from overseas if the demand cannot be met from Europe. Of course, whether the demand can be met from Europe or not depends, I agree with the Lord Privy Seal, on the price one fixes but, having fixed that price, one gets a certain supply, and unless that does not meet the demand at the price given, nothing else is to be allowed in.
Under this agreement there is no possibility of Commonwealth products being allowed to undercut European products, because they are more cheaply produced. That is what the right hon. Gentleman has conceded—and this is a fact, not a vague phrase or agenda for the future. This is something that is to happen, and it begins to happen as soon as we go in. It may be, of course, that as a result of the fact that Europe is, or becomes, self-sufficient in certain agricultural products, nothing from outside 1010 will come in, but there are some commodities where that, at any rate, will not be possible, so there will be a levy.
What happens to the proceeds of that levy? We shall be the big contributors to this because we are the big importers, but the right hon. Gentleman has accepted that the proceeds of the levy shall go to the Community. It is true that he is having a little argument with the French as to whether or not what they decided at a certain meeting holds good for all time, but he has already given away the principle that we shall not retain any of the levy ourselves. It goes to the Community.
What do we get in exchange on temperate products? We get the promise of an attempt to negotiate world commodity agreements. That is fine—we are all for that. Such agreements are necessary and very desirable. We all agree on that. But will they be made? How long will they last? What will they contain? No one can possibly say.
What we are told is what happens if the agreements are not made. After endless negotiations—and the number of Questions asked in the House on this particular point is quite phenomenal— the Six have said, "We will then be prepared to negotiate a special agreement with any Commonwealth country that is not in an international commodities agreement." What sort of agreement will they negotiate? We do not know.
What kind of guarantee is there here? There is only one guarantee that the right hon. Gentleman could and should have obtained if he had gone as far as this. He should have made sure that, pending an agreement, there would be no change in the preferential position which the Commonwealth has in the British market.
I have no doubt that he asked for it to start with, but he did not get it, just as he did not get very many other things, because he gave way.
Now he tells us, "Well, they have promised to pursue reasonable price policies."In place of the comparable outlets for which he argued, apparently, for a long time, the Six eventually said that they would offer "reasonable opportunities in the markets of the Community for the exports of temperate foodstuffs."
"Reasonable opportunities, reasonable price"—who is to judge what is 1011 reasonable? These are phrases that can mean everything or nothing, and the difficulties of interpretation are overwhelming. This is not a matter of good faith or bad faith. People take a very different view, as we all know in our lives, about what is reasonable or unreasonable in an argument. They really mean nothing at all.
The Six also offer special consideration for New Zealand. Well, that is something, but are we to understand that, in this case at least, whatever may be the case with the international commodity agreements, the Government do not intend to sign the Treaty of Rome until they are satisfied that New Zealand has the special consideration that is promised; that it is not something on which they will say, "We shall do that after we get in"? That is not good enough. I beg the Lord Privy Seal to give a firm promise on this, but it would be helpful if one of his colleagues would make this plain later.
We all know what the precise wording is, and it is not all that good. The Ministers of the Community express their readiness to consider special provisions to deal with these difficulties, but it was not long ago that the French Foreign Minister—and this, again, is quoted from a later White Paper—informed the conference that "the statement made about New Zealand from the chair at the meeting of 1st August did not mean either that France was committed on the principle without knowing the method of the application of the principle, or that she was committed on the methods because of the uncertainty that France will find herself in on the principle." That is a splendid sentence, but I must say that it does not reassure me very much about what is to happen for New Zealand.
I should have thought that at least it would be easy enough to get a concession, if that is the word, on mutton and lamb. The people in the E.E.C. do not eat much mutton and lamb; we are the consumers of mutton and lamb. The people in the community do not produce it, either. They do not have a problem in the same way. There is a problem for the Minister of Agriculture, because he knows that there is a very big deficiency payment which he will not be 1012 allowed to continue unless special arrangements are made.
That may be possible but, for my part, I could not regard that as really adequate if nothing whatever is to be done for New Zealand's butter and cheese. After all, butter and cheese, taken together, are more important to New Zealand than the mutton and lamb. These are the commodities in respect of which she could lose, and I repeat the words of Walter Nash to me, the Whole of her United Kingdom market. I beg the Lord Privy Seal to stand firm on this. Do not accept a vague promise for the future, 'but insist on a real concession. Insist that, at least, New Zealand must be taken care of.
I need not enlarge on the importance of helping the Asian members of the Commonwealth to develop and, therefore, taking their manufactured goods. What have we got? Despite what the right hon. Gentleman said on 10th October, 1961, we have imposed on them a reverse preference on all non-textile manufactures; in other words, no longer free entry here for India, Pakistan and Ceylon, but, on the contrary, free entry for Europe, and taxes on the Commonwealth commodities. I know that it comes in gradually, but by 1970 it is all over.
For textiles, again, the reverse preference is applied. I know that it is subject to revision if, as the Lord Privy Seal said, the imports into the Community from India fall below the levels of the years 1959 to 1960, but I wonder whether he knows how much textile imports into the Community were in 1960. I will tell him; they amounted to precisely £1 million—the whole lot—
§ Mr. Gaitskell
The enlarged Community is the Six and ourselves. Our imports then were £13 million. Therefore, if the figure falls below the £13 million we took in 1960, plus the £1 million for all the others, the Community will do something about it. Do the Government really imagine that the Indians are pleased with this? Will this solve their problems of development?
Of course, we have tea, and I have never disguised—the Lord Privy Seal was good enough to quote from my speech—the wonderful concession made 1013 to the British tea consumers who, by the way, consume 157 million dollars worth from India as against 5 million dollars worth consumed in the E.E.C. countries. If he thinks that it is wonderful to have persuaded these countries to allow us to continue imports of tea from India, he is welcome to it.
Personally, I should have thought that it was the very minimum concession that we could have. They do not produce tea there; they have not got any particular problems of their own.
He spoke later of the attitude of the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers at the conference. This is what they asked for. They urged—I am quoting from the communiqué:… the trade agreements which the enlarged Community had offered … should be concluded as soon as possible and that, meanwhile, no change should be made in their existing trade arrangements with Britain.If he preferred to take that particular way of putting it, I am quite happy, because I think that in our original statement on this we said that no change should be made in the preferential arrangements.
I was not surprised to find that this was turned down. I think they would say in Brussels that that is not compatible with entry into the Community. This is what we thought. That is why I said that it should be done before we actually entered the Community. But it is quite astonishing that after all this the Prime Minister should have actually broadcast and said that the terms offered to India, Pakistan and Ceylon were "very good" terms.
All I can say is that that was not by any means the view of the Indian Prime Minister, or of the other officials and Ministers who were with him. Indeed, I think that it is just as well to remind ourselves just how the Prime Ministers' Conference received all this. We are apt to forget it.
I should like to remind the House that we always attached the greatest importance to this conference. We asked for it. I have said on more than one occasion that our attitude would depend very largely on the attitude of the Prime Ministers. I must quote one or two of the Prime Ministers. Mr. Menzies, quoted in the Financial Timesof 12th September, said: 1014We do know that the old preferences would go by 1970, that the substitutes of preference quotas and comparable outlets are rejected—there has been some highly general talk about world commodity agreement but not commitment—and that price policies were being developed in the Common Market. But would these policies be evolved on a basis that was ' reasonable' for domestic producers but not for outside producers?Great Britain seemed to have decided that the economic risks outweighed the economic gains. But cleanly part of the initial price and perhaps of the final price is to be paid by us. We therefore have a compelling duty to modify that price.Mr. Diefenbaker, quoted in The Timesof 12th September, said:The present terms do not provide any real assurance that Canadian interests would not be damaged in the long term.
§ Sir Cyril Osborne (Louth)
Before passing from Mr. Diefenbaker, would not the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that Canada sells to our country— that is very pertinent to the argument— £200 million worth of goods more than she buys from us? She uses that good English money that she gets from our market to get goods from America which she could well have got from this country. Should we not put that to the Canadian Government?
§ Mr. Gaitskell
That is not relevant. I am asking the question: what is the attitude of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers? It was almost uniformly hostile. Let us face it that we have never had a conference like this before, with so much hostility, so much anger and so much bitterness. I know that the communique was smooth enough at the end, and that many of the Prime Ministers, to their credit, publicly said nice things later, but we know what happened inside.
I was coming on to quote President Ayub Khan:In view of the short time that is likely to elapse between the U.K.'s entry and the finalisation of the agreement, there is no justification for immediate application of the common external tariff to our exports to the United Kingdom.Mr. Nehru said:I do not see how the Commonwealth will survive unless a radical change is made in the present proposals.… The present proposals are vague and the approach so far made is not satisfactory.I believe that this conference could have been handled quite differently. I 1015 think that it could have been handled on the basis that we were not trying to tell them that anything had been agreed. We were simply reporting on what had happened at Brussels. We could- have said, "This is what has happened so far. We are not satisfied with it. We did not think that you would be, but we thought that before we went any further we should talk it over with you." That would have been a perfectly reasonable attitude to adopt. I know the difficulties that the Lord Privy Seal had in Brussels, but he did not adopt that. It is all very well to say that we did not tell the Commonwealth Prime Ministers that these were the terms. That is exactly what many of them thought that we were doing.
I turn for a moment to agriculture. I am glad that the Minister is speaking tomorrow. I have already spoken of the pledges, and I will only mention one other particular phrase used by the Lord Privy Seal, that "we must adequately protect their standard of living". Is this likely as the terms go at present? Of course, it is true that we can offer them protection in place of a subsidy; that creates problems with the Commonwealth and with consumers here, but not necessarily for farmers.
But there are two difficulties. The first is that uncertainty for agriculture is nevertheless much greater than it has been under the 1947–57 Acts. And, secondly, it is very different from what it is today in the case of commodities where Europe is self-sufficient or is in surplus. I ask the Minister: will he agree that, so far as we can see at present, it means that there will be no firm price guarantees—that is to say intervention prices—likely on oats, potatoes, sheep, lamb, eggs, wool, milk and pigs? That is my information. All of these at the moment are guaranteed. It provides a great measure of security.
Can he tell us any more about the production grants? Is it still true that whether or not these are to be allowed, amounting to £100 million, depends on the Community itself?
Would he agree that there are bound to be higher prices—quite substantially higher in all probability—for farmers for feed grains?
1016 Then there is the transitional period. The Lord Privy Seal began by asking for twelve to fifteen years. It has been turned down again. If he is lucky he will get six years.
I must refer to this passage in the right hon. Gentleman's record. On 10 th October in that famous speech he said:The changes we shall need to bring about are so fundamental that we cannot judge the effect on farmers' living standards at the end of the transitional period.… We regard it as of the utmost importance that we should continue to be able to use such means as are necessary to safeguard our farmers' standard of living "—"continue to be able to use." He did not get away with it. They were not wearing that one. All we have now is that if farmers generally or in particular parts of the Community are not receiving fairer living standards the Commission may present proposals to the Council, which are then decided by a qualified majority. The independence has gone. That is essential, but it is not there. The right hon. Gentleman has lost it. He has given it up.
He has got an annual review. He knows that the annual review that he has got is a very different thing from the annual review that the farmers have today.
I should like to refer again to the speech made by the Prime Minister—he must have forgotten it yesterday—on 2nd August, 1961, when he said:We have given a pledge to maintain the 1957 Agriculture Act for the lifetime of this Parliament and we stand by that …"— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd August, 1961: Vol 645, c. 1488.]That has some bearing on when the General Election is going to be. I think we might have a statement from the Government as to their intentions and to clear up how they are going to reconcile having the election first with maintaining that pledge.
I now turn to E.F.T.A. Nothing has so far been agreed. Our concern is about the future. It is vital that these E.F.T.A. countries should be in. I am glad that the pledge, so absolute, was reaffirmed today. But there are reports—they are not just corridor gossip; the Lord Privy Seal knows that perfectly well—of opposition—first to the neutrals. The United States have not been so keen. I know of some other European statesmen who 1017 do not like it either. They look upon the Community as essentially a political affair. They want people who are going to be in N.A.T.O. and they do not want anybody else. There is also a certain amount of talk, not without foundation, that they do not want Norway and Denmark in as full members at once. They might let them in for three or four or five years as associate members but not as full members.
I ask the Government whether they will make it plain that if either the neutrals are kept out against their will or Norway and Denmark are refused full membership against their will, Britain will not enter the Common Market? This is a matter of the Government's good faith and it is important that it should be put absolutely plainly.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, on timing, how he envisages this pledge being fulfilled? Can we have an assurance that the Government will not sign the Treaty of Rome until the E.F.T.A. problem has been satisfactorily settled; or at least can we have an assurance that they will introduce no legislation—for if their pledge means anything, that would be valueless unless the E.F.T.A. problem is satisfactorily settled.
I shall say little about the "planning" condition. We are chiefly concerned here with full employment. I take up only one point.
In his speech of 10th October the Lord Privy Seal asked about capital movements. This happens to be one of the things about which we are particularly concerned. I have never been able to trace any satisfactory outcome of that original approach. What happened? Has it just disappeared? Have there been any talks? Perhaps we could hear the outcome of those talks.
I turn to the political conditions. We are asking for freedom to conduct our own foreign policy. This has been attacked from opposite slides. On the one hand, people say there is no need to make a condition of that kind. On the other hand, we are told it is absurd to expect it. Let me make it plain that what we are saying is not that we decide our foreign policy in a vacuum. We have allies. We have our relationships With other countries. We have the Commonwealth. We have a balance of power in the world. All of these things clearly limit the foreign policy of the 1018 country. But we decide and announce it by ourselves at present. Even in the E.E.C. or O.E.C.D. there are no majority decisions. The decisions have to be unanimous. If we accept what they say, it is because we agree with it.
Let us make no bones about it. The essential difference made when the Schuman plan was introduced—the very first step—was the introduction of a supra-national character. That meant majority voting. Whether we like it or not, this was the essential change. It was on those grounds that Mr. Bevin turned it down. This is what I think we are entitled to assert, that we do not want—certainly for my part, and my party—supra-national decisions on foreign policy taken by a majority in a ministerial council or in a federation, in which case there would be no British foreign policy at all.
We are told, on the other hand, that we need not worry, that this is not included in the Treaty of Rome. That is true. But there are parallel negotiations. And what did the Lord Privy Seal himself say last April? He said:In my opinion, those who are full members of the economic union must be members of the political union.What does that mean? It means that it is connected. It has got to be discussed. The proof of the matter is that there are parallel negotiations going on.
There is another point here. The Government are arguing more and more that the case for entry into the Common Market is political. The Prime Minister devoted almost the whole of a pamphlet to this. He spoke of the European Communitywith the ability to stand on an equal footing with the great power groupings of the world.What does this mean? We need candour and clarity here for a change, instead of double-talk and evasion.
What do the Government propose? They say that Europe is going to be the great new force standing equally with Russia and the United States. How can we conceive this happening unless there is a single foreign policy? How can we conceive it happening unless there is a single Foreign Secretary to express that policy, and a single Prime Minister and, therefore, a single Legislature? This is federation. This is the logic of it. At least, if it is not that, it is the supranational majority decision council.
1019 It is said that all we are going to do is to discuss. Discuss? To build up Europe in this way, to discuss with Dr. Adenauer and President de Gaulle? Is that going to result in a common foreign policy? Why should it? Talk, and more talk? Why should we assume that there will be agreement?
Take any of the problems which confront us today. Take Berlin. Are we likely to reach agreement on that? Take disengagement, or even the smaller bit of it which the Government accept— the zone of controlled disarmament; in the problems of NA.T.O. I see no likelihood that more frequent meetings with the members of E.E.C. will produce agreement here.
The Government should make plain what they stand for, for the sake of the British people and of Europe. I should like to ask them this question. What political change for achieving the objects which they say they have in mind do they envisage? What institutional change, other than federation or a supranational ministerial council, which is different from what we have today, do they envisage? I have never had an answer to this question. I have put the question to many people and we are entitled to an answer. I will say this for the Liberal Party. They have at least come out clearly for federation.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
At any rate, I am afraid we cannot accept federation. It would mean a different position for us, the absence of any British foreign policy, the absence of any British defence policy at the moment, and it would mean, in my view, the end of the Commonwealth. We cannot be the centre of the Commonwealth if we are a province of Europe. For whatever we may say, that is really what federation means. Why do we really disguise this from ourselves? It may be good or it may be bad, but let us admit it.
I have set out our criticisms of the agreements and why they do not fulfil the conditions and pledges. I do not regard this failure to fulfil pledges and conditions as inevitable. Even now there are some faint signs of toughness—no, 1020 that is too strong a word—a slight improvement in the stickiness of the right hon. Gentleman over the agricultural question. I only wish he had shown the same sense of stickiness over the Commonwealth.
The real trouble, I have no doubt at all, is that the impression has been created that we have to go in. That is perfectly all right if one lays down no conditions. Alternatively, if one makes conditions one must fight for them and show that one is not obliged to go in It is no good having conditions and yet implying that one has to go in.
Can we rescue anything on the concessions made as regards the Commonwealth? A lot of damage has been done, but some things can still be done. We could insist on a square deal for New Zealand. That will not be done by getting some concession on mutton or lamb, or by making some temporary arrangements.
We could insist, as far as Pakistan and India are concerned, that what they ask for is right, that is to say, that there are no changes until after the agreement with them has been negotiated. We could, as far as the associated territories are concerned, say that these other arrangements, of which the Lord Privy Seal has told us very little, should be negotiated again before we enter. All this would certainly mean a little delay, but I think that it would be a rather low price to pay for the advantages.
On agriculture, at any rate, I hope that we are going to stand firm. Perhaps the Government will think that more serious as votes depend upon it. Thank God for a bit of democracy!
On E.F.T.A. I think that I have already made it plain what we regard as the things that should be said and done.
As for our own two additional conditions, frankly, it is more a matter of declarations than of conditions here.
But all of this means that we might have to stay out. We should not be too frightened of that. The existence of conditions implies this. People ask what is the alternative. Sometimes the answer is given in rather crude terms. What is the alternative to cutting one's throat? It is not to cut it. What is the alternative to throwing oneself over a cliff? It is to stay on top. I do not 1021 pretend that this is an adequate answer, though it is a desirable one. People need more.
Political and economic consequences are being paraded to suggest that we have no option. I have been told that if we do not go in we become neutralists and that we leave N.A.T.O. What utter nonsense this is. This has certainly been said repeatedly in the Press. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It has certainly been said by commentators in the Press, and I just want to deal with it. I do not want there to be any misunderstanding about it. We stand absolutely by our N.A.T.O. obligations, and it is absurd to suggest anything else. Canada is not going to be in the E.E.C. If we are not in, Norway and Denmark will not be in. The United States will not be in.
The troubles of N.A.T.O. today have nothing to do, in my view, with the formation of the European Economic Community. I say categorically that I see no reason to think that they would be removed if we joined. The difficulties derive chiefly from the attitude of the French Government, which, for reasons of their own, are rather hostile to the kind of integrated defence policy which other members of N.A.T.O. want.
Politically, whatever happens in Europe we shall remain in close and friendly relations with them, but we shall, of course, have our relations and friends in E.F.T.A. and the Commonwealth. I gat tired of the phrase "Either we are in Europe or we are out of Europe." We are heavily involved in Europe in any case. We are militarily committed, we are bound to trade with the countries of Europe and we share a great deal of common culture But still the question remains, what do we do if we stay out?
Politically, I see no particular difficulty. I think, as I say, that we can go on as at present with the kind of relationships and position in the world that we certainly could have. Economically, let me say this. The House knows that I have always regarded the balance as very even. First of all, I would not rule out later negotiations after a pause. These things are not always for all time. Governments change and circumstances change. We need give no impression that that is not so.
What the world needs today is not a customs union but low tariffs everywhere. 1022 This is the real point. What we need, equally, is certainly commodity agreements, but on a world basis. We need access for developing countries, but on a world basis. It cannot be held to be otherwise. In any event, we can expect another Kennedy round. If anyone thinks that the Americans will not negotiate if we do not go into the Common Market, let them think again. Such an idea is insulting to the Americans. They are not so mean-minded as to say, "Then we will not have any tariff negotiations at all." It is in their interests to have them, as it is in the interests of the world.
