HC Deb 17 November 1971 vol 826 cc411-3
36. Mr. Goodhart

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will move to appoint a Select Committee of the House of Commons to report upon the future relationship between the British Parliament and the European Communities.

Mr. Whitelaw

I have noted my hon. Friend's interesting suggestion. The rôle of Select Committees in this whole field is an important matter for further consideration.

Mr. Goodhart

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if and when we enter the E.E.C. substantial changes will have to be made in the procedures of this House if it is to be able to influence the regulations and practices made by the Commission in Brussels?

Mr. Whitelaw

It is certainly true that the whole question of the relationship with the Community should be considered carefully; and Select Committees might well have an important part to play in this matter.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Is there not a particular problem which needs to be studied, namely, what arrangements will have to be made to enable hon. Members to discharge their duties both to this House and to the European Parliament?

Mr. Whitelaw

That is a slightly separate matter, although it must, of course, also be studied.

Mr. Biffen

As an interim arrangement, will my right hon. Friend make sure that every facility is available for hon. Members to have an up-to-date text of all the regulations and directives that have so far emanated from Brussels?

Mr. Whitelaw

That arises on a subsequent Question.

38. Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Lord President of the Council whether he will give an assurance that there are now available for supply to every Member of both Houses of Parliament copies of all the rules, regulations, orders, recommendations and edicts issued by the European Economic Community which will become operative on Great Britain's entry into the European Economic Community; whether each of these is printed in English; and what is the total number of such instruments held for the use of Members.

Mr. Whitelaw

Agreed English texts of Community instruments binding on the United Kingdom following our entry into the E.E.C. will be made available to the House before the introduction of the relevant legislation. The number of such instruments is about 1,500. Copies will be made available to hon. Members in accordance with the standard procedure for non-parliamentary papers.

Mr. Lewis

That answer is by no means satisfactory because we want a chance to study these—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must ask a question.

Mr. Lewis

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that while he may have time to study these 1,000-odd orders, hon. Members do not have that amount of time? Is he aware that these documents should be available? Will he see to it that they are made available in the Library of the House? They are in every language but English. Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that we are unable to remove from the Library such documents as are there? Will he ensure that the necessary papers are available to hon. Members before we become too involved in this escapade?

Mr. Whitelaw

I would not wish to enter a competition with the hon. Gentleman about who has the most time to study orders or anything else. I note the importance of this subject. I have said that the texts will be available and I believe that there will be plenty of time for hon. Members to give them the proper study.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

Could my right hon. Friend give an indication of the breakdown of these 1,500 regulations and the like? Is he aware that from a look that some of us have had at the commercial and agricultural regulations respectively, which are in two separate indices, the figure of 1,500 would seem unhappily to be an underestimate?

Mr. Whitelaw

I am afraid that I cannot give my right hon. and learned Friend the breakdown for which he asks. I have done my best to answer the questions that have been put to me.

Mr. McBride

In view of the great importance of the case law precedents which have been promulgated by the judicial court of the Common Market and their impact on, among other things, company law, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to do as requested and make available, and quickly, copies of these documents for every hon. Member? Does he appreciate the futility of supplying only one copy to the Library? How can hon. Members assiduously study the detail if only one copy of each document is available?

Mr. Whitelaw

I have said that I am anxious to help the House in this matter. Translations will be produced to the House as soon as they are available on all these matters. I am anxious to do my best to ensure that the service provided to hon. Members is as good as it can be in all the circumstances.

Mr. Lewis

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's answers, I beg to give notice that I shall try to raise this matter in some way, perhaps with your assistance, Mr. Speaker, on the Adjournment.