HC Deb 27 October 1971 vol 823 cc1732-2033

Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [21st October]: That this House approves Her Majesty's Government's decision of principle to join the European Communities on the basis of the arrangements which have been negotiated. —[Sir Alec Douglas-Home.]

Question again proposed.

Mr. Speaker

Perhaps I may inform the House where we stand now. There are still 160 right hon. and hon. Members who wish to speak. I have pushed the stone a little way up the hill but it has not gone very far yet. I will do my best. But I must warn some right hon. and hon. Members who put in appearances rather late that I shall have a certain preference for those who have stayed here hour by hour, day after day.

3.38 p.m.

Mr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East)

Quite a number of right hon. and hon. Members were not here when I started my speech this morning. I trust that the House will forgive me if I do not repeat my introductory remarks. If a number of right hon. and hon. Members are here primarily to listen to the next two speakers, I trust that they will bear with me as this is the only opportunity I am likely to get to make my small contribution.

Before referring to the general argument, I would like to make two points about agriculture. It seems to me that our hill farmers and milk producers have ground for serious concern about the conduct of the negotiations. On 24th June the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster informed us that the Community was sympathetic to the needs of our farmers and that he was satisfied that … in the event of entry we should be able to give the continuing assistance needed to maintain the incomes of farmers in the hill areas."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th June, 1971; Vol. 819, c. 1606.] The President of the Scottish National Farmers' Union reacted to that statement by saying: It is in somewhat general language, but I take it to mean simply that Britain will have scope to continue the existing type of income support for farmers in the hills and uplands. That is what the negotiations were about. There was no doubt that the Common Market countries knew the problems and were sympathetic. The issue was whether we would be allowed to continue our present production grants if we so wished. We tried to get clarification from the Government bill: were unsuccessful. Finally, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture replied to a letter I wrote to him and said … we did not seek to negotiate a guarantee for the specific subsidies we use at present. What matters is to have established the principle of being able to provide the assistance needed in the hills. My contention is that that is not satisfactory, that the principle was never in doubt, that what we wanted and what the hill farmers of Scotland wanted was an assurance that in future the Commission would not say that our present production grants had to go, on the grounds of fair competition.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Geoffrey Rippon)

I assure the hon. Gentleman that there was no doubt about the position and that there was no need to negotiate it because the principle was clearly established. We have it in the recorded agreements which we have made with the Community, we can continue to make these grants so long as the British Government wish so to do.

Mr. Strang

I am grateful for that information. It is a pity that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture was not able to make that point in his letter of 15th July. What the right hon. and learned Gentleman is now saying is very different from what was said in that letter and very different from anything said so far. But I am grateful that at last we have brought out that point, and we shall certainly not forget what has been said. We now have an assurance that we can continue the present grants.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

Do not believe a word he says.

Mr. Strang

I will come briefly to questions about milk marketing. We were assured that we need not worry about the future of the Milk Marketing Board, but there is a statement by Dr. Mansholt published in this week's Farmers Weekly: It will definitely have to become an executive organisation applying the rules of the Community. It may also have to change the way it regulates production because of the competition rules of the Treaty of Rome. I am not saying that the Milk Marketing Board will necessarily be in great difficulty if we join the Common Market; I am saying that the Government have not been absolutely clear on this issue.

If hon. Members opposite think that my suspicions about hill farming and the Milk Marketing Board are partisan, I refer them to the leading article in this week's Farmers Weekly. Headed "Who's Fooling Whom?" it says: There is a growing suspicion that we have been hoodwinked, that the Government has not told all about the Luxembourg agreement and that we may discover a lot more unpleasant things nestling among the European goodies when the first layer of the hamper is removed after October 28. No section of the Community has more grounds for such fears than farmers. It is rapidly becoming clear that on a number of vital points we have not been told the whole truth. I have referred to agriculture not only because I am interested in the subject but because three senior Ministers have repeatedly said how satisfied our farmers are and how rosy everything is for agriculture. I believe that the Farmers' Weekly is right, there are good grounds for believing that they have not conducted the negotiations on these issues as they should have.

I want briefly to say something about the general argument. I have never been convinced by the economic arguments for entry. I have always believed that economic growth in this country depended overwhelmingly on the policies pursued by the British Government. Whether we get growth in or out of the Community depends on the economic policies of Her Majesty's Government.

But I cannot say the same about the political arguments. On this issue the political arguments are crucial. We are all agreed that we want to build a world in which people settle their differences peacefully and where they are no longer threatened by weapons of mass destruction. The pro-Marketeers, particularly those on this side of the House, argue that Britain can best contribute to this as a member of the Community, that as a member of a major economic power grouping we could have a significant influence on the development of world events and that outside we should not, and that it is within this framework that we could make the best contribution. They have argued that although the Treaty of Rome and the Community are basically capitalist, committed to a doctrine of private enterprise and free competition, nevertheless we should be prepared to join with our trade unionists and Socialists and work to build a Socialist Europe.

On the other hand, the anti-Marketeers have argued that we should stay out and pursue progressive policies towards the freeworld, set an example to the world in disarmament and, above all, seek to strengthen the United Nations. They have argued that joining the Community, rather than helping to advance Socialism within Europe, would make it harder for a future Labour Government to achieve a Socialist Britain, harder to extend public ownership and Government control of industry, harder to pursue radical regional policies and harder to redistribute wealth.

If one comes down decisively on the side of the pro-Market arguments when judging these political considerations, then it is right to say that we should enter although we have a Tory Government and although the terms are not all what we want. But I find it difficult to come down decisively on either side of those arguments. I ask myself what the intentions of the Government are. Do they intend to make the Community a more outward-looking organisation? Do they intend to work with Willy Brandt to achieve a closer understanding with Eastern Europe? If the C.A.P. rules worked adversely on our balance of payments, would they ensure that they did not create unemployment and deflation in order to solve that? Would they fight within the Community to obtain the radical regional policy which, incidentally, at present they are not prepared to pursue at home? Would they see that personal taxation was adjusted to compensate for the regressive nature of value-added tax? Above all, would they take action to protect the pensioners and to increase pensions and to see that all wage-earners got increases in wages to offset the substantial increases in costs which they would have to bear? I believe that the answer to all those questions is, "No", and it is for those and other reasons that I have decided to oppose entry. For me it has not been an easy decision, because the crucial considerations are the political and international arguments. But, having made the decision, I have been confirmed in my attitude by the views of my party and the views of my constituents.

4.47 p.m.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Anthony Barber)

You said, Mr. Speaker, that there were still 160 hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who wished to speak. I duly noted what you said and its implications. I have also taken account of the fact that when I last spoke on this subject, in July, I spoke for about an hour, because I then thought it right to deal with certain matters at considerable length.

Whatever the divisions of opinion in the country, in the House and inside the parties themselves, there is one thing on which we can all agree. It is that the choice before us is great; indeed, probably the greatest peace-time issue which has to be decided in this country in this generation. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in all parts of the House have had to take some hard and difficult decisions in relation to their own parties. They have made their own personal decisions. Although I speak from this Dispatch Box as Chancellor of the Exchequer, I hope that the House will first permit me some personal thoughts of a more general character.

There is nothing merely trivial or ephemeral about the matters on which we have to reach a conclusion. This is genuinely a parting of the ways. It is a time which marks the end of one era and the opening of another and, whatever the views of hon. Members, there can be no doubt about that.

What is more, and what is much more difficult, we have to weigh costs and benefits of very different kinds. The fact is that they cannot be translated into a common measure, involving, as they do, political values, economic values and social values. In the last analysis, and it is, after all, the last analysis which we are trying to make in this debate, when all the arguments and all the statistics and all the historical analogies and all the economic forecasts are exhausted, it must be a matter of judgment.

When I spoke in the debate in July, I explained to the House that with my particular responsibility I have no doubt whatever that the terms which have been negotiated are not only fair, but that joining on those terms will be to the great benefit of the British people. Nothing that has happened in the meantime has caused me to change my mind. But I think it is recognised in all parts of the House—certainly I recognise it—that this is not just a matter of striking an economic balance sheet, of totting up the consequences on various assumptions for the gross national product. The choice before us is a much deeper one than that. And I reached my decision in the full recognition that this was a parting of the ways.

When I look back to the proud rôle which Britain has played over the years both in peace and in war, I, too, feel a certain nostalgia—and there is nothing dishonourable in that. After all, we were brought up in the tradition, whatever criticisms there may have been of it, of a great imperial past. But that is now done, its legacy discharged. Under successive Governments, Conservative and Labour, with remarkable skill, patience and unselfishness on both sides, new and equal relationships have been created where formerly there was sovereignty on the one hand and subjection on the other.

These new relationships and the Government's decision to join the Common Market are well understood by the Commonwealth. Yesterday the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) said we were deserting the Commonwealth. That is not the view of the Commonwealth itself. If anyone doubts what I say, perhaps I should mention a recent personal experience which immediately came to my mind after the right hon. Gentleman made that assertion. Last month I took the chair at a meeting of more than 30 Commonwealth Finance Ministers. That meeting lasted for two days and out of those two days the item of Britain's application to join the E.E.C. took just one hour. There was no acrimony, no bitterness, and everyone who attended would agree with me that there was full understanding.

That meeting, the first since the Government's decision to join the Common Market, was generally agreed to have been one of the best meetings of Commonwealth Finance Ministers for many years. I would add that of all the delectable places in the Commonwealth offered for next year's meeting the unanimous choice was that it should be held in London. I recognise that the process of disengagement from empire—inevitable and wise as it was—has been for many people in Britain a difficult transition to accept. It has left for many, especially of an older generation, a sense of loss and it has deprived the younger generation of that sense of immediate purpose which has drawn out the best of our talents in the past. But now, in the new prospect, instead of disengagement we can look forward to co-operation. We have the opportunity of a new purpose in working towards a common goal, a goal more worth while, more effective and more challenging than the narrower objectives of a political and economic programme based on purely national lines.

Partnership is an equal enterprise and brings two values. It brings the chance to learn and the chance to lead. There is nothing chauvinistic about Britain's approach to Europe. We are not thinking in 19th century terms of dividing and ruling and of trying to impose our conceptions on others. But at the same time we are not joining merely in order to seek a refuge from a bleak and hostile world; we are not acceding to the treaty in a spirit of safety first. We are joining the Six as a proud and powerful country able and ready to make its full contribution. After all, it is recognised throughout Europe that we are rich in experience of international communities. We have a talent and tradition for co-operation and collective enterprise. So we shall bring to Europe an infusion of strength, of ideas, and experience and we shall help to provide the leadership which the enlarged Community can give to the world. This is the true pattern of events in which we are engaged, and no amount of party polemics can disguise this truth.

The fact is that, despite every effort, the out and out opponents of entry on the Opposition Front Bench—whether they have been consistent or have changed their minds—have failed to polarise this issue in party terms. This country's destiny is not to be weighed in the scales of party advantage. It is an issue of national and not of parochial dimensions.

Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)

Then let the people have a voice. Give them a General Election.

Mr. Barber

When we debated this matter earlier in July, I spoke at considerable length because I thought it right then to set out fully the Government's views on a variety of matters. I then spoke about the economic case for entry, about the Community budget, the effect on the cost of living, the balance of payments, capital movements, direct investment, personal capital movements and portfolio investments, as well as the future of sterling and several other matters. Since the debate in July there has been one development of major importance and that is the international monetary crisis. Indeed, there have been times during the past two months when even the question of the United Kingdom joining the Community seemed to be dwarfed by that crisis. The immediate cause of that crisis was the action taken by the United States to correct its balance of payments deficit.

Perhaps on another occasion I shall have an opportunity of saying more about it, but it is useful for the moment to consider the prospects of an enlargement of the Community in the perspective of that crisis. I know from my talks with the Finance Ministers of the Six that they, like ourselves, accept that we have a common duty to work for a common solution. Successive United States administrations have always spoken out firmly and clearly in favour of European unity.

During the week I spent in Washington last month I met nobody concerned with the Administration there who took a contrary view. The reason is not far to seek, because for the United States this is the road to shared responsibility and shared strength. But in the tense atmosphere of recent times, with the problem of imbalance in the United States economy and the strains imposed on the monetary system, fears have been expressed in some quarters that enlargement of the Community might now hurt American interests and indeed the interests of world trade as a whole.

Therefore, one must ask what is the true state of affairs. The fact is that the Community is far from being the closed autarkic protectionist grouping that some people pretend. That is a mere caricature of the Common Market. Like ourselves, the members of the Common Market are critically dependent for their prosperity on the level of world trade. Indeed, they are dependent on world trade to a vastly greater extent than is the United States of America. Therefore, one of their main vested interests is in the free exchange of goods.

The E.E.C. is the world's largest importer and the world's largest exporter. Enlargement of this Community by the accession of ourselves and three other countries, all of them in their turn committed to free trade, is bound to reinforce the liberal trading character of Europe. The Community's external tariff is lower than the present United Kingdom tariff or that of the United States. Our membership will therefore result in a lowering of tariff barriers against American goods in our market. These are facts which, to listen to some speeches, sometimes seem to be forgotten.

Between the time of the formation of the Common Market and last year, American exports to the Common Market have almost tripled and the Common Market's share of American total exports to all countries has risen from 16 to over 19 per cent. We in the United Kingdom know that it is essential in the interests of all, certainly of ourselves, to safeguard and enlarge the freedom of trade. With our fellow members, that will be a prime aim of our policy.

There is one matter on which I should like to repeat the assurances that I have given previously, and that is the matter of sterling. At the annual meeting of the I.M.F. last month, I put forward certain proposals for the long-term reform of the international monetary system. As I said a few minutes ago, this is not the occasion to go into details, but I believe that the principle behind those proposals is widely accepted. As the House knows, it involved the replacement of the present reserve currencies, the dollar and sterling, by a neutral reserve asset. Referring back to what I said to the House in July when we last debated the application to join the Communities, it will be apparent that one consequence of the scheme which I put to the I.M.F. would be to fulfil our objective of a gradual and orderly phasing out of sterling in its rôle as a reserve currency.

As I have pointed out previously, everyone whose business is concerned with these matters knows that sterling's relative importance as a reserve currency has declined very considerably since the war. In 1950, official sterling balances were 16 per cent. of world reserves. By 1970, they were 7 per cent. To put the matter in another way, as a proportion of world trade sterling liabilities were 17 per cent. in 1949 and 4 per cent. in 1969.

The assurances that I have given remain as I gave them. They are set out in the OFFICIAL REPORT, and I do not think that I need go over them again today.

I do not propose merely to repeat the considerations which I put before the House at length in July. They are on the record, and they remain valid. But there are a number of points which must be made.

The right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) and some other right hon. and hon. Members have argued that our economy is not strong enough to meet the costs of entry. No doubt that is a judgment, and no doubt it is based on the words of the then Prime Minister, who told the House in May, 1967, that he had been talking of … the robust strength of Britain's balance of payments and of sterling". He added: This is not a problem."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 1077.] That was in May, 1967. It is worth recalling that, when the right hon. Gentleman's Government applied to join in July of that same year, we had a balance of payments deficit of £300 million a year, the National Plan was abandoned, sterling was weak and—I do not know whether the right hon. Member for Leeds, East considers this a sign of strength—we were only a few months away from devaluation.

I say in all seriousness to the House that I do not think that many objective observers would suggest that we were better placed to join in 1967 than we are today.

Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)

The right hon. Gentleman will recall that my main point on Thursday was that the only way in which we can hope to pay the balance of payments costs of entry, which the right hon. Gentleman finally confirmed on Monday would be £500 million by 1977, would be by a big increase in our growth; yet the Department for Trade and Industry and the C.B.I. together have confirmed that this year there is a 6 to 8 per cent. fall in our total industrial investment, and, according to the C.B.I., a further fall is expected next year. In other words, those business men who have signed the manifestoes in the newspapers in favour of entry are not prepared to back their judgment with their money.

Mr. Barber

First of all, the facts that the right hon. Gentleman related are not true, and he knows it. I will not weary the House, but there are a number of other points which the right hon. Gentleman made that are wholly without foundation, including views attributed to the Treasury which are quite untrue.

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)

Tell us the facts. The British people are entitled to know.

Mr. Barber

If the right hon. Gentleman really thinks that this country was in a better position to join in 1967 than now, then all I can say is that he is entitled to his opinion.

Mr. Healey

I am not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman is agitated, because he confessed on Monday that he had been misleading the House in July. But I put again to him the figures supplied by the Department of Trade and Industry, for which the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is responsible. There has been a heavy fall in investment this year. There is no increased investment expected next year. Against that background, to which we have to add the consumer boom launched by the right hon. Gentleman in July, how can he differ from the view expressed by The Times last Friday that we are riding for a stop in our economic development in 1973—the very moment when we have to start paying the intolerable foreign exchange costs of entry to the Common Market?

Mr. Barber

I do not think that that will carry very much weight with the House. Incidentally, if the right hon. Gentleman wishes to bandy about quotations from The Times, it also said that the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson) should never again be Prime Minister, and it is right about that.

Yesterday's opening speech was made by the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock and, very properly, the right hon. Gentleman naturally spent a considerable time dealing with the impact of our joining on Scotland in particular and on the regions in general. This evening, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry will be dealing once again with the general question of regional policy and our entry into the Community.

I want to deal with one observation made by the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock which I must say I found one of the most depressing remarks ever made by one who has held high office in a British Government. I quote the right hon. Gentleman's words so as to remind the House what he said. He said: We are told that we shall have the benefit of competition, which means that firms all over the country will go to the wall."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th October, 1971; Vol. 823, c. 1494.] What an appalling reflection on Scottish industry. What an insult to the people of Scotland. Here is the man who was Secretary of State for Scotland in the last Government—

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)


Mr. Barber

I will give way in a moment—in effect saying to the people of Scotland that with competition our firms will go to the wail, that we are not equal to the other countries of the Six, that they are better than we are and that they are bound to win. The right hon. Gentleman could hardly have done a greater disservice to his native Scotland. I only hope that those whom he represents will take due note of what ha said. The reality is very different. The great majority of industry in Scotland, in England, and in Wales, is absolutely convinced that we shall benefit.

Mr. Ross

The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that there have been considerable changes in the incentives to industry in Scotland and elsewhere since he became Chancellor of the Exchequer. Will he look at what is being said by the chambers of industry in Glasgow? Will he look at what was said by Sir Eric Yarrow relating to R.E.P.? Will he consult his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, who will tell him that the position of many Scottish firms, small and large, as a result of what has been done, will be desperate?

Mr. Barber

I take it that the right hon. Gentleman is simply confirming the view which he expressed yesterday. It is fortunate that that is not the view of Scottish industry.

I have great respect for those, whether they are for or against joining the Communities, who have remained consistent in their convictions. Again, as the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock yesterday rightly said, It is this … changing of the story … that creates cynicism among the British people."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th October, 1971; Vol. 823, c. 1487.] It is not only the British people. As I have been meeting the Ministers of the Six over these past months, one after the other—it is right that this should be said—has asked me the same question: "Why is it that Mr. Wilson has changed his mind?" They cannot understand how a man who has held the office of Prime Minister should fall so tragically below the level of statesmanship which is expected on an issue as great as this for our country.

I will give one example. During the debate several right hon. and hon. Gentlemen have tried to pretend that, in the course of the negotiations for entry, a Labour Government would have renegotiated the Community's agricultural policy. Every Member on the Opposition Front Bench, whatever his views, knows that that is simply untrue. There was no hint of any such "reservation" in the White Paper. The Labour Government's statement of 6th July, 1967, to which reference has been made, when the application was presented, made no such general reservation. The point is all the plainer because the statement did enter particular reserves on such agricultural matters as the annual review of prices, supplies of liquid milk, and support arrangements for pig meat and eggs. Therefore, it is absurd to contend, as the document prepared by the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party does, that the Government—this Government— made no sustained effort to change the fundamental nature of the Community's agricultural policy. Of course we did not. Nor would the Labour Government, during the negotiations, have made any such effort to change the Common Agricultural Policy. They knew, and accepted, that such an approach would have been doomed from the start. The Leader of the Opposition was unequivocal on that point. Any assertion to the contrary is bogus.

There are three further points—

Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)

Since none of the right hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friends has responded to my invitation to quote what was said from the Front Bench opposite in the statement announcing the application for entry about this issue, and it was requoted on 8th May—all we get is selective quotations which Conservatives like to use—will he now state what was said in col. 312 of HANSARD of 2nd May, 1967, and incorporated in the White Paper, from which he voted, about our refusal to accept the arrangements made under C.A.P.?

Mr. Barber

Yes, we did support the right hon. Gentleman. I went into the Lobby in support of the right hon. Gentleman, because I remained true to my convictions. He is entitled to quote whatever he wants. If he will bring the HANSARD along tomorow he is entitled to quote it.

Mr. Harold Wilson

Quote it then.

Mr. Barber

I will quote what the right hon. Gentleman said. He said: we must be realistic in recognising that C.A.P. is an integral part of the Community. This recognition must form part of our position. We have to decide whether or not to apply for entry to a Community which is characterised by this particular agricultural system. It is useless to think that we can wish it away, and I should be totally misleading the House if I suggested that this policy is negotiable. We have to come to terms with it. But we can play our part in affecting its future development if, but only if, we are members of the Community."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 1066.] There are three further points which have been raised again in this debate as they were in July.

Mr. Heffer

The right hon. Gentleman has been quoting from HANSARD. But is he aware of the speech that was made, irrespective of what Lord George-Brown might say now, on behalf of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party at its conference in 1969? Speaking about the case which he put at the Hague on 4th July, 1967, when he put the application on the table, he said: If anybody reads it, he will see I did in fact reserve all the major issues that the delegates have come to the rostrum to make today. I reserved them specifically for negotiation. I reserved agriculture. I reserved the C.A.P., the Common Agricultural Policy, and the levies. I reserved the sugar producers. I said specifically and in terms that we would decide whether to go in at the end of the day in the light of the negotiations on these issues.

Mr. Barber

Everyone knows, and also the members of the Six knew perfectly well, that the noble Lord was talking about the transitional arrangements. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] What is clear—[Interruption.] Perhaps I might pray in aid the views of another former Foreign Secretary. Yesterday the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart) said: But surely it was not possible to say 'We are entering the negotiations in good faith and one of the things we shall ask for is that the whole nature of the C.A.P. shall be altered'. I do not see how anybody who knew the nature of the E.E.C. could do that, or how anybody who knew the nature of the Community and said 'We shall enter into the negotiations in good faith' could have expected terms substantially better than those which are now available."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th October, 1971; Vol. 823, c. 1514.]

Mr. Healey

As the right hon. Gentleman's researches have not made him fully aware of all the statements made by Labour Ministers, may I quote what he said on 30th June when he was responsible for the negotiations: I think it will be generally agreed that the new decisions on financing as a result of the new decisions on the C.A.P. have made for us the problem of balance more severe. If I appear to labour this point it is only because, unless a solution is found, the burden on the United Kingdom could not be sustained, and no British Government could contemplate joining. Is it not the case that that is what the right hon. Gentleman was saying in the negotiations at Brussels 15 months ago, before the Prime Minister sold out to President Pompidou in May of this year?

Mr. Barber

The right hon. Gentleman will have to do better than that. There is nothing at all in what I said there about reserving the C.A.P. for negotiations. What I said was—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is really not tolerable that the right lion. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) should continue to interrupt from a sedentary position.

Mr. Barber

Two or three other points have been raised in this debate, as they were in July. The first is the effect of joining on our balance of payments and on the competitiveness of our economy. It is said that after our consideration was complete and we set out our conclusions in the White Paper we should have provided more statistics, and more facts. I dealt with that at some length during the debate in July, but the real point is, what possible advantage can there be in deploying spurious quantifications of one kind or another, with all the meretricious appeal of exact figures, when, in all honesty, we know that in some instances the magnitudes simply cannot be predicted?

It has been alleged from the benches opposite that we have refused to indicate the range of possible British contributions to the Community Budget between 1977 and 1980. But the Labour Government's White Paper gave a range of the total balance of payments effect of membership as being between £100 million and £1,100 million, and such figures, as almost every commentator said at the time, are utterly useless.

Mr. Peter Shore (Stepney)


Mr. Barber

I should get on.

The House will recall that in July I dealt with our contribution to the Community Budget. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East, who opened for the Opposition on Thursday, has now joined ranks, a bit belatedly, with the right hon. Members for Stepney (Mr. Shore) and Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) in playing what I might call the "numbers game", that is, the game of confidently predicting the level of our contribution to the European Communities' Budget in the 1980s.

The truth is that the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman himself was a Member frankly recognised that it is impossible at this stage to make useful forecasts of the size of the Community Budget, and of the scale of our levies and duties in 10 years' time. The sort of figures used by the right hon. Gentleman are based on assumptions about agricultural developments in Europe over the next decade, and about the pattern and volume of this country's imports, both of food and of all other goods, not only from the enlarged Community, but also from all other countries. The fact is that such projections have no reliability whatsoever.

Mr. Healey


Hon. Members

Sit down.