Incidentally, let me say this about the Trade Bill. Whether we go in or not, it gives the President power to cut tariffs by 50 per cent. It also gives him power to cut them by 100 per cent. in commodities where the Common Market, including Britain, and America cover more than 80 per cent. of world trade. The Douglas Amendment would have allowed him to do this even if we did not enter the Common Market. Unfortunately, the Douglas Amendment was withdrawn. But I do not know whether the House knows that it was made plain when it was withdrawn by the Chairman of House Ways and Means that if Britain stayed out of the Common Market legislation could be amended next year. So do not let us rest on that.
I say all this not because I prefer these alternatives but because we cannot negotiate effectively without having them constantly in our minds. I still hope for entry on our terms. They are not impossible or unreasonable. But we must fight for them. In doing so we must be prepared for hard struggles for suspensions and breaks. Do not forget that if we want their markets they want ours; that for broad political reasons some of these countries are anxious that we should enter. There is no need for us to beg.
We must get away from this "inevitability" approach that of course we are going in. Nothing could be more fatal to the fulfilment of our conditions. And —what is just as bad—we must not be confined by time-tables; for this again weakens our position.
The Lord Privy Seal says that we cannot delay, that it is bad for business. I doubt if it is a factor in the stagnation 1023 from which this country has been suffering for many years. But the right hon. Gentleman also called it a turning point in history. If it is a turning point in history, is it not worth a little delay so that we may be sure that we take the right turn? Is not some continuing uncertainty worth while in order to preserve the Commonwealth? It is said that the real motive is to get all this over before the election. If that is so, it is strange and certainly indefensible. I will only repeat what I have said before. If when the final terms are known there is a major difference, a clear difference, between the parties, then I say if this is a turning point in history turning points in history should be voted upon by the people as a whole.
But I do not say that there must be this difference. I tell the Lord Privy Seal that six months ago I did not expect it, because I did not think that he would give way. I thought that the Government would either come to us with terms sufficiently good for us to accept or that they would not dare to come with terms at all and prefer to break off instead.
It is only because they have come with terms which I regard as atrociously bad that we have been obliged to criticise in this way today.
Even now I wish instead that the right hon. Gentleman would try to carry us with him by fighting hard to get the terms we have laid down and by standing by his conditions. But I must also say (this to him: if we are confronted with the same abject posture, with a series of broken pledges, with terms that obviously damage the Commonwealth, sacrifice our agriculture and betray our E.F.T.A. friends—all wrapped up in double talk—terms which take away essential freedoms in economic and foreign policies—then we shall do all in our power to expose and oppose such a policy, because we think it profoundly wrong and dangerous for the British people and for their destiny in the world.
§ 5.41 p.m.
§ Sir Richard Nugent (Guildford)
As I listened to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, I could not help reflecting on the enormous difficulty of conducting these negotiations, which 1024 already have been going on for 15 months and are likely to go on for some months longer, when my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal must regularly come back to this House, report what is happening and possibly stand up to a speech like that of the right hon. Gentleman's.
The right hon. Gentleman, in a speech which I acknowledge was most able for anyone who does not want to go into the Market, and a great comfort to those who are opposed to it, of course picked every sort of hole in the account given by my right hon. Friend. In fact, as the House listened to my right hon. Friend, we could not but be impressed by the achievements that have been made over the last 15 months in marathon negotiations such as can seldom have been met before.
I felt, however, as I listened to the Leader of the Opposition—whom I have often had the pleasure of hearing make constructive speeches—that this was not one of his constructive contributions. He was solely concerned with attack. I suppose that he could say that at this moment, when the negotiations have reached a crescendo of hard bargaining, a critical speech would be most helpful to my right hon. Friend. I doubt whether that was really his view, however. I felt that he did rather less than justice to some of the facts.
For instance, the right hon. Gentleman referred to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. We all understand well what were the conditions behind that conference—the political and domestic problems of the various Prime Ministers and the need for them to meet the feelings of their people at home. But I think it is fair to remember that this was a private conference and that there was only one official statement to emerge from it—the communique at the end.
That communiqué, which the right hon. Gentleman skated over very lightly, said, quite specifically, that the Prime Ministers expressed their anxieties but were prepared to wait until they had heard the final terms before they gave their conclusions. Surely that is the only statement that we are entitled to take as being an official one from what was supposed to be a private conference.
1025 The fact is that in these negotiations, as I am sure the House well understands, many things cannot be settled until we either have gone into the Common Market or have not. Indeed, some of the parties concerned, as my right hon. Friend said, such as India, over a trade treaty, would prefer to wait until we have gone in, if we are to go in. That is in the nature of the case.
In deciding whether, up to date, my right hon. Friend has achieved enough to look as if our conditions might be attained in the end, we have to have some regard to the fact that we are proposing to go into a group of European nations which have, to a very large extent, similar interests, similar backgrounds, similar cultures and similar standards of living to ours. Unless that were so we would not dream of going in.
A great deal of what the Leader of the Opposition said was more in the vein, however, that we were to join up with a bunch of people we distrusted from start to finish. Nor do I believe that his implication that my right hon. Friend was feeble in carrying out these negotiations would command the support either of a majority of the House or of the country. There is no doubt that throughout the country the general feeling is that my right hon. Friend has conducted these negotiations for this country in a manner beyond all praise.
There is only one point of detail on Which I want to touch, and that is the question of agriculture, to which the Leader of the Opposition referred. The most recent proposal by the Six is that there should be no transitional period and that if we enter we should at once make a change to their system of agricultural prices and the managed market. I would like to express the opinion that I do not think that is acceptable either politically or practically.
We are specifically pledged to continue the 1957 Act until the end of this Parliament, and that,I am sure, we should fulfil But, in addition, the practical difficulties of making a change of this kind overnight, apart from the impact on agriculture as a whole, would be enormous as between the different commodities. It simply is not possible. I hope that my right hon. Friends the Lord Privy Seal 1026 and the Minister of Agriculture, in continuing the negotiations, will make it plain to the negotiators for the Six that this is something which is totally unacceptable to us both politically and practically.
I want to make a general comment of a rather less hostile kind than we have been hearting. The thought came to me when listening to the debate on Cuba last week. It struck me then, both in overtones of what was said and in undertones by what was not said, how anxious we all feel, and rightly so, about Great Britain's status as a world Power. That is an aspect of this great issue of entry into the Common Market which is well worth a thought and a comment today.
The fact is that all of us, wherever we sit, are deeply interested in world affairs and, not only that, we expect Her Majesty's Government to take effective action in world affairs wherever ' they may be occurring. We may have different views on what action we want taken, but we all expect action to be taken. In doing this, we are no more than expressing the feelings of our people as a whole who have an understanding and a knowledge of world affairs far in advance of any other nation. I do not think that our people are any longer yearning for our nineteenth century status as a top nation, but they feel an enduring interest in and responsibility for what happens in the world, and this is an aspect of the future of Great Britain Which I feel deserves a thought at this moment.
I feel convinced that if we were no longer able to make our contribution at the world's conference table the precarious peace of the world would be even more precarious. I am sure 'that every one of us feels convinced of that too. This is a matter which deserves a thought now. What is our prospect of making this contribution if we continue as we are or if we go into the Common Market?
Let us stand back from this problem for a moment and detach ourselves from our proper fights cver current issues in the House. In the changing scale of this century our prospect is not good. We cannot look without anxiety to the next ten or twenty years at what kind of influenoe we shall have in the world. 1027 Our problem today is to find a new basis on which to make our contribution so that it will continue to be effective. If we cannot, we shall follow the same course as the classic fate of the great imperial Powers of the past who had (their day of greatness and gradually sank to becoming nonentities or museum pieces. We think of Athens, Rome. Egypt, Spain and so on. The great lessons which they learned have all been lost to posterity in the mist of history. This is a point we should have before our minds—whether if we go on as we are we shall have a prospect of making this contribution, or whether we shall have a better chance if we go into the Common Market.
If we look at the barometer of the nation's life and our economic situation —and I make no party point of this— we find that we have had now fewer than six economic crises since the war. There have been three on each side, so there is no party point in it. The reason each time was that our balance of payments difficulties had become acute. We had not been making sufficient export earnings to meet the cost of imports plus the cost of our overseas commitments. This is the point. We have our economic arguments about this or that, as we had very properly on Monday, and we criticise this and that aspect of our domestic life, but the fact lis that we as a nation are not less industrious or less skilled than our competitor nations. The reason why we have these difficulties is that we have to carry such enormous burdens in the terms of aid and strategic commitments to the rest of the world.
I give hon. Members one comparison. Germany has achieved a spectacular rise in her gold and dollar reserves over the past five years. I have totted it up, and it would be true to say that if our country had had no more commitments overseas in terms of defence and the Commonwealth than Germany had over that period our gold and dollar reserves would have risen just as much and probably more. This is the point—we are carrying this tremendous load of overseas commitments as a world Power. Grants and loans run annually now at a rate of about £180 million.
1028 In addition to aid there is trade. We have a virtually open market which re-sults in an adverse balance of trade with the Commonwealth of about £300 million, which is again a big economic commitment. Out of our defence spending of £1,700 million about £250 million is now spent overseas. The combination of these huge overseas commitments weighs heavily on the shoulders of our nation, already burdened with the debts of paying for the war.
This is what makes the warning lights flicker. These are the signs of overstrain which we are bound to recognise and look at with great anxiety as we consider the future. If we cannot have a new basis for our life, then inevitably one of these crises in the future—and more will occur—will get out of control and we shall run into a second devaluation. It is bound, otherwise, to happen sooner or later, and if it happened we should put paid to sterling as a world currency, with calamity for all the sterling countries and permanent damage to our own earning capacity. If that happened we should certainly shed a large part of our world and Commonwealth commitments overnight, and we should shed with it our capacity to help the Commonwealth to influence the world.
These are the realities and, I am sure, the anxieties which we all feel wherever we sit in the House. The arrival of the Six on the scene worsens the situation. It will make European markets less accessible and make world markets more competitive. It will bring a third giant Power on the scene—in spite of what the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said—in the next five or ten years to hot up the pace even further.
I should like to look for a moment at the prospect of entry. I shall not go into the economic arguments, because I do not intend my speech to be controversial. I should have thought that access to a giant domestic market of 200 million or more is bound to be an economic asset however one looks at it, but the fact is that the Economic Community is already a giant world Power on the full twentieth century scale. Entry gives the opportunity—and I stress that it is an opportunity—to get the Six to share with us the burden of world power and the burden of the needs of the Commonwealth and of the world for which we 1029 all feel responsible and which we see already is becoming more and more difficult for us to carry. This is the opportunity of getting them to share this burden with us.
I recognise that there are forces of Chauvinism and exclusiveness to which the Leader of the Opposition referred. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman met them particularly last May in his meeting in Brussels with M. Spaak and other Socialist leaders and he was very offended by them. They are there, and I accept them, but there are also there some outward-Looking forces; and is there not a great deal of evidence that these forces are at least as 'powerful and possibly more powerful than the exclusive forces about which the right hon. Gentleman is obviously so anxious?
Take, for instance, the undertaking, to which my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal referred, in regard to India, Pakistan and Ceylon, by which the Six have agreed specifically to maintain or improve their foreign exchange earnings. I should have thought that that was a very valuable undertaking, especially when put alongside the fact that in India's current five-year plan Germany is subscribing in the first two years nearly 400 million dollars, half as much again as we ourselves are doing. These things give substance to the fact that there are outward-looking people and outward-looking forces there. Even France is in on a small scale in the Indian five-year plan. This is some evidence showing that the European countries are not just exclusive.
I am quite sure that many Europeans see the world obligation Which we feel. I believe that if Great Britain want in we should give a lead to those influences which are looking outwards and we should make them the dominating force within the Community both for trade as well as for aid, which, I quite accept, is equally vital. What is more, this country's long experience in international affairs, particularly our long experience in the nineteenth century as top nation, as, indeed, we were, has taught us a great deal in making an objective approach to world problems which helps to make our advice not only wise but put in a way which is acceptable to those with whom we are dealing.
1030 We live our lives today, very much so after the events of the last two weeks, in the shadow of the nuclear missile. But this has itself started something which has never happened before in the history of mankind. Mankind now, for the first time, is doubting the efficacy of armed force as the final instrument of political power. This is an immense advance in the whole human outlook. Men are at last feeling that there may be no future in war. We cannot claim that this has come out of any great virtue. It has come out of sheer necessity, since we all understand that a major war would mean the exchange of nuclear missiles and the destruction of everything.
The important point is that the great Powers of the world are not just stitting down and doing nothing. They are busily engaged, as they have been during the past ten or twenty years, in forging a new weapon or instrument of political power in the world, that is, the economic instrument. This is a twentieth-century development, something quite new. More and more of the great Powers of the world are now using their economic strength in economic aid to the under-developed countries in order to influence affairs and try to make the world move in the way they wish. This is something which we understand, perhaps better than anyone else, because we have a long experience in developing the Commonwealth. Here is a field in which we can make a very special contribution.
The fact that we may be moving out of the old historical pattern of endless wars into a period when we can dispense with armed force as the weapon of the nations and use economic aid as the means by which one should help to guide affairs represents a change quite as dramatic as the change from the Old Testament to the New. I do not claim that all economic aid is inspired by the New Testament—of course, it is not— but all economic aid is good because 1st goes to help the hungry and the poor nations of the world. Our great problem is to reduce the gap between the rich nations and the poor. In this we have a special contribution to make. If we could bring in all Western Europe to join together in one union in doing it, we should not only have the strength to give the Commonwealth the aid it 1031 needs, but we should have the strength to give the other under-developed parts of the world the aid and trade which they, too, need.
I am not saying that all these things are certain. Of course, they are not. But what entry does give us is the opportunity. I cannot agree with the Leader of the Opposition, however much I might wish it, that we shall have the opportunity for these things if we do not go in. Although I am not in favour of unconditional entry by any means, I feel that the opportunities are so great that we should have a disposition to go in if we can, if we can get reasonable terms, knowing that, if we do, we can make an immeasurable contribution to the world and enable our country to do something which no other country or imperial Power has ever done, that is, adjust ourselves to the changing scale of the times so that we may continue to be an effective force in the world.
§ 6.6 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Guildford (Sir R. Nugent) finished on a note with which we on this side can agree. At its recent conference, the Labour Party commenced its comments on the question of the Common Market by saying that the European Community was a great and imaginative conception. We can agree with the right hon. Gentleman entirely that it is desirable that we should be part of a great development of that kind which may play an important part in the future of the world.
It has been agreed on both sides today, and agreed generally, I think, that the principle is not now in question. At the time of the First World War, the Labour Party held that a united Europe was one of the ways of avoiding future wars, and at that time there was a great movement in its favour. Unfortunately for us, it did not come to a successful culmination, and we were faced with another world war. Towards the end of that world war, the late Aneurin Bevan, writing on this subject—his words are quoted at page 437 of the book by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot)—said, referring to Russia in relation to the West: 1032I cannot believe that Russia will find her safety on the edge of an unstable Europe. Her main interest is an economically progressive Europe, satisfied with a future of material advancement and therefore not likely to become a prey to militarist adventurers.He went on to say:But, as a first stage, an organic confederation of the Western European nations, like France, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Spain, the Scandinavian nations, along with Germany and Austria and a progressive Britain is the only solution likely to lay the foundation for peace and prosperity in Europe.That was a very important declaration. My own experience of Aneurin Bevan was that he frequently had great imaginative vision. In that vision he portrayed what is now in process of negotiation.
I think that we all feel that Britain ought to go in. Parliament authorised talks with the European Economic Community. The T.U.C. has said that we should go in if the conditions are right. The Labour Party has said something of the same kind, and today the Amendment states it in other slightly different terms. One of the troubles giving rise to the difficulties of this debate is that, although we are all agreed, until some time ago we were also agreed that there were certain indispensable conditions.
The Lord Privy Seal has been greatly embarrassed by the Conservative Party Conference, because the Prime Minister overplayed his hand by getting an enthusiastic vote of confidence at the Conservative Party Conference which is now being interpreted in Brussels and on the Continent as an order to the Government to go in whatever the conditions. Therefore, the Lord Privy Seal, when he returns to Brussels, will meet a rather different situation. People on the Continent do not understand these conferences. They think that the Conservative Party conference has some control over the Government, and they regard this vote of confidence as an order to the Government to go in. This will embarrass the Lord Privy Seal very greatly.
Great misunderstandings have been created abroad, but anyone who listened to the Lord Privy Seal this afternoon must have respected the masterly exposition of the case which he put forward. Whatever one may say about the details, I think that everyone really wondered 1033 at the way in which he not only understood his material but handled it at the Dispatch Box. We can conclude that, whether he has succeeded or failed, he has certainly not been conducting these negotiations in a spirit of ignorance or shown any inability to face all the issues involved.
In view of the Conservative Party conference, and in view of the Prime Minister painting a rosy picture and suggesting that we should have the best of all possible worlds if we went into the Common Market, it is the duty of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition to remind us that conditions have been laid down. It is most important, in view of the misunderstanding which has arisen on the Continent about 'the Conservative Party conference, that it should be clearly understood there that this country will not go in unless the Continent is reasonable in its approach to these negotiations.
I do not take the view that we can dictate the conditions on which we go in to the Common Market. The very fact that we are having talks means that we are considering the matter together. I agree with the Lord Privy Seal that we must sit down as colleagues and comrades and consider the matter in the best interests of Europe as a whole.
It is difficult to discuss this matter in a balanced way in view of the confusion caused by the controversy. For instance, it is not true that the Commonwealth is entirely against our going in. Some Commonwealth countries have their ambassadors in Brussels today carrying on their countries' negotiations independently of what we are doing. Commonwealth countries are looking after their interests just as much as we are looking after ours. There is a great deal of misrepresentation about the Commonwealth countries, which can make their own bargains in many ways and which are not necessarily dependent upon us. Nor can our family ties with the Commonwealth be broken, whatever negotiations there may be about the Common Market.
There are supposed to be 20 million Scots abroad. Does anyone think that they will forget the Scots, that the Irish will forget the Irish, that the Welsh will forget the Welsh, or that the English will forget the English, simply because we 1034 enter into negotiations with Europe? Terrifying pictures are painted of what will happen to the ordinary people when we go in. It is said that many disasters will overtake us. But I am willing to guarantee that, if we go into the Common Market, many people in this country will not notice the slightest difference in their lives ten years" hence. Scotland has had a common market with England for 250 years.
§ Mr. Woodburn
There are some people in England who do not know that there is such a common market. They are still grousing about it after 250 years.
As I say, we should not exaggerate these difficulties. People will hardly be affected. Britain's friends in Europe— and we have friends in Europe—are very puzzled at our lack of enthusiasm for going into the Common Market willy-nilly. It is possible to get the view accepted here that the arguments for and against are approximately even. Perhaps we would not suffer a disaster if we did not go in, but it might be strange to some people that a united Europe is already an established fact and a success. People in Europe are so proud of it that they cannot understand why we do not want to be in it immediately.
Parliament here accepted without dissent that the Government should seek membership of the European Economic Community and open talks to this end. But there were conditions that Britain should not be required to break her ties with the Commonwealth and should not be asked to break faith with other E.F.T.A. countries and that there should be safeguards for British agriculture.
The ordinary citizen here is a little puzzled as to why the Common Market has come on them in such a rush. It has been in the minds of the people in the Continent for seventeen years, but it has become a matter for discussion among people in Britain only during the last two or three years. One reason for this is that, although Britain suffered great damage during the war, it was never occupied by foreign troops, whereas every country in Europe was occupied by foreign troops, and the people of Europe are desperately anxious to find some way of preventing further wars and 1035 the rise of other dictators. We are not as alarmed about this as people on the Continent.
I was at a conference in Vienna which was attended by 3,000 delegates from towns and cities all over Europe. I was amazed how deeply the conviction was held by the people of Europe that the one way to prevent the rise of dictatorships and further war in Europe was to have a united Europe. They want us in a united Europe because they realise that this country, with its stable institutions, is a very important factor in preventing the return of dictatorships and preserving democracy.