Mr. Barber

I cannot give way again.

I have already explained to the House the position about the removal of controls on capital movements, but I must refer to it again because, since we last discussed this matter and I set it out in detail, the Labour Party document published with the authority of the National Executive of the Labour Party purports to quote the T.U.C. as saying that the increased outflow of investment capital could be far greater than what they call the "official estimate" of £100 million.

What is this "official estimate"? It is a figment of their own imagination, for there is no such official estimate. So in this document, produced with great portentousness for the Labour Party Conference, the National Executive of the Labour Party quotes the authority of the T.U.C., the T.U.C. quotes official sources, and those sources prove to be nonexistent. That is hardly a way to conduct a serious debate.

What is the position about trying to quantify capital movements? I spelled out the full implications for investment trends and for the balance of payments in my speech to the House in July. It is common ground, I think on both sides, that, while transitional arrangements are open to negotiation, there is nobody in the House who disagrees that we must be prepared, as a member of the Community, to accept the system of capital movements provided for under the Treaty of Rome, and also under subsequent directives. I do not think that anybody will deny that.

Mr. Harold Wilson

I did not accept that.

Mr. Barber

The right hon. Gentleman says that he did not accept that. May I read his words: … we must be prepared, as a member of the Community, to accept the freedom of capital movement provided for under the Treaty of Rome and under subsequent directives …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 1074.] Those were the right hon. Gentleman's words.

Mr. Harold Wilson

The right hon. Gentleman would not read what I asked him to read before, and he would not on this. He will have full details of our negotiations with the Community, in which we said that we could not agree to this freedom of movement until we could guarantee that there would be no further movements from within the Community across the Atlantic. Will the right hon. Gentleman now confirm that that was said in 1967?

Mr. Barder

I quoted the identical words, in extenso, from HANSARD. That is what the right hon. Gentleman said, and everyone in the Community accepted it and thought that the right hon. Gentleman had said it in good faith.

Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, including the right hon. Member for Leeds, East, have argued that we would be forced into policies of deflation or devaluation by the costs of membership to our economy and to our balance of payments. But that argument totally discounts the benefits to our competitive position, which British industry is confident will result from our entry, and it ignores completely the strength of our present payments position, and fails to make any allowance for our improving growth rate.

Our contributions to the Community budget will be built up gradually over the transitional period. By the end of that period our visible trade, both exports and imports, at 1970 prices, is likely to be about £24,000 million. In that context a relatively very small improvement in competitive strength would offset the expected balance of payments costs, and it is a fact that the overwhelming majority of British industry believe that with entry our competitive strength will improve.

The right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn), who is to follow me, will, I think, at least agree with me that not to join the Common Market will have an adverse effect on technology. He of all people must surely realise that there is no … future in the argument that technological co-operation on the scale we require can be achieved on a bilateral basis across a divided market. This is possible in joint aircraft projects, because the participating Governments can guarantee the demand through controlling the purchasing programmes of their respective Air Forces. But in the commercial field integrated technological development requires an integrated commercial market. I do not say there cannot be a restricted and useful field of technological co-operation, with professors crossing the Channel both ways to read learned papers to one another. But if that is all we can achieve in Europe, then we shall be condemned … as a continent—to the status of industrial helotry with all that that means in terms of world influence. And history may well say that we deserve it"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 1083.]

Mr. Molloy

The right hon. Gentleman has made a very powerful case on something of which he is confident, and in which he and his Government believe. His case is that if his suggestion is not followed by this nation, disaster will follow. If he is so supremely confident in this House, will he and his colleagues now have the courage to put the matter to the acid test in a General Election on this issue?

Mr. Barber

I was not going to deal with that point, but since the hon. Gentleman raises it, perhaps I might read these words, which are an answer to him: There are such sharp differences of opinion within each party that it would not be possible to decide the issue at a General Election, even if the leadership of the two major parties were taking contrary views. Those are the words of the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East.

Hon. Members

Next question.

Mr. Molloy

Will the right hon. Gentleman now give us his view, for which he was asked in the beginning, and not someone else's?

Mr. Barber

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman in this respect. [Laughter.] I would only add, in fairness to him, that the right hon. Gentleman believes that there should be not a General Election but a referendum—but the Leader of the Opposition has ruled that out.

There is certainly no monopoly of expert advice about the balance of economic advantage if we join. Two letters in The Times last week showed how the opinion of university teachers in economics is evenly divided upon the merits of the case. So, inescapably, as I said at the outset, this is a matter of judgment.

My own judgment is that membership will strengthen our economy in two important ways. First, it will promote and assist industrial changes in a way which will lead to a better and fuller use of our national resources and our manpower. Second, it will give us a more effective voice in deciding questions of economic development in the world at large. In my judgment, I am sure that we shall benefit, and I want the United Kingdom to join.

4.35 p.m.

Mr. Anthony Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)

When I set myself to prepare for this debate I hoped that I would be able to achieve four objectives: first, to be brief; second, to speak my mind; third, not to provoke; and fourth, to try to clarify the choices that the House has to make. If I may pay a tribute to a part of the Chancellor's speech, I fully agree with the words that he used at the beginning, about the "end of an era", the "parting of the ways", "a matter of judgment". However, if I may say so without disrespect, if he had been able to continue to develop his argument by recognising the truth, that we are all groping to find the right answer to difficult problems, he would have commanded more respect from the House.

But I shall not depart from my brief, which I have written myself so as to be short. I shall not be tempted by the right hon. Gentleman to provoke, and I have only one quotation to read, from which I think the House will learn but which I do not think that it will mock.

I do not share the certainties expressed in this debate by many of the principal advocates on either side. I envy the Prime Minister and the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir R. Turton). I envy those on either side of the House for whom this has always been absolutely clear, who have made no change of view at any stage and for whom tomorrow's debate is only a long-awaited opportunity to register a long-held view.

But I do not believe that that is the position of as many hon. Members as the debate might have suggested. I believe that the division in the country, in the House and in both parties is reflected in some sense within each of us. Indeed, even the Prime Minister, if the Gallup Polls could not reveal a single supporter for entry, might decide not to press his application. Therefore, we are talking about something which does divide us and which divides each of us.

I believe that the debate would have made more sense to the nation if more hon. Members had been prepared to confess publicly that they had argued it out in their own minds and that some doubts remained. I am very much afraid that if the people think that we have no doubts, they will think that we have not been listening to them over the last few years—because they have doubts.

I would go further and say that I think that history is unlikely to confirm any of our certainties expressed, and that what the historians will want to know is how deeply we thought about the possibilities. Moreover, a doubter listens because he wants to be convinced, while someone who is certain very often does not. It is with this approach, therefore, that I make my submission to the House.

I make no apology, in the course of having thought about this issue, for having changed the emphasis of my view at different stages. I would not regard it as being particularly honourably or necessarily desirable that in a world which is changing more rapidly than at any time in our history the one thing that remains absolutely unchanged was my view of how we should handle it. What sense does that make to an audience not only here but in Europe, which has changed its own view and its own institutions?

I was not an early European. I debated with my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) when he came to my constituency 15 years ago, when I was opposed and he was in favour. He has not changed his view. I joined in the Cabinet discussions and I supported application, but I did it with doubts then, doubts of which I am not ashamed, as to whether Britain outside would be able to manage as well as inside, and whether we had the power alone to cope with the new power that had been created by modern industry. I supported the decision to apply.

But the right hon. Gentleman really must not pretend that the motives of the Labour Government in applying were comparable to his own. For example, I did not join in the Cabinet decision, neither did my right hon. Friends, in order to create a wider market to discipline the British trade union movement. When the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry spoke earlier this year about the motor tariff, he was very candid: it was to deal with wage increases in Britain. I am not criticising him. I am identifying a difference which he would want to see identified as clearly as I would. He sees in Europe a chance of market forces working unrestrained over a larger area. I do not. That was not why we applied.

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. John Davies)

Is the right hon. Gentleman implying that he has never had, and has not today, the least faith in the force of competition? That is what he appears to be saying.

Mr. Benn

I am not saying that. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that his attitude to market forces is different from ours. I am not saying who is right, but we take a different view about the rôle of market forces in a society. He sees those forces having greater sway in a bigger market. We saw in the Market—and this is why my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) said what he did say yesterday—a need for more protection for those who might be affected by the acceleration of technical change due to competition. We did not share the present Government's political motives.

It is not sensible for the House to try to isolate this central economic question from our philosophies on other economic matters, and to pretend that we can cut the question of British adherence to the Treaty of Rome from all the other aspects of policy which have guided us. That would be to mislead the public. I confess frankly that the view of entry which I took in 1967 and the application which I supported then were in the context of policies which would be followed by a Labour Government and which had very little in common—and the Secretary of State will be glad to hear me say it—with the philosophy of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues.

I wish to say a few words about some of my colleagues. Much play has been made about my right hon. Friends the Members for Workington (Mr. Peart), Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), Kilmarnock, Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) and others, joined later by my right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore), because it is known now, and it was known then, that they had great reservations about the application. I can say what they cannot say, because I am not seeking to claim that I had their reservations; namely, that their positions were wholly reserved within the Cabinet, and everybody knew it. An application was made, but with reserved judgment until the negotiations had been completed. [Laughter.] Before it giggles, the House had better consider whether it wants the idea to go out to a public which is a bit more intelligent than it may think it is that Cabinets are always unanimous.

Unanimity is not the same as collective responsibility. I have no criticism of the hon. Members for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor) and Ludlow (Mr. More), who joined the Government in the summer of 1970 knowing that the Government they entered wanted this country to enter Europe. They came out when the decision was made and it affected them most directly. It would be a very great pity—because it is a dishonest way of presenting the means by which those in politics reach their decicisions—to suggest that there was unanimity in the last Government and then a total change of view. Everybody knows that in political decision-making we must reserve our position until we see how the final choice has to be made.

I must claim to reserve the same freedom to comment on the terms negotiated by another Government as I would have had in the Labour Cabinet to comment on the terms negotiated by a Labour Government. Therefore, let us not have too much of that.

Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)

The right hon. Gentleman is a fair man. Would he logically conclude that any fellow member of the Shadow Cabinet has the right to reserve his opinion?

Mr. Benn

Yes, to reserve his opinion—

Mr. Thorpe

According to his conscience?

Mr. Benn

The right lion. Gentleman had better listen to my argument before he comments further. The greater part of my speech, if I am allowed to reach it, deals with the question of how the House should decide this matter.

I agree very much with what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said—and it enables me to shorten my argument—that the economic predictions cannot be advanced as solid ground for reaching a decision. If there is one thing which all of us should have learned over the last 25 years it is that the economic problems of Britain are not simply to do with economics. The organisational problems of the world monetary system, the political problems, the attitudes of people—all these things create the conditions in which a society grows economically.

There is a great danger of our producing for members of the public a new myth—"Vote 'yes' for more jobs in Europe"—after all the experience we have had of putting forward remedies which we promised them would produce the desired answers. No Governments since the war have succeeded in achieving growth, a balance of payments surplus, stable prices, higher productivity and full employment at the same time. If any Government had done so they would have been in power throughout the last 25 years.

The forecasts do not make sense as an answer. In my constituency I succeeded a Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I have listened to 11 others in the House. They were all good and honest men but they were all wrong in their forecasts. Therefore, I agree with the Chancellor that we should not base our case on them. But the House should at least have had a chance to know what the best Government forecasts are. The Lockheed loan of 250 million dollars was subjected to a long inquiry by a Congressional committee, and matters to which the Select Committee on Science and Technology, of which my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Palmer) is Chairman, has devoted many sessions on issues that have received more detailed consideration than the decisison which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has called "a decision which ends an era". That is our complaint—that we do not want to rely on an intervention from the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) or second-hand news about what he told the Lobby.

This is not principally an economic issue; it is a political argument. The Government see it as a political argument. The people sense it as a political argument. History will confirm it to have been a political decision. Of course, it must be mainly to do with Britain's rôle in the world and her relationship with the United States, the Soviet Union, China and Japan. Ministers sound convincing on Europe only when they talk political language.

I wish to read a quotation, but not in order to mock or to criticise, from a speech which the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry made last year at the Agra-Europe Conference before he was a Minister. I ask the House to listen not because it represents the Government's view but because it is the best political case for entry that I have heard. No one at the end of it will be cheering or laughing. The right hon. Gentleman said: what are we going to get out of it? Firstly, in a world where more and more the big battalions hold sway, we are going to move closer and closer to those who are not only our neighbours but who, for so many reasons, have interests compatible with our own. I know it is unfashionable to talk about the political objectives of the European community, but they seem to me by far the most important of all. Tensions on our continent's eastern, south-eastern and southern frontiers have not disappeared and, unhappily, are not likely to do so in the near future. The defence bulwark of the U.S.A. is to be gradually withdrawn. Western Europe grudgingly and unenthusiastically no doubt, must unite to assure the safety of its own frontiers and, no less important, its strategic negotiating strength. The first thing we buy is, to my mind, the economic unity upon which must be built the political structure capable of assuring the independence of our continent and its right to develop its own particular mixture of democracy, liberalism and the respect of the individual. So number one on my list is the defence of the integrity of Western Europe towards which the enlargement of the community is the fourth faltering step after NATO, the Rome Treaty and the creation of EFTA. I read that to the House because those words explain why the Chancellor said that it is the end of an era. It has a political motive tightly linked to defence. I said that no one would cheer or laugh.

I come to the defence aspect of it. This is the best exposition of the Prime Minister's real thinking, and I suspect that of most of his Cabinet colleagues. He went through the agony of negotiation before he failed in 1963. He did not fail because of the negotiations. He knows that he failed because of the Polaris deal at Nassau. At the very moment when de Gaulle wondered whether we had shifted from America to Europe, the then Prime Minister reaffirmed the special relationship, confirmed the exclusion of France from the nuclear partnership, and confirmed again the insult de Gaulle had suffered when he asked for a triumvirate to run N.A.T.O., which was denied by America and Britain.

My interpretation is that at that moment, or soon after, the right hon. Gentleman, then a Minister in an outgoing Government and now the Prime Minister, resolved that nuclear weapon technology was the golden key to lift the French veto on British entry. I can put to the Prime Minister only what I believe. It is not part of the terms, but it is an essential part of the deal. That release of that technology is now openly demanded.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not forget that in the atomic world—I have responsibility for the Atomic Energy Authority—it has always known that that is what it was about. One could not visit Harwell or other places without knowing from all the people there that it was the French exclusion from the nuclear deal that was the major barrier between Britain and France. In his speech the Foreign Secretary admitted, after an intervention from the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro), that the Mc-Mahon Act was very important. I can only put it to the House, because it has not been brought into the White Paper, that a massive shift of military support linkage from the United States to France, always the sleeping partner with the Atlantic Alliance, is what lies at the heart of the Prime Minister's defence and foreign policy.

I give a parallel example. As a Minister, I negotiated the centrifuge agree- ment with the Germans and the Dutch. A centrifuge is not a piece of nuclear equipment; it is a little engineering component which goes round very rapidly. It is a very simple engineering component. It stemmed—and the House should know this—from the period of co-operation between Britain and the United States in this sphere. The amount of negotiation that was required to get the centrifuge agreement settled, on that simple engineering component, indicates to me the magnitude of what the Prime Minister will be undertaking if he carries through his nuclear deal.

Except in the House, I have only once debated with the right hon. Gentleman. That was on 3rd February, 1951. We were both new Members. He had been elected in February and I had been elected in November. He has probably forgotten it but I have not; I have checked. His speech was based upon the importance of the Atlantic Alliance. I found the notes of my speech. I said, "Democracy means the right to be wrong." That is still the argument I put to the House today—[Laughter.] The question is; who has the right to be wrong? Has the Prime Minister the right to be wrong on behalf of all of us and to bring about the end of an era in British history? If the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is right, if he speaks for the Cabinet, if the renegotiation of the nuclear arrangements is undertaken, if defence and foreign policy are to be put in to for harmonisation with tariffs and taxation, we are being asked to undertake such a major political commitment that there is no parallel for it, certainly in this century.

I should have thought that it would be obvious that in such an arrangement this House would be subordinate to the bureaucrats in Brussels, or—I think that the Prime Minister sees beyond that, too—faced with subordination to Brussels, we shall demand a European suffrage and we shall have entered a fully-fledged federal European State.

In a situation where all these major decisions are taken by the Commission, the Prime Minister thinks that he can bring the second lever into play, the lever of British opinion wishing to democratise the power to which it is subject. Therefore, I claim that the Government have set out upon a course that can only be interpreted in terms of a major federal structure for Western Europe. If this is so, why is it not more apparent? I will tell the House. If it could be said that this is only a little economic arrangement one could tell the public that it is too complicated for them to understand. But it is not a little economic arrangement. By playing down the politics of it, one can be sure that the public do not understand what it is really about. By isolating the nuclear element from it and saying that it has nothing to do with the White Paper—which is true—one could complete the act of concealment.

To undertake changes of this magnitude without specific and explicit public consent is to undermine the basis of British parliamentary democracy. Either we subordinate the House of Commons to a non-accountable bureaucratic structure in Brussels, or we go on to the full federal structure.

Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)

I am likely to be in the same Lobby as the right hon. Gentleman, rather surprisingly, but as he is explaining what was the concealed intention behind this Government when they were previously in office, what was the intention behind his Government when they decided to apply in 1967?

Mr. Benn

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman has not been present throughout my speech, but I said that the Conservative Party's motives for entry—I am commenting on rather than criticising what I believe to be its motives—were totally different from those that motivated my right hon. Friend the former Prime Minister and myself in presenting our application.

Let me develop my case. I am seeking not to provoke but to argue a case. I stay further to the Prime Minister that this proposal will not work. It will not work because one cannot generate the will to carry through such a change without first obtaining the consent preceding the decision. If I were a long-standing European, as is the Prime Minister, I would feel that he had killed my European dream, because visions are realised only when men enter a common enterprise freely. They carry the strain. They are rewarded by their effort. One cannot march a nation into a new era and adventure on the scale—against its will. [Interruption.] I am prepared to develop my argument as best I can. I should be grateful if the House would allow that.

A major constitutional issue lies at the heart of this question. We have talked about sovereignty, but what does it mean? Without referring to the old texts or the Treaty of Rome, it means that when people come to this Chamber we can point to the Treasury Bench and around the House and say, "This is where your laws are made and your taxes are imposed. This is where policies are explained, and you can get rid of these men yourselves." That is all there is in parliamentary democracy. Open debate plus a secret ballot is parliamentary democracy. It has nothing to do with Mr. Speaker's wig or the mace, or all the little things the tourists come to see. It is the combination of open debate and secret ballot, that is the basis of our system. Parliamentary democracy does not mean that we control our destiny. Our future could be decided in Brussels, Peking, in the Kremlin, the Pentagon or anywhere else. What it does is to guarantee that how we respond to the circumstances of our time is decided after open debate and by secret ballot.

Sir Frederic Bennett (Torquay)

The right hon. Gentleman said that one difference between the parties was motive. How would the procedures that he has outlined—the free vote and ministerial accountability—be varied if the Labour Government had stayed in office?

Mr. Benn

I have tried not to make this into an argument of the kind that we have every day. Let me develop my case. I am doing it as best I can.

The arguments about parliamentary sovereignty are not arguments about the House of Commons having any rights, because I think the House knows that we hold these rights in trust for others. I am not interested in Parliament save only as an instrument of the public. When Lord Shawcross, in one of the silliest of many silly speeches, said "We are the masters now", he broke the central principle of parliamentary democracy. This House is famous not for its wisdom or its customs or its HANSARD, but for Erskine May. That is why people come to see this House, because in Erskine May is contained the distilled wisdom of our experience of open debate and secret ballot. We do not have a written constitution. We have got something much more formidable. We have got a constitution embedded deeply in the hearts and minds of the people who live in this country, and it is that which encourages and shapes and restrains us all.

In 1910 a small constitutional change was delayed by the Crown. In 1949 a change of control of an industry was delayed by the House of Lords. Are we to be told by the Government that a simple majority in a single Chamber on a single day is really to put an end to this long process of development of self-government? I believe it would totally misunderstand the whole temper and nature and history of this country if a decision of this magnitude were taken in this way.

Mr. Peter Rees (Dover)


Mr. Benn

I cannot give way. I am pressed a little for time.

All the attention this week has been on European institutions. This debate is about a British institution and how we should decide an issue ourselves. It is, of course, in relation to the public that we have to take our decisions. It is very easy to make fun of opinion polls and referenda. The right hon. Gentleman read an extract from a pamphlet that I wrote on referenda, drawing attention to one of the difficulties of proceeding in that way. But the truth is, and every Member of the House knows, that in the 20 years since the Commission was set up there has been an enormous development of our constitution in that our electors are better informed, and they are now beginning to press us more forcibly than they have ever done before. When the demonstrators come here they do not threaten Parliament. They sustain Parliament. It is when the U.C.S. workers—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Just listen to the argument. It is when the demonstrators take a charter flight to Brussels that we shall know where power has really moved.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)


Mr. Benn

No, let me finish.

If the Crown is no longer a constitutional safeguard, and neither is the House of Lords, the only place which could perform this function is the House of Commons. The issue tomorrow is not keeping the flag of Europeanism flying, for no one is in any doubt where most hon. Members stand upon Europe. It rises well above party loyalty. But they should accept that the constitutional issue rises above it. The House has got the power tomorrow to reserve the position for the people. I do not believe that if my hon. Friends or hon. Members opposite who choose to vote that way did so to give the Government time to think, to reserve the position for the people, anybody would misunderstand the motives that led them to do it.

I plead with the House, before this is all brushed off as a procedural matter, to recognise that parliamentary democracy is a very fragile thing indeed. It rests upon a network of assumptions so sure and strong that power is able to pass peacefully from one group to another. When Churchill had defeated Hitler, he was defeated by the British public. Why? Because he had been brought up to believe that in Britain power passed that way. If ever this House were to create a situation in which people thought that it no longer reflected their power ultimately to decide, I believe that parliamentary democracy, which hangs by a gossamer threat, could easily fall to the ground.

Hon. Member may think me strange to concentrate almost entirely upon this issue, but there are not many places in the world where people can turn to an assembly that shapes their lives and say, "I decide who speaks there. I can remove them and by doing so I can change the policies of my society." The party system, for all its faults—and I do not much care for people who mock it in this House and then outside at conferences, Conservative or Labour, take a different view—preserves that basic choice. All the pressures of society are trying to bring us together into the mush of men of good will and no party. The party system preserves choice.

What I warn the House of is this. If the people think that by a temporary coalition, which has never been tested at the polls, some Members of Parliament claiming a divine right that we have denied to kings, deny the people the right to decide their own future, we are in serious trouble. [Interruption.] I believe what I am saying. We live in a world where enormous and unaccountable powers are everywhere growing, whether they be General Motors, the big companies, whether they be the mass media or the big organisations for which we work, and people see in this Chamber the one thread connecting them to a countervailing power. If we cut the thread that connects them to us I do not believe that this House could long survive.

Certainly it would not help Europe if we joined, having entered this way. The Europeans do not really need our money for their common agricultural policy. They do not even need our technology because they can buy it as anyone can, as the Japanese did, from abroad. What they really need is the thing that we must preserve, if ever we were to go in to be of value—our experience of government by consent. I say this to the Prime Minister: If you rupture the social contract in this country as a pre-condition of entry into the Community, the terms are too high for anyone, whatever his view of Europe may be.

I began by admitting to doubts, and I have described them as best I can. But I have one absolute certainty at the end, that whether the European communities are good for Britain, only Britain can decide. The Prime Minister could leave this House to sign the Treaty of Rome and no one could stop him, but he cannot take this country into Europe by signing the Treaty of Rome. A British signature on the treaty of accession, legislation forced through this place, will not be the end of the matter. It will not commit the Opposition which entirely reserves its rights. It will not commit the British people because they will have had no part in it. I say to the Prime Minister: It would precipitate a major crisis and unleash the biggest constitutional and political struggle that we have seen in this country for many years. Will that struggle be anti-European? Not at all. It will be the right of British people, if they go in, to go in freely and to carry with them the thing they value most—the right to decide their own future. I have said before in political anger, and I say it again now, quite coldly, that the Prime Minister has forgotten the people, and in the end the people will always have their way.

5.10 p.m.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd (Sutton Coldfield)

The right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Wedgwood Benn) has made a speech of great ingenuity and extreme complexity. Obviously, he attaches the very greatest importance to our constitutional procedures, but his speech, in my view, suffered from the fundamental defect that, for a man who believes in the British constitutional procedures, he vastly over-exaggerated the importance of the particular party in power at the time when this country enters the European Community. After all, there are already Social Democrat and Gaullist parties within the Community. The right hon. Gentleman's Government, surely, could not have decided that they would go into the Community on the supposition that they would be in power perpetually.

A Parliament like ours, used to the party system, engages upon entering into an important international agreement or treaty in the natural knowledge that there will be other governments of different parties coming later. In other words, the duty of a Government is not to take a party into the Community; it is to take the nation into the Community, and that is the spirit in which we ought to approach the issue.

For the sake of brevity, I propose to concentrate on one single, but important, point made by the Foreign Secretary when he opened the debate last week. He spoke of the Ottawa Conference and how the benefits of the Agreements made there had been eroded over the years. I think that I am the only Member of the present House of Commons who was present at that Conference. I was there as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Stanley Baldwin, and my leader in Birmingham, Neville Chamberlain, as Chancellor of the Exchequer carried out the work of negotiation. He regarded it as his mission to bring into operation the policy which his father, Joseph Chamberlain, had originated many years before.

It needs quite a feat of imagination from us now to remember the circumstances in which Joseph Chamberlain originated that policy, which still affects us today, when he was Colonial Secretary in Lord Salisbury's Government in the last decade of the nineteenth century. It should be remembered that at that time no nation came anywhere near us in wealth or world-wide power. Joseph Chamberlain and his contemporaries were so much nearer to the amazing achievements of our nation in making the Indus trial Revolution, which Professor Hobsbawm in his recent book, "Economics and Empire", has described as the greatest transformation of human life ever to take place in recorded history. All around him, in the Midlands, Chamberlain was familiar with the tremendous industrial developments which had sprung from it. He had been in business himself before coming into public life. There never could have been a Minister, by character and personal experience, better fitted to frame the long-term commercial policy for the country.

Amid all the complacency, self-confidence and increasing wealth, he saw the early signs of danger. He noticed a certain slackening in the pace of industrial advance and saw the thrusting, dynamic industries rising behind the tariff walls in Germany and the United States. Even in those days he looked forward right into our present times, and he doubted that the United Kingdom could survive as a great Power alongside the Continental giants of Russia and the United States in the twentieth century without the support of the big market of an imperial trade federation. So he brought forward the policy called the imperial Zollverein, which was free trade within the Empire behind an imperial tariff wall. It was a tremendous conception.

What happened? In spite of the fact that, in those days, the Colonies were so much weaker in relation to us than they became later, they at once made clear that they would have none of it. Even in those days they were not prepared to be just suppliers of food and raw materials. They were determined to develop and protect their own industries. Joseph Chamberlain, therefore, immediately changed his policy to one of mutual imperial preference. Along these lines considerable progress was made, but, as the House knows, as it was later developed it was decisively rejected by the country in the General Election of 1906.

When Neville Chamberlain came to take up the task again at Ottawa, more than a quarter of a century later, much had changed. Our position in the world and our wealth were much reduced compared with what they had been before. One thing, however, did not change—the absolute determination of the Dominions to develop and protect their own industries. That was why the negotiations were so difficult for British Ministers at Ottawa. Indeed, at one time, it looked as though the Conference would break down completely. But, in the end, agreement was achieved.

It is no part of my intention to denigrate or undervalue the importance of the Ottawa Agreements. On the contrary, for many years, and still to a certain extent today, they were a powerful encouragement to imperial trade. But we must face the fact that they were only a pale shadow of Joseph Chamberlain's original master plan. They were not a basis on which Britain could raise an industrial economy comparable to that of the United States. It was more a holding operation, and, as time went on, industrialists in the Midlands came to feel that in the daily conduct of their export trade. Gradually, more and more complained that they were excluded from the markets of the Commonwealth by tariffs and embargoes. My right hon. Friend explained last week how, when he was Commonwealth Secretary, he saw this process remorselessly at work.

Thus it was that, after Midland industry had for 50 years been the champion of imperial preference, last July the Council of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce voted unanimously to support British entry into the European Economic Community. But before it did so, it communicated with all of its 4,200 members specifically asking whether any of them wished to bring forward any objections or reservations. Only 13 members replied in that negative sense.

I have never heard the economic case for our entry into the Common Market put better or more concisely than it was by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment on Monday night. He avoided all exaggeration. He said that it means more opportunity in good years and more security in bad. I believe that, in our present circumstances, it offers the best chance we have of bringing into being that more prosperous and more civilised industrial community which we all desire.

5.20 p.m.

Mr. Norman Atkinson (Tottenham)

My reading of political history tells me that bath Joe Chamberlain and Neville Chamberlain were noted for their lack of judgment, I should have thought that any of the members of the Chamberlain family were the last people to quote in support of an argument favouring British entry into Europe, and I am surprised that the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd) did it, though I recognise at once his close affiliation with Birmingham and the part he has played in Birmingham politics, and I can understand his paying respect to his predecessors and those with whom he has had a long political association.

I wish to take up a few of the threads which have run through the debate—I see some of my friendly enemies are here—and, perhaps, say a few words on matters which are of great importance to us in the Labour Party. It is not surprising that a six-day debate should develop into a series of interviews. At least, that is the way it has seemed—or, as someone suggested, perhaps a selection conference. Nevertheless, there have been some surprises among those whom we have interviewed so far, and Mr. Speaker has told us that there are well above 100 who may yet give us some surprises.

Some indication of what the debate is about was given when we interviewed the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr. More). The hon. Gentleman said that he disagreed with his Government on their Common Market policy, and, in the circumstances, as he found his attitude to that policy incompatible with his position as a Whip, he had resigned from the Government. Then he said that, on the basis of a free vote, he would support the Government's policy. I think that that is a fair summary. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I understood the hon. Member for Ludlow to say that he would join the Government supporters in their Lobby, that they would be embarrassed by his presence. [HON. MEMBERS: "Wrong."] Then I must take it back. Obviously, it was a bad interview, and I misunderstood.

I am sure that I did not misunderstand the Secretary of State for Employment when we interviewed him. His case for going into Europe was one which we on this side could unanimously turn down, and we did. I am glad that the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is here today, because I wish to quote him, although he has not so far been interviewed.

The Secretary of State for Employment promised sunshine tomorrow. He said that there would be marvellous job opportunities once we got into Europe. Then he made various quotations, as others have done. He did not quote his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, but, at the point at which he got down to some of the actions taken by his right hon. Friend in that Department, he showed that his sunshine was, in fact, moonshine. Earlier, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his interview, told us that there were great job opportunities open to us because of the developing trade within the Six and the expansion in which we could take part.

Let us line up all three Ministers and see what they were saying. If I understood the argument correctly, the Chancellor of the Exchequer accepts that there is a built-in deficit in our trading arrangements with the Six, so that, if we are to break even at the end of the day, we must more than double the rate of growth in trade expected by both France and Germany. That is just not on. So it is fallacious to argue, as the Secretary of State for Employment did, that there are great job opportunities waiting for us once we get into Europe.

When the Secretary of State for Employment went on to hint at the philosophy of the Tory Party, he had forgotten what his colleague the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry had said on previous occasions about a deliberate use of unemployment in this country to smash wage applications being made by the unions.

Mr. John Davies


Mr. Atkinson

The right hon. Gentleman mumbles and denies that, but in this very Chamber—

Mr. Davies

Will the hon. Gentleman quote my words on the subject?

Mr. Atkinson

Certainly. I cannot recollect the date, but we are all here witnesses to the occasion when the right hon. Gentleman said in the House that, if the trade unions in the motor industry persisted in their wage claims, he would not hesitate to bring down the tariff barriers and create unemployment in the industry in order to break the position being taken up by the motor industry unions.

Mr. Davies

I apologise for interrupting the hon. Gentleman twice, but he has rather seriously misquoted me, and I feel that, if he had it in mind to say that, he ought to have been prepared to quote the actual words. What I was complaining about was the, on the whole, softness of management in not resisting exaggerated wage claims.

Mr. Atkinson

Precisely; that is what the right hon. Gentleman was doing, but what was his purpose? He said that he would lower the tariff barriers on the importation of foreign motor cars in order to create slack in the British motor industry.

Mr. Davies

indicated dissent.

Mr. Atkinson

That was precisely his argument. That was no point in making the case if it were not. In other words, the more foreign motor cars are brought into this country, the weaker the case of the motor industry worker. If the workers' job opportunities decline, as they would if we brought in masses of foreign motor cars, obviously, the employer would bestrengthened in his resistance to trade union wage claims. So the right hon. Gentleman was plainly arguing that he would deliberately bring in more foreign cars to create unemployment among Midland motor car workers in order to resist wage claims. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] Of course he was, and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment had forgotten all that part of the Government's history.

I come to the question of public opinion in this country. I find it most encouraging that the mind-benders have been defeated. This is the first occasion I recall when, after the British people have been subjected to a deluge of propa- ganda—educational processes, some hon. Members have called it—the mind-benders have been defeated. That should give us great encouragement in the Socialist movement. It means that a future Labour Government could, perhaps, pursue Socialist policies in the teeth of total opposition from the British Press. I am delighted that the British people have at last matured in such a way that they can resist the pressures put on them by the British Press and the media generally.

It has been suggested from the benches opposite that, perhaps, all the money spent and spread around in the European Movement, although it may not take us into Europe, may at least bust the Labour Party, so that, whichever way things go, it will have been well spent in a good investment. Let us for a moment look at the Labour Party and take up some of the matters raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn). Let us consider the position of the party itself and what is likely to happen.

My first great worry is that the British Labour Party is going hell-bent towards its own destruction. What happens if there is resistance by its Parliamentary representatives to conference, rank-and-file decisions of our movement? We all recognise that we are a political coalition. It is often argued that we represent opinions ranging from Marxism to Methodism, and I do not deny that. The spectrum is tremendously wide. There is no way in which a coalition of our kind can survive in British politics unless it accepts the decisions of an extra-mural authority. It must accept the rank-and-file decisions taken outside Parliament if the Parliamentary coalition is to survive.

I am sorry to think that the Labour Party is hell-bent towards its own destruction if there is rejection of that argument. I say that in a year when the arguments between us are bound to intensify, not about the Market but about other fundamental political issues. The party is now committed, for instance, to climb the City wall at last, to take into public ownership the banks and insurance companies. I already hear arguments against that. I have heard that certain lion. Members would never support the idea. In the process of formulating a policy upon which the Labour movement will contest the next General Election, that argument is bound to take place, whether we like it or not. The rank and file of our movement have laid down the policy which will be pursued at that Election. Therefore, Parliamentarians must come to some understanding of what is being demanded by the wider movement outside.

If we are seeing the start of disagreement with rank-and-file opinion, a refusal to accept the authority of the highest policy-making body in the movement, its annual conference, then we are heading for problems and possible destruction.

Mr. Peter Emery (Honiton)

Will the hon. Gentleman follow through the logic of that constitutional point, that his party must follow the decisions of its highest policy-making body? If that is true while the Labour Party is in Opposition, why is it not true when it is in Government? If in fact it is true when it is in Government, the Government are held entirely to the wishes of the policy-making body of the Labour Party Conference.

Mr. Atkinson

Indeed they are. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that point. The Parliamentary Labour Party is not a sovereign body in that sense, as its Chairman has said earlier today. It is subservient to the decisions taken elsewhere by the membership of the British Labour Party.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Atkinson

I will tell the hon. Gentlemen why. It is because the Labour movement's annual conference, in its policy-making responsibilities, lays down the basis upon which we all contest Elections. That is the programme and policy that we put before the British people. If a Government are elected they are committed to pursuing the policy they put before the people, otherwise it is a bogus prospectus. It is the duty of every Labour Parliamentarian to accept annual conference decisions, to accept the policies on which he or she contested the election. [Interruption.] If hon. Gentlemen argue that they can willingly go back on annual conference decisions on electoral policy, what is the purpose of laying down that policy? What is its purpose unless we are committed to it?

Sir Myer Galpern (Glasgow, Shettleston)

As one who has been consistently opposed to entry into Europe, I must ask my hon. Friend this: does he sincerely feel that the argument he is now developing is helping to maintain unity within the Labour Party? Does he feel that his argument should be made here or, rather, in another place more appropriate to these matters?

Mr. Atkinson

Much as I understand my hon. Friend's concern to shuffle off such discussion to a private place, I believe that it is our purpose here to discuss as openly as possible what our commitments are. Every one of us in the party contested the election on the policy laid down, which states very clearly what is our attitude on the Common Market. It clearly states that under no circumstances would a Labour Government accept the implications of a value-added tax or the imposition of food levies, and that it is totally opposed to the abolition of food subsidies. It defines regional policies and so on. It is all there in the document. That was the commitment that every hon. Member on this side accepted when he went into the General Election as a Labour candidate. Those who now reject the document on which they fought the election, by doing something opposite to what it says, are being dishonest to the electorate.

As members of the British Labour movement, we have a right to say that the greatest and highest authority in our movement has declared the basic policy and that it is our responsibility to find ways of putting that policy into practice, whether we are in Government or in Opposition. We have the obligation to be consistent with the policy proclaimed at the General Election.

There is a greater importance in the question, because of an international misunderstanding of the position, mentioned by two of our Front Bench speakers. I refer to the misunderstanding on the part of both Georges Pompidou and Willy Brandt, who believe that on 29th October it will be all over, that once Britain is in Europe the potential European leadership in the Labour movement will emerge and take the Social Democrat argument into a new dimension. They are saying that once Britain is in Europe the opposition of the Labour Party ceases. It does not. We have rejected the terms because of the fundamental principles I have mentioned. We are totally and fundamentally opposed to any form of tax harmonisation along the lines suggested, to the scheme of food levies and to the abolition of subsidies.

We are demanding an immediate election, but if that is not conceded by the Prime Minister that argument will remain open until we have a General Election. My right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) told our annual conference very clearly that we shall contest the next General Election, whenever it is, between now and 1975, on the terms now being proposed by the Government. The Labour movement will stand firm by its pledge to the British people. It will give them an opportunity to take a decision on the terms now proposed, whenever that opportunity comes. When Willy Brandt asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what had made Harold Wilson change his mind, it is more important he should understand that the position of the Labour movement has not changed.

I think that I understand the British Labour movement as well as most. The position will not change between now and 1975. Indeed, if it ever changes it will harden into total opposition in principle against the European Community. So there is no chance of this position changing.

What we are saying is that we demand a General Election and that at that election we shall fiat on the basis of the rejection of the terms now proposed. That is our position and it will continue. Therefore, both Herr Brandt and President Pompidou must understand clearly that the British people, if they elect a Labour Government at the next General Election, will be electing a Government who will then say to the Community, if we are in by then, that they have their own terms and proposals for membership and that if those are rejected by the Community then the relationship which may exist at that time will be changed dramatically and totally reversed. There should be no ambiguity about the sort of things we are saying and about our commitment.

It is said that this is an academic argument because, no matter what our political commitment, once the Tory Government take us into Europe we cannot do anything about it. There are arguments about signatures to treaties and so on. But no Government can be committed by their predecessors. That is the accepted position in all things, including international agreements. If we get a change of Government before 1973, there will be no problem. If the present Government go on to 1975—heaven help us!—even then there will not have been irreparable damage to our ecnomy. This is because, according to the transitional terms already announced, we shall be only two-fifths on our way towards tariff abolition and the rest. The internal taxation changes and so on will not have started, except for the embryonic V.A.T. in 1973. Tax harmonisation in Europe cannot take place before 1975.

These major changes envisaged for Europe will not prevent a Labour Government carrying out their commitment to the British people. We should look to the future, therefore, with a great deal of confidence and we look to the leadership of our future Labour Government to honour their pledge to the people that these terms will be submitted, and if they are rejected by the people, then that Government will change the position when the time comes.

5.43 p.m.

Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)

I will not follow the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson) very far, except to hope that his party is not so hell-bent on destruction that it will be destroyed tomorrow night. I look forward very much to the support of hon. Members opposite in the Lobby. Hell must not strike before midnight on Thursday.

This debate has been of great profundity and interest, especially for backbenchers. An identity of this House of Commons with the ordinary people we represent has clearly emerged. It is not the identity of dedicated European man. It has become clear that the House stands for and holds most precious the sovereignty and power of this House first and beyond that its constituents, its regions and those great areas overseas with which we still do 70 per cent. of our trade. I believe that that is the mood which I have come increasingly to sense in the House over the last few days.

First, it justifies the belief of the late General de Gaulle that this country is not and never could be totally dedicated to Europe. Secondly, I believe that the situation means that this country, with a bare majority in the House of Commons uncertain about the commitment, and with the people on the whole opposed to the idea of going into Europe, far from being a help to Europe in these troublesome times would be a hindrance and would not contribute to the future envisaged by the Six and by the Government.

I propose to vote against the Motion tomorrow night. This is not just because of a feeling of reluctance on my part but as an expression of the political reality as it exists in Great Britain today.

I seldom agree with The Times on matters concerning Europe, but I did agree the other day when it said that the House should consider not the immediate future but what is going to happen in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. It is these points to which I want to address myself because I believe they are the points which really matter.

The whole shade of Europe has changed. The Common Market has had 12 golden years since the signing of the Treaty of Rome. They have been golden years without so much as a winter. But things are changing now. It is clear that the great period of unlimited growth is over. Let us compare the remarks of Signor Giovanni Agnelli, the Chairman of Fiat, to his shareholders yesterday with the address of Lord Stokes in another place. Lord Stokes foresees abounding expansion in Europe; Signor Agnelli foresees a slump, and expansion only in markets in South America and beyond the Iron Curtain.

We have to think of the changes taking place now—for example in the American balance of payments position, with the cessation of the flow of dollars. There is also the fact that Germany is once more astir. These are some of the political considerations we must bear in mind.

Both Mrs. Miriam Camps and Herr Dahrendorf have been quoted in the debate because they have examined the question of the institutions. Herr Dahrendorf has spoken of the need for a second Europe. Mrs. Camps, in International Review, has rightly said that the institutions of Europeans are now flattening out, that their zest has gone, that they neither advance forward nor move backwards and that immobilism has descended upon them. I think that this is true. I do not propose to attempt a learned essay to describe what these two distinguished writers have to say but their summation can perhaps be best found in Genesis, Chapter 11, verses 1 to 9: And they built a tower and the Lord called it Babel. There is no need for God to descend to call what is going on in Europe today "Babel". We are not faced today in Europe with growth, except of one factor, the growth of Babelism.

These matters have to be put right, but the House of Commons has not the dedication and is not prepared to see these question answered. The problems lying ahead for Europe in the 1970's are threefold. The first concerns the Community's institutions, the second relations with Europe's defence and with the United States, the third the reunification of Germany. All three will face us and Europe in the 1980's and the 1970's and for the Community to survive except as a C.A.P. or customs union all three questions must be answered.

What is clear is that over the next ten years without the sort of action which people like Lord Gladwyn are calling for in the House of Lords, action of the sort which the federalists are demanding on the Floor of this House, the idea of l'Europe des patries is doomed. But I believe that we are not prepared to accept federal solutions. But are the Government so prepared, and if they are, should they not tell us before tomorrow night?

Of course there could be federal solutions for defence. The West Germans could be bound to the West in hoops of steel and we should have one finger, one European finger, on the trigger, or the button. But none of that is realistic, for it would not be acceptable to us, or to most countries in Europe, and it would certainly not be acceptable to Russia. Only last week there was a Gallup poll showing that Germany is becoming a largely neutralist country. I believe that these problems can be solved by a federal solution, but I believe that in that this House and this country could have no part. That is why on an issue like German reunification, if we have l'Europe des patries, the Germans will eventually be entitled to say that it applies to the gander as much as to those who would goose step to national unity, and that is what it is coming to.

There is only one answer and it is not to unite Europe. The whole basis of the old E.E.C. was the concept of the man of Lorraine and the man of the Rhineland, not only that Germany should be at peace with France, but that there should be no Rapallo, no repetition of that by the permanent division of Germany. But that period is coming to an end. A united Europe of which we were a member could not act as the necessary counterweight. The only force which could be a counterweight to a united Germany, which would be united only with the consent of the Soviet Union, would be the United States. Therefore if it be a question of our having (to choose between Europe and the Atlantic, we must remain an Atlantic Power, and that is why it is impossible for us to make this total commitment to the concept of Europe.

On purely political grounds, the advantages of entry are small and almost dangerous. Economically it is a matter of taking projections of additions of burnt out matchsticks among which there is not so much as one Swan Vestas, a balance to which there is no answer. It is possible to argue that we should be allowed to go into Europe free in view of the problems in Europe which will emerge and which will be solved only by some federal solution, but I should be opposed even to free entry.

As it happens, the price is very heavy. There is, first, the political price, the political price of ten wasted years of trying to get in. During those ten years we have lost friends. During those ten years there has been a sort of trauma of enforced inevitability about Whitehall. We have seen no new initiatives; we have seen the Soames—de Gaulle possibility rejected; we have seen our economy tortured so that we should be fit to go in and have the right balance of payments situation.

Historically, we have seen Foreign Secretary after Foreign Secretary, whether from my party or the Labour Party, destroying those bridges still remaining to us with the outside world. I have listened to right hon. Gentlemen talking about the captain of the Hesperus, but we have seen Foreign Secretaries behaving like the boy Capabianca, not just guilty of the stupidity of staying on the burning deck, but guilty of arson. Many things have been destroyed in the process.

At the end of ten years, as we make our third attack in the citadel of Brussels, is a low price to be expected? Of course the price is high. I do not blame my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who has negotiated brilliantly and who has obtained better terms than could have been obtained by the Labour Party, but let us face the fact that there are two elements in the economic price to be paid. The first is what are called the costs of impact, not just V.A.T. but higher food prices and possibly, in the short term, an adverse balance of payments and the loss of exports in the first few years. In addition, there are the long-term costs.

It is said that there will be growth, but the present indications in Europe are that there will not be any growth. We are to have to pay one-quarter of the budget, and figures which are not being revealed by the Government show that the costs must be in the nature of £500 million to £800 million a year in the late 1970s. These are the prices we are being asked to pay for a system on which we can make little or no successful impact, a system which would be most dangerous to the concepts of the country as a whole and this institution in particular.

I conclude by saying: an alliance with Europe, yes; partnership, yes; friendship, yes; but the concept of our being united with Europe on these terms and to these federal purposes, never.

5.59 p.m.

Mr. Joel Barnett (Heywood and Royton)

I have frequently agreed with the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) in our economic debates, but I disagree with him strongly on this issue. I shall comment later on what he said about costs.

I hope that the House will forgive me if, unlike many others who have spoken. I do not try to convince the House of the strength of the argument on either side, because I feel that there are not many left to be convinced in this debate. I shall state simply why I remain in favour of Britain entering the Common Market.

First, I believe it to be a tiny but important step in co-operation with our neighbours. They have problems as the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone said, and so have we. I believe that by working together we shall have a better chance of solving our problems. This does not mean anything approaching integration—because it is a long way from integration even after 15 years.

Many of the basic economic decisions remain a problem of national Governments, and will continue to remain so for some considerable time ahead. In regard to co-operation with the Common Market countries—and I do not pretend this will involve the whole of Europe since it will not—the fact that other countries of Europe do not yet want to co-operate with each other in this way is no reason for not making a start now.

If it were to mean a reduction in the economic growth of this country and if it were to prevent redistribution of wealth, it would be too high a price to pay. Indeed, if that could be proved to me, even at this late stage I would be prepared to vote in the other Lobby. But for me economic growth is very important, not simply because I fought my own Government from 1964 to 1970 on this matter and, indeed, have fought this Government ever since—[An HON. MEMBER: "And did not get it."] I agree that we did not get it. I did this not because I think there is something beautiful about G.N.P. but because I feel that, without it, there is little chance of doing the things most of us are in politics to do; namely, to help to alleviate the misery of old people living lonely lives, to improve housing and social conditions, and to provide a better life for our young people. These are the reasons why I want a very considerable increase in the rate of economic growth.

On balance, I believe there are better opportunities for economic growth with our being members of the E.E.C. I do not believe that simply by association we shall automatically achieve increased growth. There would be no magical growth flowing from association. If we accepted the same wrong priorities inside Europe as we have accepted outside Europe during the last seven years, we would have the same miserable rate of economic growth.

The major argument many of my right hon. Friends have presented as to why we shall not be able to achieve economic growth is that there is, first, the matter of higher costs to which I shall be referring later and, secondly, the question of the balance of payments. I do not accept either of these arguments, as I hope to show.

I have for years argued that we have no need to let balance of payments prevent our going for a higher rate of economic growth, and I do not accept it today when we have about £34,705 million of foreign assets, according to the Bank of England's last quarterly report. In the transitional period—and I will deal with the post-1978 period in a moment—the direct net contribution will rise from £100 million to £200 million a year. In that context it is absurd to suggest that balance of payments need be a restraint on our rate of economic growth, especially since the E.E.C. had a 25,000 million dollar surplus on current account between 1958 and 1969. In those circumstances it will be absurd to allow balance of payments to prevent our going for a higher economic growth rate.

In regard to higher costs, the basic trouble with the anti-Market argument is that it assumes a post-1978 continuation of the highest figure. Most will accept that during the transitional period the figures are comparatively modest. But it is suggested that because they are rising there will inevitably be a continuation. If this were a definite fact, there would be a little truth in that argument; but I do not accept it, and I hope to show why.