I was in Germany after the war on the day that it was decided that Germany could play a part in European defence. The change in the people's attitude was amazing. It changed overnight. They felt that. although they were a beaten people, there was some hope for the future. The right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) and some of my hon. Friends who went to Europe and started this idea of a united Europe gave the people there some hope that they would rise from the ashes and once again be people of self-respect. I was a member of the Government at the time, and I know how disappointed Europeans were that the British Government did not help to make this ideal a reality. But we were faced with very practical problems at that time. We had to deal with matters on a practical basis, and we took the view that it was better to unite on practical things and to allow a united Europe to emerge from that than to have an artificial Europe and create the institutions afterwards.
When the Coal and Steel Community was created, we were asked to sign a blank cheque in order to go into this organisation. We were busily concerned with trying to rebuild our own economy, which was in a desperate state. Our Government could not afford to sign a blank cheque and go in without conditions. We were greatly criticised by the Opposition and by the right hon. Member for Woodford for not signing this blank cheque, but when they became the Government in 1951 they continued the same policy; and the disappointment which they created in Europe was much greater than any disappointment 1036 which arose from our frank and open refusal to join this organisation.
Many of the institutions created by our policy of building up practical unity in Europe continue to this day. They form the basis of the new unity in Europe. We started economic help to Europe. We in this struggling country gave more economic help to Europe than we received from America. That is sometimes forgotten. We helped to create the Council of Europe and O.E.E.C. We brought about the coal rationalisation organisation for Europe. The late Ernest Bevin was responsible for stimulating the formation of the Benelux union, which was the basis on which was built the Community of the Six. Although we did not go into Europe and it may be that we made a mistake in not agreeing to that blank cheque, nevertheless we played a very great part in building Europe. Therefore, it would be ridiculous to suggest that at this late stage we are changing our minds and did not want to play a part in the development of the Community.
Great misrepresentations complicate a balanced view of the situation. Some dangers are imaginary, some are exaggerated, and there is no question that some are manufactured to make it impossible for us to go into Europe. Some however, are real, and our friends on the Continent must realise that they are real and must be dealt with.
Mr. Khrushchev does not want us to go into Europe, and he has a great manyfriends, in this country and elsewhere in Europe, who use every argument to make it impossible for us to go into Europe. Lord Beaverbrook, who has the second biggest newspaper in the country, has always been a great champion of the Commonwealth. Like the right hon. Member for Woodford, when he is in a fight he does not care what weapon he uses or where he hits. He starts out by wanting to win his battle and any instrument is good enough for the purpose. Lord Beaverbrook has now brought in Lord Montgomery and other assets to carry on the fight to show that we should not go into Europe. One can hardly say that their methods or their approach to the problem have been objective. They are against our joining, and they say so. Therefore, they 1037 look for arguments to prevent our joining—prejudice, fears, or anything that can be used to turn the scales.
All over the Continent, there is an earnest desire among people for Britain to join. That means that the issues we are discussing in Britain are as much the affair of those friends of ours on the Continent as they are affairs of ours. If they want us in, they as well as we have to consider these issues. Britain's friends must realise that there are difficulties to overcome and that it is their business to help to solve them.
Although the problem has been exaggerated to some extent, no British Government could obtain consent to join the Community if it meant breaking with the Commonwealth. Britain's entry can, therefore, be prevented if the Community or any member of it lays down impossible conditions and sacrifices before we join. They must make it possible for Britain to come in with the Commonwealth, for no one in Britain would understand why Europe would not want Britain in with all its strength or would deliberately ask Samson to come in with his shorn locks.
It may be thought that this is not realised on the Continent. However, Die Welt,which is, perhaps, the most influential paper in Germany, recently contained an article outlining this very problem. It pointed out that there was an argument on two fronts, in Brussels and in London. The Lord Privy Seal was arguing in Brussels, but back here we had to argue on another front with those who opposed our joining.
Die Weltpointed out the assertion of our opponents that it would mean the end of the Commonwealth. It pointed out that the fact of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and Ghana being worried was an important factor and showed that Britain without the Empire was still a country which was respected in the five continents. It showed that Britain had great influence all over the world. It said that the Commonwealth felt, thought and knew like Britain; people in the Commonwealth thought in the same terms, they feared to enter the squabbles of the Continent and to become involved in them.
Die Weltsaid that it depended upon the Six to remove these fears, and it concluded by saying: 1038If by chance continental agricultural egotism should force Britain to surrender the interests of her partners, then confidence will be destroyed and the axe laid at the roots of the Commonwealth. Britain may then become a member of the Common Market but without the most precious contribution she has to offer —the club of her friends on all continents: the friends who, with foresight and understanding, could in future be not only friends of Britain, but friends of Europe.That is being said on the Continent, and in many parts of the Continent people are willing to struggle for that.
The British people, however, have to be educated to the reasons and possibilities. This may make friends on the Continent impatient, but as old students who have been studying the matter for seventeen years the continentals must have a little sympathy with those who have been studying it for only two years. We cannot be rushed too quickly.
The Lord Privy Seal has reported today that, in his view, the discussions are going well. It is obvious from what has been said by the two Front Benches that there is a difference of opinion about that. Some of us have had an opportunity of seeing the Community at work. As the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) has said, the Community has created something new in the working of democratic and civilised institutions.
We now have a body—it is neither a Government nor a State civil service— which has developed a faculty for trying to think in terms of Europe, just as the United Nations tries to think in terms of the world. If we had the whole of the Six nations around the table discussing matters, they would be inclined to discuss them from their own point of view. We have now created an institution—the High Commission—that is beginning to develop the faculty of thinking, not in terms of France, Belgium, Holland or Germany, but in terms of Europe. This is the beginning of what, I hope, will eventually be European thought and people thinking not in terms any longer of fighting each other, but of co-operating in the best interests of everyone concerned. This body is a guardian of European outlook and is being accepted by these nations. Anybody who has seen this must agree that it is a great step forward in the working of institutions.
1039 A good many people have made great play of the economic argument and whether we will benefit or be injured by joining. Nothing does more harm on the Continent than to give the impression that the whole British mentality is devoted to making a balance sheet and calculating whether we will make or lose money by going in. The idea that we go in only if it pays us to do so and that we stay out if it does not, creates the impression that Britain is on the make and is still a nation of shopkeepers looking for profit.
Unfortunately, previous negotiations have implanted the idea that Britain is not a good member of the Community. I am glad that the Lord Privy Seal, at least, has created a different impression on the Continent, where people feel that he has negotiated sincerely and has an earnest desire for Britain to play a part. Therefore, from that standpoint, whether or not we regard our present representatives in the negotiations as the best, on personal grounds the right hon. Gentleman has created a fine impression of our country among people on the Continent.
The economic advantages to the Community are not the main issue. People in the Community who know realise that it is not the Common Market that has created prosperity on the Continent, but the inspiration of the idea that people are Europeans. Everybody agrees on this. France has developed not because she is selling goods abroad, but she has taken on a new life and is developing economically, scientifically and otherwise in a way which nobody would have believed.
The last thing for us to do is to go over and patronise the French and tell them how much more clever and brilliant we are than they. Anyone who travels on a French railway train becomes less cocky about our engineering skill. We are so insular that we do not know what is going on on the Continent. France has developed one of the finest aircraft in the world, and I am glad that we may, perhaps, co-operate with her in building, possibly, the best in the world. We must realise that France is not behindhand. As the Lord Privy Seal has said, she has more nationalised industry working efficiently even than we have. 1040 I hope that this Government will learn from that and proceed in the same direction.
Britain is gradually realising what all this means, but the Amendment declares that we should support the entry of Britain if the conditions are satisfactory. Therefore, it all depends on those conditions, and, as my right hon. Friend said, the implication of that is that there are people on the Continent who, if they want to keep us out, can keep us out, but who, if they want us in, must make it their business to be fair and reasonable in the discussion of these terms and see that nobody is sacrificed. Nobody in this country would agree for a moment that the economy of New Zealand should be completely destroyed in order that we should get into the Common Market. They must realise this on the Continent, and realise that once these doubts are settled the British people will realise the tremendous possibilities of a United Europe, and will, I am sure, want to participate in what is probably one of the greatest steps forward in history.
Britain is already too involved in Europe for her to become disengaged It is almost impossible to conceive of our not being consulted in European affairs, but the question is are we to stand on the doorstep and shout inside? Are we not more likely to be able to play a better part if we are in? It is not a question whether, if we go in, the Six will dictate to the One, because we shall be part of the organisation. This idea of a supra-national dictatorship is exaggerated, because, even with the Coal and Steel Community, which we were afraid to join, it was found that the exercise of the supra-national powers depended on the nation which had to carry them out. The supra-national authority can make the decisions, but still they have to be carried out by the individual nations. Therefore, if the supra-national body decided on something, it would still be within the prerogative of the nation concerned to refuse to carry it out, and that has been proved in the case of the Coal and Steel Community.
A great many fears will prove to be groundless in the future. We are already co-operating and taking part in a great many of the institutions already created. 1041 We may be sitting on the side at the moment, but I think that conditions that will take us in will be found possible. The European Community has been born. It is showing signs of life and wonderful promise. With Britain in it, it could become stronger and, in due time, prove to be a further step towards the eventual community of the world, because we can never have peace in the world if the nations each plough a lonely furrow and fight their own ends. We have to have co-operation between nations, and I believe myself that this will be a further step towards some kind of world government, in which we shall all sink our national sovereignty and be prepared to accept the rule of law and order and bring peace to the world.
§ 6.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Miscampbell (Blackpool, North)
I understand that it is the generous tradition of this House that indulgence is granted to someone who speaks here for the first time, and in asking for that indulgence on this occasion, I particularly recognise the generosity of the House, because I have chosen a controversial subject on which to make my first intervention.
Before I turn to the few points I want to make, I should also like to say that I am very conscious of the privilege of following one who represented the same constituency as myself for seventeen years—Sir Toby Low, as he then was, now Lord Aldington, who, I know, was greatly liked and respected in the House, as, indeed, he was in his own constituency.
If I do not follow immediately into the economic niceties and details of which we have heard today, it is first because it is very difficult for anyone on a back bench to do so with effect, and because it is surely difficult to do so in a short intervention. I should, therefore, like to deal with the broader generalities of the problem before us. I am sure that if there is one thing, above all, that we as Members of the House of Commons should do, it is to try to keep this debate on a level of rational discussion, and to keep out of the paths of sentiment, tradition, and, if I dare say so, even history, because these may very well be very bad guides to what our future course should be.
1042 The most interesting and perhaps the unique feature of the Six coming together is just the very fact that they came together without the pressure of war, and, indeed, without economic pressure. All the statistics that are used on so many occasions try to show that the Common Market has made little or no difference in Europe, but we should all know that the rising growth of inter-Six trade really shows something else as well. It shows that six nations were prepared to sit down round a table and make a rational decision when there was no real economic pressure upon them to do so. This is not necessarily true of ourselves, but it must, surely, be the spirit in which we ourselves have to enter the negotiations, and if we do not we should make the gravest mistake.
The only occasion on which a European country turned to recriminations within itself was a debate in France between 1953 and 1954, when France had suggested the creation of a European army. It was France's own suggestion. I understand from others that, when the argument was finished and the debate had been concluded, in the end, no one was able to discuss the problem in any terms that made sense at all, and, of course, France turned back on herself and turned away. In 1955 and 1956, the negotiations had to start again. I hope very much that this country, during the coming winter, will not make that mistake.
Having said that, and I am firmly of the opinion that we should go in, and also firmly of the opinion that the economic problem in the long run is less serious than the political problem we have to face, and certainly the least important for Our own country, I must add that if one does not go into details of the economic problem, one cannot get it into perspective by looking at it in very broad terms.
It is certainly true to say that failure to achieve in this country the target of an increase of 4 per cent. per annum, which is a high target, is in itself more important than the economic consequences of going into the European Community, and we should understand that. It is true also that there are terms upon which we cannot go in, and the difference between the two sides of the House today is on what those terms are.
1043 I should only like to say that, in regard to those terms, and I expect that I am probably prepared to go considerably further than some hon. Gentlemen opposite, I think that it would be a tragedy if, in the end, our negotiators were driven to desperation over a transitional provision. In the end, it will seem to be appalling that we should be kept out of Europe because demands are made that we should accept conditions now, when, in the end, we are quite prepared to accept the position as it will be in 1970. Of course, agriculture comes immediately to mind, but that, I hope, will not, in the end, prove a barrier to our entry.
I have said that there are terms on which we cannot go in. May I conclude what I want to say about the economic prospects, before I turn to the political ones, by saying that it has been said, and said with some force, that the terms of our entry are fifty-fifty. Personally, I do not agree that these are correct figures. I think that, for reasons which are often given a great deal of weight, these figures very much underestimate the advantages of this country going in. I am not talking about the question of a larger market, which may be controversial: I know the arguments about that. I am not just discussing the problem of the dynamic economic growth which we know there is in Europe. I am discussing the psychological approach, which is so important. To speak to the young executives of, say, a chemical firm—and living in Cheshire. I find it difficult to go out and not talk to executives of chemical firms— is certainly an eye opener.
There is no doubt at all that it is not just the young people, but that all in the growing industries find that this is a challenge which is creating excitement and hope among those in that type of industry. If, in the end, they are frustrated I am sure that they will turn back in both disappointment and distress.
There is a great deal to be said for the view that will make a great difference to exports. I am not going to say that exporting is fun. It may or may not be —I do not know—but, certainly, it is very difficult to explain in economic terms why the will to export, and the excitement which is created by these 1044 opportunities, is so very important. But it is, as one can see in a firm which has a keen, eager export manager really working hard and who is interested in Europe.
As I have said, I think that the economic problem which faces us, important though it is, important as are the details of our entry, the details which are being analysed and looked at and looked at hard, in the end is not the really important part what matters to us today. No matter what happens—and I think that every Member of the House will agree with this—this will not remain a happy commercial club. This will not remain a small economic club. That is absolutely certain. This House, which most jealously guards democratic rights, will not let undemocratic decisions go unwatched and unhindered, so it may well be that from this House and from this nation the demand may come for some form of political integration in the end.
If we turn our back on Europe at the moment that will not stop integration and the changes which will come in Europe. It will not make all that difference to Europe, whether we go in or not. They are going on. We have a chance, if we get in, of taking part in the negotiations which will, no doubt, proceed in the next year or so. If we do not go in, it is said, we can still remain in N.A.T.O. I accept that. We have got to. We cannot opt out of the European problems and we cannot stand back from Europe. We have to remain in Europe
Over the years the same questions will be asked which were asked last week, "Were we consulted?" We consulted only those who have power to change our minds. Of course, our troops will be in N.A.T.O. and, of course, they may be used. Our troops will be used, but shall we be consulted about that if we stand out? Surely this is the real crux of the matter. If we want to have power in the world, and want to influence the changes which are bound to come in Europe, the only place in which we can do it is in Europe. Suppose, for instance, we wanted to be consulted about the German problem and especially the Berlin problem. We can only do it if we are in Europe.
1045 It is for that reason that I very much support the efforts of the Government in Brussels. I wish the Lord Privy Seal well, and I hope that he comes back with an agreement which we can accept.
§ 6.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Bowles (Nuneaton)
I have the pleasure at this moment—perhaps for the only time in my life—of speaking on behalf of the whole House of Commons in congratulating the hon. Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Miscampbell) on his very fluent, pleasant and well-reasoned speech. I did not know I was going to be called immediately after the hon. Member. I had, therefore, no opportunity of finding out what his special interests are. That I could not help, because I did not want to miss his most interesting speech by running out and asking someone for the low-down about them. He spoke very nicely, and we should like to hear him over and over again in the future.
I have been wondering throughout this debate, as in others on the Common Market, why it is that the difficulties arise. I would ask these questions: Do the Six want us to join the Common Market? Do the Commonwealth want us to join the Common Market? Do the farmers of this country want us to join the Common Market? The right hon. Member for Guildford (Sir R. Nugent) seemed to suggest that there was some doubt in their minds about the wisdom of going in.
I find it very difficult to believe in the Common Market at all. I am not going into the merits or the demerits of the economic argument, but I shall deal with what I consider to be the really important aspect, and that is the question of the sovereignty of this House.
When the Prime Minister in July last year announced that the Government were going to begin to open negotiations on the Common Market I had the temerity to say:May I ask the Prime Minister to give an undertaking that he will not agree to anything that might prevent a future British Socialist Government from establishing Socialism here?There was a kind of affected laughter from the other side of the House, but some of those on this side got the point I was getting at, and that is what I am going to enlarge upon this afternoon. The Prime Minister replied to me: 1046I think that that is the best question I have had so far."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st July, 1961; Vol. 645, c. 936.]For me it was a considerable honour that a little later on that year my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) in this House and Lord Alexander of Hillsborough in another place both thought my question was a relevant one, and I was very pleased that those two leaders of my party thought so.
I have been mystified for quite a long time because, after all, we all remember that some years ago leading Ministers now trying to push us into the Common Market were very much against our going in. I wonder about this. For instance, the Prime Minister himself said:If the United Kingdom were to join such a Customs union, the United Kingdom tariff would be swept aside and would be replaced by this single common tariff. That would mean that goods coming into the United Kingdom from the Commonwealth, including the Colonies, would have to pay duty at the same rate as goods coming from any other third country not a member of the Customs union, while goods from the Customs union would enter free. Judged only by the most limited United Kingdom interests, such an arrangement would be wholly disadvantageous."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th November, 1956; Vol. 561. c. 37.]What has happened to him in the last six years since that statement? Then the Chancellor of the Exchequer was so much against it that he entered into the E.F.T.A. arrangements. Perhaps I am wrong, but I think he did. What he said was:… we must recognise that to sign the Treaty of Rome would mean having common external tariffs, which, in turn, would mean the end of Commonwealth free entry, and I cannot conceive that any Government of this country would put forward a proposition which would involve the abandonment of Commonwealth free entry. It would be wrong for us and for the whole free world to adopt a policy of new duties on foodstuffs and raw materials, many of which come from under-developed countries at present entering a major market duty-free." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th February, 1959; Vol. 599, c. 1381.]I have no doubt that I could find similar statements by the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and I have others by leading Ministers like the Deputy Prime Minister. All these right hon. Gentlemen have changed their minds. Why? Perhaps whoever is to wind up for the Government tonight may tell us.
1047 When we had the last financial crisis we had to borrow over £700 million from the International Monetary Fund. I asked the Prime Minister whether the terms of our borrowing the money were made a condition of our seeking to enter the Common Market. He denied that that was true. However, I know that some things are denied in this House even though they may be true.
As a keen Parliamentarian I am sure that the Prime Minister and his Government are setting out to maim the House of Commons. I will show how that will come about. Our powers will be handed over to the High Commission, a body of nine international bureaucrats or super-civil servants. It would appear that our authority in a legal sense will be put into Commission. It is only about forty years since Mussolini did the same thing. He set up a corporate State putting Parliament into the background and letting the economics of his society be run by corporations or commissions. That is what I suspect is happening now with us. I feel that when Governments have such a real dislike for a popularly elected Parliament, they take certain steps, particularly Tories When they feel that their end may have come. The Tories never believed in Parliamentary democracy; they do not mind Parliament so long as it suits their own people, but more and more they have disliked Parliament; for instance, in giving long recesses. The way the Prime Minister treats Parliament at the moment is outrageous and unconstitutional. Look at the way de Gaulle treats the French Parliament and Dr. Adenauer the West German Parliament.
I am a very simple person. I am a democrat. I am a Social Democrat. If the people of this country desire to have a Tory Government to carry out a Conservative policy, let them have that Government and let that policy be carried out. If, like me, they prefer a Labour Government to carry out a Socialist policy, that should be what they should get. That is what democracy means.
In my right hon. Friend's speech there was a little joke about there being a likelihood that the Government might pay some attention to the wishes of the farmers, thereby showing some element of democracy in the present negotiations. 1048 We all know that the Government have no mandate from the electors and are trying to push and smuggle this through before the next General Election.