I do not believe that the situation will be a static one. I cannot forecast what will happen in 1978 or 1980, but there are many people who are prepared to assert that they know. I do not know what the position will be in 1980. I only know that it will be different from 1971. All the trends and events of recent months show that, if anything, we are not going to have a static world in 1980. The position changes not only in months but in weeks. It would, therefore, be a very rash man—I know there are plenty of them about—who would be prepared to say precisely what will be the position in 1978.

The common agricultural policy is usually asserted as a major reason for high costs, and this, it is said, is why things will be so terrible for us in the post-1978 period. But can anybody really imagine that the common agricultural policy in 1978 will be the same as it is today? It is not the same today as it was two months ago. It is not the same today after what President Nixon did in August. It is not the same today as it was when the revaluations took place in Europe. When one adds to that pressures of consumers, movement from the land in Europe, and our substantial voice in fixing annual prices, it would be a rash man to forecast what the situation will be in 1978.

Mr. Shore

I believe my hon. Friend slightly exaggerates his case. The one thing we know about C.A.P. is that in 1967 it was running at a cost of £600 million a year, and at £1,100 million a year in 1971, and that the Commission and the Government expect it to be costing, at the lowest estimate, £1,600 million in 1978.

Mr. Barnett

I am surprised my right hon. Friend should be so ready to accept the estimates of Ministers with whom he disagrees on almost every other aspect. I am not prepared to accept their estimates, my right hon. Friend's estimates or anybody else's estimates about what they say they know what will happen in 1978. But, despite what I have said, we still have forecasts of doom and disaster from my right hon. Friend—and many others who speak in the same vein—not just for the transitional period but for the whole of the period after. Indeed, my right hon. Friend in July mentioned the exorbitant costs going on in perpetuity. I do not believe any Government in this country would be so stupid as to pay them. Perhaps I should qualify that remark. It is possible that there could be one. But what my right hon. Friend is saying is that there would be stupid Governments prepared to pay that sort of price in perpetuity, and I do not accept that.

Mr. Shore

What the Government have entered into—this is the serious point— is that apart from the actual cost of C.A.P. in future, about which we cannot be certain, and what they have accepted for the future, without reserve or any break clause, is that from now on or from the end of the transitional period there should be paid over to the Six 90 per cent. of whatever food levies we have, 90 per cent. of all our customs duties and up to 1 per cent. in value-added tax. I cannot quantify these figures exactly, and I hope my hon. Friend will be able to tell us more about it. But let us have no doubt about the nature, size and permanence of this commitment.

Mr. Barnett

My right hon. Friend spoke of post-1978 in gross terms without saying how the budget will be spent in 1978; and neither he nor I knows what the situation will then be. What I do know from the trends is that it will be a different situation from what it was in 1970.

Mr. Heffer

Could my hon. Friend explain to the House how the budget will be spent? Will it be spent on rehabilitating the workers from the land into the various factories?

Mr. Barnett

I would love to take much longer to explain this matter, but I have mentioned that the trend in Europe is away from the land. It will inevitably mean that a post-1978 budget will be spent in a different way. It will be spent in terms of our having a substantial say as to where it shall go, and we and other countries in the E.E.C. will be qualified to have a say on these matters. It will be spent on helping the people on Merseyside and elsewhere—and why not?

Mr. Heffer

My hon. Friend must be joking.

Mr. Barnett

It is sometimes said that any Government in this country would have no real choice because this is written into the regulations. I doubt whether President de Gaulle ever read a regulation. This is an important matter. It assumes that we shall stick to such a rigid situation that we shall go on paying in perpetuity, which would be an absurd situation.

Mr. Shore

The absurdity—

Mr. Frank Tomney (Hammersmith, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. A great many hon. Members wish to speak in this debate. My right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) has made his speech already. This is the third time that he has interrupted the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Royton (Mr. Joel Barnett) in 10 minutes. I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to keep my right hon. Friend in his place firmly.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)

Order. As long as an hon. Member gives way to another hon. Member, there is nothing that the Chair or any other hon. Member can do, provided, of course, that everything said is in order. I sympathise with the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney), but his point is not a point of order. No doubt we shall get on quickly now.

Mr. Barnett

I willingly gave way to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Shore

To make the point for the last time, the nature of the agreement reached in April 1970 is to give a specific treaty basis, ratified by all the member countries, to the very arrangements that I have just described. They cannot be changed, except by the renegotiation of the treaty, and every member has the right of veto.

Mr. Barnett

Everything that my right hon. Friend has ever said assumes that after 1978 matters will simply progress along the lines that he has suggested. However, we cannot assume that we shall have the same type of stupid Governments for all time. We may get one or two, of course, but we should have to have them in perpetuity to have to pay costs of this sort. It is to misunderstand the very nature of politics in general and Community politics in particular to assume that that would be the case.

I turn now to the question of redistribution, which is fundamental to me at any rate. If I thought that a Government of this country could not redistribute wealth in the way that I want to see, I should be opposed to entry today. When one talks about this, one talks generally about the value-added tax. I happen to believe that tax to be an administrative monstrosity. When we eventually have it, I believe that many hon. Members will be very surprised to learn from their con- stituents just how much of an administrative monstrosity it is.

It is argued that the V.A.T. could be used to prevent the redistribution of wealth. But we had a Budget this year, showing that the Government do not need a V.A.T. to redistribute wealth in a way that we do not want. On the other hand, a V.A.T. need not raise any more than purchase tax and selective employment tax. It depends, of course, on the rates and exemptions. I do not expect much from this Government. But I am not as pessimistic as my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn), who seems to be concerned and under the impression that we shall have a Tory Government for all time. I do not believe that. I believe that a Labour Government would have the rates and exemptions that we want to see.

Even under this Government we must have food and other basic commodities zero rated, to use the technical term for "untaxed"; I know that it is wrong to describe that as "exempt". Those must be out, because they affect so seriously the lower income groups and old-age pensioners.

If my right hon. Friend suggests that we shall have Tory Governments for all time, I accept that we shall have tax systems that we shall not like, but that would apply whether there be V.A.T. or anything else. However, we shall have a say in the harmonisation of taxes. The Community would not be able to harmonise the rates and exemptions without us. Everything depends on the exemptions and the rates. I am optimistic enough to believe that a Labour Government would have the right sorts of exemptions and rates. I am equally optimistic enough to believe that, with the exception of the first year at most following our accession to the treaty, we shall have a Labour Government.

A great deal of nonsense is spoken about V.A.T. However, there is more than one type of V.A.T., in the same way as there is more than one type of income tax. We do not like this Government's income tax and the allowances that they have or do not have. But any future Labour Government would be able to pursue their own tax and social policies. They would not be prevented from doing so by anything in the Treaty of Rome.

On sovereignty, it is said that decisions will be taken out of our hands. On unemployment, my right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney said on 26th July that now the Chancellor can act. Does anyone imagine that a British Chancellor of the Exchequer, any more than a French finance Minister, would not act? Certainly a Labour Chancellor would act to bring down the present intolerable levels of unemployment, and he would not allow the E.E.C. to prevent him taking action. That is why the Werner Plan for economic and monetary union has been a nonstarter—because no nation State is prepared to concede that kind of sovereignty. It came out 12 months ago, and we have heard little about it since.

Does anyone really believe that a Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer—even the two of whom I was so critical between 1964 and 1970—only wants a 2 per cent. level of economic growth? Of course not. I know that both my right hon. Friends wanted very much more. They wanted to do all the things that I said I wanted to do. They could not, not because of internal economic conditions but largely because of decisions being taken elsewhere. If we were inside or outside the Community, we should have considerable difficulty in the face of the present United States decision on import surcharges. But now there are rumours that the Community is contemplating a deal with the United States providing for the selective cutting out of the import surcharge. If we remained outside, where would that leave us? What say would a British Chancellor of the Exchequer have in a decision of that sort which affected us so profoundly?

We are not really talking about the transitional period where the costs are comparatively small. We are talking about post-1978, when we shall be in a wholly different and changing world. In that world, isolationism cannot be a rôle for Britain. We must influence those changes, which can make a major difference to the standard of living of our people.

I am not at all happy at the prospect of giving one jot of joy to this Government, which have pursued divisive policies since the General Election. Real statesmanship on the part of the Prime Minister would have resulted in the adoption of very different policies. I am not happy to lose the friendship, I hope only temporarily, of some of my right hon. and hon. Friends. Certainly I am not happy to be going against what my party wants me to do. However, this great issue transcends personalities and the complexion of the Government that happens to be in office in 1971.

I have thought about this matter for days, weeks, months and years. I hope that I shall never be accused of being arrogant, but, in my judgment, and at the end of the day, it is a matter of personal judgment. I believe that entry will bring important benefits to the country and to those whom I have the honour to represent. Given that conclusion, I should not be true to myself if I did other than support the Motion so as to enable Britain to play a full part as a member of the Community.

6.18 p.m.

Mr. Peter Emery (Honiton)

The hon. Member for Heywood and Royton (Mr. Joel Barnett) is to be congratulated on his fair and reasonable presentation of a case which, in many ways, must be very difficult for him to have to argue before so many of his right hon. and hon. Friends. It is that sort of speech which makes this debate the greatest one that this House has known this century. The House has done itself great credit in the eyes of the people for the way in which the debate has been conducted.

I do not pursue the hon. Gentleman's arguments in detail because I believe that in many instances we have had too much minor detail and exacting presentation. There cannot be an exact presentation of all the arguments for and against entry. I believe that basically this is an emotional issue. Those who wish to see this country play a leading part in a United Europe need a vision; they need to be emotional; they need to talk about peace and the influence of the moral and ethical position that British leadership can bring. We have not heard enough about that from others who have spoken in favour of entry to the Common Market.

Those of us who see a vision want a united people within Europe. We want to believe in the strengthening not only of our own industry but of European industry, because, by so doing, the whole world will benefit. We believe that our influence in culture, in education, in every sphere, will be beneficial not only to ourselves but to Europe and beyond the bounds of the Continent of Europe.

But sure we should accept what was said by the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn). In being honest, let us realise quite clearly that there must be some doubts in every sphere in the arguments which we are presenting to this House and to the country. Of course there will be vast problems; of course some will suffer; of course this nation will have to pay considerable costs. It is obviously impossible to define exactly how much these costs will be. How long is a piece of string? It is an impossibility at this moment, and no one should suggest otherwise.

A number of those who oppose entry propound the argument that because they do not know the exact details, because we cannot define exactly every single influence, before having signed the treaty we cannot go in. They contend that we must know every single aspect of the effect and the cost of entry on the British people before we go in.

That is false argument. We must have some trust in those whom we are joining within Europe because I believe that they wish to see the same kind of advance of industry, of growth and of prosperity and for peace as we want. If we judge them by their past actions, this is what they have shown in their reaction to given situations within the Community.

To those who think that we must only benefit, I say that that is not true. Of course there will be some losses. But any contract or bargain which is reasonable and good, whether industrial or international, must be beneficial to both sides. It means that there will be costs and benefits on both sides.

I turn now to one aspect which has not been sufficiently debated—the criticism that the Government do not have a "mandate" to sign the Treaty of Rome and enter the Community. According to our constitutional history, mandate does not exist. That may be a legalistic argument but it is true. Neither Dicey nor Jennings deals with that matter as such. It is something which has grown in modern time which has often allowed Governments to do things which the people have not wanted. The previous Government claimed that they had a mandate to nationalise the steel industry. However, I am quite certain that if there had been a referendum on nationalisation of the steel industry at that time the majority of our people would have been against it.

I do not believe that any Government would be able to carry a mandate to put up taxation. No one in this country will support that kind of contention. This is why we have seen those areas of the world which have referenda falling into a state of non-government.

What the Government have is a mandate to carry out the kind of policy upon which they were elected. That policy will best be brought forward by our entry into Europe. That is what every member of the Government is propounding. I believe that Conservative Members should bear that in mind before they vote tomorrow evening. It is the Government's judgment that entry into Europe is an integral part of the whole of the financial and social policy for which they were elected. I ask some hon. Members on my side, whose opinions I respect. to turn their minds towards that aspect before going in to vote against the Government on this matter on Thursday.

I want now to deal with two aspects about capital movement. There has been false fear that our entry into Europe will allow a massive flood of capital out of the United Kingdom to other parts of Europe. This has not happened with any nation within the Community; there has been no flood of repayment of capital to the United States or anywhere else.

I believe that we are likely to benefit from capital investment. I have considerable experience of American investment within Europe and Britain. I can give a number of illustrations of extra investment going not to Britain, where the firms would have liked it invested, but to Europe because Britain was not part of the Community. Therefore, when we are in we are likely to see a greater flow of this capital into Britain—into areas of Scotland, the North-East and, I hope, the South-West.

No one has considered the amount of British capital which has had to be placed within Europe to enable British firms to compete within the Community. When we are in, that will not be necessary; we shall just be part of the enlarged Community.

I grieve when I hear those opposed to entry suggesting that we shall lose control of our own system of taxation. That, in all honesty, is balderdash. We are committed only to a set proportion of value-added tax to the Community Budget. We are not even committed to the exact level of that tax. After all, there are three different levels and, indeed, three different structures of tax already operating in the E.E.C. More to the point, Italy has not yet introduced it, although it is the general view that it will be introduced. Therefore, to suggest that the Chancellor's control over the whole of our taxation policy will disappear is not only untrue but it puts false fears into the British people.

The idea that the Werner Commission will bring about massive integration, that we shall not be able to control our interests and our investment policy, is again quite wrong. The first stage of Werner will surely be welcomed by everybody—the desire to stop hot money flooding across European barriers. That is something which every Government of whatever party in every nation wants to limit or to stop. So we are with that. Most Governments would like to see some co-ordination of long-term interest rates. Those are the first two factors of the first stage of Werner.

I accept that the third stage of Werner leads to complete economic integration, but it will need a revision of the Treaty of Rome to bring that about, and that has never been mentioned by those who use this factor as an argument against entry. They never say that we would have an absolute veto on any proposal to introduce anything like that, and I believe that it will not be done during the lifetime of even the youngest Member of the House.

I believe that too much false fear has been injected into the British people. I have here a letter from a constituent who wrote to me on the basis of something called the "Voters' veto". I shall read only a small part of the letter, but it seems to illustrate the extent to which those who are opposed to entry are prepared to go in trying to influence Members of Parliament.

The writer said: Thank you for your letter, dear sir. I am extremely sorry I signed that form without reading it. A friend brought it to me after I had an eye operation recently, hence my very poor reading. It was indeed very foolish of me to sign anything without reading it. Please accept my sincere apologies for this. I am very sorry.

Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)

Which Minister was that?

Mr. Emery

That is the length to which some people are prepared to go to try to influence public opinion, and it is clear that we should know something about that during this debate.

Those who are opposed to entry say that it has not been Labour Party policy to bring about economic co-operation within Europe and a closer financial entity, but I ask the House to consider what the Leader of the Opposition said last year: …nothing but good can be gained within an enlarged Community from much closer cooperation in financial matters."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th February, 1970; Vol. 795, c. 1089.] I want to see that, but there are many hon. Members opposite who do not, and I think that it is fair to make certain that people outside the House realise that even on the question of the financial cooperation within Europe there is a great division within the Labour Party.

Sovereignty is the last issue to which I propose to refer. Many of those hon. Members who are making judgments on this issue must have been to Europe. Have they seen a yoke on the French or German people? Have they heard them complaining that they are no longer free? Have they heard them moaning about the Commission? The answer is that of course they have not. When talking to French, German, Dutch or Belgium Members of Parliament, does one hear them complaining about not being able to control their own destinies?

Mr. Molloy


Mr. Emery

Not at the Council of Europe, and not at the Western European Union. All those European members, without exception, have been trying for the last two years to influence members of the Socialist Party here to alter their policy, and I am sure that they would say to hon. Gentlemen opposite, "You are crazy. You do not understand the position. We want you in, your opposition shows that you do not at the moment understand what it is all about." M.P.'s in Europe do not consider that they have lost any sovereignty. They do not believe that they cannot control their own destinies through their own Parliaments.

I ask the House to pursue this vision and let us work in a united Europe for a greater degree of peace. Europe has been the centre of dissension and war twice during this century. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Lieut.-Colonel Colin Mitchell) said that he would rather die on his feet than live on his knees. People in Europe are not on their knees. Their living standard have advanced to a greater degree than ours have during the last 10 years. I want to be able to bring similar benefits to Britain. We can do that only by playing a major rôle in a free and a united Europe.

6.35 p.m.

Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)

I do not propose to follow the discourse of the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) on non-representative democracy, although I shall later deal with the importance of consulting the British people.

What is essential—and I think that the right hon. Gentleman who is now on the Treasury Bench will go along with this, although I do not believe that he will go along with much more of what I say—is that we should discuss this proposal in non-romantic terms. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has, on occasions, discussed the matter in non-romantic terms. He knows that many of the problems which will follow if—which I do not believe will happen—Parliament decides in the end to go into the Common Market, and which will follow if this House passes all the subsequent legislation—which I do not believe it will—will land on his desk, at any rate for the next few years. The right hon. Gentleman has occasionally spoken with some realism about the position, but there was not much of that from the Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon.

In passing, may I comment that in a debate of this importance the Chancellor of the Exchequer, having made a major speech, should be present to listen to what other hon. Members have to say. The right hon. Gentleman has been here for part of the time, but he ought to be here almost all day. Next to the Prime Minister's speech, which we are still awaiting, the Chancellor's speech was the main contribution that we have so far had from the Government, and the right hon. Gentleman has an obligation to listen to what others have to say.

The Government have spent a great deal of public money, but they have still not got their case across to the British people. During an Adjournment debate one Minister told me that it was intended to spend no more than just under £1 million for the time being. The case has not gone across to the British people, despite the fond expectations of hon. Members who support the proposals before us. Before the Summer Recess I was told, "You wait until we come back. By then there will be a considerable shift in public opinion". I am within the hearing of many of my colleagues who said that. That shift of opinion has not occurred. In fact, public opinion is moving in the other direction to a considerable extent, and one reason for that is that the Government have never come clean with the country.

Whatever case the Government have, they have never dared to put it to the people of this country. The reason for that is obvious. It is that they have been speaking with two voices. When they have negotiated with President Pompidou, they have given a number of undertakings which have never seen the light of day here. When they have returned home they have not dared to state their real intentions. That is the indictment of the Government's public conduct.

What we have to judge has nothing to do with Europe as an idea. It has nothing to do with a Socialist Europe as an idea. I have to prevent myself from laughing loudly when I hear some of my right hon. and hon. Friends talking about European Socialism as a justification for going into the Tory Leader's Lobby tomorrow night.

I am very sorry that the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish), who is Chairman of the Conservative Members Committee for Europe, is not now present, as I should have liked to put this proposition to him. If it is true, as some of my right hon. Friends are saying, that they will vote for a Socialist Europe, will the hon. and gallant Member support the Motion tomorrow evening? He is on record publicly that he wants to go into the Common Market because he believes that it is the only way to keep Britain safe for capitalism. That is his view of the matter.

But we are now getting this kind of romantic nonsense from some of my right hon. Friends to justify a position that has not occurred since the foundation of the Labour Party. At no time has the Leader or the Deputy Leader of the Labour party or any member of our Parliamentary Committee gone into the Lobby with a Tory Leader, on the Tory Leader's Motion, an action which whatever the Government Chief Whip may have said involves expressing confidence in the Tory Government. The only exception was Ramsay Macdonald, and he went to see the King first before he did it.

We must concentrate on the realities of the situation, and the realities are these. We are not asked to vote in respect of an academic Motion concerning the desirability of a larger economic entity. The Government Motion asks us to accept this Economic Community of six States and the "arrangements" the Government have male with that Community. It is on that proposition that we have to vote. It becomes clearer as the debate continues that entry will impose very considerable burdens upon the British people for a long time. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is the one Minister who has occasionally said that he expects quite a difficult period at least for the first few years.

We have to remember that this whole subject cannot be put before the electorate by quotations thrown back and forth. It is not the Government's constitutional duty today and tomorrow to prove that other people may have agreed with some of the Government's present statements. They are the responsible Government, and they have to justify to the House and to the country what they want us now to do. That is the only case that will stand up in court. They are failing in that duty by indulging in this silly game of quotation and counter-quotation.

When we look at the realities we find that these burdens will weigh particularly heavily over the next eight years or so on our lower income groups. There can be no doubt of that, and it is something that does matter. It is not possible for hon. Members, among them hon. Friends of mine, to divorce the precise proposal that the Motion implies from the general conduct of the policies which the Government are pursuing.

In this respect I pray in aid what was said yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart), a former Foreign Secretary in our Labour Government. He was beginning to plead with the Government yesterday to pursue better social policies. What a hope that appeal has with the present Treasury Bench! What does my right hon. Friend expect? Does he expect that the members of a Tory Government will change into saints overnight just because he votes with them tomorrow evening? What an unrealistic proposal that is!

What a hope my right hon. Friend has that the present head of the present Government will suddenly adopt enlightened social policies in response to my right hon. Friend's pleading so that my right hon. Friend can vote with the Government tomorrow night, and vote also for the Government, as he hinted, in passing subsequent legislation next year! Does my right hon. Friend really hope that the Tories will respond, and so change their whole philosophy? The Prime Minister has always refused to give a positive reply there. He has no intention, nor have any members of his Cabinet, of changing Tory social policy into something equitable and decent after this Motion is passed, if it is passed.

The hon. Member for Honiton spoke of the duty of Members of Parliament in their relations with the electorate. One of the major reasons why this project has no hope of succeeding is that the Government have failed to persuade a majority of the electorate, and this must be linked with the subject of parliamentary sovereignty, which is involved.

I have respect for some of my colleagues in the Liberal Party in the House who have always quite openly said that they do not mind the country's parliamentary sovereignty being merged with that of other countries. But that is not the position of the Government. It is not the position of the Conservative Party. It is not the position that was put to the Conservative Party annual conference only a fortnight ago. Anyone who watched the televised proceedings of that conference will be aware that not a hint of that position was given; instead, there was denial after denial.

We can say that not only are the Government proposing to do away in the longer term with the essential independence and sovereignty of this Parliament but they are proposing to do it without the consent of the British people. That is why Ministers may know that in such a situation there is no obligation upon any Member of Parliament to facilitate the passing of subsequent legislation even if the Government Motion is carried tomorrow. This will be the democratic justification for moving Amendment after Amendment to practically every word of the subsequent legislation, and I am confident that several hundred hon. Members will take part in that effort, even though some of my hon. and right hon. Friends have already said that they may not do so, or may do so only in regard to selected bits.

Another aspect is the will of the electorate and the position of the two major parties. It was the fond hope of the Conservative Party at one time that there would be agreement between the major parties which could be used as justification for not consulting the electorate. I would not have accepted that idea even then.

But the point is that the two major parties have adopted directly opposing positions. It has never been held by this House or by constitutional lawyers outside that where a fundamental change of the Constitution is involved and where the two major parties are opposed we can proceed without consulting the electorate first in a General Election. That is an argument that involves a General Election. It is not an argument that would have been quite so strong had the two parties been officially in agreement with each other.

It is no argument against that proposition that there are those in the major parties who take one view or the other. That has always been the case. There have always been groupings when the two major parties are opposed to each other. One major party has declared officially that even though the Motion is carried it will keep the matter open and will fight the next General Election on this subject.

I tell my right hon. Friends who tomorrow evening propose to vote with the Prime Minister that the right hon. Gentleman will for ever after quote their names in evidence that he had support not only within his own party and not only on that day. When the chickens come home to roost, and when the value-added tax is introduced—not by my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Royton (Mr. Joel Barnett) but by a Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer—when the cost of food goes up and the general increase in the cost of living reaches 35 per cent., the Prime Minister will say to my right hon. Friends: "But you were there with me. If you willed the end, you must be responsible for willing the means."

People who are dedicated to the cause of Labour and to the idea of Europe have many ways of making that dedication clear. It gives them no justification for going into the Tory Leaders' Lobby on his Motion and thereby allowing him to escape political responsibility for years to come.

I come now to my last point, which links the principles with the terms. Many of my hon. Friends believe that the Community is based on the principles of international latter-day capitalism and that the Labour Party is dedicated to turning Britain, by democratic means, into a Socialist Commonwealth. They are, therefore, dedicated in principle to entering the Community. But that does not mean that the terms do not matter. The terms determine the well being and standard of living of our constituents over the next 10 years or more, so the terms are relevant to everybody.

In these negotiations, the Government have completely failed to safeguard many of the interests of the British people. It is not God-given that these financial burdens of at least £500 million across the exchanges must be imposed on the British people. The fundamental objection to the whole course of these negotiations is that, while the Six spent four and a half years carefully adjusting each other's economic interests before they ever agreed to form their own association, they were not prepared to do the same for the United Kingdom.

Why in the name of the Lord should not the same be applied to the major industrial nation in the West of Europe—Great Britain? Why cannot the same care be taken? Why could not the Government say to the British people, "We want to conclude these negotiations, but we cannot get the kind of satisfactory agreements which we think are necessary"? That is the position as explained by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) at the Labour Party Conference.

It is reasonable and not at all academic to say at this stage that if we want the others to be proper partners we must reopen the negotiations. Some of my hon. Friends will say that that is unrealistic, because then they will reject us. But if they are not prepared to enter into an agreement with us to safeguard the basic interests of the British people, if they say, "We must have this common agricultural policy, and you must largely finance it, we must have this kind of arrangement and you have to accept it", then they have not made a serious effort. The Six have hurried into certain agreements in the last two years. President Pompidou insisted at The Hague Conference, when Willy Brandt and others urged him to open negotiations with Britain, "Only if you accept the permanency of the common agricultural policy". There is some justification in what my right hon. Friends have been saying when they say that some things have been finalised since the Labour Government submitted their original application in 1967.

This being so, I am confident that tomorrow night, assuming the complete integrity of every right hon. and hon. Member whichever way he votes, this will be a matter of great importance to the people of this country. I believe that the proposals are unacceptable and that there is, therefore, justification for voting against them. But I also know that those who are dedicated to the causes of the Labour Party and at the same time to the causes of a wider European association can have no place in the Tory Leader's Lobby tomorrow night.

6.54 p.m.

Mr. James Molyneaux (Antrim, South)

In his speech last Thursday the Minister of Agriculture said that our acceptance of the terms of entry was supported by the National Farmers Unions of England, Scotland and Wales. It may be significant that he omitted from his list the Ulster Farmers Union. It is clear to me that many farmers in Northern Ireland have serious reservations about many aspects of the terms, although they appreciate the attention given to their special problems by the Chancellor of the Duchy.

Ulster agriculture, providing as it does, employment for about 15 per cent. of the total work force and exporting about two-thirds of its total production, is particularly vulnerable. Over 38 per cent. of our agricultural output comes from the pig and poultry sectors. We import four-fifths of our feed grains, and with our potential for cereal production severely restricted by climate and soil we experience in the intensive farming sector a very severe feed cost disadvantage.

In Northern Ireland we suffer from remoteness from markets. Extra costs due to this factor amount, for example. to £7 per ton on bacon and around £4 per head on live cattle. The remoteness problem is caused, of course, by our having one strip of water between us and consumers. The Common Market wilt make it two strips.

Northern Ireland's grassland and high standards of animal health have made milk production very important. This would be put at risk by unfair competition from producers in the Republic of Ireland, with their much lower quality and lower hygienic standards. We are conscious in this, as in certain other fields, of being the only part of the United Kingdom with a land frontier with another applicant country.

Much has been said about the right future for beef producers. Here again, there are snags for Ulster farmers. Costly feeding stuffs would force a return to grass fattening, with consequent seasonal fluctuations in output and prices.

But perhaps the most important issue is that of plant and animal health. Northern Ireland has an enviable reputation here, especially in our beef, milk, poultry, pig and potato sectors. It is absolutely imperative that no steps should be taken which would change this status.

I turn briefly to the issue of sovereignty in the context of our free parliamentary system. As an Ulster Member, may I presume to give to the 618 right hon. and hon. Members representing constituencies in Great Britain advice which only an Ulster Member can give? Only an Ulster Member has witnessed the frustration experienced by a Parliament which is less than sovereign. He alone knows what it is to be a helpless spectator while experts afar off impose solutions which he knows will prove disastrous. It is very cold comfort to him to be vindicated two years and one hundred dead later.

I fear that many here cannot or will not visualise a time when they will be exposed to criticism and even the wrath of their constituents, unable to understand that Parliament has lost the power to act. Of course we shall be told that internal affairs will remain matters for domestic legislation, but this very principle was asserted in the 1969 Downing Street Declaration on Northern Ireland. Yet every party in the House agrees that this was merely "part of a continuing process", acquiesces in the interference by many self-appointed advisers and is in no position to reject even the moralisings of Senator Kennedy.

The British people have been brought to place their faith in a parliamentary system developed over some seven centuries. What will be their reaction when their cherished right to change the party in power ensures no change in policies? How long will administrations last once it is seen that they are merely facades behind which decisions are made and implemented by others?

I fear that, as in Northern Ireland, the exasperation of the people will force an increasingly rapid turnover rate in the tenancy of No. 10. If any Parliament in any way subordinate is to retain its authority or credibility, it must be assured of the automatic support of the superior body. That superior must resist pressures from the ignorant and the malice of the vindictive. When we have failed to achieve this in our own family in the United Kingdom, what possible hope is there of succeeding in a highly complex Europe?

7.0 p.m.

Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

I have supported the idea of British membership of the European Economic Community since the Community was founded. It was a matter of deep regret to me at the time that we were not one of the foundation members, and it is a matter of great regret to me now that we did not make an early and successful application for membership. I believe that had we done so, much of the economic trauma which we have suffered over the last 10 years would have been avoided. That is certainly so if, as it is reasonable for us to assume we had managed the rate of growth which has characterised member nations of the Community in that 10 years.

But our failure to join, and our failure to apply to join, in those early days, is a matter of regret for a second reason which is particular to and specifically about today's debate. I have always regarded our membership of the Community as not only essential but inevitable. However, I have also always believed that the longer we waited to join the more difficult our joining would be. Every year that Europe has changed without our membership, the institutions of Europe have changed in a way which makes our eventual membership more difficult, and the more it changed without our influence the more difficult became the problems of harmonisation and adjustment. The problems of harmonisation and adjustment are reflected in the price of entry and in the nature of the bargain which has been struck between the Six and the Government this year and last.

I wish to make my judgment on the Government's terms very plain. I do not regard them as ideal. I believe that had they been negotiated by a Labour Government they might have been marginally better because they would have reflected more the social and economic priorities which my right hon. and hon. Friends and I share. But the real comparison which the House must make before it decides how it votes tomorrow is not between the terms negotiated by the Government and the terms which might be or might have been negotiated by some regrettably hypohetical Labour Government but, today's package of terms and the sort of terms we might obtain were we to abandon our application now and make it again in future. That is the choice for those of us who believe in the principle of entry.

It is my judgment that anyone who finds today's terms unacceptable would certainly discover that any terms negotiated after the withdrawal of our application and a re-negotiation a great deal less acceptable than the terms we have before us today. That is one reason why I believe that there is an imperative necessity for those of us who are supporters of the ideal of Europe to demonstrate our support tomorrow. I intend to do that.

The implication of what I have said—that the terms become more difficult and the price higher the longer the Community changes without us—is a frank and obvious acceptance of the fact that a price must be paid for our entry. No sensible person denies that. But, in my judgment, the potential benefits of European membership incomparably outweigh that price. Principal among those potential benefits is the prospect of economic growth. I put it no higher than a prospect. It is not something about which we can be certain. But Europe seems to me to be the greatest prospect, and perhaps the only prospect, of expanding the economy in the way which my right hon. and hon. Friends must achieve if we are to maintain and carry out the programmes to which we are all committed.

That growth is potentially possible not simply because of the huge benefits of the large market—although they are important in themselves—but because of the nature of the Community. It is not simply a giant free trade area. It is, as it calls itself, an economic community which endeavours to stimulate trade and to promote commerce, and by its conscious attempts at promotion and stimulation it is likely to produce an investment situation which this country has not been able to achieve in the last 10 years.

My hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Royton (Mr. Joel Barnett) was absolutely right when he said that if we fear an expanding economy, as we have feared it from time to time since before 1960, Europe will not bring us the economic growth which we need and desire. But the institutions and stimulus of Europe make that fear a good deal less likely and make the impetus to investment always strong and sometimes irresistible.

I regard the prospect of economic growth as the primary object or the principal prize of Europe for reasons which in some ways are materialistic but about which I am in no way ashamed. When I look at the record of the Government of which I was proud to be a member for six years and I see our very considerable achievements between 1964 and 1970, I have no doubt that we would have done a good deal better had we achieved the right level of economic growth during that time. The housing targets would have been achieved; the school leaving age would have been raised; the National Health Service would have been financed differently; our overseas aid targets would have been met. I express no apology for making the political point that I became a member of the Labour Party to achieve that sort of goal. I wish to achieve it not only because the Labour Party should be concerned with the rising level of material prosperity but because the housing, hospital, and school building programmes are a central element in its drive towards a more equal society. Those things can and will come from economic growth.

I would vote for Europe if that were the only prospect that it offered—but it is not, particularly at a time of crucially high unemployment. I represent a constituency in a city which is facing a high level of unemployment for the first time in recent history.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)

My hon. Friend keeps talking about Europe. Why does he imagine that the Six countries of the west part of Europe are entitled to be called Europe?

Mr. Hattersley

Because, as I understand it, we are not offered membership of Comecon.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

It is still not Europe.

Mr. Hattersley

Were there other countries which could offer us the same benefits, I should not hesitate in urging my right hon. and hon. Friends to join them. I do not look simply to a Europe of the Six, Seven or Ten. The E.E.C. is the beginning of a wider Europe, including some of the countries outside the west of Europe. What we must decide as practical politicians is that the prospect we are offered is the prospect of the Six turned into the Ten. Let it one day be the Twelve, Fourteen or Sixteen, but today's prospect is the Ten, and it is to the Ten that I wish to address myself.

I represent part of a city which is facing high unemployment for the first time in the memory of many, indeed most, working people. Birmingham is now afflicted by some of the problems which have faced the rest of the country on and off for the last 40 years. I am told that it is the calculated assessment of all those who advise Birmingham and Midland companies that their prospects for growth investment and expansion would be appreciably better if Britain were a member of the Community. There are many great firms in the Midlands whose investment decisions for 1971 and 1972 are very largely dependent on the prospects of this country entering the E.E.C. I see it as my debt, for instance, to the 3,500 men who will be sacked from the B.S.A. works in my constituency in the next three months as a result of the combined ineptitude of their management and the callousness of the Department of Trade and Industry, to vote for any scheme or proposal which is beneficial in general and which will stimulate investment in the Midlands in particular.

Having said that, it is hardly necessary for me to say that the Europe I support and want to join is not the Europe of right hon. and hon. Members opposite.

Mr. Orme

It is.

Mr. Hattersley

Our prospect now is entering Europe on what some of my hon. Friends crudely call Tory terms but of using the fruits of those Tory terms according to Socialist priorities. That is what I believe can and should be done. Anyone who wants to compare the difference between their Europe and ours need do no more than read their White Paper.

Mr. Dick Leonard (Romford)

Is it not true that the Socialists in Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands thought that they were joining Europe on Christian Democrat terms and are now fully in favour of membership because they see this as the best proposition for Socialism?

Mr. Hattersley

The conversion from opposition to support among the other Social Democratic countries of the E.E.C. will, I hope, be emulated by the British Labour Party.

The present comparison I want to make is between the attitudes of right hon. and hon. Members opposite and that of my hon. Friends to the terms as they now stand. Nothing has done more to antagonise members of the Labour Party to membership of the E.E.C. than the Government's treatment of regional policy in their White Paper, to which they have chosen to devote three paltry paragraphs. What we are suffering from in the E.E.C. debate when regional policy is considered is not the inadequacy of European policy but the low priority which the Conservative Government give to regional policy when they write their White Paper about Europe.

I have to tell the Conservative Party that what we are suffering from in general when debating Europe in the House and in the country is the absolute lack of confidence now felt by the country in the employment prospects of the nation, and in the prices policy of the Government, and the crucial damage done to industrial morale, not only by the Conservative Party in the last 14 months but by the false prospectus they offered the nation at the General Election.

When I say to my constituents, "Prices will not rise as fast as many scaremongers tell you", they say, "That is what the Prime Minister said at the General Election campaign in June, 1970". Whilst the Conservative Party may be determined in the advocacy of Europe to this country, the effect of their policies has set Europe back five or ten years in the public mind. That is a tragedy and one which members of the Labour Party must face if we are to accept what are crudely called Tory terms in the hope that the benefits of Tory terms can be used according to our priorities.

It has become fashionable and, perhaps, almost obligatory for those of us who support British membership to say a word about our personal attitude to our party obligations and constituents. I intend to do that with as little sentimentality, mawkishness or embarrassment as I can muster. I say straightaway that I do not argue with the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway who reminded many of us earlier that we were in the House because we were candidates of our party rather than for our personal qualifications. Like him, I am fortunate enough to serve in the House of Commons because my ballot paper in the last election and propaganda in previous elections described me as the Labour candidate. The propaganda in the previous elections and at the last election made it very clear that not only was I the Labour Party candidate but I was a candidate committed in definite and strong terms to fighting for Britain's entry into the European Economic Community.

Yesterday evening the management of my Labour Party. When the attitudes of the Parliamentary Labour Party and their Members of Parliament were considered, reminded me that at my selection conference in 1962—when the Labour Party was committed against European entry—I told the delegates to that meeting that I was for Europe and, in the foreseeable future, would remain for Europe. I have taken that public stand virtually all my public life for reasons which I can only describe not simply as consistent with my view of social democracy but essential to that view. In those terms there is no choice for me tomorrow evening. My choice is breaking my word to my constituents and breaking my compact with my constituency party; but also, much more important, denying my judgment and beliefs. That would not be in the interests of the House. With some trepidation I say that it would not be in the interests of my party.

Mr. John Mendelson


Mr. Roy Hughes (Newport)


Mr. Hattersley

I am doing my best to deal with my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson), who has just described my view as arrogant. I understand why he says that. Let me try to explain why I believe he is wrong. There are some of us—I do not know how many—who have publicly taken a view which may be wrong but which in all con- science they hold. We may be insignificant members of the Parliamentary Labour Party, but the country as a whole will not admire a party which has a group of men in its midst who, having said constantly that something they believe is still in the national interest, do not have the courage to carry that view into the Division Lobby.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn), who is not here at present, referred to what he described as the "divine right" of some Members of Parliament. It is not a matter of divine right. I have never done anything in my life about which I was absolutely certain. But I am as certain as I have been about anything that my vote should go for Europe tomorrow. A previous Member for Bristol did not talk about a Member of Parliament's divine right but about a Member of Parliament's divine duty. That duty, as Burke saw it, was to use his judgment and then courageously apply that judgment. I propose to do that tomorrow night not by voting for the Conservative Party but by voting for Europe.

7.17 p.m.

Mr. A. G. F. Hall-Davis (Morecambe and Lonsdale)

I, too, shall be voting tomorrow evening for entry into the E.E.C. I shall do so because inside the Community Britain will be a better place in which to live and will be better able to contribute, albeit modestly, towards making the world a better and safer place.

On balance, both the political and the economic arguments point towards entry. When the previous Government, headed by the present Leader of the Opposition, applied to enter, they believed also that both the economic and political arguments were in favour of entry. Matters have not changed since June, 1970, sufficiently to justify the Leader of the Opposition rejecting the present terms. The political situation has changed little. The terms he can have expected to obtain, unless he was ignorant entirely of the views of Europe, can hardly have differed substantially from those that have been negotiated by the present Government.

Furthermore, I believe that the economic benefits that the last Government foresaw must be substantial. Governments do not lightly set their hand to enterprises involving great and fundamental changes for their country, enterprises which will arouse controversy and incur political risk, unless they believe that the benefits are very real. I believe that the economic benefits will come because the dynamic impact on industry and output will be substantial.

There has been much reference to the fact that we shall be members of a much larger market. I believe that more important in its effect for British industry will be the fact that we shall be members of a faster-growing market than industry has been able to plan for in recent years in this country. The very factor which causes much concern for all of us, the difference in structure of European agriculture compared with our own, holds out one of the main assurances that the economy of the Six will continue to grow, able to draw on the resources at present inefficiently applied in certain parts of European agriculture.

When I say that I think this will be a better country to live in, I believe that it will be a better country for every section of the community to live in. Like other hon. Members, I spent much time in recent weeks talking to my constituents, and many of them are elderly and retired. The point which disturbed me most in my discussions was that there was a widespread belief that entry would be good for the young and the active but that it might well be secured at the expense of the elderly and retired. I do not believe that that will happen. I would not vote for entry if I thought that it was going to happen. My own party has given assurances that it will not happen.

What is important is that the elderly shall feel confident that they will not be paying the price, because there is enough uncertainty and worry amongst people today, and one does not wish to create more unnecessary worry simply because we do not speak clearly in the House and members of the Government do not speak clearly.

There is one way in which one could bring considerable reassurance to elderly people. There has been a very strong fear that any adjustments will be related to the cost-of-living index. This is not a fair yardstick to use for the elderly. Their expenditure on food is a higher proportion of their income than that of other members of the community. I hope that the assurance that will come from the Government is that the protection that will be given will be in the form of increases in pensions related to the cost of expenditure on food in the average elderly person's budget. By that means we can give total protection, by ensuring that there will not be an impact spilling over on to that part of their income additional to pension such as there has been from the cost-of-living increases in recent years.

If those of us who have high hopes of entry are justified in our belief, the results must be shared fully and adequately. There is a feeling abroad that this is an enterprise in which the elderly and the retired will not be sharing. Today when a man retires he can, on average, look forward to 14 years of married life in retirement. Women who have been insured in their own right, retiring at the age of 60, can look forward in many cases to over 20 years of retired life. I do not want these people to regard themselves as being outside the mainstream of political and economic endeavour. If we enter Europe and if those of us who have high hopes find them realised, I believe that whichever party is in office will wish and will be obliged by public opinion to share the fruits of that entry with those who have retired.

I have spoken of periods of 14 and of over 20 years. It is conceivable that in 20 years the wages of those in employment will double if we have even modest success in the handling of our economic affairs. The average wage today of people in industrial employment is £25 a week. Can one see that rise to £50 a week without steps being taken to ensure that retired men and women are not just protected against the cost of living but that they share proportionately in the general level of advance in the country? Over a period of 20 years one may well see the standard of living doubled. I have estimated that an increase of three-fifths would be a reasonable target over a period of 14 years.

I have always believed that one of the weaknesses of our handling of social affairs has been our inability—not our lack of intention and good will—adequately to look after the elderly and the retired. In the last six years all that we have been able to do under Governments of both parties is to increase the real value of the basic retirement pension by an average rate of 1 per cent. per year.

I shall vote tomorrow night, like other hon. Members, not with total confidence, well aware that these are difficult matters to weigh, but with one of the considerations prompting me to vote in favour of entry into Europe—the consideration that if we succeed in the enterprise and our economy flourishes and prospers, we shall be able to make much better provision for the elderly and retired, because I do not believe that they will be left on an island of difficulty and economic embarrassment when a sea of national prosperity, as we hope, laps around us.

7.27 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)

I am very pleased to have been called to speak. I have always been against the signing of the Rome Treaty, and I have so declared myself publicly and by voting, but I have not had the opportunity before to give reasons for my objections, not having been fortunate enough to catch Mr. Speaker's eye.

I have sat through all the debates on this subject over the years and it has amazed me how, no matter what party has been in power, the Government have been backward in coming forward in giving factual information about the benefits because they have claimed that these benefits cannot be quantified. Governments have said that they cannot be sure but they believe there will be great advantages because of the dynamic effect of going into the Market. But when they are asked to say what and how, they cannot do so. We have heard the general statement that there would be additional potential markets and 250 million additional customers. But we shall also have 250 million potential competitors.

We have been told that there will be a great expanding dynamic market which will increase the standard of living of the people, which will enable cars, machinery and equipment to be produced much more efficiently and much more cheaply than in Britain, and that if we get into Europe we can join in this great bonanza. If it is true that we have been struggling along, as is suggested, perhaps entry into the Community would not be such a good thing for the British people and the British workers, faced as they would be with 250 million competitors who would have the advantage, for them, of lowered tariff barriers.

But, be that as it may, we can never get any factual information. We are told by the Government that when entry has been secured the cost of living will not go up too much, that it will rise by only ½p in the £, that food prices will go up by only about 6p, and so on. They put forward estimates, but neither this Government nor previous Governments have been conspicuously successful in their forecasts. All Governments—and I have sat in this House for 27 years—have told us that the cost of living will not go up, but we find that the very next week it does go up. The Chancellor of the Exchequer tells us that the Government will not raise taxes, but the very next week taxes do rise. The Government say that they will not attack the social services, and the next week the social services are attacked.

Can I really believe these promises and pledges? The hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Mr. Hall-Davis) was shedding real tears--I give him credit for it—about the hardship and difficulty which, it is admitted, will confront the old-age pensioner. What is he worrying about? The Government Front Bench have been shedding their crocodile tears. They said that they would help old-age pensioners. Why worry about them if the cost of living will not rise substantially? Why does the Secretary of State for Social Services promise to cushion them from effects which will not occur?

Pledges and promises made are being continually broken. I do not trust this Government; neither do I trust the Treasury advisers or the Treasury experts. I read in the Press that Lord George-Brown, in another place, has been prophesying what will happen and how we shall prosper. I sat here when he presented his great Letter of Intent. What has happened to it? I have not seen it of recent date. I have heard on the radio and read in the Press this morning that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has told the country that he wants to go into Europe because he believes that this will help a Socialist Europe. When I meet the Krupps, the Thyssens and the big boys of the C.B.I., they tell me that it will be good for capitalism, that it will help the capitalist advance. Everywhere we find contradictions, and when we ask for evidence no side can substantiate its claims.

I know that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said that he will vote. Good luck to him—I hope he does. I have never been one who always followed the party line, but I have been consistent, supporting and doing what I thought was right, if necessary against my party. In 1967 I voted against the terms for entry envisaged by the Labour Government, and in so doing said I was prepared to face any action taken against me. Many of those who have declared that they will vote—in this case not so much against the party line but with the Tories which I never did—wanted to have my throat cut. "Expel him", they said, "withdraw the Whip." But now they say they do not want any action taken against them. I do not want any action taken against them. I have never been a hatchet man, but it is the hatchet men who wanted to cut my throat, chop off my head, who are saying now that we should not take action against them.

It is fun now to have a go at the Leader of the Opposition, because, it is said, he has not remained firm. I have been reading some of his original statements—they are too long to go into now—and, in my opinion, he has been more than consistent. Hon. Gentlemen should read his speech in the House on 7th June, 1962, where they will find all the points he has been putting forward ever since. Better still, hon. Gentlemen should read his book, extracts of which I have here, "The Relevance of British Socialism". They will find consistency from the beginning. I shall not quote extracts now, but all his points have been made consistently from 1962 to 1971.

Another reason why I am against going into the Common Market is that we must sign the Treaty of Rome. I know that once we sign that Treaty we shall have signed away a lot of our sovereign rights in Parliament. This has been denied by both the pro-Marketeers and the Government. One tries to get Questions answered but they are evaded by this Government just as they are by most Governments. Having put Questions and failed, I tried to get the answers in writ- ing. If any right hon. or hon. Member would like to have it from the horse's mouth, he can have it. I have two letters here, one from the Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office, the other from the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster himself. The right hon. and learned Gentleman's letter makes interesting reading. The date is 7th July, and, inter alia, as my lawyer friends say, it tells me that there are five categories of statutes— regulations, directives, decisions, recommendations and opinions. Article 189 makes clear that the last two have no binding forces, whereas the three others have binding force on the member states, but with different applications in each case. Under Article 189 regulations and decisions are binding in their entirety; and consequently the House of Commons, in taking any action in respect of a regulation or a decision, would have to refrain from anything inconsistent with it. So it goes on. It would be open to the House to debate, to pass an opinion, to say what it wants to say, but it would not be able to take any action to reject or amend.

I will not agree to give up my parliamentary rights to a Council of Ministers. I am not being party-political about it. Whether it was a Council of Ministers of the present Government or of the potential Ministers on this side who will take office in the next Labour Government, I do not believe that I can trust them to deal with our affairs in that way. I cannot trust them to go off and have private discussions on something I know nothing about and then come back and tell the House, "We have agreed. You can debate it, you can have your say, but at the end of the day this will operate, whether you like it or not."

I have voted against my party on many occasions, and I hope that I should do so in the future. [Laughter.] Yes, the occasions will arise. I remember the teeth and spectacles debates and the imposition of health charges. We have heard references to party decisions, conference decisions, and the rest. Some past events are amazing to recall. I remember in our own party—I think that it was our own Deputy Leader, who will vote tomorrow in favour of entry, who made it—there was a call for us to support, contrary to our election manifesto and contrary to our declared party policy, the imposition of charges in the National Health Service. It went through without question, but there were a few of us who voted against it. Again, there was a move to take action or expel us. The same sort of thing may happen again when Ministers go to the Council of Ministers on some other issue. It will not be good enough to be told that I cannot vote against or I cannot amend.

I come now to the hypocrisy and the dishonesty of the Government and their advisers on this whole issue. We are told that £680,000 is being spent—I think that about two-thirds of it has been spent so far—on propaganda for this bonanza of entry into Europe. The Post Office is called in aid. Incidentally, I do not think that we have ever had a vote on that, and the House of Commons has never given authority. In answer to a Question yesterday, I was told that £680,000 is being spent. But how much is being spent to advise old-age pensioners on their rights for new pensions?—just £680. That is the measure of the help being put out to look after the poor old-age pensioners on whom so many crocodile tears are shed. The Government have promised that they might do something if the cost of living goes up, but only £680 is spent on telling old-age pensioners their rights today, never mind when we are in the Common Market. On the other hand. £680,000 is spent on trying to kid, bluff and twist the people into supporting this so-called great dynamic enterprise of entry into Europe.