I have some proofs of what I am talking about concerning the loss of Parliamentary sovereignty. A leading article in The Timestoday says:Mr. Butler told the Conservative Conference ' We shall agree to nothing which undermines the essential powers of Parliament.' Compare this with the analysis of the Lord Chancellor, Lord Dilhorne. 'Under Article 189 of the Treaty (of Rome), regulations issued by the Council and the Commission of the Community are to be binding and directly applicable in each member state. That means that the Council and the Commission can make regulations that must, if we join the Community, have the force of law directly they are made. There will be no question of Parliament having to approve them before they take effect. Parliament will not even have to consider them before they are made. This does involve a surrender of the sovereignty of Parliament and this must be fairly and squarely admitted.'That is by the Lord Chancellor in this Government. He is still in office. It was a brave thing for him to say at the present time with all the pressure going on.
The Lord Privy Seal talked about planning. I noticed in The Timesof 18th October a message from its correspondent in Bonn stating that in an interview with a new weekly publication, Professor Erhard, the Economics Minister, writes:that the greatest danger of the moment is a renewed trend towards state control and planning.This is a big man in one of the strongest Governments in the Six.
The report goes on:A national planned economy would, within the framework of a large European area, constitute a paradox.These are statements by much more learned and much more important persons than myself, and I think the House ought to be aware of them.
According to The Timesof 4th April, Professor Erhard said:He who believes that he can save himself by raising prices is practising self-decepticn.He is also reported to have said:Critics often overlooked the fact that there was no longer an exclusively national market for commodities and goods. ' We have a common market right in the middle of Germany' he said. Germany's neighbours were infiltrating into this market and the 1049 German manufacturer was standing with his back to the wall.I do not know whether this has been read by many people. Perhaps it has been forgotten. We frequently hear talk of Germany being in a wonderful position. This was an eye-opener to me. Perhaps a recession had set in.
The report goes on:The State could no longer intervene, as it lacked the means for national measures.This is West Germany.Hitherto it had been possible, by way of a national tariffs policy, to put up trade barriers, but that could not be done in the Common Market. Nor could the State intervene by way of subsidies and monetary action. ' The German market lies open—defenceless, if you like to put it that way ' the Minister remarked. ' We are in the process of destroying our economic prosperity.'The report continues:Professor Erhard pointed out that the sharp increase in foreign competiton had meant a large rise in imports. He did not deplore this as such; but the reasons for German industry's declining share of the home market must be sought at home. If the process went on it would threaten the security of employment and the workers would be the ones to suffer most.I should like some of my friends in the Labour Party to study this a little more. Lord Robens said that the Common Market would be wonderful for coal-miners and the coal industry. It is important to realise that if Lord Robens says that it will be a good thing for the coal industry a large number of miners will vote in favour of going in. The only people in my constituency who are in favour of going in are some officials of the National Union of Mineworkers. I have addressed meeting after meeting and find no opposition to what I say. Everybody I speak to—I have spoken to A.E.U. meetings and so on—is against going into the Common Market. I advise the Leaders of the Labour Party to remember this, because I think they will win the next General Election if they stand firmly on the issue of not going in.
I am glad to see my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) in his place. He had an article in the Daily Heraldon 26th October of an interview with M. Spaak. My hon. Friend wrote:I asked him: 'What of Hugh Gaitskell's Brighton speech and his five conditions that have to be satisfied before Britain can enter Europe?' Spaak shrugged his shoulders. 1050 'Certainly, the Commonwealth, the Seven and British agriculture are all serious matters to be negotiated', he agreed.' But two of Mr. Gaitskell's conditions—the British right to plan her internal economy and an independent British foreign policy are not real.'This is it; this is the stuff.
Sir Edwin Herbert, an ex-President of the Law Society, the solicitors' trade union, addressing a meeting of lawyers in Torquay, said:British lawyers would have to widen their international knowledge. They would have to accustom themselves to the idea that they would have to do with a new kind of law made in Brussels but binding on British subjects. In some cases British courts, even the House of Lords itself, may not be able to come to a final conclusion without obtaining the opinion of the Luxembourg court. The British Government would have to alter in some respects its administrative practices, and even in some instances to ask Parliament to repeal or amend some of our statute law.Writing in the Sunday Expresson 5th August, Wilfred sendall—who writes very well—said:Despite the late and sudden French move, the Six are firmly insisting that the Common Market Commission"—that is this Mussolini thing—must have final authority over the policies of the community.If an agreement is to be reached, therefore, it means a positive and important surrender of British sovereignty to the Commission.Again in the Sunday Express,on 12th August, Lord Attlee wrote:Nor am I at all happy over the set-up in the Common Market. I am all for a planned economy, but I don't want Britain to be planned by some international civil servants, however, devoted.The Commission seems to me to have far too much power; and democracy very little say.The Sunday Expressis conducting a strong and well-argued case against Britain's treatment of the Commonwealth countries, and I am amazed that so many Tories, the so-called Empire builders of the past, feel about it as they now do.
I humbly congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) on making a very early start in analysing the economic arguments in favour of our going in. He came out against our entry very early on and I am sure that his influence is greatly spreading. Writing in the New Statesmanon 24th November, 1961, he said:The Rome Treaty would impose on us one other major economic handicap—free movement of capital by British residents out of this 1051 country. This could not be stopped, even in a crisis, without the consent of the bureaucrats in Brussels. In those circumstances could any British Government pursue expansion without devaluation?In another article he said:The public are now waking up to the real nature of the Rome Treaty. Adherence to the Common Market on Mr. Heath's terms would mean loss of control over much of our internal social, and economic policy to an undemocratic body; lasting economic damage to the U.K. and Commonwealth; and steady pressure on British Governments to reverse progressive social and fiscal policies.I sincerely believe that this is a very wicked conspiracy by the Tories. It is a conspiracy by property owners, international capitalists and financiers against the workers of this country. Some time ago, Nye Bevan wrote:If confidence in political democracy is to be sustained, political freedom must arm itself with economic power. Private property in the main sources of production and distribution endangers political liberty, for it leaves Parliament with responsibility and property with power.The Common Market is a conspiracy oy property to snatch political power and add it to its economic power. The Government believe that the Common-wealth is expendable and that our national independence and workers are expendable. Our entry will enable property to exploit competitive, and therefore cheaper, labour. Our entry will be irrevocable and, of course, is aimed at strengthening the economic, political and military power in the cold war against the Soviet Union.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Colonel Sir Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
At one point in his speech the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles; said that he was mystified. He certainly convinced me of that. He quoted remarks made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and another of my right hon. Friends about the Rome Treaty, but he completely overlooked the fact that those remarks were made in the context of the possibility of our signing the Rome Treaty as it stood, without negotiating any changes to it. That is proved by the fact that the hon. Member himself said that all the Commonwealth countries would be thrown outside a common tariff barrier if we signed the Treaty. But he knows that we have already negotiated for 72 mil- 1052 lion people in the Commonwealth to have access to the whole of the enlarged Community if they wish. His remark was a ridiculous over-simplification.
I have just spent an interesting month in Australia and New Zealand, and perhaps the House will be kind enough to bear with me if I concentrate on giving some impressions of that month. As we all know, New Zealand is faced with special problems, but it has been made clear by the Community that special answers will be found to those problems. However, that has been made clear only in general and vague terms, and one of my main impressions in New Zealand was that until those promises are much more specific, New Zealand will remain very anxious.
New Zealand has serious and genuine and understandable anxieties. They centre around the dairy industry about which I should like to give the House some information, some of which may be new to hon. Members. One's first impression of the dairy industry in New Zealand is of very great efficiency. It is organised in many small farms, averaging under 100 acres. More than one-quarter of New Zealand's export earnings come from dairy product?, which were sold to 60 countries last year, some indication of the efforts it has made to find new markets. Britain bought 90 per cent. of New Zealand's butter and cheese last year, the butter valued at £39 million and the cheese at £20 million. New Zealand sent just over half its total exports to the United Kingdom in 1961 and more than two-thirds of its exports would be affected if Britain joined the Common Market.
It is important to emphasise just how difficult New Zealand's position is, and dairying is the key to its problem. New Zealand built up its dairy industry to its present size largely at the request of this country, something which is not fully realised here. There was an exchange of correspondence, of which I have seen copies, between the New Zealand Government and the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) who was Minister of Food in 1948 and who said that New Zealand should produce as much as possible over the next six or eight years. One result of that encouragement was that New Zealand continued rationing dairy pro- 1053 ducts until 1950, a fact which is not sufficiently widely known.
New Zealand's anxieties hinge on the internal pride policy, on which the Community is to decide. The Lord Privy Seal made that very clear today in his excellent speech. I will try to explain New Zealand's problem in two different ways. The F.A.O. forecasts a possible surplus of 8 million tons of milk equivalent by 1970 in the Six, yet an enlarged Community today would be an importer of two-thirds of all the world's commercial dairy exports. That causes New Zealand very considerable anxiety.
Perhaps I can put this in rather more homely terms by reminding the House of the price of butter in France and the price we pay for New Zealand butter. At present best butter in France costs about 8s. a lb., whereas we pay 3s. 9d. or 3s. 10d. for it. I think 3s. 10d. was what my wife paid for it the last time she bought it, and I liked it very much. Of course, there is cheaper butter available in France. The price of lamb in France is between 10s. 6d. and lls. 6d. a lb. In Britain we pay about 4s. 6d. a lb. for best New Zealand lamb. This has been noticed by New Zealanders, and it causes them very great anxiety indeed. This serves to highlight the problem facing us.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
I ask this because I have not quite understood my hon. and gallant Friend's argument, although he is being very helpful with it. Do I understand his figures to mean that the European Community, including Britain, are at present importers of two-thirds of the world's agricultural surplus but they will not presumably be so in 1970 when this surplus arises? Is that the line of argument?
§ Sir T. Beamish
The enlarged Community if Britain joined would be importers of two-thirds of the world's exported dairy products.
§ Sir T. Beamish
Yes, they would be if Britain joined today, whereas the F.A.O. forecasts that by 1970 there could easily be a very large surplus indeed of dairy products within the Six themselves, leaving Britain out. I hope I have made that clear.
§ Sir T. Beamish
I do not have that figure, but I think that the way in which I have put it highlights one of New Zealand's anxieties fairly clearly.
New Zealand has made very substantial efforts to diversify her economy. One of the questions which I asked some of the dairy farmers was this: "If you cannot sell your dairy produce, why do you not turn over to beef?" I was very quickly disillusioned. There are some very powerful reasons why it would be extremely difficult and costly for New Zealand to turn over to beef except over a long-term period. The market for prime beef is highly competitive and very difficult. But the New Zealanders have made considerable efforts to sell their beef. Five years ago they were exporting to the United States goods to the total value of 65 million dollars. They have now more than doubled those exports and in 1961 they were worth 131 million dollars. This is a very considerable effort. Last year America took from New Zealand beef and veal to the value of £20 million, whereas New Zealand sold to the United Kingdom beef and veal to the value of only £1 million. Therefore, the New Zealanders have been looking to much wider markets than they were accustomed to look to a few years ago.
Before the war in the average years 1936–38 New Zealand sent 80 per cent. of her exports by value to the United Kingdom. Now she sends only just over half, so she is still very dependent indeed on the British market. There is no getting away from that.
Her reliance on the dairy industry is still very great indeed. Before the war in 1936–8 she relied as to 40 per cent. of her export earnings on the dairy industry. She now relies as to only about 26 per cent. on it. This pattern is changing, but her reliance on it is still very great indeed.
There have been other efforts in New Zealand to diversify. For example, she has very high hopes for her forest products. That is a long-term matter, although it happens that soft wood matures in New Zealand about twice as fast as it does in most other parts of the world. In New Zealand a tree can be felled for pulping after eighteen years, which is a remarkably short time. New 1055 Zealand has very high hopes of being in the long-term one of the best producers of soft wood in the would.
New Zealand also has great hopes that the large scheme which they have worked out with Australia for the development of the Australian bauxite industry—Australia has the largest bauxite deposits in the world—in conjunction with cheap power in South Island will be very valuable to her economy.
I do not mention these points about diversification to minimise New Zealand's problems, which are very real indeed, as the Lord Privy Seal has recognised on many occasions and as he recognised again today. I thought that the Leader of the Opposition did less than justice to my right hon. Friend's speech, particularly to those passages. We must face the fact that New Zealand's economy is interlocked with our own. For that matter, New Zealand politically thinks so akin with us that I should have thought, although this may not be practical politics, that there is a prima faciecase for New Zealand membership of the Common Market. Merely because New Zealand is a white country on the other side of the world I do not see why she should get worse terms out of this than were offered to countries in Africa and to the West Indies, although I do not today press the point about New Zealand membership.
A number of leading New Zealanders made this suggestion to me. They asked what the reaction among the Six would be if New Zealand applied for membership. This is worth thinking about. For all practical purposes New Zealanders might be Sussexers. They have the same breed of people and the same breed of sheep, the Southdown breed of sheep having originated in my constituency in the last century. If full membership of the Common Market is not practical politics, it is absolutely essential that the promise to treat New Zealand as a special case is translated into definite undertakings which can be clearly understood.
It is essential that there should be no backsliding on this promise by the Community. This means that there must be agreements which take full account of New Zealand's unique problems, and 1056 they should last until equally satisfactory international commodity agreements have been negotiated. New Zealand does not expect to get everything she wants out of these negotiations. Nobody ever does. However, she expects to get the substance and she expects to have a fair crack of the whip. I am optimistic that she will get it.
Perhaps this is an appropriate moment for me to say how very much I admired the statesmanlike, helpful and broad-minded attitude adopted by Mr. Holy-oake, the New Zealand Prime Minister, throughout the negotiations and afterwards. Several Prime Ministers have been quoted today, so I should like to quote another. Mr. Holyoake said that, provided that New Zealand's vital trading interests are safeguarded, they approve of Britain entering the Common Market. This should be on the record. He also said that on the political side he could see nothing incompatible between Britain's leadership of the Commonwealth and her membership of the Common Market. Remarks not dissimilar and equally broad-minded and helpful were made by Mr. Marshall in an outstandingly brilliant speech at Strasbourg a few weeks ago.
I found that the views of Mr. Holyoake and Mr. Marshall are widely shared in New Zealand. I found practically no hostility in principle to Britain joining the Common Market, though there is an absolute determination that New Zealand's vital interests should be safeguarded.
I turn much more briefly to Australia, whose problems are by no means the same. In Australia, where I spent three weeks, I found the same general attitude and the same understanding of the significance of the Common Market in the context of the total cold war in which we find ourselves. In Australia I found far fewer anxieties about their own industries. But such anxieties as I did find were very real. If the Six show understanding of these problems, I think that, generally, Australia will face with confidence the problems connected with the readjustment of her economy in a typically robust and rugged Australian fashion. Already Australia produces 90 per cent. of her own consumer goods and diversification has gone a long way.
1057 Although the United Kingdom is still Australia's best customer, last year Australia sold twice as much beef to the United States as to the United Kingdom; twice as much wool to Japan as to the United Kingdom and half as much wheat again to Mainland China as to the United Kingdom. So we should bear in mind the very successful efforts which have been made to diversify Australia's overseas trade outside the Commonwealth.
Australia has the highest hopes regarding her oil industry. In the past, some of the hopes of which we have heard have been falsified by subsequent events. But I think it true to say that there are prospects that within the next few years Australia will be self-supporting regarding oil production and possibly an exporting country. In the context of cheap power in South Island, I have already mentioned the huge bauxite deposits around the Gulf of Carpentaria which the Australians hope to develop as soon as possible in the same way as the Jamaican bauxite deposits have been developed in conjunction with Canada and the cheap power in the Kittemat area.
We have often repeated that in these negotiations it is our determination to protect the vital trading interests of Australia and New Zealand. What are those Australian interests?
§ Sir C. Osborne
If Australia is doing so well, as she is entitled to do, by increasing her trade outside the Commonwealth, did my hon. and gallant Friend hear any objections in Australia to this country doing the same?
§ Sir T. Beamish
No, I did not hear any, or find that attitude in Australia at all. But I shall be touching on that point later in my speech.
What are the vital interests of Australia? Britain takes 90 per cent. of Australia's canned fruit and 70 per cent. of her dried fruit. These amounts, together with the fresh fruit taken by Britain, were valued last year at £12 million. Britain takes 25 per cent. of Australia's butter, which is also valued at £12 million, and half of Australia's sugar exports which is valued at £14 million. These are probably the key commodities together with beef, veal, mutton and lamb which are valued at £12 million. There is also wheat on 1058 which we give no preference, and which is valued at £14 million.
I am grateful to the House for bearing with me over these figures. They add up to about £64 million sterling out of the total exports to Britain of £182 million, itself about a quarter of Australia's total exports. The key commodities which I have mentioned, as a percentage of Australia's total exports, come to only about 7½per cent. to 8 per cent., and this serves to put the Australian's anxiety about these key commodities into the right perspective. It is, fortunately, widely agreed that wool is not affected by the negotiations and there is no tariff on wool though it accounts for £44 million of Australia's exports to Britain, and about a quarter of her total exports to this country.
Perhaps I may high-light Australia's anxieties which are very real, in the same way as I tried to do with New Zealand. Australian soft wheat competes with soft wheat from Europe. But a 5 per cent. increase in wheat production in Europe could wipe out the European need for Australian, American and Argentine wheat—just an increase of 5 per cent. That is the root of the anxiety over that important export, and here again everything seems to me to hinge on the fixing of reasonable internal prices and on the pursuing of a reasonable policy which takes full account of the interests of third countries, as, indeed, is promised clearly in the Rome Treaty, and on the negotiating of the promised international commodity agreements.
If the Six really carry out the general promise to be "reasonable" in these matters, I see no reason why the vital trading interests of Australia should be harmed at all, although it is widely accepted by the Australians that some possibly painful readjustments in their economy are bound to be necessary. Mr. Leslie Bury made a speech in the Australian Parliament on 14th August only a few weeks after he had had to resign his office as Minister of Aviation as a result of making similar remarks in a speech in the country. He said:The overall economic effect on Australia of Britain entering into the Common Market is likely to be minor and in years to come could well be beneficial.Mr. Bury was, of course, assuming that the Six would show real understanding 1059 of Australia's problems and had made that clear earlier in his speech. I found his view to be widely shared, and indeed I found the view to be widely shared that there are overwhelming political advantages for Britain and the whole of the free world if we join.
I have only touched on some of the economic problems which are causing anxiety to Australia and New Zealand. I do not wish to take up too much time, though I should have liked to make a few remarks about some of their political anxieties. It may be that I shall have the good fortune to have another opportunity to do so on another occasion.
I should however like to touch on two other subjects briefly. I wish to say a word about the official attitude of the Opposition on the Common Market negotiations in the context of what I described earlier as the total cold war situation in which we find ourselves. I am sorry that the Leader of the Opposition is not in the Chamber. Had I realised that the right hon. Gentleman would not be present when I made my speech—although I appreciate that he cannot remain in the Chamber throughout the whole of the debate—I should have warned him of my intention to make these remarks. Several times during the speech of the right hon. Gentleman I thought that he was showing signs of climbing back again on to the fence on which he was sitting before the Labour Party Conference at Brighton. But by the time he had finished I had come to the conclusion that the right hon. Gentleman was only putting a tentative foot back on to the fence.
I wish to draw attention to the comfort which has been given by the decision made by the Labour Party at Brighton to people who hold neutralist and isolationist and pacifist views; to people who hold Marxist views and to people who hold Communist views. Speaking in my constituency last week I said that the decision made at Brighton had brought considerable comfort to the Communist Party and this was immediately queried. But I was well armed with a copy of the Daily Workerof Thursday, 4th October. I am an avid reader of the Daily Worker,although I have not enjoyed it quite so much since the cartoonist responsible for the "little Alfie" cartoon left the paper, following the terrible events in Hungary. 1060 I wish to quote one sentence from the editorial of the issue of 4th October:The debate should be a great encouragement and inspiration to those, like the Communists, who have fought against the Market from the beginning.Is not that food for thought for those who are prejudiced against going in on any terms at all?