I must be brief. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] All right. If hon. Members want to make me go on longer, I can speak for a good bit. However, I wish to come to a conclusion, and I add these words in a jocular sense. It is really laughable. One of my pro-Market hon. Friends said to me, "You need not worry you can go to the Council of Europe and have a discussion there". Who could go to the Council of Europe? I have been in the House for 27 years and I have never been able to get outside Westminster unless I pay my own fare. I am not in the pay of the Whips. I have never been able to go anywhere.

I asked my hon. Friend what happened at the Council of Europe. "Oh," he says, "a beanfeast. All the pro-Marketeers, Geoffrey de Freitas, who has been there permanently, and the rest of them go there." I told him that I am not one of those chaps, and he said, "This is how you could get on. You say you support Europe, you go there, and you get on." It is rather strange, but, apparently, if one is an active pro-European one can go off to the Council of Europe and discuss things. But then what happens? Can we do anything about them? "No", I was told, "you cannot do anything about them. You discuss them, you have a nice beanfeast, but after all is said and done nothing happens".

Is that to be the way things go, first, with a Council of Europe and later, perhaps, with a European Parliament able to discuss but to take no decisions? We shall not be able to criticise or amend. It is not good enough for me. I like to be critical of the Executive. I like to have a go at the Treasury Bench. I like to have a go when I think they are wrong, whether they be the bureaucrats in Whitehall or the bureaucrats in Brussels. I like to peg away. and, with the active help of Mr. Speaker, I can raise Adjournment debates and take things up in various ways.

Eventually in this House we can have a go and we can get changes made. But I am told that we shall never be able to do that in Brussels. That is why I say "No" to the bureaucrats in Brussels.

7.45 p.m.

Mr. Angus Maude (Stratford-on-Avon)

We have heard the hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) give a long apologia as to why he would vote against his party line, and now we have heard the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis), speaking at equal length and, I thought, more apologetically, tell us why he would not vote against his party line. The experience of having listened to hon. Members opposite must, I think, make those of us on this side who have decided that we must vote against entry into Europe feel that we have had a comparatively easy time of it.

In view of some of the things which have been said in the Press and elsewhere, I think it worth putting on record that, for my part, I have never been approached by any of my Whips on this subject. No attempt has been made to pressure me by the Whips, by my colleagues or by my constituency organisation. When I hear the Leader of the Opposition talk about the arm-twisting which, he says, has been going on in the Conservative Party, I am reminded somewhat of the I.R.A. denouncing the bruitality and violence of the British Army.

I feel obliged to vote against entry. Nine years ago—this will be within the recollection at least of the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Guy Barnett), who is not here at the moment—I fought and lost a fairly notorious by-election as a supporter of the negotiations for entry into Europe then being conducted by my right hon. Friend the present Prime Minister. I hope to show why, in nine years, my views have changed.

I understand the idealism of the Europeans. I do not think that their history is very good. When they say that Britain has always been a part of Europe, I find that an extraordinary interpretation of history, for it seems to me that the one thing which has determined this country's history is that it never has been a part of Europe, and the nearer it has come to becoming one the greater trouble it has always got itself into.

Mr. Christopher Tugendhat (Cities of London and Westminster)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Maude

No, I must not give way. We have seen what happens to speeches when one does.

I understand those who talk about the ties of a common culture and the rest. But I believe that, when all the talk about politics, culture, common interests and so forth is done, this is an issue which must be taken on the balance of economic advantage. I have noticed that, as it has become more and more obvious that the economic effects were difficult to quantify, more and more people have been talking less about the economic effects, save in general terms, as the hon. Member for Sparkbrook did about the inevitable effects of economic growth, and more and more about the political necessity for entry and the defence reasons for entry.

I shall return to the economic arguments, but I wish, first, to say a brief word about the political and defence arguments. I believe the political argument to be of very little importance. I realise that that will surprise some hon. Members on both sides. There is no political unity in the Six, and the likelihood is, as a visit to the Commission headquarters and a talk with the Eurocrats will tell any hon. Member, that there will not be any for a generation, and probably, as my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) said, in our lifetime.

Nor do I believe that there is any serious risk of a major or total loss of sovereignty if we join the Six, because no Parliament can bind its successors; no Parliament can be committed by its predecessors. I have never believed, for all those who talk about entry being irreversible—which simply means that there is no fixed termination date in the Treaty—that if, for example, the French Government found that the Treaty was operating against its interests and that membership was incompatible with those interests, France would not be out of the Community like a streak of lightning. I believe that Parliament certainly retains the right to get out, though it would be a very difficult and complicated matter to unscramble once we were in. I do not accept that there is a total abrogation of sovereignty by Parliament, though I agree that there are a number of ways in which we should be limiting our ability to look after certain interests of our constituents. I do not believe that the political arguments against entry or for entry are the arguments by which in the end we must decide.

Now I come to the defence arguments, which my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary has increasingly been using in his public speeches. I agree with much of what my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Lieut.-Colonel Colin Mitchell) said about defence. The simple facts of the matter are these. If the Americans are going to withdraw from Western Europe, which I believe is not imminent but is probable over a longer term, the peoples of Western Europe, if they wish to be defended, will have to replace the American shield by making a number of very costly sacrifices to defend themselves. If they are prepared to make those sacrifices, of money, national service or whatever it may be, they do not need an economic community to do it, nor did being in the E.E.C. keep France inside N.A.T.O. If they are not prepared to make those sacrifices, being in an economic community will not of itself cause them to do it. That argument for entry can be made legitimately only if the economic advantages of going in are such that they make the sacrifices easier to bear, because our prosperity is sufficiently enhanced to make it easier to enlarge our defences. But that brings us back to the economic test which I have always maintained is the significant one by which we must stand or fall.

I said that I would return to the reasons why over a period of nine years I have changed my mind about entry into Europe. It is partly because I believe that we should have done much better if we had joined earlier than we could ever do now, but partly because things in Europe have changed. Nine years' experience of the way in which the common agricultural policy has developed give a salutary reason for looking at the whole thing again.

Next, I am sure now, as I was not then, that the secular trend of tariffs in the world, the temporary American experience notwithstanding, is downwards. That could not be said for certain nine years ago. After the Kennedy Round, and in view of the enormous extent to which it is in the interests of all major trading nations to get freer trade and to get tariff levels down, this is a tendency which we are likely to see as a secular trend from now on.

The American move I think to be an aberration. It was in part a defensive reaction to the common agricultural policy. I do not believe that this country would negotiate better trade deals and terms with other countries inside a comparatively high tariff wall than it would outside, negotiating independently. It is true that the Common Market tariff has followed the secular trend downwards, and I believe that it will probably have to do it again, but I do not see why we should be tied to it now.

Then there is the merit or otherwise of the balance of economic advantage. Nine years ago I thought that on balance entry would be economically to our advantage. I am not absolutely sure now that it would not still be so, but the balance of advantage has become so small and so difficult to quantify accurately that I cannot believe it to be worthwhile going to the enormous trouble of taking this momentous step, particularly against what I believe to be the will of the majority of the people of this country.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook and my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd) said that the large industries of the Midlands and a number of other very large firms were in favour of entry and were convinced that it would do them good. We have all read letters in The Times from the chairmen of 70 large companies, and so on. I have not the slightest doubt that entry will do those firms good. I believe that many of them will achieve a certain amount of growth.

I am certain that it is true that many firms have held up their investment decisions until they know whether we are going into the Market, as the hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook said. I am certain that we shall have a considerable investment boom when the decision is taken one way or the other. I am even prepared to say that it will be larger if we decide to go in.

A number of industries and firms will benefit, some substantially. But I wonder how many right hon. and hon. Members have examined an anlysis of the economic effects of entry made by Baring Bros. some months ago. The interesting thing about it was the calculation that since only 15 per cent. of our total output of manufactures goes for export, and since it is easy to calculate that only 11 per cent. of our exports would get a new duty-free entry into all countries as a result of entry into the Common Market, the proportion of our total manufactures that will receive new duty-free advantages is about 2 per cent.—15 per cent. of 11 per cent. That will include a number of very large firms, but the overwhelming majority of employment and manufacture in this country is not in the hands of a few large combines. That is the measure of how marginal the effect of entry is likely to be.

I know that those 2 per cent. are only the ones directly affected, and that there will be a spin-off effect in demand for components and so on. But it is a pretty small proportion of our total trade that will be directly given an export incentive and advantage. It is impossible to quantify, just as it is impossible to quantify the extent of competition and damage which other firms will suffer from competitive duty-free imports; just as it is not easy to quantify the competitive disadvantage we shall suffer when the present members of the Six secure duty-free entry for manufactures into the E.F.T.A. countries, which at present only we have; just as it is not easy, although one can make some fair guesses, to quantify the probable losses of our export trade to Commonwealth countries when preferences begin to disappear.

It is fashionable among Europeans to say that the proportion of our trade with the Commonwealth has been diminishing rapidly and that the proportion of the Commonwealth's trade with us has been diminishing as well. I have never been able to understand quite why, at a time when our exports into the Common Market countries over the tariff are going up like a rocket, it should be so essential to get rid of the tariff. The attitude towards Commonwealth trade seems to me cavalier and contemptuous. I am not saying this from any sentimental attachment to Commonwealth countries, which can look after themselves fairly well on occasion. But we are talking, in the case of Australia, of a total of exports of about £400 million a year; not only that, but we are talking of a favourable balance of trade of £200 million a year. A favourable balance of trade of £200 million a year would have made a considerable difference during any of the times in the last 10 years when we were having balance of payments troubles. It is not to be ignored.

I have recently returned from a tour of Australia and New Zealand. I met no one in Australia who was not convinced that we would, when the preferences began to go—and they were certain that they would—be liable to lose up to half of our exports to Australia. That half represents the £200 million a year which is our favourable balance with Australia. That, taken into account with the possible effect across the balance of payments of our cost of entry, means that we are now talking in terms of figures which are as large as or larger than the whole of the balance of payments deficit which reduced this country's economy to an almost deliberate standstill over the whole period of the last Labour Government. It is a very substantial figure.

Talking of reducing the economy of the country to a standstill, it is worth bearing in mind that the comparisons of growth rates in Europe and in this country over the last 10 years, which advocates of entry are so fond of making, are really made meaningless by what were the experiences of this country for at least half that period. We were in serious balance of payments difficulties largely because we tried to maintain the value of our currency at what nearly everyone now recognises to have been a grossly overvalued figure and by deliberate Government action throttled our growth rate back to virtually nothing. It would have been a miracle if our growth rate had compared favourably with those of Western European countries during that period. I am inclined to think that, over the next year or so, our growth rate will compare extremely well with those of most of the countries of Western Europe.

My hon. Friend the Member for Honiton, turning to those of us who feel inclined to vote against entry, said that he hoped we would recognise that entry into Europe was an inescapable, integral part of the Conservative Party's policies for dealing with the economy in this country. We should put him right on that. He clearly has not read the Conservative Party's manifesto for the last election, which very clearly detailed the Conservative Party's proposed economic policies and then said that it was the belief of the party leadership that these policies would strengthen the country's economy in such a way that we should be able to negotiate for entry into Europe in the certainty that we would be strong enough to stand on our own feet if we were unable to secure favourable terms for entry. So it was never an integral and inescapable part of our policies. It was something which could be taken or not according to how the terms went. But the party's policies were supposed to enable the country to stand on its own feet outside Europe.

I just do not understand now those people who say, "What do we do if we do not go in? What alternative is there?" I agree with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who said publicly some time ago: I have never accepted for a moment that it is disaster to stay outside Europe and automatic prosperity to be inside. Of course it is not. How can anyone pretend that this is our only, our last, hope, that there is no alternative, at a time when we have a record level of exports, strong reserves, a strong currency and an economic policy which I firmly believe, as everyone on this side of the House must believe, will, before many months are past, begin to get a growth rate going here simply owing to the incentives of changed policies and a shaking out of over-manning in certain sections of industry, which I believe will be taken up next year? It is ludicrous to suggest that this is a sort of last hope for a bankrupt country. On the contrary, I believe that it is not we who oppose entry who are being defeatist or are refusing to accept a challenge but that it is those who can think only of a challenging future after they have submerged the identity of this country inside a European confederation who are the defeatists, who are refusing the challenge.

I have referred to the common agricultural policy and trade with the Commonwealth. I want to say one thing about what I found in Australia and New Zealand. They all recognise that this is a decision we must take here, that we must take it in our own interests, that we have a right to protect our own farmers, whether by a levy system or any other means we choose. What they could not understand, and what I cannot understand, is why we should change our policies, not to protect our own farmers but in order to cut out some of the cheapest, best quality food from producers who have deliberately built up their industries and have moulded their products and marketing in order to provide a cheap and standard source of food for this country, and buy foodstuffs from Community sources at sometimes twice the price.

Why should one pay £80 a ton for French beet sugar when one can get it from Australia at £40 a ton? Why put the price of canned fruit up by 40 per cent., dried fruit by 10 or 20 per cent., and so on? We have had singularly little convincing argument in favour of doing this. We are told that the cost of food is likely to rise only by an average of 2½ per cent. over six years. But concealed in that average are some very large individual increases. It is estimated in the Southern hemisphere that out of a total consumption of 400.000 tons of butter a year at least 150,000 tons will be switched to margarine when the higher prices begin to bite within the Community. For what are we asking the British housewives to buy margarine instead of butter or to pay twice as much for French sugar beet as for Australian sugar beet unless the economic advantages enormously outweigh the disadvantages, which I do not think they do? We are going to have a lot of explaining over the years to do to the British housewives.

I always have recognised that this was not really an issue on which it was very easy to convince anyone either way, because I do not believe that this is basically between most people an issue of fine calculation of economic advantages or disadvantages.

I do not believe that it is even a matter of a great searing European faith in an ideal. I believe that basically the division between people who feel strongly is between those who on the one hand believe that the sole and overriding object of policy must be economic growth and who simultaneously believe that it is axiomatic that efficiency and growth are synonymous with size, and those, on the other hand, who, like me do not believe either of those things. Those who, like me, do not believe either of those things are bound to be suspicious of this move.

Let us take an example of the kind which will worry people in this country. I do not believe that the regions in the country which are now depressed will benefit from going into Europe. On the contrary, I think that many of them will become more isolated from the economic centre. There will be great pressure for any growth which occurs to take place in the Midlands and in the South-East. That will produce the kind of social and environmental problems which we thought we had more or less dealt with.

In this country we probably have the best town and country planning legislation and machinery and the best conservation record of any country, in Europe certainly and probably in the world. It is true that nobody can make us change our planning procedures or force us to do things of that kind if we join Europe, if we do not want to do them, but the commercial pressures will be very much greater.

At the moment, one can see Continental goods trucks that are far above the legal limit permitted in this country going through small country towns and creating absolute havoc. We are told that they are certainly illegal, but that nothing can be done about them because the owners cannot be prosecuted in this country. If we go into Europe, pressure to conform to that kind of thing will get worse and worse and the environmental effects could be very bad.

But much worse than that is the conviction that one has only to make something bigger, whether the organisation of government or the organisation of industry of a firm, and everything will be better and more prosperous and everyone will be happier. All the experience which we are now getting in this country is that the larger the size of combine, the worse the labour relations become, and on the whole the less profitable per unit of production it becomes. Size is not efficiency. Size more often brings inefficiency. What is more, size does not make for happiness.

We have a considerable responsibility not only to our country but to the people in it to consider the effects of this kind of thing on their happiness. I am committed to take into account the majority feeling of the people. My leader committed me to this during the election campaign and I said exactly what he said—that this required the full-hearted consent of people and Parliament. I do not think that the consent of Parliament is all that full-hearted and I am sure that the consent of the people has not been secured at all. It is because of this, as much as because I am not convinced that the case has been made, that tomorrow night I shall vote against entry.

8.14 p.m.

Mr. Maurice Edelman (Coventry, North)

The hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) has long been a champion of the Commonwealth, and I am sure that there are few in the House tonight who do not share his sympathies and who, were the opportunity available, would not wish that we could enter into a trade association with the Commonwealth which would bring us the bene- fits which we hope to get by association with Europe. He confined himself to an economic argument in order to show that there were advantages available inside the Commonwealth which we should be able to enjoy if only we wanted. But, as a Midlands Member, he must be well aware of the changing patterns of trade inside the Commonwealth. He must know that in 1969, for example, the Japanese outsold us in deliveries of motor cars to Australia when the Japanese sold 54,000 and we sold 48,000, that in Canada the Japanese sold 50,000 and we sold 50,000, but the United States nearly 250,000.

The pattern of trade and industry inside the Commonwealth has changed. Some of the former Colonies and some of the Commonwealth States associated with us have become much more industrialised and have turned to other suppliers. They have involved themselves in other markets. The hon. Gentleman had a nostalgic hope for a revival of a Commonwealth which, unhappily, has passed and gone. When he spoke about the United States surcharge of 10 per cent., he said, amazingly, that President Nixon introduced it in reaction to the common agricultural policy.

Mr. Maude

I said partly.

Mr. Edelman

Or even in part. I thought it was directed very largely at the fact that the Japanese were flooding the American market and accumulating dollars and that the same thing was happening in Europe, so that the United States adopted this protectionist stance.

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman mentioned that, because, apart from the Commonwealth dream no longer realisable there is also the North Atlantic Free Trade Association, once the hope of my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), which the new protectionist trends in the United States have once and for all destroyed.

Tonight, therefore, we must consider what are the prospects in Europe, and we must put aside these hopes which, alas, have been falsified, for other associations. I was glad that, although the hon. Member put his emphasis on economic affairs, he did not try in any dogmatic way to quantify the economic benefits which we might gain or the losses which might be incurred because of entry. As the correspondence in The Times has recently shown, the academic economists have paired, so to speak, and gone home, have cancelled each other out. What remains is for us with out long parliamentary tradition to make our own solemn decision.

What is striking is the way in which as the debate has gone on some of the certitudes have departed, but in the House and throughout the country there has been a great debate which, as the moment of decision approaches, becomes more and more serious until we finally reach the conclusion which, I believe, will be as determinative for the country as the Reform Bill was more than 140 years ago. In 100 years' time the British people will still remember the debates in which we have taken part, recognising that we made a major decision and involved ourselves in a major change.

I differed from my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Bern) when he spoke about our entering into some sort of great change, as though it were of our creation. The change is something which has been taking place in Europe since the Second World War for a whole variety of reasons—a new technology, new interlinkings, new take-overs, enlargement of industry. All these have resulted in changes to which we must seek to adapt ourselves. It is not we who are making the changes; but rather we who are adapting ourselves to the changes.

I have long been concerned with the development of European institutions. I happen to be one of the founder members, in 1949, of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe. I took part in its earlier debates when the whole thing was a great ideal. Among those who were associated with the idea of a United Europe after the shambles of the war were some of the greatest Socialists which the past-war world has seen.

Those who jeer and suggest that somehow or other the concept of a United Europe is simply a capitalist conspiracy ought to take account of the men who were among the founders of the European institution, the 0.E.E.C., the Council of Europe and later the Common Market institutions which developed. Among them, I assure my hon. Friends, they will find men whom as Socialists we were always proud to acknowledge among our ranks—men and women who had at heart the high ideal of the brotherhood of man which, after all, has always been a fundamental in our Socialist thinking.

Since that time there has been a change. The dream has become a reality. The vision of Europe with its ideal content has been translated into institutions.

We are asked in this debate to accept the opportunities of the E.E.C. either in company with nine other Western European States or in a changing world—the world of which I spoke in my opening words, where the old patern of trade and alliance is changing and crumbling away. We are in danger of being left isolated, crushed between super-powers, and we must decide whether to adapt ourselves to the changing world and identify ourselves with institutions which are the institutions of tomorrow and not with the vestigial remains of the past

I fully respect the reactions of those who are opposed to the Common Market by instinct or even by judgment. I believe that in this country there is an understandable fear of the unknown, of the hazards involving the possibility of a loss of identity, the fear of making an irreversible decision. That is a spontaneous reaction which we must respect. People are asking "What will entry mean to our job? Shall we be better or worse off? How will entry affect Parliament's sovereignty and our legal system?" These are basic questions which have to be answered. We must all try to find our own answer to these problems.

Equally, I believe that those lion. Gentlemen and hon. Ladies who have changed their minds on this issue deserve our respect. I would be the last to condemn anyone who, having thought the matter out, has come to a different conclusion even from that which they held in 1967. The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) came forward in a manly way and said he had changed his mind. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) made a speech in 1967, which I am sure he would not like to have repeated today, and properly, sincerely and honourably has come forward to say that he has changed his mind and has advanced countervailing arguments to those he stated in 1967.

We often change our minds. Hon. Members opposite have changed their minds in some cases about the Industrial Relations Bill, and no hon. Member on this side would condemn them for doing so. Equally, I hope that those of us who have remained consistent in our views will not lose our credibility by continuing to hold the views we have held for many years before.

I do not think those of us who have consistently been in favour of entry into Europe and who have held those views for many years, and have given our reasons for so doing, should now be required to stand on our heads and disclaim our past and pretend that somehow we never believed in those things on which we voted and which we upheld some years ago.

When we talk about democracy and parliamentary institutions, as did my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East when he opened the debate, I believe that it is much more dignified for Members of Parliament to say in a straightforward and honourable manner what they believe in than to make some specious appeal for a referendum, which is the instrument of the demagogue. The whole history of totalitarian States shows that the referendum, while claiming to be the means by which public opinion, is exposed as a device for imposing on the public the views of those who seek to dictate opinion to the public. Therefore, I have no sympathy with the idea of a referendum as a means for ascertaining the views of Parliament. Parliament, historically and traditionally, is the agency by which the people of this country express their views, and those who seek to challenge or attack the right of M.P.s to declare themselves in this situation are doing a disservice to parliamentary democracy.

We shall be voting tomorrow on the principle, quite apart from the terms of entry which are a matter of calculation. I recall my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition quoting Wordsworth: High Heaven rejects the lore Of nicely-calculated less or more. The terms are a matter for calculation and assessment, but what I shall be voting for will be the principle of entry in the interests of the people and for cooperation by consent inside Europe once we have gone in. I believe that to be a Socialist principle. It is a principle which we upheld in 1967, and I believe we should uphold it today.

I was present at Strasbourg when my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, who I regret is not here, made what I considered to be the finest speech he has ever made in his career. After analysing the arguments for entry, he said of Britain's intended application: If we do fail—and I want this to be understood—the fault will not lie at Britain's door …". He might have said that in relation to the Labour Government. He went on to say: But the cost, and above all the cost of missed opportunities, will fall, and in increasing measure, on every one of us. I believe what was true in 1967 is equally true today.

They were statesmanlike words which should be read in the context of every speech or article written in connection with the Common Market. There was no ambiguity in what he said. The Leader of the Opposition spoke of Britain's historical involvement with Europe and of new concepts of cooperation, following the destruction of the war. He also spoke of a new unity in Europe based on cool heads and warm hearts and spoke of … national traits and characteristics which will become stronger by being merged in wider, outward-looking unity. I doubt whether anyone in this House would dissent from those views. He went on to say—and this is strictly relevant to what we are discussing in this debate and what we shall decide tomorrow—that the Treaty of Rome itself would not be an obstacle, subject to certain adaptations. He then said: … in the ten years since the Treaty was signed it has been possible for us to study not only the text but the way it has been operating, what we might call the Common Law as well as the statute law, and we are encouraged by the results of our study. What he meant was that the Common Market is not the definitive documentary institution which it was when set up. It is constantly evolving, moving forward pragmatically and in a sense which agrees with the general consensus of the members who take part in it.

Clearly, sovereignty is a natural question for everyone to raise. Just as an individual fears the loss of his personal identity, so a nation must feel that the greatest danger that can afflict it is the loss of its national identity. For that reason, it is a legitimate question to raise. But, as my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Dr. David Owen) said the other day when interrupting a Front Bench speaker, whenever we enter into an international treaty we abrogate a certain particle of our sovereignty. We agree to renounce a certain measure of our sovereignty in order to bring our attitudes and our future policies into conformity with those of the nations with which we are associating. So the idea of surrendering some limited amount of sovereignty for specific purposes is part of our history. We have done it constantly.

In the context of the Common Market and the institution of the Treaty of Rome, it is that and only that which we have been asked to do. We have not been asked to make a major surrender of our national sovereignty. There can be no country more nationalistic than France. There can be no leader more nationalistic than President de Gaulle. There can be few people so attached to their history and national institutions as the French. They were able to participate because they recognised that the degree of sovereignty that they surrendered was that degree which suited their convenience. Just as they were prepared to suit their convenience by this instrument, we can do the same.

I turn now to the common agricultural policy which, somehow, has been drawn into the argument as if after 1967, when the great majority of right hon. and hon. Members on both sides had made up their minds that entry was the right course to take, the policy is a new element which has appeared suddenly and made it impossible for us to accept the terms of entry.