§ Mr. Dick Taverne (Lincoln)
Surely the hon. and gallant Member is quite wrong in this argument, which does not lead anywhere. Has the hon. and gallant Gentleman read what Sir Oswald Moseley said about the Common Market?
§ Sir T. Beamish
I fully expected that question. I would say that Sir Oswald Moseley must be the most discredited man in Britain, and the man with the least influence as well. Whereas the Communist Party has very great influence in Britain, in spite of its small numbers; and it is, of course, part of a vast international conspiracy. Moseley is a man totally without influence and respect, so far as I know, throughout the whole of Britain—apart from the respect of a few "kids" who follow him around. I think that is an extraordinarily bad comparison. If the hon. Member is not worried by the fact that his party's policy has brought such comfort to the Communist Party, I am surprised, because I know he is a Social Democrat and not a Marxist—
§ Mr. Taverne
Surely, the point is that it is impossible to justify either side, in favour or against the Common Market, by those who are comforted or discomforted—both have disreputable allies.
§ Sir T. Beamish
No doubt both sides have disreputable allies, but it is always a very good idea to take a very good look at one's allies. I certainly take a good look at mine, and I hope the hon. Gentleman always takes a good look at his.
It has been suggested that the overwhelming majority at Llandudno for the resolution which congratulated the Government on the progress that has been made in the negotiations, and looked forward to their successful conclusion, has in some ways weakened our negotiating hand in Brussels. I should be sorry if that were the case, but I do 1061 not really see why it should be the case. If anyone believes that he should read the terms of the resolution that was passed by that overwhelming majority— a majority thought by many observers to be something like 100 to 1.
What the party was doing at the Llandudno conference was to make it absolutely clear that it had an open mind about the negotiations; that it hoped that they would be successfully concluded, and that it was not in favour of joining at any price. If any one has drawn the conclusion that the Conservative Party is in favour of joining at any price, he is absolutely wrong. I have never been in favour of joining at any price, nor have I ever been in favour of joining on the best possible terms. In fact, I do not see much difference between joining on the best possible terms and joining at any price, which is a distinction that I think the Leader of the Opposition tried to make.
The essence of negotiation must be give and take. I frankly admit that I had my first twinge of doubt about whether there was sufficient give on the part of the Community negotiators on 5th August, when we appeared to have been presented with something not very far removed from an ultimatum about the internal financial regulations. Following what seemed to me to be too little give last week on the part of certain elements in the Six, about our agricultural problem, I could not help asking myself whether there was an attempt on the part of some of them to drive too hard a bargain, and whether there was not an element in French thinking that would really prefer Europe a I'Anglaise sans les Anglais.
I have heard that said, but I do not believe that it is so, though I do not think that even those who are enthusiastic about joining the Common Market, given suitable terms, may not have had some twinges of doubt. As the issues become clearer, public opinion should swing more and more in favour of joining, so long as real understanding is shown of our real problems. But if the Six try to drive too hard a bargain there will be a revulsion of British thinking which will make it very hard for anyone to help. I think that if any such revulsion took place, the next General Election would unhappily pro- 1062 duce a Government, whatever its political complexion, with which negotiations would be very difficult indeed and, perhaps, impossible. If that were to happen, Europe's loss would be as great as ours, and a terrible blow would have been struck at the unity and strength of the free world.
§ 7.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Dingle Foot (Ipswich)
I listened with somewhat mixed feelings to the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish), but I entirely agree with his concluding sentence. It would be a tragedy for this country, for Europe and the world if, at the end of these negotiations, we did not, for whatever reason, become a member of the Community. I do not think that there is any hon. Member who is prepared to join on any terms, but I feel that our ultimate decision—and it is a decision which, at the end of the day, will have to be taken by every individual member of the House—cannot turn simply on a nice assessment of economic profit and loss but must be determined by wider political considerations.
This is our fourth or fifth debate on the Common Market. The division has run right across the House. It has always seemed to me that the real division is between those who are looking for ways to enter the Community and those who are hunting for excuses to keep out. Throughout these debates we have been faced with an unholy alliance between the isolationists of the Right and the isolationists of the Left; people whom I might describe, to use a title of the late Mr. Galsworthy, as "The Island Pharisees"—those who are always beating their breasts and thanking God we are not as other nations are.
I can understand that coming from hon. Members opposite, because they have a very long isolationist tradition going back as far as Bolingbroke. I find it a little less comprehensible in some of my hon. Friends who pride themselves on being internationalists. Indeed, when I hear some of them, I cannot help recalling the lines of G. K. Chesterton:Oh, how I love the human racewith love so pure and pringlish,And how I hate the horrid FrenchWho never will be English.1063 In turning to the arguments addressed to the House about the position of the Commonwealth, I should first say that the Commonwealth ties mean as much to me personally as I think they do to any other hon. Member. During the last fourteen years or so I have been very greatly privileged. In the exercise of my profession I have had the opportunity of visiting most of the Asian and African Commonwealth countries. I have been to many of them several times over, and I can say without any exaggeration that I have friendships that I greatly value in all those countries, not least in Nigeria.
But do not let us pretend—and I think that this is the danger—that the Commonwealth today is something which quite clearly it is not. And do not let us deceive ourselves about our own position in relation to the Commonwealth. A rather favourite phrase nowadays, particularly among the opponents of Common Market entry, is that we are the centre of the Commonwealth. That is the sort of question-begging phrase which covers up realities.
There are a great many people today both inside this House and outside it who speak of the Commonwealth as though it were simply the old British Empire in a new suit of clothes. It is nothing of the kind. The British Empire was the product of British seapower, and was held together chiefly by the British Fleet. Through a very long period of time, the British Empire was a great power bloc.In the last war we had fighting on our side 2 million Indian soldiers and½ million soldiers from Africa. Nobody supposes that those troops would be available today if we were involved in war. Above all, until the end of the last war, the other members of the Commonwealth—even those which were completely self-governing because they had attained Dominion status—were content to follow our British lead in matters of foreign policy. That, again, has passed away, and it is a state of affairs which is unlikely ever to recur.
Still less are the Commonwealth countries inclined to follow our lead— or, indeed, to consult our interests— in matters of commercial policy. At the Prime Ministers' Conference the various Prime Ministers, quite rightly from their own point of view, expressed apprehension 1064 about the effect on their economies of British entry into the European Community, but, as far as I could follow— and it was not difficult to follow most of what happened at this Conference— there was no single Commonwealth Prime Minister who, on behalf of his Government, offered to alter the commercial policy of his own country in order to help meet the needs and possible difficulties of the United Kingdom.
It is only a few weeks since we had a series of letters in The Timesfrom exporters who complained bitterly of the obstacles—not only tariffs and licences, but in some cases embargoes—which they had to confront when they exported to Commonwealth countries. I do not say this in criticism of the countries concerned. Those countries are perfectly entitled to consider their own economic interests. Those countries, and the African countries particularly, wish to build up their secondary industries even if it be at the expense of our exporters, but surely we, on our side, are also entitled to consider the economic well-being of our own people and especially in this House, the economic well-being of those whom we represent.
What remains? Of course, a good deal. There is the habit of consultation between Commonwealth countries and I do not think that anyone should underrate it. There is the use of the English language, not indeed a universal language throughout the Commonwealth but certainly it is the lingua francaboth in Africa and in Asia. There are similar conceptions of law and similar systems of legal administration, and, of course, there is a very great fund of good will, particularly among those who have been trained and educated in this country. Perhaps I may say that, going as I have often done to Africa and, in particular, to West Africa, I found African members of the legal profession continuing to take the very greatest pride in the fact that they had been called to the bar by one of the Inns of Court in London. I do not underrate any of that, but none of these things make the Commonwealth into a unit, and none of these things can possibly make the Commonwealth into an alternative to the European Economic Community.
I come to another matter which troubles a good many hon. Members and 1065 which clearly troubled my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) a few moments ago. That is the question of the loss of sovereignty, particularly in the realm of foreign policy. Whenever this country has been about to enter into any fresh commitment, whether in the military sphere or the commercial sphere, precisely the same fears have been expressed on one side or another in this House. I quote one speech which was made not in connection with the Common Market but a little earlier and which expressed, I think, a good deal, of what has been said by the opponents of entry, in these debates:It is a really necessary principle of British foreign policy, whatever the complexion of the particular government, that while we have our definite commitments, and while we have principles on which we should all agree, it is essential that we should not enter into extensive, indefinite commitments with the result that the control of our own action, and to a large extent the control of our own foreign policy, will depend not on this country, on this Parliament. on these electors, but upon a whole lot of foreign countries."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 15th March, 1939; Vol. 345, c. 554.]That is the sort of plea we have heard throughout the debates. As I have said, it was not in these debates; it was said by Sir John Simon speaking from the. Dispatch Box on 15th March, 1939, just after the German troops had marched into Prague, and when Sir John Simon was still resisting any movement towards collective security on the Continent of Europe.
No doubt we have to safeguard ourselves against any loss of freedom to determine our own foreign policy if we go in, but it does not seem to me that that is the most vital question. The real question is how much freedom shall we have in determining our foreign policy if we stay out, because an effective foreign policy does not consist of simply wringing one's hands over events one does not like, or in making gestures of one kind or another. An effective foreign policy consists in influencing events outside one's own shores, and if this country were left in a position of isolation how much effective foreign policy would then be left to us?
We have heard the use of the terms "neutralism" and "neutrality". They always ring a bell in my mind because for five years during the war I had the honour to serve as a junior Minister in 1066 the Coalition Government which was formed by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) in the summer of 1940. My principal task during those years was to conduct negotiations with the neutrals to get them to cut down, so far as possible, their trade with the enemy.
There were quite a lot of neutrals in 1939 and 1940. Each one had, technically speaking, an independent foreign policy. It happened to Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Yugoslavia, Greece and Finland. Each pursued its independent foreign policy, with the result which we all know. But there were six that were left—Eire, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey. Those six, it is perfectly true, remained outside the area of actual hostilities. They were not invaded and they did not have to engage their troops in the war. But that was not through their own choice; they had no choice. They only remained immune because it did not suit either of the belligerents to bring them into the war. Throughout the five and a half years they were subject to constant pressure from both sides. On the one side, there was the threat of German invasion, and, on the other, the economic pressure constantly exercised by the allies, particularly by Britain and the United States, and as the balance of the war gradually tilted, so they had to alter their policy. But at no stage were they masters of their own destiny. They were completely at the mercy of decisions taken by other powers.
I do not say that that is an exact analogy, but it illustrates the impossible position of a neutral country that is not itself overwhelmingly powerful. If we were outside the European Community, and if there were to grow up in Europe a closely integrated European super State, we should be in a position not very different from the smaller neutrals at the beginning of the last war, and it might well happen that decisions of the utmost consequence would be taken at Washington and Brussels, decisions over which we ourselves in this country would have little or no influence.
I believe that the paradox is true that we can only exercise an effective foreign policy if we are members of a larger combination, and we shall have far more influence over our own foreign policy 1067 if we are members of the European community than if we remain outside. It is for those mainly political reasons that I hope that it will be possible for us to enter the European Community.
I return for one moment to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. It is perfectly true that practically all the Prime Ministers opposed our entry into the Community, but they did so not only for economic reasons but to some extent for political reasons. I remember —I was in India at the time—reading an interview that Mr. Nehru gave to the Indian Press before he left for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. He said that one of the reasons why he was against Britain's entry into the Community was that it would strengthen N.A.T.O. That may have been a perfectly good reason to Mr. Nehru—and I speak of him with great respect—for our staying out, but it is a very compelling reason for us to go in.
Therefore, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition may well be right when he says that the economic advantages and disadvantages are very nearly balanced. But it seems to me that the political considerations are overwhelmingly on the side of British entry. I believe that we must have reasonable terms, that we cannot accept anything that is offered, but it will be a very great tragedy if at the end of the day Britain does not join the Community.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr)
I should like, on behalf of all hon. Members on this side of the House, and, I imagine, on behalf of many on the opposite benches, to pay a warm tribute to my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal for the skill, determination, tenacity and physical endurance that he has shown in these prolonged and complicated negotiations. In fact, I imagine that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer is not staining his pillow with his tears at night because the job does not now fall within the scope of his duties.
I was greatly impressed by the tactical skill shown by the Opposition in drafting their Amendment to this Motion. I think that they hoped to secure something for everyone and to gain votes from everyone, from a diehard Tory like myself, an imperialist of the old school, 1068 from the farmers and from modern youth which is aching for a new adventure. They thought that they could cover nearly everyone, and I think that they have done it. I know there are some bright ones amongst them, but I did not think they had it in them.
I do not suppose that I am alone in the House when I say that, during the past few years, there is no subject which has caused me more thought or more anxiety than the one which we are discussing tonight. My judgment, if it is right, tells me that we should, and ultimately will, join the Common Market. But then nagging doubts assail me, and the chief one, as has frequently been mentioned by others, is the question of the precise terms.
But there are others. Do the Common Market countries, the Six, really want us in? Will they even let us in? The Prime Minister, the Lord Privy Seal and the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations have all told us the three particular terms that must be observed if we are to enter the Common Market. We all know the terms: first, no interference with any of our links with the Commonwealth, especially our older friends in the Commonwealth, amongst whom I hope we shall soon be able to welcome back South Africa, though possibly some people may not agree with me; secondly, the continuance of our existing subsidies to our farmers—that is the way the farmers look at it anyhow —and, thirdly, loyalty to the ties that we have forged with our E.F.TA. partners.
I read all the pamphlets, booklets, articles and letters in The Timesand elsewhere on this subject by very honourable and honest men for whom I have a great respect, expressing totally and diametrically opposite views. I read the other day a very moving and beautifully written booklet by Sir Arthur Bryant. After reading that book I am convinced that the first of these terms—that is, our ties with the Commonwealth—is the most important. Despite that, I think that the only term of entry that is likely to be easily secured is the last one— satisfying our E.F.TA. partners.
It is very unlikely that if we join the Six, our Mends in E.F.T.A. would not quickly, and probably happily, follow our example. I admit that Sweden, 1069 Switzerland and Austria might encounter some substantial difficulties in doing so. The farming problem will obviously be our chief obstacle. In fact, so far as I can understand, a deadlock has been reached in this matter, and it has proved incapable of solution. I know of very few farmers in my constituency who would vote for the reduction or abolition of the support that they get from the Government, and quite naturally, too.
According to speeches made subsequently by Prime Ministers who attended the Prime Ministers' Conference, they apparently did not show any great faith in our assurance that the Commonwealth links would not be interfered with. Where is the chief stumbling block to our proposed entry into the Common Market? I believe from investigations and journeys that I have made that four of the Six would gladly welcome us. I believe that Dr. Adenauer, though outwardly rather cool in his welcome, would welcome us if only to give him support in restraining the growing domination by President de Gaulle in the counsels of the Six and, indeed, in Europe as a whole.
It is very difficult to understand that strange and great man, General de Gaulle. I met him several times during his sojourn in this country, during the war. I never once saw him smile. It was obvious that he did not like us. I believe he felt that he was not getting sufficient kudos that he merited as the exiled leader of the Free French. But I think that his chief hostility to our entry—and "hostility" is the right word —is that he wants to wipe out the stain of France's subservience to Hitler in 1940. He believes that his present status might be severely reduced or challenged by our association with the Six. It will be very difficult to overcome his attitude, because I believe that he is supported in this matter by probably the whole of the farming population of France, which is considerable.
My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal is not here just now, but I would like to ask a specific question. Have the Government any intention of whittling down the terms of our entry? It is so frequently noised about that already arrangements have been made, even with our Commonwealth partners, 1070 to lessen the terms on which we enter. I would like an answer to that question, because it would influence a great deal of opinion.
Again, does my right hon. Friend speak for the Commonwealth as a whole, or merely for those parts of it which are still under our protection and control? If the latter, does the emergence of these countries into full nationhood within the Commonwealth mean that he no longer has any power to speak on their behalf? Finally, to what extent—and this was mentioned today bv my right hon. Friend and is also mentioned in Sir Arthur Bryant's book—has associate membership been examined and, if so, which Commonwealth States have been mentioned in regard to it?
I am in agreement with Sir Arthur Bryant in saying that the ideal would be to get associate membership extended to the whole of the Commonwealth. But, of course, that, I imagine, is a vain dream, because otherwise we would have to do away with the term "European Economic Community". But Sir Arthur has found an answer to that, also. He has suggested a different title which would allow associate membership not only to incorporate all the older members of the Commonwealth, but also the new and emerging States as well.
This dream, vain though it may be, is yet an extraordinarily attractive one, for it would mean a community of nearly 1,000 million people—650 million in the Commonwealth, 250 million in Europe and 50 million in the United Kingdom, united in free trade and in defence. That community would be a powerful influence in the world. It would be twice or three times as large as the United States and the Soviet Union put together. I hope that such a dream may still be made a reality by the arguments of my right hon. Friend. I believe that it would be the best thing that could happen to the world.
I come back now to my opening remarks. I said that my judgment is that we must join. The reasons for that are not entirely convincing, but are nearly so. The world has changed so completely within the last seventeen years. We have two major Powers striving for co-existence or supremacy. The Commonwealth countries are admittedly tied to 1071 us by sentiment in some cases and by powerful memories of mutual effort, sacrifice and achievement, together with the common bond of headship provided by the Queen. But as I see it they are beginning to find other interests and, therefore, other markets for the skills that we taught them. However, the United Kingdom market is still a vita] factor in their prosperity. I am glad to hear from my right hon. Friend that New Zealand will get special treatment. because, obviously, her economy would be destroyed if deprived of our market.
If we stay out of the Common Market I think that we must ultimately and inevitably become isolated. Europe will not be strong enough without us to exert any particular influence on the two giants. Our trade may well wither and with it our present high standards of living and employment, together with our capacity to help underdeveloped countries both in the Commonwealth and elsewhere. But, on the other hand, if we strengthen free Europe with our membership, that will be a tremendous incentive to the slave States held prisoner behind the Iron Curtain to break their bonds and join this happy and prosperous community of a united Europe.
From all the information I have been able to acquire Britain is still regarded by the satellites as the one-time saviour of the free world, in which the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) is still worshipped. Although this point departs somewhat from the scope of the debate, I believe that the best solution of all, and the final solution I have to offer, would be if we could abolish the suspicion and the fear which exist between the two great contenders for power and so convince Russia that her fears—which are quite genuine and, in some cases, to some extent justified—can be removed. Then she could dispense with these buffer States which she keeps in Europe for her protection and by free elections allow a genuinely free Europe to co-operate in developing a freer and happier world. Perhaps many of us could then even regard the reunification of Germany with equanimity.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Robert Grimston)
Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but he is straying a little wide.
§ Sir T. Moore
I rather thought so and I am sorry, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I will close by saying that I earnestly pray that we may be wisely guided in our choice, for the future of our country and the world depends on it.
§ 7.57 p.m.
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
The hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) said he wanted the answer to one precise question: whether it was true that the Government were whittling down our conditions of entry. I feel that it is important to get back to such factual statements and arguments, and so to the Motion and the Amendment I do not believe that this is the occasion for a discussion of the general principles of the Common Market and its ideals. I feel that it would have been much better if most of the debate had not so far been conducted in that way. My right hon. and hon. Friends are as much included in this stricture as are Members opposite.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) has apologised to me for his absence. He has had to go outside to meet someone, but he knows that I am to say something critical about him. These general considerations about the desirability of the Common Market which he and other hon. Members have talked of do not really meet the point of this debate. In our Amendment we are censuring the Government for two things.
We are criticising them for having accepted already certain commitments which are contradictory to their own pledges to this House and to the country, and because they are also far from fulfilling the conditions laid down by the Opposition. I think it is generally agreed that the Government are negotiating for the whole nation and, therefore, conditions put forward by the Opposition are relevant. We have been assured time and time again by the Lord Privy Seal that he is undertaking the task of national representation and is considering, in this important step, the ideas of the Opposition as well as the pledges of the Government.
We say that the Government have already entered into commitments which do not fulfil their own pledges and, in fact, are contradictory to them. We are saying that we very much regret 1073 the way in which these original commitments, which have already been accepted, have had a bad influence upon our negotiating position. I therefore agree with the hon. Member for Ayr that this is a question which the Government must answer in this debate. Have they already whittled down the conditions implied in their own pledges? I have not much hope that we shall have a precise answer to that question, judging by the Lord Privy Seal's speech today.