The common agricultural policy is integral to the European Economic Community. It is not only integral now; it has been for many years, certainly before negotiations began for our own entry into Europe. The reason why it is integral and the reason why the French have been so firm in their attachment to it is that unless it existed it would have been impossible for any negotiations to begin. The reason why President de Gaulle said "No" was that he felt that if we went into Europe with a food policy based on preferential prices, which in effect, subsidised wages in this country, we should have an enormous industrial advantage to the disadvantage of the peasants of France.

We hear a great deal of talk about President Pompidou and his inefficient farmers. The word "inefficient" is used in a pejorative tone as though French farmers spend their time riding about in Ferraris and living a life of self-indulgence. However, a French farmer is just a peasant spelt differently. It is natural that the leaders of France should seek to defend and protect the interests of their peasantry. I hope that right hon. and hon. Members on this side of the House who are concerned with the fraternity of Europe would be as concerned about a worker on the land as about a worker in the factory.

Essentially, the common agricultural policy is a quid pro quo which is part of the negotiations so that we who look forward to great industrial advantages inside the Market in turn accept that we have to give some countervailing benefits to the peasants of the Continent of Europe. We should not treat the common agricultural policy as if it is the product of some original sin conceived in the mind of President de Gaulle and handed on to President Pompidou.

The common agricultural policy is an attempt to raise the standard of living of the peasantry in Europe so that, while we have the benefits of our industrial sales inside Europe, they in turn will be able to scratch a living out of the soil and have a standard of life comparable with that of the industrial worker elsewhere. As time goes on, I hope that the so-called inefficiency will change, that the price of food and the corresponding levies that we have to pay will diminish, and that there will be real harmonisation.

Our industrial growth has been inhibited by a number of factors, not least the iniquitous policies of the present Government which have led to inflation without expansion and unemployment without hope. It is a tragedy that in 1967 and later my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was hoping to negotiate from strength, whereas now we have to enter the Market at a time when the domestic policies of the present Government are such that, naturally, public opinion in the country feels that it cannot trust right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite to carry out this policy. That is an attitude with which I sympathise fully.

If we want growth in this country we must look across the Channel and see what is going on there. Growth in Europe has been stimulated, if not wholly created, by the breaking down of tariff barriers. We are still separated from Europe by a high and spiky tariff wall. I dispute the figures which have been given. We are separated from Europe by high tariff walls and quotas of various kinds. The result is that our motor industry, with enormous possibilities of growth and expansion, is restrained and hemmed in by the tariff walls in Europe and the surcharge in the United States. if we are to have expansion—those long lines of production to diminish unit costs—we must have those high tariff walls pulled down so that we can enter the larger Market and enjoy its benefits.

The question of unemployment has entered into the debate. Another reason for believing that we should enter the Common Market, apart from the present intolerable unemployment which the Government could correct by fiscal and investment methods if they wished, is an even more sinister kind of unemployment which we are in danger of facing. Today, outside the Common Market, we have about 1 million unemployed. Assume a situation arose in which an inward-looking Six, with a high tariff wall around it, was to deny us the opportunities of selling our goods in the way that in the 1920s and 1930s we were prevented from selling our coal and steel and ships to European countries because the market collapsed or was closed down. If we had that kind of structural unemployment, as distinct from unemployment caused by fiscal and investment deprivation, which I well remember in the 1920s and 1930s in South Wales, we could not possibly recover from it, even under a Labour Government, because if the market collapsed we would be deprived of the opportunity of selling our goods.

I utter this warning to all those who try to put up bogeys about Europe. The real opportunity provided by entering Europe is that we shall be able to expand and to have full employment, which is what they have achieved in Europe. There have been marginal recessions now and again, but, basically, unemployment has been abolished inside Europe because of growth and expansion.

Mr. Geoffrey Rhodes (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)

That is a monstrous statement. Does not my hon. Friend know that Italy has an unemployment rate as high as ours?

Mr. Edelmann

When my hon. Friend was in favour of entering the Common Market I heard him discuss this very question. I specifically said that there are marginal areas, like Southern Italy, where there have always been high rates of unemployment.

Dr. John Gilbert (Dudley)

What about France?

Mr. Edelmann

There is virtually no unemployment in France. The level of employment generally inside the Six is substantially higher than here.

One matter which has not been touched on in the debate is the development of multi-national companies. I emphasise this point, because its affects everybody who is concerned with industry in this country. Not long ago we had the shaming spectacle of Mr. Henry Ford going to 10 Downing Street and threatening to remove his business to Europe. That was a kind of blackmail. We talk about the blackmail exercised by unemployment, which is intolerable; but the blackmail which can be exercised and practised by the multi-national companies requires multi-trade union response. I feel that not only would that pressure be removed by our going into Europe, but there would be the possibility of trade unions organising on a multi-national basis to resist that kind of blackmail.

There has been reference to economic reasons against going into Europe. I have tried to show that the economic advantage of entry is great. Entry into Europe is not a magic wand to cure our difficulties, not a panacea, but I believe it offers enormous economic, and above all political, opportunities. By "political opportunities" I mean that the new interrelationship and the inter-mingling of the institutions of the Six give us the prospect of peace in Europe, something which until the last 26 years, we had not known for nearly 100 years. A life and death struggle between Germany, France and ourselves took place as recently as 26 years ago. How many military cemeteries mark the frontiers and plains of the Six, which at last have the prospect of living together in amity?

I believe that it is right to endeavour to live together in peace but, more than that, to use the institutions which we are evolving so that one day perhaps the machinery of the E.E.C. and of Comecon may together find a technique of cooperation, leading eventually to peaceful co-existence between East and West.

At Strasbourg in 1967 my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said: In this century, the future of Europe, and the world, has twice required a generation of men to give their lives in defence of freedom. The Europe of today, the Europe it is in our power to fashion, with all this means for a wide world, calls for no such heroic sacrifices—the sacrifices which are asked of this generation are sacrifices only of supposed short-term interests, of short-term prejudices and stereotyped modes of thought. I believe that this generation has decided on its answer. Those were the words of my right hon. Friend. They were noble sentiments in a speech which moved his European audience deeply. It was a speech in which high patriotism was wedded to the concept of an advocacy of European unity by consent. The sentiments which I applauded in Strasbourg I still uphold today, and it is in the spirit of my right hon. Friend's speech, and my own long-held conviction, that I shall go into the Lobby tomorrow in support of British entry into Europe.

8.44 p.m.

Mr. Christopher Tugendhat (Cities of London and Westminster)

The last two Speakers, one from this side and one from the other, each spoke for about half an hour. I shall make do with about half that time. It means that I shall have an opportunity to deal with only a few of the points that have arisen during the debate, but there is one to which I should like to devote particular attention.

We have heard a lot about whether British entry into the Common Market would be good for investment, or bad for it, whether there would be a flight of capital abroad, and whether there would be a terrible increase in our already terrible level of unemployment. It seems to me that one of the strongest arguments for going into the Common Market is that it will help to bring down the dreadful level of unemployment from which we are suffering.

There has been a great deal of argument about size, but I feel that there has been some misunderstanding on the part of some right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. They have said that bigness is not best, and they are right. Big companies are often the least efficient not the most efficient, but it is beyond doubt that, to an increasing extent, in those industries which constitute the commanding heights of the economy plants are becoming bigger—plants which produce motor cars, chemicals, machine tools, or whatever it may be. There are considerable advantages for a company in placing large plant in a large home market, in placing large plant in a market where there are not tariff barriers, and where it can sell a great proportion of what it produces within a tariff-free area. As a result, this country has suffered a great disadvantage compared with our neighbours on the Continent. To an increasing extent, companies of all nationalities—British and American, as well as Continental companies—have been investing on the Continent instead of investing here.

That applies particularly to the key industries I have mentioned—the commanding heights. These industries have an effect right across the economy. When a company spends £100 million on building a new chemical plant or motor plant the effects are felt throughout the economy in the purchase of supplies, materials, and so on. So, when the motor car companies locate their plants on the Continent rather than in this country, it is not just a loss of exports from which we suffer but the loss also of all the goods and services which would flow into those factories. That has affected companies of all nationalities.

If we consider the motor car industry, we find that the two big American companies, General Motors and Ford, which play such a prominent rôle in our industrial life, just as they do on the Continent, between 1959 and 1968 increased their fixed assets on the Continent four times as fast as they did here. I have no doubt that British labour relations have given some heartache to Mr. Henry Ford, but most of that increase occurred long before Mr. Henry Ford's outburst and long before the worst of the troubles at Dagenham. There is no doubt that Britain is at a disadvantage against the Continent in precisely the same way that the Republic of Ireland is at a disadvantage against us.

If we are inside the Market we shall be able to compete on equal terms not only to get the investment of Continental and American companies but also, and this is particularly important, to get the investment of British companies. One of the most worrying features on the British industrial scene recently has been the extent to which the great British companies—British Leyland, British Petroleum, and the like—have been investing on the Continent in order to clamber over the tariff barrier. Once we are inside the Community they will be able to serve their markets from Britain, which will, I think, lead to a substantial increase in the level of investment in this country.

It is for this reason that we can look forward with somewhat more optimism than in the past to a reduction in the level of unemployment and an increase in the rate of growth. I have been disturbed by some of the statements made by anti-Marketeers on both sides to the effect that, whatever may have been the case in the past, the British rate of growth now promises to be faster than that of the Common Market countries. This is not the time to make party political points about the wonders of one's own party programme or the dreadful features of the other party's programme, but the fact is that if one looks at any reputable forecasts, whether produced by the O.E.C.D., the National Institute, or other bodies, one finds that the forecasts of the British rate of growth in the foreseeable future are much less optimistic than those for our principal Continental competitors. The forecasts for Britain are certainly better than for some time but, by and large, they are not as good as those for countries on the Continent. Anyone who doubts what I say has only to do as I did this morning—get the relevant statistics from the Library.

If I might now move to my final point to which I should like to devote some time. It seems to me that to some extent we are now in very much the position the United States Senate was in when Mr. Woodrow Wilson returned from Paris after having played such a prominent rôle in the creation of the League of Nations only to have the Senate reject it. It is true that the United States survived, and survived perfectly well, but it did not take up its responsibilities in the world; it did not play the part it could have played in preventing war. In due course it was, of course, involved in the war. The League of Nations survived, just as I have no doubt that we shall survive and the Common Market will survive, but it contained within itself the seeds of its own destruction. It was from the outset an imperfect instrument which failed to fulfil its high promise and the ideals and expectations of its founders.

In the changed circumstances of today, and in the different scenario in which we live, much the same applies to the Common Market and Britain. If we do not join, we shall certainly survive. But we shall become more inward-looking, more frustrated and more embittered, perhaps, about our decline in the world, the reduction in our opportunities and the difficulty we have in finding a rôle. We shall also lose an important chance to safeguard our own future. Whether we are inside the Common Market or outside, we are still affected by what happens, by their decisions on tariff policy, on regional policy and on agriculture. We shall be affected by that whether we are inside the Community or outside.

Inside, we do at least have the opportunity to influence those policies in a manner advantageous to us. Not only that: inside the Community, we have the opportunity of playing a more prominent rôle on the international stage. I do not mean threatening people with atomic bombs or third forces East of Suez. I mean that, when world trading policy, economic and aid policy, and almost any other policy which transcends national frontiers, is discussed in an international context, we shall have better possibilities of influencing decisions if we are part of the E.E.C. than if we are not. One has already seen, in the negotiations which have taken place in international trading matters, that our separation from the Community has been to our disadvantage.

The Community is very far from being a perfect instrument. I am sure that, had we entered it at the outset, it would be a lot better than it is. But, however imperfect it may be—many instruments, the United Nations among them, are imperfect—it is nevertheless the best we have at the moment. It is through bodies like the United Nations and the E.E.C. that we can hope to build a better world. They may not be as good as we would like, but they are the best we have to hand; if we want to play a role, we must join these organisations and try to make them work in a manner more in keeping with our ideals and ambitions.

It is not perfect at the moment, but with us in membership it would have a better chance of becoming a counterweight to the rather over-extended United States economic power and would have the chance to become the promoter of liberal economic and trading practices. It also has an opportunity to become an example of enlightened cooperation between sovereign independent states of a sort that the world has not seen for many a long year, which the world longs to see and in which we, with our experience, ideals and principles, can play a prominent rôle in a great cooperative venture.

I shall be proud to vote in favour of the Government. This country has a future in Europe which is greater, perhaps, than anything we have experienced in the past.

8.54 p.m.

Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)

Once again today, we have had an excellent debate and the speeches have been at a high level of intense sincerity. I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) made a very effective speech on behalf of a point of view which I do not share. I believe that he expressed very fluently the attitude of those of my hon. Friends who say that they will vote with the Government tomorrow. But I found his speech rather simpliste. We were treated, as we have been treated by the hon. Member for the Cites of London and Westminster (Mr. Tugendhat), to euphoric general assump- tions which they do not seem to find it necessary to prove or analyse.

I wish that my hon. Friend had been in the Chamber during the brilliantly perceptive speech of the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude). I should have liked to hear my hon. Friend trying to deal with the hon. Gentleman's points. As I listened to my hon. Friend, I could not help thinking why, if the argument for entry were so overwhelmingly in the interests of the common people, he and his associates behind the Market campaign had not succeeded in winning the common people over to their point of view.

As I was about to come into the Chamber tonight, I was handed a report in the newspaper in my constituency area, the Lancashire Evening Telegraph, which for four days has been conducting a poll on the Common Market issue among people in the area. It is a pretty objective source because it has been plugging the need for entry in its editorials for weeks. What was the result of the poll?—18.9 per cent. in favour, 77.3 per cent. against. There is a lesson here for us. The instinct of the people on this issue is far better than we give them credit for, because they know that we are not being asked to go into the Division Lobbies behind the idealistic vision which inspires so many of my hon. Friends. if it were so, their reaction would be very different.

When we from the Opposition Front Bench say, "No entry on Tory terms". I believe that the people of this country instinctively understand what we mean. [Interruption.] I shall hope to underline my general statements with detailed arguments.

I understand and respect what motivates so many of my colleagues with whom I disagree. I do not think that anyone, and certainly not a Socialist and internationalist like myself, could fail to be moved by the initial driving force behind the creation of the European Community. We cannot fail to understand the feelings of those in Europe who faced the fact that three times France had been invaded—1870, 1914 and 1939—and three times Europe has been devastated. It was a stirring ideal to suggest that they should build a community which would for ever make a recurrence of that continental warfare impossible by integrating Germany into a European Community.

Sir George Sinclair (Dorking)


Mrs. Castle

I do not think that what I have just said is a very provocative statement.

Sir G. Sinclair

The right hon. Lady used the word "continental".

Mrs. Castle

It shows how wise I was not to give way. None of us is perfect in his or her phrasing.

I was endeavouring to meet the point of view of those who have undoubtedly and genuinely been inspired by the European concept, bearing in mind the ideal that it would make Franco-German reconciliation permanent. That was the goal, and a very reputable goal it was, and I pay my tribute. This idealism has lingered on, despite the fact that the genuinely internationalist objective has become confused with what to me are some very dubious economic philosophies behind the Treaty of Rome.

I go even further. I agree with my right hon. and hon. Friends that this curious political, economic and philosophic structure of the European Community has probably, despite its defects, done a very great deal of good and certainly more good than harm to its originators. For them it has meant a creative surge in the first 13 years of its evolution. It would not be objective of any of us to ignore that fact. In those first early years it has meant an economic stimulus. They got that stimulus by the breaking down between themselves of much higher tariff barriers than exist at present between us and the Community. The surge has come from the creation of the supra-national institutions like the Commission and the Council of Ministers and it has come from, to use a much-abused word, the dynamic effects of feeling that they were going forward together to even closer economic co-operation by their common external tariff. Therefore, I repeat that I can understand the feeling which originally created the European movement which has such strong roots on this side of the House.

But surely we cannot make our decision tomorrow on the basis of a history of 13 years. With the emergence of General de Gaulle in France it became clear that the international ideal was being diluted and that France was determined to use the Community as a base for developing French interests and influence. As we all know, and as the history of the last few years shows, there was no supra-nationalism for him and none of that European spirit about which we are told so much, except where it suited France. Therefore, the only genuine integrated and common policy that evolved was the common agricultural policy, which more than anything else has set the seal on inward-looking self-interest as the attitude of the Community. This is something which has to be faced by internationalists in the House who are using international arguments and Socialist arguments. I have never heard a pro-Marketeer who is prepared to defend the concept behind the common agricultural policy.

No one can deny that for internal political reasons, for the crude party political reasons we are all told to put behind us when we make our decision tomorrow night, the aim of making the Community self-sufficient in food is being ruthlessly pursued in Europe, at whatever cost. We are told to accept this as a great contribution towards the development of free trade. This self-sufficiency in food is being pursued regardless of the effects on the healthy development of world trade in general and regardless of the needs of the developing countries.

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Cannock)

Is the right hon. Lady totally opposed, therefore, to the Common Market and, therefore, at variance with her policy of a few months ago, or is she just opposed on these terms?

Mrs. Castle

The hon. Gentleman's intervention has made me decide not to give way any more. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may run away from the truth, but I shall not do so tonight.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] This is one of the questions with which my whole speech is designed to deal. Therefore, for hon. Gentlemen opposite to chip in with these narrow points, in the middle of what is intended to be a serious and not a frivolous argument, is to debase the whole Parliamentary debate. I repeat, I shall not give way any more because I intend to develop a coherent argument and not to take refuge in small debating points or in facile generalisations.

May I repeat what I was saying? The common agricultural policy, as everybody recognises, is contrary to the healthy development of world trade and to the interests of the developing countries which we as Socialists are supposed to have so much at heart. When my Socialist friends tell me that I must go into the European Community, not only because it is so outward looking but because it is so socialist in its approach to the questions of world development, I think they have become the victims of their own sloganising. We are told how much the Community spends in aid; the figures are tossed off in propaganda sheets, financed I do not know from which quarters. We are never told how the European Development Fund has been turned, like many other apparently idealistic concepts, into machinery for pumping money into former French colonies, not for their benefit but for the benefit of French trade and industry. We are told how developing countries are to be helped by the offer of association with the Community, that we need not worry about our own former territories because they will be offered association, too.

What is glossed over in this argument, which is unworthy of any deep-thinking Socialist, is the fact that this policy, too, is highly discriminatory. Of course it embraces developing countries in Africa because that is a part of the world where France has ex-Colonial ties. But the significant thing about this great Community is that the offer of association does not embrace the great developing countries of Asia, now struggling with problems of desperate poverty—India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Malaysia and Singapore. It does not embrace them for one simple reason, that they are more industrially developed and, therefore, their products constitute more of a threat to the internal interests of this rich men's club. The countries of Asia which most desperately need help are to be left to the tender mercies of others. So we are going back to the nineteenth century concept of dividing the world into spheres of interest.

Worse still, we are undermining the healthy development of multilateral trade by a vast expansion of the system of bilateral and discriminatory trade agreements at the expense of the rest of the world. The world is to be divided by the Community into us and the outsiders. It is this—and I suggest that the House takes it into account as we discuss the international implications of our entry—which is increasingly worrying the United States, which has now come to realise that when the enlargement of the Community is complete, if it is made complete by our decision to go in, nearly one half of world trade will come under special arrangements organised round this European trading bloc. It is this which is feeding a dangerously protective mood in the United States and has led her to her determination to act, however regressively, blindly in the defence of her own interests.

Therefore, the European concept has lost its internationalist way. De Gaulle has set his highly nationalistic stamp on the Community, and the frailty of the new concept of European unity was revealed in the exchange crisis of 1969 when, as we all know, the Six did not react as a whole. Each country of the Six reacted individually to protect its own interests.

As a result of that experience in 1969, the choice was made starkly clear: either the Community would go on to full economic and monetary union, or it would disintegrate into nothing more than a grouping of nationalist States. It was from that experience that we had the birth of the Werner plan, which, if implemented, would destroy the last remnants of this House's sovereignty. It would take from the individual members of the Community all control over monetary policy, all control over their foreign exchange parities, all control over the shape or size of their own national budgets, all control over the level and nature of their taxes, all control over their regional and structural policies, and, as the Werner plan made clear, it would mean the transfer of these far-reaching decisions from the national level to the Community level.

In the negotiations, as the Prime Minister made clear to the House on 10th June, the Government have pledged that Britain will play her full part in the progress towards this vast expansion of supra-nationalism. Those are words, but they are important words. The Government have made that pledge without putting before the country or this House any plans for securing democratic political control in Europe over this new Leviathan.

It is astonishing to me that the Government should produce that kind of facile patter to which we have now become so accustomed from the pro-Marketeers, saying, "We resolved the sterling question. We promised to proceed towards the dissolution of the sterling balances within the context of progress towards monetary and economic union ". But not a word about political control. On the contrary, we have been assured that the powers of this House will remain complete. Yet the Government must know, if they are talking realities, that when they talk about monetary and economic union, they are talking about transferring the central control of the British House of Commons over taxation to the Brussels Community.

So what are we to have? We are to have taxation without representation on a scale that would make Charles I look like a democrat. Is that the offer being put before us? "No," say my right hon. and hon. Friends, "that is not the issue. What are you worrying about? The Werner plan will never be implemented". I am supposed to take consolation from that—I see the Secretary of State nodding his head—as though that were a solution to our difficulties. People tell me to look at the currency crisis with which Europe is now struggling. There is no monetary and economic union even within sight at the present time. Is not every member of the Six going his own way? They can say that again. The currency confusion in Europe at the moment makes our dear old £ look like the stablest currency of the lot. Some E.E.C. countries are floating together, some E.E.C. countries are floating separately, while France has a system of dual exchange rates.

I was tremendously touched to read in the Financial Times only today that M. Giscard d'Estaing, the French Finance Minister, is proposing that the Finance Ministers of the Six at their meeting next week should try to reach world solutions to the monetary crisis without waiting first to settle their own difficulties. In fact, as we all know, the views of France and Germany on this issue have proved irreconcilable and relations between the two countries are at their lowest ebb for years. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] It is no good saying, "Rubbish". That is the kind of facile evasion which refuses to face the truth. [Interruption.] I am sorry that hon. Members opposite dismiss the comments of, for example, the Financial Times as nonsense. That is what it said. Everyone knows that relations between France and Germany on this issue are at the lowest ebb for several years, and I am quoting the Financial Times in saying that.

I do not say that this is a desirable state of affairs or that I welcome it. I am doing no more than present it as the reality which we have to face. The year 1971 has proved a watershed in the history of European unity. Faced with a major challenge like the currency crisis, which has been precipitated by the actions of the United States, the Six have shown clearly in the last few weeks that they are not prepared to follow common monetary policies. Does anyone deny that? Will anyone suggest that they are following such policies? Will anyone suggest that there is harmonisation of currency policy between France and Germany at the present time? The countries of the Six have shown, too, that they are not prepared to go for economic union, and they have shown, therefore, that they are further from political unity than they have ever been before.

This situation makes even greater nonsense of the common agricultural policy, for without a co-ordinated movement of currencies one cannot have the common agricultural prices which are at the heart of it. So the whole concept of unified farm policy, supported by a Community fund, is put in jeopardy, and all we are left with is the onerous commitment in the Government's White Paper for us, a food-importing country, to pay vast subventions to the food-producing countries.

We are faced with a worse threat than that, for, as the Sunday Times made clear in the article by Malcolm Crawford last Sunday, if the currency crisis in Europe—this is what is worrying the United States—is solved by pegging the revalued D-mark at a new and higher level and then the units of account which are the basis for calculating the common agricultural prices are raised in line, which is what Germany would almost certainly insist upon, there will be a new wave of increases in Common Market food prices and import levies. As the Sunday Times put it, The United Kingdom faces a massive dollar crisis bill. In such a situation, this country would be mad to accept these terms. I challenge the claim by my noble Friend Lord George-Brown in another place, or by my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), that a Labour Government would ever have accepted them. We never accepted the new financial arrangements for the common agricultural policy in our February White Paper. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer tried to suggest that we had, he dare not quote that Paper to the House. I suggest that he looks at paragraph 26.

Nor did my right hon. Friend the then Prime Minister accept them in his statement to the House on 10th February last year. He said: Even now we do not have a complete picture of the future shape of the Community's agricultural policy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th February, 1970; Vol. 795, c. 1081.] It was against that tentative background that we produced our estimates. I know that no Government of which I was a member would ever have accepted them.

Yesterday in another place Lord George-Brown pleaded with us in the Labour Party not in a final frenzy of self-inflicted frustration".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 26th October, 1971; Vol. 324, c. 567.] to jeopardise the interests of this country. We all know Lord George-Brown as a sincere man, but we also know his capacity—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—for optimistic euphoria. I agree that he could sell anything. I plead with him not to be the prisoner of his own auto-salesmanship but to sit back and assess quietly and objectively the new situation with which we are now faced.