Can we get away immediately from some of the resentment shown by hon. Members opposite because the Lord Privy Seal has been criticised? He is there to be criticised. He is a Minister of the Crown. I am not concerned here in attacking his personal integrity but in attacking the political integrity of Her Majesty's Government. It is quite beside the point to show any resentment because the Lord Privy Seal is being crticised. He is being criticised as the Government's representative. He has made all the reports to the House on these negotiations. He is our chief negotiator in Brussels, Paris and every other capital in Europe.
In passing, I would say that I would welcome it if the Lord Privy Seal showed less haste. It does not improve our negotiating position if he makes four trips in three days. Sometimes hesitation is advantageous to negotiation by either a firm or a country. The Lord Privy Seal is identified as the leader of our negotiating team. Therefore, there is nothing personal but wholly political if we criticised what he is doing.
The first main charge against the Government is their conduct of the negotiations. I believe that they have gravely undermined our negotiating position by the way they have gone about this business. This is the first point that should be made in the debate. If one were dealing not with countries but with individual firms and one of the aims of the negotiations was an eventual merger between them, it would surely be most disadvantageous for one of the chief representatives of one of the firms to say, "I want to conclude this business by July or August". Nobody in his senses in a commercial transaction would start off in that way, because it gives immediately the impression to the other side: "Those fellows are in a hurry. They 1074 want to get in quickly". The other side believes that there are all sorts of internal or international reasons for that haste, and it leads them to say, "We shall adopt a tough attitude before we come to terms".
I hope that the Government spokesmen at the end of the debate will return to this subject and give us a better explanation. The Lord Privy Seal has denied that he had been working against a dateline or a time-limit. He gave a curious explanation of why that was not true. He said that obviously it was not true because when July and August were reached the British negotiators did not complete negotiations but said that they would carry on. No dateline was acted upon because it was not possible for the Lord Privy Seal to reach the end of negotiations, but time and again he told the House that he was reasonably optimistic that he would be able to give us the heads of agreement before the House went into recess. He is on record as having said that and some Conservative Party and Government spokesmen have made a virtue out of haste.
Most curious arguments have been put forward. Some of them have been saying in my own area that it was most essential to complete negotiations quickly because many business people were holding back on their investments until they knew whether or not we were going into the Common Market. Other equally curious arguments were put forward. This is a momentous occasion which will decide the future of the country for years to come. On such an occasion the question of whether business men were holding back their investments could not weigh heavily in the scale of what was diplomatically most advantageous to the country.
I believe that the Government wanted to get on with the negotiations quickly because they did not want too much detailed discussion in the country. They wanted to present the country with what was almost a fait accompliand they did not want too many discussions of what was involved. The Lord Privy Seal denies that, but it is difficult to get the Government to clarify some of the essential points.
I turn from the actual conduct of the negotiations to the substance involved in them, and that is one of the decisive 1075 items in this debate. It is not the vast general principle or the desirability of the idea of a Common Market and the European Community. Everything depends upon the decisions already reached and accepted by Her Majesty's Government and upon the sort of mandate that they take on themselves for future negotiations.
On the first point the Lord Privy Seal was questioned this afternoon several times by hon. and right hon. Members, including the Leader of the Opposition. He was asked to tell us what the Government had actually accepted so far. He never gave a clear reply, but it is absolutely certain, and it can be verified from most reputable correspondents in London, that during the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference a number of Government spokesmen went from Commonwealth delegation to delegation and said, "You must remember at the end of the day that some of these decisions have already been made and have got to be accepted".
This was used as an argument to try to influence the attitude of some of the Commonwealth delegations at the Conference itself. The evidence was overwhelming, but when the Lord Privy Seal was questioned today he said, "We never said that there were final agreements but that there were provisional agreements." I do not probably quote every syllable correctly, but the right hon. Gentleman said, "We said that some of these things are based upon principles that could not be reopened for renegotiation." I cannot for the life of me see any difference between that sort of statement and our contention that certain points had already been agreed upon and that the Government are determined not to reopen negotiations upon them.
It is therefore essential that when we come to vote tomorrow every hon. Member who is dissatisfied with the negotiations already agreed upon and is convinced that they do not live up to the Government's pledges or to the conditions laid down by this side of the House should know where we stand. Some of the Government's pledges and some of the Opposition's conditions are identical. That was always regarded as a good thing, because it would give us additional negotiating strength. It would have 1076 allowed the Government to say "There are some provisions on which we must stand absolutely firm. They are the views of most of our supporters and also of Her Majesty's Opposition. They represent the views of practically the whole country politically." The Government did nothing of the kind though they have had many opportunities to do so.
The second important item in the Lord Privy Seal's speech concerned political affairs. Here he was equally prevaricating and there was a general lack of clarity in his pronouncements. I add my voice to that of the hon. Member for Ayr in asking the Government this precise question: what are they now saying to the member countries of the Community about the future of political negotiations within the Community? Is their position, as I believe it to be, that, if the discussions on the Treaty of Rome are successfully concluded, they will take the country into the Common Market without any clear outline or agreement as to the political future of the Community, without any conditions having been laid down as to what limits Britain would put upon future political plans for federation in the Community?
Are the Government allowing themselves to be included in the Community —which, by admission of all sides, is as much a political union, and will be more a political union in the future, as it is a customs and economic union now —and are they asking the country to take that leap in the dark without being able to tell the House of Commons and the electorate what political conditions they are accepting? If that is the Government's position, then, indeed, they will be committing an act of very serious irresponsibility.
It may well be—no one can predict —that there are divided opinions in this country even on the political future of the Common Market or of an enlarged Common Market, but the country has a right to know the precise views of the Government at this point in the negotiations. It is not good enough to say that we want to be consulted on these negotiations. Whenever one travels in Europe and either in Bonn or in Paris meets some of the people who represent the European Governments in the negotiations—some of them very tough negotiators indeed—one hears it said 1077 that they are not very keen on having Britain and the Scandinavian countries in at the same time. They say that they would like to have Britain in first. "Of course", they say, "Britain must accept the Treaty of Rome, with certain minor adjustments and then we want to see whom else we want in". Although they do not add it in these words, one of the reasons behind that attitude is quite simple and straightforward. They do not want voting arrangements in the Community at the time when they settle the political future of the Community to be such that we are in a position to have with us some of our political friends who have the same ideals and very similar political traditions.
Therefore, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out at Question Time again and again, it is of the greatest importance to know what the Government are prepared to do about the political future of the Community. Are they absolutely convinced that in no circumstances will they be in a position where they have later on to accept political solutions which they did not contemplate and which they never mentioned to the House of Commons before the Bill was passed allowing the Government to take Britain into the Community?
I turn now to the important matter of foreign policy. The point made by my right hon. Friend and by our Amendment is that Great Britain must be able to retainher present freedom to conduct her own foreign policy".This has been made light of during the debate—a very mistaken attitude. This country, during the past fifteen years, under whatever Government, has on several occasions played a very useful part in international affairs. There have been periods when we have played a very bad part in international affairs, but there have been important occasions when we have played a good and useful part, and I shall recall, very briefly two of those.
In 1956, during the Korean war, with the general approval of the House on both sides, Mr. Attlee, as he then was, went to Washington. There was divided counsel in the American Government and in the National Security Council 1078 which decides such matters in the United States as to whether a request by General MacArthur to use atomic weapons in Korea should be acceded to or not. Mr. Attlee, not all by himself, of course, any more than Britain did it all by herself, made a major contribution in turning the President's mind away from that awful decision. This was a valuable initiative, and this is where the importance of the Commonwealth countries in foreign affairs, which has not been mentioned in this debate, comes in very prominently.
It is sometimes said, "Why exaggerate the significance of the Commonwealth?" No hon. Member on this side of the House, nor, I think, on the benches opposite, has any desire to do that, but it is important to remember that the Commonwealth not only has an influence in trading and commercial affairs, but also has great influence in international affairs. Before Mr. Attlee went to Washington he had the support of the High Commissioners of the major Commonwealth countries for his initiative. When he reached Washington he found that some of the ambassadors of the senior Commonwealth countries, including Canada, had already intervened with the President. The whole Commonwealth, acting diplomatically as a unit, made a major contribution in that international crisis.
My second example concerns Indo-China in 1954, when there was a request by Mr. Dulles to join the United States Government and send nuclear arms and the Royal Air Force to Indo-China. A Cabinet meeting was called for the Sunday. Before going to that meeting, Mr. Eden, as he then was, consulted the High Commissioners of the senior Commonwealth countries, and their representatives in Washington got busy in the same direction. Again, there was a collective expression of Commonwealth opinion which played a major part in supporting Britain's foreign policy and creating a situation in which we did not move from the brink into atomic war.
There are many other examples of this, but there is not time to go into them. It is well known in this House and outside that if we play lightly with this idea of the Commonwealth being a thing of the past and merely a trading 1079 concern and therefore not of great political significance we do a great disservice to the best interests of the people of this country.
Of course, the Government are not in a position to say at this stage what conclusions there might be or how successful they might be, but the greatest failure in the speech of the Lord Privy Seal was that he refused on behalf of the Government to accept the terms or the spirit of our Amendment, which he could have done. The Government's Motion is deliberately very mild. I am sure that hon. Members opposite have noted that it does not request the House of Commons to approve the Government's conduct of negotiations so far. This is a very curious Motion for the Government to put forward in the middle of the negotiations. All that it requests is a reaffirmation of the decision to negotiate.
I should have thought that at this stage it was important for the Government to get a vote of confidence, at least from their own side, which would allow them to say, "We are doing everything that we can and we shall continue in the same spirit." The Motion does not ask for that at all. The reason is that the Government know that there are now such difficulties in the negotiations at Brussels that they have no right to mislead the country by pretending that they are going better than they are. The Lord Privy Seal should have accepted the terms of our Amendment and the ideas behind it. He should have realised that the acceptance of the conditions which we lay down would strengthen the hand of Her Majesty's Government. At the moment, this is the major problem.
There is a great body of opinion in this country which for many years has welcomed international co-operation. I always get impatient when I hear from the benches opposite or sometimes from my hon. Friends or read in the Press the suggestion that, because some of us are very much concerned about the question of the conditions that we should lay down, we do not accept and embrace the idea of a bigger international unit. Of course we do. There is traditional support on this side of the House for international co-operation and eventual world government. We hope to see larger units of government working together. But I have never believed that 1080 one can merely state the principle and then blindly accept any terms offered in any kind of community.
The sincerity of the Six in these negotiations is put to the test in the terms of our Amendment. It is possible, as my right hon. Friend said this afternoon, if these negotiations were continued for a considerable time and without undue haste, for the conditions to be rediscussed and renegotiated and for a community to emerge which will be acceptable to the largest body of public and political opinion in this country.
It has been said in the debate—it was said by the hon. Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Miscampbell), who made a remarkable and successful maiden speech—that we should not go into the negotiations in the spirit of haggling over detailed economic advantages. This is idealistic advice which sounds good, but it does not meet the point of the position of Her Majesty's Government, nor does it meet the point of the negotiations among the Six themselves.
When the Six negotiated their original Treaty of Rome, they spent years over it and they had to leave a number of decisions by the wayside, because they did not have time even in several years to come to proper conclusions. They took great care to guard certain interests in their six countries. I cannot see why people should talk in terms of haggling over detailed economic advantages when we demand that the Government should safeguard certain essential interests of this country and the Commonwealth. It is unworthy to think that people who put forward these conditions are not imbued with the same idealism.
We all know that idealism is not enough. When embracing an ideal, it is important to make sure that the conditions of the body which one is joining and the implementation of the idea itself are in line with what is reasonable and in line with the fulfilment of the ideal which one has in mind.
The greatest charge, therefore, against the Government, which the Lord Privy Seal has done nothing this afternoon to answer, is that of not identifying themselves with the opinion of the Opposition as well as of many supporters on their own side, standing firm on these conditions and saying that they embrace the idea of the Common Market and 1081 regard it as a good one, but that if we cannot make progress quickly we might need to have a pause in the negotiations. It may be that there is need for second thoughts. Let us see whether we can get the re negotiation of the Treaty of Rome which will allow us to enter the kind of Community of which we approve.
The Lord Privy Seal, however, has never been prepared to accept that kind of argument. I repeat, as I said in the right hon. Gentleman's absence, that when we criticise him, we criticise him as the political representative of the Government. His personal integrity is not at stake and does not concern me. He knows that as the occupant of the public position which he holds he is liable to be criticised. The right hon. Gentleman has never been prepared to answer the line of argument that so far he has not demanded the re-negotiation of the Treaty of Rome.
I remember an occasion when the Lord Privy Seal made one of his interim reports concerning industrial exports from the older Commonwealth countries. He made his report and gave us many details. At the end of it, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said quietly, "Is it not true that on all this, all that the right hon. Gentleman has done is to accept the Treaty of Rome?" Because the Lord Privy Seal is an honest man, he replied, equally quietly, "Yes, that is what I have done", but he did not tell us at the beginning.
No harm is done if we want to strengthen the hand of the Government or of the Lord Privy Seal so that they may speak out on these matters. If we do not, we do not help ourselves or advance our position in other countries. It leads only to Dr. Adenauer saying that we speak with two voices. I am not prepared to take much from Dr. Adenauer or to take his analysis as the best one. He has his own interests at heart, but there is no need for the right hon. Gentleman to be as cautious as he was again today, when he refused to reply to our questions. If he winds up the debate tomorrow, I hope he will tell us more then. Where do he and the Government stand on the kind of political future which they envisage and are prepared to accept within the Community? All along the line, he has 1082 merely fobbed us off with the simple point that we will be consulted. Certainly, we on this side and. I am convinced, the large majority of the people are not prepared to enter what is called primarily an economic community but what is, by general agreement in Europe, just as much a political, community unless the curtain is lifted before we commit ourselves, unless the country and the House are told what kind of Community we are to enter and what political limitations we will accept.
The answer which is normally given is that we would be much better off if we entered the Community first and then we would be able to influence events from inside. That is playing it in too low a key. We are not entering a football league or an association for cultural relations. We are entering a community which is going to determine the economic and political future of this country for many years to come, and it is simply untrue to say that we can enter this Community and then by our persuasive powers and influence decide the political future of the Community in directions which we cannot predict today. That is unrealistic: it can be foretold now that it is unrealistic.
On another occasion, I should have expected the Prime Minister or the Lord Privy Seal to say, "You cannot do these things in this manner; you have to have safe ground under your feet."In our Amendment, we are concerned with criticising the Government on the conditions already accepted, but we are equally concerned to call upon them at this late hour to stand firm in these negotiations, and to fulfil some of the demands of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, to accept the terms of our policy and to return to their own pledges.
We on this side of the House, and I know that I can speak for my party on this matter, in a very large majority are convinced that the concept of a larger Community is a good one, but we are not prepared to advise the electorate and the country that the terms so far negotiated, and the conduct of the negotiations by the Government, are in the direction of the fulfilment of the ideals which many of us support. If they do not change their attitude, if they ignore their own pledges, our own demands and those of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' 1083 Conference in future, we shall not be in a position to advise the country that this is acceptable.
It will be regretted by many people on this side of the House, and certainly by me, if this becomes a major issue between the political parties. It might be inevitable that it is so, but we firmly and honestly believe that it is not too late, that the Government are in a position to draw attention to our point of view and to the disquiet of many of their hon. Friends on the benches opposite, which we know to exist.
There are many hon. Members opposite who are deeply troubled in their minds and hearts, and the right hon. Gentleman could use very easily the point of view of the Opposition, which represents half the country or more, and could very easily use the views of many of the Government's own supporters as a weapon, and very easily improve the negotiating position of his own country, if he started to honour the pledges of the Government and take into account the demands which we have put forward from this slide of the House. This 'is our point of view and this is the reason why we put forward this Amendment in this debate. He should take it very seriously and regard this as perhaps the crucial stage at which he could still turn the wheel of history and get this country out of its very difficult situation into a more advantageous one.
§ Mr. Heath
If the hon. Gentleman is trying to strengthen my hand—and I am always anxious to welcome that—when he talked about renegotiating the Treaty of Rome, may I ask him what evidence he has that members of the Community are prepared to renegotiate the Treaty of Rome? In fact, the negotiations would never have started in that case. [Interruption.]We did; we had long informal consultations with them for years before. What evidence has the hon. Gentleman got, and why does he think they are likely to renegotiate the conditions of the Treaty of Rome?
§ Mr. Mendelson
I said earlier and I repeat it now, that it was the Government's duty to say to the Six that when they negotiated the original Treaty of Rome, they spent years over it, and took 1084 great care. They knew that the future of their countries was at stake and that they had to look after all the important interests. He should say, "I demand, on behalf of Great Britain. that we spend more time on these particular negotiations, and that we also look to the possibility of a renegotiation of the Treaty of Rome." It was possible for the right hon. Gentleman to have said that, and I still think it is possible now to get de factorenegotiation of the Treaty of Rome if he adopts the position which we are putting to the House tonight.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Mr. A. R. Wise (Rugby)
I hope that the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) will not take it amiss when I say that I agree with a good deal of what he said. I put it thus since the comment may seem to him to come from a strange quarter. On the other hand, I think he slightly overstressed a good deal of his point.
However, I am very puzzled about the whole course of this debate. I am indeed puzzled about the Motion, and I am much more puzzled by the Opposition's Amendment, because it is very long and very complicated. It reminds me of some of the rather murkier clauses of the Treaty of Rome. But I will let that pass for the moment.
I am quite firmly announcing now that I am not going to vote against the Amendment because I find a great deal of it in sympathy with my views, but not, of course, by any means all.
As for the Government's Motion, it is asking us to encourage them to go ahead and produce a solution acceptable to Parliament. Nobody, of course, could possibly disagree with that wholly admirable and impeccable sentiment, but we have got to think what this, in fact, would mean. I know perfectly well that in any major policy no Government could possibly allow a free vote of the House of Commons. That is a part of our Parliamentary system, and it would be running away from their responsibilities. On the other hand, I think that it may be incumbent on them, when they produce their solution acceptable to Parliament, not to produce it unless they are pretty certain that it would be acceptable to a Parliament which had a free vote, and that makes a good deal of difference.
§ Mr. Donald Wade (Huddersfield, West)
I am following the hon. Gentleman's interesting thesis. How would any Government ascertain what would be acceptable to Parliament on a free vote without at some time having a free vote?
§ Mr. Wise
If I may reply to the representative of the Liberal Party, who, with the new Left-wing urge of his party, is leaping in so fast to interrupt, that was exactly just what I was going to say, and I was going to point out that some of the things which might be considered are explanations of why the attitude of the Government has changed so much in recent months—indeed, even in recent years.
On the question of agriculture, for instance, the Lord Privy Seal has got, I believe, some tentative agreements. We were carefully told not to assume more till this House could approve them, but the tentative agreements themselves are a sort of breach with the past and with some of the utterances of the Lord Privy Seal's colleagues. Even the Deputy Prime Minister admitted some time back —it was only, I think, three years or so—The European Common Market plan for agriculture would not be suitable for Britain.What has happened in these three years to make it suitable now? That is only one of the explanations which is necessary in order that a plan acceptable to Parliament could be produced. The Minister of Labour described adherence to the European plan for agriculture only two years ago—rather less, only a year and a half ago—as very unwise. What has happened to make it wise now? I am perfectly prepared to be convinced on this, but I shall require a great deal of fairly concentrated logical argument.
In the 1960 White Paper on agriculture, an agreed document produced under Government authority, it was stated:The Government and the unions agree that the British system of agricultural support is the one best suited to the interests of this country.It may 'be that we shall have to adopt a system of agricultural support which is not best suited to the interests of this country, but I do not think that should be done without a fairly full explanation. One of the big Dutch horticulturists has 1086 estimated that 30 per cent. of British horticulture will go out of business with the advent of the Common Market.
It may be right that 30 per cent. of British horticulture should go out of business, but we are entitled to an explanation why it should, particularly because under the system which we are in danger of adopting, our imports, which are considerable, will bear a heavy tax and we shall pay about half the total of the import levies, just about the sum which will be received by France. In other words, French agriculture, which is not very efficient, will be subsidised by the proceeds of the levies. It cannot be right, surely, that British horticulture, if it is not up to scratch should go out of business while we subsidise French agriculture, which is even less up to scratch. That does not seem logical.
I turn now to the Commonwealth. In recent times I have noted, in particular on these benches, a certain passion fox speaking rather ill of Commonwealth countries, which I have deeply deplored. Fortunately, it is not very common, but it happens. That is one of the most frightening things to me of the whole controversy, which has arisen over the approach to the Six.
We have various definite pledges by the Government and statements justifying those pledges. The Minister of Defence, who was, I remember, in days gone by a good and zealous free trader, is now apparently prepared to acquiesce in retiring behind a customs barrier which would have frightened the late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain. The Minister of Defence has said that we cannot enter a customs union because it would mean that we should have to put up tariffs where no tariffs existed. How that could be squared with any principle of free trade, I do not know. The right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) said some time ago that he could understand protection coming from the Tory Party and could in certain circumstances see it coming from the Conservative Party, but how it could come from the Liberal Party he did not know.
Four years ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that we had given a clear undertaking to the Commonwealth countries to maintain their position in our markets for foodstuffs, drink and 1087 tobacco. We have now shifted from that clear undertaking to "seeing that their essential interests are not jeopardised." Why has this step been necessary? Commonwealth foodstuffs have helped to provide us with Cheap food. The Commonwealth provides cheap and certainly very nourishing wine, although I do not drink it enormously.
Although inflation has practically whittled away the preference on both drink and tobacco, some of those who complain about Commonwealth action in raising import duties against us might remember that this has been a two-way traffic and that it ill becomes any member of the Commonwealth to start throwing stones at the moment. The Minister of Agriculture said only three years ago that he could not conceive that any Government of this country would put forward a proposal which would involve the abandonment of Commonwealth free entry. That remark was earlier attributed to some other Minister, but I checked and found that it was the present Minister of Agriculture who made it.
Other Commonwealth imports are threatened which vitally affect our industry. There are concentrated tariffs on a large number of raw materials, and to make any proposal acceptable to Parliament the Six must firmly agree that those raw materials will come in as they did in the past—duty free—and must understand that we are not prepared to tax our own newsprint in order to bolster up whichever part of the Six it is which thinks that it can sell us better newsprint at a higher price.
I should like to read a comment on the question of Commonwealth entry which comes from the Sunday Timesand which is significant. The Sunday Times is a newspaper which, almost ad nauseam,warmly supports the efforts to crawl into the Common Market. I am not suggesting that Her Majesty's Government are crawling in as yet, but only that the Sunday Timesrather wishes that they would. In one very good article it said:The Six, beset with their own problems of farm surpluses, have no intention either of endorsing the free entry system or of providing permanent substitutes for it in the form of 'comparable outlets'. Why should they?1088 I do not know, either.If they were to agree to give certain Commonwealth countries preferential treatment, they would be driving a coach and four through their own sacred principle of a common trading area with a common attitude to those outside it; and naturally, thev are not prepared to do this ".I can understand the attitude of the Six but I cannot understand any of the supporters of our efforts to enter the Community having the neck to talk, in modern jargon, about this body being outward looking. This is an inward looking body. It may be very prosperous, but I very much doubt whether it will be suitable for our adherence in present circumstances.
There is the difficulty about holding the Commonwealth together. It is perfectly true that people are now saying that the Commonwealth is not just a trading organisation but is something much greater than that—a lot of common-thinking characters gathered together, freedom-loving democracies and so on. But I must again quote the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with whom I warmly agree in this respect:The strength of the Commonwealth as a political system owes a great deal to the trading arrangements which exist between us. Anything which destroyed the trading relationships and traditions of the Commonwealth would have a bad political effect on it".Will it now have a good effect? If so. I should like to be told what good effect it will have and how it will strengthen Commonwealth ties.
I now come from the question of Commonwealth relations to the material benefits which are to accrue to us by joining this new and prosperous organisation. It was only yesterday that Lord Derwent in another place said:Since the beginning of this year industrial production in the United Kingdom has increased more rapidly than in … any other European country".If so, is this haste to link up necessary? Are these so frequent journeys to Brussels necessary? I agree with the hon. Member for Penistone that a little less speed would be a good thing. Once before the war I made a contribution to world peace—it was unsuccesslul—when I said that no Minister should be allowed to travel in Europe in anything faster than a stage coach. I Still think that that 1089 self denying ordinance might lead to good results today.
I go on to quote from what Lord Derwent said:… we are a little doubtful about the rate of expansion in the United States and Western Europe next year…It has been said constantly in the House that the expansion of Western Europe started in 1952, that the Treaty of Rome was signed only in 1957, that one could reckon that for a year after that they were still carrying on the momentum of their previous expansion, and that now only a short time subsequently they are slowing down. As I would object strongly to the suggestion that the Treaty of Rome had very much to do with European expansion, I equally claim that we cannot say that the slowing down is entirely due to the Treaty. In fact it is post hoc, even if it is not propter hoc
Lord Derwent went on to say:and if the rate of expansion slows down considerably… it will have the effect of making competition much keener."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords,6th November, 1962; Vol. 244, cc. 225 and 228.]That is very contrary to what we have been told hitherto, namely, that this vast expanding market will provide a fresh healthy breath of competition. Now we are told that this contracting market will provide the competition which our industries apparently so much need. That is very true. We may find a little more acquiescence on the part of the Governments of the Six when they realise that the dumping ground for their surplus products might be shut to them if we were not inside their market.
They themselves have a very clear idea as well as Lord Derwent that contraction may be beginning. According to the Bulletin de l'Europe,Mr. Robert Marjolin said on 20th October:It is possible that we find ourselves at the end of a boom and that we have to face up to certain difficulties at the end of 1963.According to him an appreciable increase in exports to the outside world cannot be expected (save perhaps in Great Britain).We had a great deal of difficulty in producing the protective system under which our industry was allowed to flourish. We are incurring certain serious dangers in ditching our protection quite so rapidly at a time when European dumping may become more ominous than it has been for many years.
1090 I turn to the political side. I shall not dwell very much on this, although I fear our political link-up as much as hon. Members opposite, but not precisely for the same reasons. One of the things they fear is the one reason which might lead me to support the idea warmly. But all of us may have some doubts about the wisdom of too close a union with the Community. There has been a great change. A number of people, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer, have said that we must recognise that for us to sign the Treaty of Rome would be to accept as the ultimate goal political federation in Europe, including ourselves. That is not quite what the Lord Privy Seal has told us in one or two speeches recently. It may be true. I would profoundly regret such a political federation. It is not the union of a series of common cultures. It is not in the least like it. West Europe itself, even. is not a series of common countries, they are Latin and Teutonic, and I think the Latin the more civilised. At least, they are widely different. I agree with what the Chancellor said—this was in 1959, a little later—when he announced that there were certain political overtones with which he was not proposing to deal at that time and that we might very well find ourselves merging into this federation.
There is one more quotation which I have to make and this again is one from the Bulletin de l'Europe:"Le Parliament de I'Europevoted unanimously for a resolution demanding that the negotiations between the Six and the United Kingdom be brought to a successful conclusion as rapidly as possible in a manner which will make no onslaught in the fundamental principles of the Treaty of Rome and to bring into evidence that Great Britain is disposed to accept fully the political consequences of this adherence.That is clear enough. That is what they are saying across the water. But it was not what was being told to the faithful at Llandudno, or anything in the least like it.
I think we require a very much more detailed explanation and that it is impossible to believe that the Government, as they are going at the moment, can produce a solution which could, in the interpretation which I put on it when I started, be acceptable to Parliament. The Government can produce a solution 1091 which they could force through Parliament. Of that there is mo doubt. But to produce one which would command real, genuine and majority consent is, I think, beyond their power at the moment.
§ Sir C. Osborne
Is the hon. Gentleman saying that the Government are going to force us to vote against our consciences?
§ Mr. Wise
I am not the keeper of the hon. Gentleman's conscience, thank goodness. I have been in this House for as many years as he, and I have known certain hon. Members from both sides of the House go unwillingly into the Lobbies. So I will let the hon. Member cherish his white-hot soul in the firm apprehension that no one will be forcing him into the Lobby at the order of the Government.
I have given my reasons, I am afraid at some length, but I have not had an opportunity to do so before. I hope that I shall be able to indulge in silence until the proposals are brought to this House in their entirety.
§ 9.3 p.m
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
Half of the House, at any rate, appreciates the extremely courageous and penetrating questions which have been asked by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. Wise). I hope that a spokesman from the Government Front Bench will be able and willing to answer them later in this debate.
I recall that a former Conservative Chief Whip once told a new Member of Parliament that he would have to choose between his conscience and his constituency. I do not know whether the Lord Privy Seal has ever expressed his views in that way. But I will say that the right hon. Gentleman, once again, has impressed hon. Members by the astonishing competence and lucidity with which he described most complicated issues. I have spent the last twenty-five years trying to pick a quarrel with the right hon. Gentleman. and I have never really succeeded. He seems to disarm personal animosity. But I wonder whether these qualities of the 1092 right hon. Gentleman are what have been needed in the negotiations which have taken place in Brussels over the last twelve months.
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman has shown the necessary sense of direction through these very complicated negotiations, and he has certainly not shown the necessary toughness. I thought that he betrayed his attitude this afternoon, when he complained that I had been expressing a lack of faith in the good will of his partners in these negotiations. That is not the point. We are dealing in these negotiations with some of the toughest bargainers in modern diplomacy. The French negotiating team has already shown itself prepared, for national advantage, mercilessly to exploit any vagueness or imprecision in the terms negotiated. Quite frankly, this is in the old French diplomatic tradition, and I do not blame the French.
The Germans take exactly the same view. Dr. Adenauer spoke in very different terms from the right hon. Gentleman when, in the Bundestag a few weeks ago, he discussed the negotiations. He said of the negotiations in Brussels, "This is not an exchange of love declarations. I am not here to defend the interests of Britain; I am here to defend the interests of Germany." Those are the people with whom we are now negotiating, and I believe that an unwillingness to meet toughness with toughness is one of the things responsible for the really lamentable state of the negotiations, from the British point of view, at present.
What, in fact. has happened? As the Lord Privy Seal made clear this afternoon, the Six have already got from us the most precise and irreversible commitment to abolish Commonwealth preference by 1970 and to replace it by European preference against the Commonwealth. This is precise. It is written in terms. It is absolutely irreversible once the Treaty comes into operation. In return. as the right hon. Gentleman had to admit, we have nothing but a handful of adjectives and a sheaf of agenda papers.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition made a devastating 1093 analysis of the terms, particularly in relation to the promises made by the Lord Privy Seal just over a year ago. Even a paper so strongly in favour of British entry into the Community as the Statistwrote in its leader last week:It would be sheer wishful thinking to imagine that the ultimate bargain—if there is one—will be anything less than harsh and, in parts, unpalatable.I was surprised and shocked that in this situation the Lord Privy Seal did not take the opportunity of a debate in the House to warn the Six of the very real disappointment and concern throughout the country at the extremely negative attitude they have taken in the last few weeks. That concern has been expressed in almost every newspaper that favours our entry, yet, instead of acting as the spokesman for Britain, the right hon. Gentleman acted this afternoon as an apologist for Brussels. He had a wonderful opportunity to be firm, and to tell the Six that there were certain conditions we could not accept. Instead of doing that, he contented himself with describing in almost glowing terms the actual state of the negotiations at present.
I would not entirely blame him personally for all this. After all, he is not the Prince of Denmark, but Laertes, the faithful servant of the Prime Minister, and the real trouble is that the Prime Minister decided at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons that Britain should join the Common Market. We get some insight into the Prime Minister's attitude in the personal pamphlet which he published a few weeks ago.
The right hon. Gentleman then made it quite clear that his reason for thinking that Britain should join the Common Market is that the world is now crystallising into a few powerblocs and that Britain must decide on which one she will join; that Britain cannot turn the Commonwealth into a power blocand must, therefore, join the Common Market, because only as a member of the Common Market can Britain compete in Europe on equal terms with great concentrations of power like the United States and the Soviet Union.
Quite apart from the background of attitudes towards the modern world that is revealed by that line of argument, it carries a clear implication of political federation and atomic independence for 1094 a new European State. If it does not mean that, it means nothing, and it is becoming clearer week by week that that is what the Prime Minister really has in mind. But, master of indirection that he is, this becomes clear very slowly as he slowly edges his own party further and further towards the gulf.
I believe, as, I am sure, do the great majority of my right hon. and hon. Friends, that it is both wrong and dangerous to imagine that the world will develop in this way and that we should aid it to do so, because the basic problems facing Britain and humanity today are all global problems which require global solutions—the cold war between East and West, the pressing need for an end to the arms race, the growing economic gulf between the rich white peoples on both sides of the Iron Curtain and the poor, mainly coloured people, living to the south and east of them in Africa, in Asia and in Latin America.
What we need in the modern world is not new concentrations of power, but international control of national power by some sort of world authority. But if we look at the problem in this way—and in the past many hon. and right hon. Members opposite have expressed this view on world affairs—then the Commonwealth is a vital element in the solution, precisely because it is not a concentration of power and never will become one, because the Commonwealth is an open association which looks outwards for influence outside its own boundaries, because it bridges the two great gulfs which divide humanity at present—the gulf between the committed and the uncommitted, and the gulf between white and coloured, rich and poor.
I agree very heartily with what my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) said a few moments ago, and also the very wise remarks of the hon. Member for Rugby. I think that the real tragedy underlying the Government's decision to enter the Common Market is that they have found themselves quite unable to adjust their thinking to the existence of a Commonwealth in which Britain's authority is not automatic, and in which the great majority of the inhabitants are desperately poor, and have coloured skins.
1095 Hostility and failure to understand the new independent countries of Africa and Asia has distorted Her Majesty's Government's policy both in the United Nations and in the Commonwealth for many years. That is why I said at our own party conference that essentially, the Europeanism of the Conservative Party is imperialism with an inferiority complex. If only the Government could rid themselves of this feeling and make the necessary changes in our own policies in Central Africa and in the Congo which at present divide us from the rest of the Commonwealth, I believe that we could make the Commonwealth into, not an alternative to the Common Market, as a tight, inward-looking organisation, but into an invaluable pressure group for global action on the great global problems of peace and poverty.
The terms on which we enter the Common Market are important. not because, as some newspapers have suggested, they involve marginal differences of commercial profit to one country or another, one interest or another, but because the terms on which we join the Common Market will decide, first, what will be the role of the European Community in the world as a whole and, secondly, whether or not Britain's entry will increase or diminish our influence on the great world issues whose solution is as vital to us in Britain as to the rest of humanity.
There is a very strong case for Britain to join the Common Market on the right terms. The Common Market is still in a formative state, with tremendous capacity for good or for ill. There has been fierce argument going on inside it ever since it came into existence. The key question around which this argument revolves is this: is the Common Market to be a stepping stone towards a new world order, an argument very strongly pressed by such people as Dr. Kitzinger, in Oxford, or is it to become a rich man's club in the economic field, increasing the division between the rich white people and the poor coloured people, and a major obstacle to conciliation between East and West, as certainly the alliance of the two major Powers in the Common Market has threatened to make it in recent years?
1096 Obviously, if, by joining it, we can tip the balance of argument inside the Common Market in a progressive direction there is an overwhelming case for entry. We shall benefit not only ourselves, but Europe and the world. But if we join it under conditions which simply diminish our own influence in the rest of the world, without shifting the direction of Common Market policies, it would no less be a disaster for us and for the rest of the world.
When Her Majesty's Government first applied for entry, the issue put to the Common Market was not simply that Britain should join it, but that the Community should be enlarged from six nations to thirteen, including the whole of E.F.T.A., and, as we have since heard, Ireland as well, and that it should be opened commercially to much of Africa and Asia through an association of some sort or another with the Commonwealth.
Let us face it; to propose entry on these terms—those are the terms explicit in the Lord Privy Seal's speech to the Common Market countries just over a year ago—would have involved a complete change in the balance of power and policy then obtaining inside the Six. It presented them with a formidable and frightening challenge—
§ Mr, Heath
I did not propose that all the E.F.T.A. countries should be members of the European Economic Community. It is a matter for each E.F.TA. country to say what it wants. There has never been a proposal that those countries should be full members of the European Economic Community. The hon. Gentleman said that it was proposed that the number should be increased to thirteen.
§ Mr. Healey
I did not suggest that every one of them should be a full member, but if I interpret the terms—and these are terms which the Lord Privy Seal avoided quoting this afternoon until he was led into doing so—'the proposal was that every E.F.T.A. country should "take part from the same date in an integrated European Market". The right hon. Gentleman should not say that I was trying to misrepresent his position.
§ Mr. Healey
I said that it involved the expansion from six to thirteen or fourteen. Of these, three would perhaps be associate members and only eleven full members. Such an extension of the Common Market would have involved a basic change in the balance of power and policy then obtaining among the Six. As I said, it represented a formidable and, in some ways, frightening challenge to many of the supporters of the original conception. My own personal feeling has been that this challenge was presented before the Six were really prepared to face it.
Most of the difficulties which followed in the negotiations since have been due to this mistaken timing. Certainly, one can say that the attitude of the Six to their future relationships with the Commonwealth and with the E.F.T.A. countries was bound to be considered as the acid test of their future intentions in the world as a whole. It has been the case ever since the negotiations began what, for the sake of argument, I call the reactionaries in the Six wanted to ensure that the conditions under which we joined did not tip the existing balance of power inside the Six, and the progressives inside the Six wanted us in because they hoped we could tip the balance in their direction.
All the evidence so far from the negotiations is, unfortunately, most discouraging. Most of the terms for the Commonwealth are already known. The Lord Privy Seal in a rather confused passage—almost the only confused passage in his speech—admitted that two-thirds of the terms so far as the Commonwealth was concerned were complete by 5th August. Her Majesty's Government have agreed to the end of the Commonwealth as an economic entity by 1970. That cannot be denied. The terms on which they have agreed to this are so damaging to the individual members of the Commonwealth as gravely to threaten its political solidarity.
Nobody who followed the statements by Prime Ministers in debates in Commonwealth Parliaments can deny that that is the result on the Commonwealth countries of the terms so far put to them by Her Majesty's Government. I think that at the conference in London all but four of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers criticised the terms as damaging 1098 their own national interests as well as threatening the political solidarity of the Commonwealth as a whole. The four Prime Ministers who defended the terms represented, unfortunately, only 1 per cent. of the overseas population of the Commonwealth.
The Prime Minister of Trinidad has repeatedly said that he can hope for nothing more from Britain anyway. Cyprus has links with Greece which give her a close interest in joining, whether we do or not, because Greece is becoming an associate in any case. Malaya is not affected, because rubber and tin will have a duty-free tariff both before and after we join. And Sir Roy Welensky speaks for only 10,000 voters out of the 9 million inhabitants in the country which he purports to represent.
To add insult to injury, we had the extraordinary performance of the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and Secretary of State for the Colonies at the briefing conferences, which caused intense and lasting bitterness among all the Commonwealth Governments whose views he misrepresented there. We have been talking about Laertes. But why is not the first grave-digger here? It is extraordinary that the right hon. Gentleman is not speaking in this debate, which follows the Prime Ministers' Conference of which no detailed report has yet been given. But I am not surprised that he is not here. He would not do his cause any good, but neither is he doing his reputation any good by skulking somewhere in the lobbies while the debate goes on.
We cannot say that the terms on which we are entering represent a step forward in any direction. They mean that Britain is committed to take down barriers against imports from rich countries and to putting up barriers against imports from poor countries. She is committed to buying food dear from the Continent instead of cheap from the Commonwealth. She is committed under the A.O.T. provisions to giving aid to French ex-colonies, possibly at the expense of British ex-colonies. She is committed, also under the A.O.T. status, to erecting new barriers inside the Commonwealth. Above all, as one hon. Member has said, she is committed to taxing the British consumer in order to 1099 subsidise inefficient agriculture on the Continent.
It is very difficult to maintain that these terms can possibly represent in any sense a step forward in British policy in the world, and results so far of the discussions on E.F.T.A. are equally discouraging. We have already had something like a clear refusal to accept the neutral countries, Sweden, Switzerland and Austria, in associate status.
§ Mr. Healey
I have much justification for saying that, but if the right hon. Gentleman will guarantee that he will not take us in unless they get associate status we will be quite satisfied.
§ Mr. Healey
Very well. I will simply say that so far the discussions in Brussels suggest that the Six are not willing to grant them associate status. I will further say that there has been increasing talk in the last few weeks of refusing even the N.A.T.O. members of E.F.T.A.—Norway and Denmark—full admission to the Six until critical decisions have been taken in three or four years' time.
I think that the right hon. Gentleman would agree to this extent, that if we entered the Common Market on anything like these terms we would not only violate our formal and specific pledge to our E.F.T.A. partners, but we would also be guaranteeing Britain remaining in a permanent and helpless minority in any discussion of major issues taking place after our entrv.
The question we must ask is why the results of the negotiations so far have been so bad when so many people, a year ago, hoped that the Six would be prepared to meet the British gesture in a generous way and to recognise the accession of Britain to the Six along with the fact that the opening of the Common Market to the Commonwealth would represent a tremendous expansion and 1100 improvement of the existing association. I do not think that we can avoid the conclusion that one reason is that the balance of power inside the Six is not as favourable to Britain or to progressive policies as many people had hoped.
There are very impressive, progressive, forward-looking, outward-looking men in the Commission itself, but they, alas, have not been the decisive influence in the negotiations. The decisive influence has been the national Government, and the attitude of national Governments has been nothing like as forward-looking as the attitude of members of the Commission. It is significant that two of the most forward-looking men in the Commission are contemplating leaving it to take part in national politics in the next few months. M. Robert Marjolin, the outstanding French Socialist, has decided to fight a seat in the next French election, which he may well win, and I understand that M. Mansholt is also considering returning to Dutch politics. It is significant of the real balance of power inside the Community and also very discouraging to those in Britain who had placed great hopes in these elements inside the Brussels Commission.
§ Mr. Roy Jenkins (Birmingham, Stechford)
I take it that my hon. Friend wants to be fair and is not suggesting that either M. Marjolin or M. Mansholt is retiring from the Commission because he disapproves of it.
§ Mr. Healey
Not in 'the least, but they have voted with their feet as to whether the real power in the Six is in national Governments or in the Commission, which is quite another matter. I think that my hon. Friend will accept this. At least, I hope that he will.
The real reason why we have fared so badly in the negotiations so far is, above all, because the Government applied at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons. In particular, they made it crystal clear a year ago that they were applying for membership of the Six in a mood of despair because they could see no way of improving our own economic position without changing the whole context in which decisions had to be taken. Our bargaining position was further worsened by the attitude of the Prime Minister at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference in trying 1101 publicly to bully all the other Prime Ministers to keep quiet on the ground that we were going in whatever they said and that they had better have good relations with the enlarged Community.
Finally, our negotiating position was ruined by the slickness of the party managers at the Tories' Llandudno conference. Let us look at what has happened to the negotiations since that conference. There is the total refusal by the Six even to discuss the Lord Privy Seal's agricultural proposals. There is the refusal to abolish tariffs on aluminium and newsprint. There is the refusal to consider any further lightening of the burden on manufactured exports from Africa and Asia. There is the satement: by the French Government that they did not consider that any promise had been made to give special consideration to New Zealand.
Above all, there is this new line on E.F.T.A.—the suggestion that Britain would be enough to digest at one time and that the other E.F.T.A. countries could not be expected to have a vote until the vital decisions about the Community's future had been taken. If one reads Belgian, French or German newspapers one finds that continental Governments now believe that the British. Government want to go into the Common Market whatever the price. This is a view also instilled into Commonwealth Governments by the British Prime Minister at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.
The final capitulation is the Government's attempt to bribe the French Government to allow us to enter by offering de Gaulle assistance in building up his atomic deterrent even though this would wreck the best hope of reaching agreement on European disarmament since the war.
The crowning irony is that all these efforts may fail in the end. We have to face the possibility that there may be no alternative to staying out of the Common Market because, as the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) admitted, it may be that President de Gaulle does not want us in at any price. I suggest that in this situation it is vitally urgent that the Government should start considering alternative policies. This is vital, in the first place, because to consider alternatives to joining the Common 1102 Market would, I believe, help us to put our own priorities right not only in economic but also in foreign and military policy. The knowledge that we are considering alternatives is an absolutely indispensable element in strengthening our bargaining power in the negotiations which remain. So long as we leave the Six with the impression that we think we have no alternative to joining, why should they make any concessions to get us in? Yet this is the impression which the Government have assiduously cultivated by their public statements and by their private behaviour.
What lines should the alternative take? I shall not discuss the essential domestic precondition, which is to strengthen our own economy first, not only because this would increase our bargaining power but because to go into the Common Market with an economy weaker than all the others would condemn us to the new balance of payments crisis and either devaluation or permanent stagnation.
In foreign economic policy, I believe that it is not too late to try to organise a joint approach by all the Commonwealth countries and all the E.F.T.A. countries to world negotiations with three major objectives: first, to take advantage of President Kennedy's Trade Expansion Bill to try to get a reduction of industrial tariffs in all the developed countries, something which would bring us infinitely greater advantages than a purely limited and regional reduction in tariffs such as is offered by the Common Market; second, to open all the developed markets of the world to cheap manufactured goods and raw materials, particularly tropical foodstuffs from all the under-developed countries; third, to try to reach commodity agreements; and, above all, to make the food surpluses of the developed countries available to relieve hunger in countries which cannot afford to pay for food which they desperately need.
It is no good anyone pretending that these aims are unrealistic. They are a condition which the Government have set themselves in the Common Market negotiations. It is no good the Lord Privy Seal saying that we have no hope of reaching these agreements when he is, in fact, undertaking to reach them after we join the Common Market in 1103 any case in order to meet the demands of the Commonwealth and other countries.
I do not believe that action along those lines is a second best. I believe that it should always have been our first objective, and, unless we can achieve it, entry into the Common Market will do us and the world much more harm than good. If we begin to move in this direction towards global agreements first, there will, I believe, be an infinitely better chance that later negotiations with the Common Market countries will reach an accommodation which is satisfactory both to us and to them.
If we try to go in on the terms at present envisaged, at best we shall find ourselves imprisoned as a permanent minority in an organisation which is either indifferent or hostile to our basic aims in the world affairs. At worst— and, perhaps, most likely—we shall find ourselves having lost all our old friends in the world without having gained any new ones in Europe.
§ 9.34 p.m.
§ Sir Alexander Spearman (Scarborough and Whitby)
If the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) had sat on this side of the House between 1955 and 1959 and ever had occasion to disagree with Government policy, he would have a quite different idea about the toughness of my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal. I know my right hon. Friend fairly well, and I can tell the hon. Gentleman that I know no one in this country who would be a more powerful, more skilful or more determined negotiator.
§ Mr. Healey
My only comment on that is that I have the feeling that the right hon. Gentleman probably had more powerful sanctions available to him when he was dealing with recalcitrant Conservative back benchers than he has when negotiating with our European partners in a position of economic weakness.
§ Sir A. Spearman
This debate has been notable for a quite remarkable maiden speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Miscampbell). I think that I agreed 1104 with every word he said. I am sure that all hon. Members who heard him, whether they accepted his views or not, would agree that he made a most powerful contribution and look forward to hearing him again. For my part, when I see his name go up on the tape I shall hurry into the Chamber. I do not do that very often.
I wish to speak later about the speech of the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) and that of the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey). At the moment I would only say of their speeches—this also applies to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. Wise)—that they took too little account of two vital factors—first, the Communist threat, which makes unity so essential, and, secondly, the fact that the European Economic Community exists and will continue to exist. I do not believe that we have the choice of whether we join or go on just as we are. I believe that if the Common Market continues as it is going and we are not in, our fortunes in the sixties and seventies will be very different from our experiences in the fifties. It will be a very hard struggle to find an adequate outlet for our goods.
In the first nine months of this year, only 31 per cent. of our exports went to the Commonwealth, whereas 38 per cent. went to Western Europe. However much we may regret it, the trend indicates a greater switch of trade to Western Europe, and I should like to give some figures taken from the Treasury Bulletin for November, 1961, to support that.
Between 1954 and 1961, United Kingdom exports to Western Europe went up by 60 per cent. and to the Commonwealth by only 16 per cent. Between 1954 and 1960 the United Kingdom exports to the sterling area fell from 58 to 44 per cent. The world's exports of manufactured goods to Western Europe and the United States in that time more than doubled. To the sterling area and Canada they went up by less than half.
§ Mr. R. H. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
When my hon. Friend talks about Western Europe, does he mean the Six, or does he include the Six, E.F.T.A. countries and other countries?
§ Sir A. Spearman
No. I am talking about Western Europe of which the Six 1105 and the other countries which have applied to join the Six form a very substantial part.
What will happen to our industrialists when they have to surmount tariff barriers into these countries but when the Six can switch their goods freely into each other's country and, perhaps still more important, when the Six will be able to make a sharp reduction in costs owing to their huge mass market and industrial co-operation? I believe that our place and influence in the world and standard of living depend largely on three things —on our being able to maintain the value of our currency, on our being able to make a proper contribution towards the defence of the West and on our making a proper contribution to helping the poorer parts of the world. We can do that only if we have an adequate surplus, and that means more exports. I think that it can truly be said that exports must go up or Britain will go down.
I realise that the terms which we can get may turn out of be unacceptable, but we should be clear what it will cost us if that happens. It was putt rather well in the debate on 6th June thatif we stay out, there are certain dangers. After 10 or 20 years we may find that the Commonwealth as we know it today, not through any fault of our own, changes, declines, and does not count in the way that it does today. This might happen and we might find ourselves excluded from a tough, strong, European State, a little island off Europe with nothing else. This is the risk, the danger."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th June, 1962; Vol. 661, c. 527.]That was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition.
What are the alternatives? I was not very much persuaded by those put forward by the hon. and learned Member for Leeds, East. Should there be an exclusive pact with the Commonwealth? The new parts of the Commonwealth cannot possibly afford to take more of our exports until there has been a vast injection of capital so as to build up their plant and machinery far more than we can manage.
The old parts of the Commonwealth do not want to take more of our goods. Canada, Australia and New Zealand very often run into balance of payment troubles and have to make sharp restric- 1106 tions on British goods. This was put very well by a New Zealander in a letter to The Timeson 4th June.He said:At the present time, Australia and New Zealand are putting pressure on Britain to maintain their privileged trading preferences. May I, as a New Zealand businessman, be permitted to give the other side of the picture. I am in the greeting card and social stationery business, where there is 100 per cent. exclusion of all British manufactured items, to give the New Zealand manufacturer 100 per cent. protection. This system applies in many other trades. For example, although the British radio trade could supply television sets and wireless sets at half the cost of New Zealand made articles, all British sets are prohibited in order to give the New Zealand manufacturer complete protectionWe enormously sympathise with these countries when, through no fault of their own, they run into these balance of payment difficulties, but the fact remains that it would be an enormous advantage to our industrialists if they could have access to a huge market which could never arbitrarily be cut off.
Furthermore, the old Commonwealth countries are, no doubt rightly, determined to protect their own industries. Free trade between us and them is not acceptable to any of them. Anyone who thinks that they will reverse their old policies is living in a fool's paradise. Moreover, the new parts of the Commonwealth depend very much on the Community for the goods they sell them and for the help they get. On 6th June, my right hon. Friend told us that the Community contributed approximately twice as much to the five-year plan in India and Pakistan as we do. I had the chance a short time ago of meeting perhaps the most eminent and distinguished elder statesman of the Commonwealth, and I asked him this question: "Which would really suit the Commonwealth best: for us to go into the Six in spite of any criticisms from the Commonwealth and by so doing become richer and able to buy more from them and lend them more, or for us, in deference to them, to stay out and get poorer and be able to buy less from them?" I asked whether their gratification at our staying out would outweigh their dismay. He replied that he was quite sure that what we ought to do would be to go in.
I do not think that outside political circles there is anything like the antagonism in Canada, Australia or New Zealand to our going into the Common Market as is suggested. 1107 I have a lot of contacts in some of these countries. It is widely held that it would be good for the Commonwealth if we could get in on reasonable terms. I wonder whether hon. Members read an interesting letter in The Timesof 19th September from Mr. Kent Hughes, who is presumably, a Government official, as he writes from Australia House. He states:I would like to draw attention to the full-scale debate on this issue in the Australian Parliament on August 30th.The outstanding feature of the debate was that the only outright opposition to Britain's entry was voiced by the extreme Right and the extreme Left for diametrically opposite reasons. The former wished to retain the Victorian era in this age of change. The latter expressed in the main the same arguments against the E.C.M. as Mr. Khrushchev has used in his recent speeches of denunciation.I realise that our going into the Common Market is no guarantee at all that we shall expand our exports, but it will give us the opportunity, and it is for our industrialists, management and workers to see if they can take that opportunity.
But I do believe even as fine an economist as the Leader of the Opposition has very much underrated the huge advantages of a mass market. Today, many industries can only develop economically and cut their costs if they are engaged in large-scale production, and the capital required for that is so enormous that it is only possible where there is a huge mass market. Moreover, it is vitally important that we should spend more on research. Hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House had been stressing that a few days ago. By means of such a large mass market it is far more possible to spend a larger amount on research, as it can be spread over a greater volume of sales. We all know that America is the richest country in the world today, but it is not because Americans are so much more clever or more resourceful than any other people, but because of their huge mass market; and the United Kingdom and the E.E.C. between them will provide an even greater market than that.
I have discussed this matter with many industrialists—people in progressive and expanding industries—and those to whom I have spoken have been quite confident that if only we can get into the Common 1108 Market, they could capture a lot of trade, and they are eagerly looking forward to doing so. The only ones who were opposed were those who were frightened of the competition.
I realise that there may be hardships and difficulties. Men may have to change their jobs, manufacturers may lose profits, but if we are to get the maximum growth in this country we cannot afford to go on bolstering up declining or inefficient industries. We know that, in a highly industrialised country like this, we cannot depend upon old-fashioned industries, however well they have served us in the past. We want new industries in which our capital, skill and inventiveness can have the maximum effect.
I believe that, on balance, there are strong economic advantages in going in, but I believe also that far more important are the political advantages, and here I agreed so much with the right hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn). I thought—I hope he will not be embarrassed by it—'that he made an excellent speech, and I agreed so much with what he said about the great importance of convincing Europe that we were not going in just for material gain, but for something much bigger than that. I appreciated very much the tribute which the right hon. Gentleman paid to any right hon. Friend for his skill in negotiating and the good will which he was creating. It is not the material gains which matter so much, however important they are. What really dominates everything else is how we are to defend our freedom and how we are to keep the peace. It seems to me that this threat is very vital and makes national jealousies, struggles for prestige and attempts to retain complete independence just trivial and petty.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition talked about a thousand years of history. Well, before the nuclear age that might have been all right, but it seems to me that today unless we are united there may be no future for us. After all we are not historians; it is the future we are interested in. I feel very sympathetic with the report in The Timesof a speech by Lord Robens, a colleague formerly of hon. Gentlemen opposite and a friend of many of us. 1109 The Timesreported him as saying that he hadnoted that the people against the Common Market were those whose future lay behind them.Who could deny that divided we must be more vulnerable to the Communist threat, and that united Europe must be a safer place to live in? If we could isolate ourselves from Europe that would be quite another matter. We tried that often enough in the past, and it never succeeded. We were always drawn in when trouble occurred, and if we could have gone in in time we could perhaps have prevented it.
If the Community were not important that would be another matter, but they are important. It may be said they are too important and too dangerous to be independent of us. If they were pursuing a selfish, inward-looking policy—and, despite what the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, East says, I do not see much sign of it, but if they were— what a disaster it would be for the free world, from outside we can have no influence. From inside we could have immense influence. The European Economic Community ate bound to be very powerful. They could be very parochial, and the 'more doubts anyone has about the possible wisdom of their statesmanship in the.future at seems to me the more imperative it is that we should be in that group in order to influence all we can the formulation of their policy.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition made a very powerful speech today. I listened to him with respect, as I always do, not only because of his position but also because I know that when the country's vital defence is at stake he puts the country's interests first. Today, I am bound to say, I thought he was in the mood more of a politician than a statesman, and I agree very much with my right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Sir R. Nugent), that it was not a constructive speech. At one moment I thought he was going to do what must be a very difficult and tricky manoeuvre, to try to climb back on the fence again, but when he said at the end that these terms were atrociously bad I realised that he had slipped right off it. That is a ridiculous exaggeration. I am not saying at all that they are all we want or all we are going 1110 to get, but the impression he gave me today was that we must keep out.
The right hon. Gentleman talked about an independent foreign policy, but how is that really possible in the nuclear age, except for Russia and America? No one else can defend themselves by themselves. We must either be an alliance, in which case we cannot be free and independent, or neutral, but the tragic occurrences in recent days in India cannot encourage anyone much to be neutral. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, East stressed the fact that perhaps the ruler of France today was intent not to have us in. I suggest that is a gross oversimplification. I am open to be corrected by my right hon. Friend, but I should have thought that he was activated by many considerations, intellectual and emotional, and if we had abandoned the contest perhaps he would have been relieved. But if we negotiate skilfully, patiently and vigorously, as my right hon. Friend is doing, it seems to me altogether unwise to assume that his final view would not be to take the course which is manifestly in the interests of France and Europe.
Some are opposed to our going in for purely short-sighted and selfish reasons. Some are opposed because it does not suit the Communists. But I believe the main opposition comes from those who have a horror of the unknown, a fear of change. But we are living in a changing world, and I believe our strength throughout the ages has been our ability to adapt ourselves to change.
In the reign of Queen Mary when we lost our last foothold in France, I expect there were many pessimists who said that England was on the decline. But in the next reign we achieved greater glory than ever. In the reign of King George IV when we lost our first great colony, I expect there were many who were despondent. But in the next reign we were richer and more powerful then ever before. I think that Senator Fulbright put it very well in the Palace of Westminister a year ago when he said:This ability to bring about vast changes within the framework of ancient institutions is the very heart of British genius.I want to talk shortly about the terms. Some want to go in at almost any price. Some do not want to go in whatever the price. Most of us would be deter- 1111 mined by the terms. I recognise that without some improvements in the terms now proposed it may well be impossible for us to go dm. But I maintain that it would be bad not only for us but also for the Six if we went in on these terms, because if we went in as a discredited country we should have no value as a partner. I recognise, too, that it is possible that some terms which appear favourable to us might weaken their unity so much that 'they would be impossible for them and, therefore, would not toe good for us.
I have had a certain business experience, and I have found that it does not always pay to drive as hard a bargain as one can. A satisfied customer is a good deal better than a quick profit. I am sure that my right hon. Friend is well aware of these arguments. I only hope that those in the Six with whom he is negotiating are also aware of the arguments and that they realise that the present terms are not acceptable. I hope that the Six realise that if it would be damaging to us to be left out, it would also be damaging to them that we should be out. If we are not in, things are going to be very different for us from what they have been, but I also believe that they will be very different for the Six. In isolation we might, in self-protection, be unhappily driven to take measures which would be contrary to the interests of the free world. It is my hope that this issue will be decided not on the gains or losses of particular sections but first and foremost upon the safety and welfare of the whole country.
The Leader of the Opposition and the hon. Member for Leeds, East seemed to me to come out clearly against our going in. But I think they would admit that in fierceness of opposition they are not in the same class as Mr. Khrushchev, Mr. Cousins or Lord Beaverbrook. We all know why Mr. Khrushchev so bitterly opposes it. I never know why Mr. Cousins does anything. As for Lord Beaverbrook, I have been told he runs his papers for the sake of his campaigns and not now for money, but I have heard it said that he has never yet won a campaign in twenty-five years.
§ It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned
§ Debate to be resumed Tomorrow.