Another great argument for rushing us into Europe is melting before our eyes, and that is the growth argument. For 1971 has been a watershed not only in the political development of the Community but in its economic development, as some of us have warned it would. The great growth bubble on which all the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook rests has burst at last. As Ian Davidson pointed out in the Financial Times of 13th October: It is ironic that, just as Parliament reassembles for its historic debate and vote on the question of principle, the papers should be full of the economic difficulties of the Common Market countries. The euphoric generalisations of the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster fade before the facts.

Mr. Tugendhat

I am grateful to the right hon. Lady, not only because she mentioned me but also because I am an ex-colleague of Ian Davidson on the Financial Times. He mentioned the difficulties, but I am sure that the right hon. Lady will agree, if she looks at the figures, that, whatever the difficulties, the forecast rate of growth for the Common Market countries over any period in the future she likes to mention is higher than ours.

Mrs. Castle

The hon. Gentleman must have got slightly out of touch with Mr. Ian Davidson. Let me give the picture as Mr. Davidson presents it in the Financial Times. Talking about the growing economic difficulties in the Common Market countries, he said: In all of them wage and price inflation has become a serious problem, if in varying degrees. Hardly a week passes without fresh reports of cutbacks in company profits and investment plans. In Germany industrialists are openly worried by the upward float of the Deutschemark and its impact on their exporting prospects, and there is a clear possibility that the down-turn in the boom could lead to a recession. So I say to the hon. Gentleman and to the Secretary of State for Employment that it is not only Italy, with over one million unemployed, which is suffering her most serious crisis since the war; it is also Germany. According to a report by West Germany's main economic institute, published last Monday, Germany's growth rate next year may be negative.

So not only have the facile assumptions about the growth rate for Britain if we go in not been proved but the glowing picture of growth in Europe has been dimmed. The European dream is disintegrating before our eyes. I know that my hon. Friends may say, "This is just why the Social Democrats in Europe want us to go in and help." But we cannot help them if the condition of going in is to hang impossible institutional and philosophical millstones around our necks, to say nothing of the financial burdens.

The terms on which we shall all be voting tomorrow are designed to perpetuate the evils from which the European ideal is now suffering. If we accept the common agricultural policy, for instance, it means that we shall not only be supporting it but saving it from the extinction it deserves because that is the bargain which President Pompidou struck before he would agree to negotiate at all. He has also struck another bargain, to which Lord Gladwyn referred in that remarkable article in The Times where he wrote: M. Pompidou got a pledge from the Prime Minister that Britain would support France in the strict application of the unanimity rule as it emerged from the 'Luxembourg compromise' of January, 1966. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] An hon. Member opposite says, "Hear, hear". Perhaps he welcomes the unanimity rule, but my hon. Friends voting with the Government tomorrow do not welcome it. Nor does Lord Gladwyn, because he knows it has produced what Herr Dahrendorf, the European Commissioner for External Affairs, has described as a Europe becoming … ever more bureaucratic and more illiberal", with power passing from the Council of Ministers to the Council of Permanent Representatives and with a European Parliament that is a farce.

Lord Gladwyn admits that if we want the European community to be democratic there is no alternative to the transfer of decision making to a European Parliament. He also admits that this has been specifically ruled out by the Prime Minister's deal with President Pompidou. So I say to my hon. Friends that if they argue that these terms which we shall be asked to vote on tomorrow are acceptable, they are either subscribing to the French concept of a Euro-bloc of loosely knit nation states or they are deliberately deceiving France. If they are deliberately deceiving France, they are also deceiving the British electorate, who have been asked to buy this deal on the pledge that it does not involve giving up national sovereignty.

So we now face the reality—not the slogans, not the posters, not the high ideals and dreams. We face the reality that their European vision has disintegrated and that for us to join in this situation on these terms would only act as a multiplier to Europe's difficulties. So I suggest to my hon. Friends who have always been consistent supporters of the European ideal that our wisest council would be to wait until we can see more clearly what kind of a Europe we are being asked to join.

Hon. Members opposite love to take refuge behind generalities but, as even the Observer said on Sunday, the phrase "entering Europe" is just windy rhetoric. What kind of a Europe are we being asked to join? What does joining Europe involve for us, not only economically but in terms of national sovereignty?

Is it to be just a step to a wider free trade area in which the common agricultural policy and the fussy harmonisations and the bureaucratic interference of Brussels will have no place, or is to be a fully fledged European union? It is only the latter than can give us that common foreign policy and common defence policy without which, according to the Prime Minister, we shall not have that enlargement of British interests which is held out as such an inducement to us. But if it is the latter, we owe it to the British people to tell them the truth.

Of course the present Community presents no difficulty to the present Government, because they approve of the dear food policy and the common agricultural policy; they approve of a value-added tax; they approve of shifting the tax burden from direct to indirect taxation. By going into the Community, this Community in this condition and on these terms, the Government are only fulfilling their natural political destiny; but they are not fulfilling ours.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham told the Government last night in moving terms that they must not advance into Europe with the women and children way out in front. He knows that we have not been given adequate assurances that pensioners and others on fixed incomes will not bear the brunt.

He knows that the majority of pensioners in private pension schemes in this country have no future protection against inflation and that, according to Mr. Ralph Hart, and again I quote the Financial Times, the rise in prices following Britain's entry could halve the value of their pensions in 10 years or less.

We all know that the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry does not want us to go into Europe so as to push up wages by £7 a week, which has been the inducement held out on every poster by the Labour Committee for Europe and published in every trade union journal in the land. At least the right hon. Gentleman has the honesty to acknowledge that. He wants us to go in because, as he told German industrialists at Düsseldorf, he believes that a dose of Common Market competition would hold down wage increases. These are the political realities with which we are faced and by endorsing this deal we shall be endorsing those realities.

My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook said, "The Europe I want to enter is not the Europe of hon. Gentlemen opposite". He has no other choice. Tomorrow night we must vote not just as party politicians—

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. William Whitelaw)

So have a free vote.

Mrs. Castle

We must vote as Socialists, because it is the Socialist concept of Europe to which my hon. Friends have told us that they are pledged. If we vote as Socialists, that means voting against the Government.

9.35 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and President of the Board of Trade (Mr. John Davies)

I should like first on my own account, and I am sure on behalf of hon. Members on both sides of the House, to express my sympathy to the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) for what I know must have been a day of some concern.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) on Monday both recalled to me my maiden speech in this House last year. They drew my attention particularly to the fact that at that time I said I had then no sense of mandate for Europe. They did not, perhaps naturally, go on to the rest of what I said. In the rest of my remarks I argued strongly against the suitability of either using a referendum or a special general election as a means of resolving the problem in question. I very firmly opted for the need for hon. Members to have a specially intensive degree of concentration with their constituents during the period running up to this particular event in parliamentary life.

Like other hon. Members, I have tried hard to live up conscientiously to that, and I have sought effectively to consult and talk with my constituents in recent months. Whereas in July 1970 I honestly said that I had no sense of mandate, I must tell the House that today I have a very strong sense of support for doing what I should do tomorrow evening, and that is to go into the Lobby to vote for membership of Europe. Doubts there may still be, but it is my profound conviction—and it is certainly the conviction of the people with whom I have talked—that I should cast my vote as I deem right, and that it is up to this House to reach its conclusion in its habitual way. My consultations have left me in no doubt whatever about what is right.

I asked many thousands of my constituents about this matter. The experience I had of intensive consultations underlined the immense complexity of the issue before us. Time and again the spotlight of public interest has shifted from one central issue to some other no less fundamental: sovereignty; continental defence; the cultural and scientific survival of Europe; the underdeveloped world; the economic consequences for Britain short and long-term; the repercussions on the Commonwealth. The inescapable conclusion was that one way or the other every facet of our future is deeply affected by this decision. For many of us, there must be a sense of awe in taking part in such a great national decision, whichever way we decide.

The debate in this House, to a great deal of which I have listened, mirrors the consultative process in evoking the manifold considerations with which we are all concerned. Speaking as one whose conviction in the need for European integration and Britain's part in it has never wavered from a time long antedating the Treaty of Rome, I feel myself not unnaturally drawn into all the wide ramifications of the great issues involved. I must say to the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn that when she speaks of being rushed into Europe it is a sensation with which in recent times I am not familiar.

Tonight I conceive it to be my task to concentrate upon those which are more directly the field of my own responsibility in Government. My primary concern is with the wealth-creating activities of our national life, and to these I propose to address myself.

Whatever my natural disposition to the Continent of Europe may be—whatever my preferences or my prejudices—I could not responsibly press for European membership if I did not believe that it would add to our national prosperity and improve the wealth-creating capacities of the nation. I am convinced that it will.

My conviction arises from testing what seem to me the critical questions of our prospects as an industrial and trading country against the conditions that membership is likely to present both row and in the future. I suggest that those critical questions can be summarised under five heads. Will our external trading performance be improved? Shall we have better opportunities to use our national resources to the full? Will our traditional innovative and technical skills flourish? Will our major basic industries thrive, especially those for which the State answers as owner? Finally, will our expertise and flair in banking, insurance and other invisible earners have greater scope?

If I can answer these questions positively, the well-being of the country in terms of its prosperity must to better assured in membership than outside, provided only that the costs of membership not accounted for in my analysis are not crippling. My conclusion, not from prejudice but from careful re-appraisal, is undoubtedly positive on every count.

Perhaps more significant still is the fact that, practically without exception, the leaders of our industrial organisations and of our great enterprises are of the same mind. Hon. Members cannot surely fail to be impressed by the extraordinary degree of unanimity with which they have stated their views publicly on these issues. These are, after all, the men and women who are at the sharp end of the economic challenge—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Then who is? They know that they have not only to reach a general conclusion but to live with its consequences under the eyes of their members and shareholders. In the light of this, it is surely impressive that the C.B.I., both in its central and subsidiary councils; the A.B.C.C. as well as its associated chambers of commerce throughout the country; countless trade associations, and innumerable company chairmen have all spoken and written with confidence and assurance of the benefits they foresee in membership.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

The T.U.C.?

Mr. Heffer

Why does the right hon. Gentleman—and, for that matter, his right hon. and hon. Friends—always consider that industry has only one side to it? Is not he aware that the Trades Union Congress, which was neither pro-nor anti-Market, made a close and deep study of this issue and, on the basis of it, came out against entry? Will not the right hon. Gentleman take that into consideration, as well as the views of the C.B.I.?

Mr. Davies

Of course I take that into consideration. I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman should suggest to me, of all people, that I am not conscious of there being two major sides. However, in the end, the judgments of managements are those of the people who have to answer for success or failure. I am sure that that is true.

Nor is it just the big firms. The Smaller Firms Council of the C.B.I. has voted overwhelmingly in favour of entry on the terms negotiated. Indeed, small firms can be expected to benefit just as much as large ones. This has been the experience in the Six.

Mrs. Castle

The right hon. Gentleman justifies his one-sided quotations from managements and his ignoring of the views of the T.U.C. by saying that it is management which carries the consequences of success or failure—

Mr. Davies

I did not say that. I said that management has to answer for the consequences of success or failure.

Mrs. Castle

Very well, management has to answer for the consequences of success or failure. I do not want to misquote the right hon. Gentleman, though my point is not affected. Is he not aware that the whole point of the industrialists' approval of our entry is that, if the Government's judgments about the economic effect on this country are wrong, they cannot suffer because they do not stand or fall by Britain's prosperity since, under the free movement of capital, they fulfil themselves through European prosperity, regardless of what happens here?

Mr. Davies

That is a spurious comment.

I should like now to answer as briefly as possible the critical questions which I posed just now and, in doing so, to answer some of the comments and views which have been expressed in the debate.

First, a word about our trading prospects. There has been some criticism in the debate that the Government have not been prepared to publish a quantitative assessment of the estimated effect on trading movements of the complex realignment of tariffs and the industrial consequences likely to result from membership. I have in mind particularly an intervention on this subject by the hon. Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Clinton Davis). I do not see him here this evening. However, many other hon. Members have spoken about it.

The imponderables are obviously so extensive as to make realistic quantifications an absolute illusion. To try to measure the aggregate and complex effect of trade responses to a progressive elimination of tariffs between ourselves and the Community, a progressive alignment with common external tariffs towards the outside world, the as yet unquantified and unspecified relationship between non-candidate members of E.F.T.A. and the enlarged Community, the uncertain dismantling of Commonwealth preference by the Commonwealth countries themselves, the unknown development in association arrangements between the enlarged Community and third countries, let alone all the other unpredictables arising, for instance, from the recent American measures, and to seek to forecast reasonable quantification amongst this great mass of variables and uncertainties is to pose a problem of forecasting which makes the ultra long-range weather forecast seem like child's play.

Mr. Shore

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Davies

No. I shall carry on.

When one thinks of the myriad influences at work on the terms of trade and the response of individual industries, and individual firms within those industries, clearly precise calculations, or even calculations within a wide bracket, are virtually impossible.

Mr. Shore

May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that, in a speech which he addressed to his own party in the House two or three months ago, he attempted to give just such an assessment—that in his judgment we should do badly, or we should do less well, in the transitional period? Surely he can tell the House whether the results of his studies are that it will be a plus or minus for British trade if we enter the Common Market.

Mr. Davies

The right hon. Gentleman is entirely wrong in suggesting that I made any qualification at all in that statement. I did not.

Indeed, in all the criticism which right hon. and hon. Members opposite have made, they seem to forget the judgment of their own White Paper in February of last year. When they were looking at just such an aggregation of uncertain elements in relation to the total overall balance of payments cost they stated that it was far too wide to afford any basis for judgment and positively misleading. They said that in their White Paper and reproach us for taking exactly the same view.

What we do have is the experience of the Six. Since 1958 they have increased their trade between themselves by an average of 16½ per cent. per annum and with the outside world by 9 per cent. per annum. The overall increase of 12 per cent. is just double ours.

What is certain, therefore, in this sphere, is that we shall be exchanging an area of trading preference in which growth has been undeniably slow for one in which growth has been extremely fast. This can only have an advantageous effect. If we add to this that our new area of trading preference is one hat, in terms of its own generation of internal and external trade, has been putting it further and further into the lead in both, then surely we must be harnessing ourselves to what has been and continues to look like being a great success story.

Nor is it convincing to see in our own relatively good performance in our trade with the E.E.C. an argument for not needing to remove the barriers which exist. The record shows that the elimination of those barriers between the E.E.C. countries had an even more stimulating effect on their trade with one another than upon their trade with the rest of the world.

One lesson which has been brought home to all of us since we debated the White Paper in July is the need to be in a position to protect our international trade interests. As a member of the enlarged Community we shall share in the bargaining strength of the world's biggest trading bloc, and have an influential voice in its use. If we remain outside, our power to influence other trading giants, such as the U.S.A. and Japan, will fatally diminish.

I now propose to say something about our use of national resources. This means on the one side our people, and on the other our investment. We are at present experiencing all the bitterness and pain of excessive unemployment, and particularly in certain parts of the country suffering from industrial decline. The general under-use of people from which we are suffering will be remedied by the renewed buoyancy in the economy which we confidently foresee, and this in its turn will be substantially buttressed by the added economic dimension which the Common Market will bring.

But, despite that, we all recognise the need for specific measures to offset the tendency of certain parts of the country to prosper less than the rest. The question has been raised frequently in this debate whether membership will damagingly limit our ability to provide such measures, or will create conditions in which the economic pull of the Com- munity will undermine them. I am clear that neither of those eventualities will occur.

In the first place, the Community, in the preamble to the Treaty of Rome, clearly identifies regional imbalance as being a problem to be overcome. In the second, the Community has made it clear that it sees its rôle as complementing national regional policies—not replacing them. In the third, it has quite recently shown its awareness of the need to discourage competitive bidding up for internationally mobile projects by relatively prosperous areas at the expense of regions—the kind of regions that our development areas are—which have a much more pressing need for such forms of industrial investment.

The "central areas" problem, to which great reference has been made, is a deliberate endeavour to ensure that those areas which realy need a hand are not sacrificed to over-concentration in the more naturally prosperous ones. To all those initiatives we can only give a genuine welcome as contributing towards the attainment of our own objectives in these fields.

Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)

Will the right hon. gentleman clear up one question which was not answered last night? If we join the Community, will it be in the power of the British Government to decide which areas are development areas and which are not, regardless of the Commission or the Council of Ministers in Brussels?

Mr. Davies

I assure the right hon. Gentleman that I am coming to that, and I shall deal with it in my own order, if he does not mind.

The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) asserted that neither the former Government's investment grant incentives nor our tax allowances would survive within the Community rules. I must tell the House that there is nothing whatever in the present provisions of the Community which support that assertion. We consider ourselves free to use what methods we may choose, subject only to such rules as those to which we may assent in the future within the enlarged Community.

The right hon. Member for Battersea, North, the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. George Thomas) and many others maintained that our I.D.C. policy would not survive effectively because if we pressed an industry to site its investment in a development area it would react by deciding to go abroad. The right hon. Member for Battersea, North had some complicated, rather Cassandra-like, things to say about the future disposition of manufacturing investment generally to meet the requirements of the markets. All I can tell him is that his view of the matter, however much canvassed by his friends amongst academics and economists, is sharply in contrast with that of industrialists both here and abroad. They seem very widely to think that membership will materially increase total investment in this country, and that our regional package will have a profound impact upon its siting.

So much has been said about regional policy that I hesitate to add still further to it, but I have so great a part of industrial responsibility in this field that I feel I must answer the points which we were pressed so strongly to answer by, amongst others, the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson), the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West, and the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller). They all fear that we shall find ourselves obliged to include within the so-called "central areas" parts of the country we consider to be in need of special help. If we did so, it could only be because we had assented to that course in the discussions that we shall have with the Commission: if not, nothing prevents us from taking the matter to the Council of Ministers, and in the last resort we cannot be overridden on what we deem to be a basic national interest.

Let me make it absolutely clear that we regard the provision of special assistance to areas such as the present development areas as a matter of vital national importance. Existing member States of the Six have taken a similar view of areas to which they attach particular importance, and the arrangements which they have agreed with the Commission reflect to the full the priorities which they feel are necessary. It is mischievous of hon. Members opposite, and shows their misunderstanding of the operation of the Community, to suggest that we should be unable to continue to give special assistance to those parts of the United Kingdom which we judge to be in need of it. Let me say, too, that we have absolutely no need of any protocol, as suggested by some hon. Members opposite, to safeguard these vital national interests. We rely entirely and effectively on the Community as it is today.

Mr. Heffer


Hon. Members

Not again.

Mr. Heffer

As I come from Merseyside, I am very interested in this aspect. Will the right hon. Gentleman say how the very important points he has made are in line with Article 93 of the Rome Treaty, which says that if member Governments of the Six have policies which are not in line with the Commission they can be brought before the Court of Justice if the Commission has asked them to change their policies and they have not done so? Can the right hon. Gentleman explain the difference between what he has said here and the actual terms of Article 93?

Mr. Davies

I am stating what are the realities of the situation. In relation to Article 93, the Commission can reproach a country for the measures it takes, and that country then enters into consultation with the Commission. If there is disagreement, nothing prevents the country concerned from raising the matter within the Council of Ministers. As I have said. we cannot be overridden on a matter of basic national interest.

Mr. Heffer

Read Article 93.

Mr. Davies

This brings me to the other side of our resource problem. All of us are aware of the relatively low level of industrial investment from which we have suffered over many years, and not just recently. There seems to me to be no doubt—and, as I have said, this view is mirrored by that of management here, on the Continent and in the U.S.A.—that membership is likely sharply to increase that level of investment.

There are good reasons for that. In the first place, the added buoyancy which will be derived from membership in itself will stimulate our own investment. In the second place, in the exchanges of investment that are likely to flow between here and the Continent following membership the strong probability is that the balance of the flow will be inward rather than outward. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because we are already strongly established in the Community in investment and it is undoubtedly less strongly established here. My hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) referred to this point during his interesting speech, and I entirely endorse what he said.

In the third place, there is likely to be a considerable new inflow of American investment to seek the advantages of the enlarged market. Not only my own personal evaluation, for what it is worth, but also the outspoken views of many American industrialists confirm to me their preference for the United Kingdom as the investment location provided that we are members of the Community.

Let me say a further word about investment and its impact upon regional policy. Incoming investment from Europe or from America has often the great advantage that it is not already committed to an existing area within our own country and can be more easily and directly influenced by incentives and persuasion than can home-based investment. The implications of this for regional policy are important.

My third question asked about the future of our innovative and technical skills. The immediate reaction is to wonder how on earth we are to encourage them and profit by them if we find ourselves in the long term outside the Community—

It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.


That at this day's Sitting the Order of the Day relating to the European Communities may be proceeded with, though opposed, until 7 o'clock.—[The Prime Minister.]

Question again proposed.

Mr. Davies

I was referring, not inappropriately, to our innovative and technical skills. The immediate reaction is to wonder how we could encourage them and profit by them if we found ourselves in the long term outside the Common Market. Recent experience in so many fields, particularly in the high technology industries, like aerospace, computers and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave) said yesterday, nuclear energy, merely underlines the indifferent prospects for entirely national-based enterprises. The vital need is to rationalise and concentrate European capacities in these fields and to organise them to meet primarily the requirements of the vast European market.

Of course it can be argued that nothing would prevent us, as non-members, from taking part in that rationalisation and concentration. But do hon. Members seriously believe that such a development is likely, in economic separation from a subcontinent endowed as it is with much the same skills as ourselves, and certainly much greater wealth, but with a progressive cohesion in company law, taxation, patent rights, capital markets and technological exchange arrangements, from all of which we would be excluded? Of course not. The inevitable result would be to put at risk our present highly developed capacities in this field and our whole future potential.

My fourth question referred to our basic industries. Those in the private sector have already spoken out, to a large extent, for themselves—and pretty loud and clear. It would be hard indeed to detect more than a handful of managements who do not believe that their prospects are brighter and more secure in membership than outside.

The same is true of the industries in the public sector whose future would be most affected by membership—namely, coal and steel. In both cases, managements have unreservedly subscribed to the belief that they would enjoy advantages from membership.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)


Mr. Davies

No, I have given way enough. We have to consider the time.

But of course, the Government, as trustee in ownership for the nation, have a special responsibility for the welfare of these industries—

Mr. Skinner

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Davies

No, I will not.

The modifications in practice and control to conform to the E.C.S.C. Treaty for both these industries involve no change in structure for either. Nor do the adaptations to the Treaty invalidate the essential relationship between Government and industries. I should like to say that particularly for the benefit of the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West, who raised such grave doubts about this yesterday.

They do involve substantial changes in pricing practices—I am speaking particularly of steel—but these, which remain to be worked out in detail, allow for greater flexibility in pricing, not less, and both Government and industry have already stated their preference for such greater flexibility anyway.

Finally, there is that whole wide field of work which contributes invisible but for all that extensive and valuable credits to the nation's account. There has not been a great deal of reference to this in this debate. Perhaps that is because no one has much doubt that in membership they will greatly prosper. That is certainly my belief.

The versatility and expertise in these activities spread widely, as they are, throughout the country but with their impressive fulcrum in the City of London, are likely to benefit enormously from membership. The greater freedom of movement of capital, the more intensive cross-frontier investment, the concentration and rationalisation within the high technology industries—all these and many other facets arising from membership are likely to open up new dimensions of success to our invisible earners, with benefit both to the enterprises and to the country.

I have endeavoured firmly to suppress the feelings of emotional involvement which I undoubtedly have about the widening integration of Europe. What I have said reposes upon a careful and objective assessment of the opportunities and risks. However, I cannot restrain myself from commenting on the significance of this week's historic debate and decision. I earnestly hope that, once behind us, all the doubts and uncertainties will give way to a determination to succeed and to make of this gathering identity of Western Europe the force for advancement, for wisdom and for good that this great Continent should rightly be.

10.5 p.m.

Mr. Frederick Mulley (Sheffield, Park)

The House will agree that it is something of an innovation for a Minister to begin an important speech by speaking from the point of view of a constituency Member. On an issue of this kind, that is a good approach, and I propose to say something about my experience in my constituency and the importance of public opinion. I hope that the Secretary of State will acquit me of discourtesy if I do not take up, as I am tempted to do, many of the important points he made because I an aware that many Members desire to speak, although we have just agreed to sit until seven o'clock.

The debate will continue not only tonight but for many months, because unfortunately the economic arguments for and against our membership cannot be subjected to objective proof. It is equally unfortunate that the major problems, especially the consequences of the common agricultural policy, can be quantified with some precision whereas the advantages which should flow from the opportunities created by a larger market cannot. While we must exercise our judgment on such evidence as is available, I believe that at the end of the day it is largely an act of faith that we shall successfully meet the challenge of joining the Common Market, or—and I know of no other possibility—that we shall make a living outside it in increasingly difficult world circumstances.

One needs greater faith to believe that we shall be prosperous outside the Market than that we can succeed within it. We have a very difficult future in economic and political terms because the world is rapidly changing to our disadvantage in competitive terms and in terms of political influence. I am absolutely convinced that neither in economic nor political terms are we any longer masters of our destiny, whether we are in the Market or not. It is a very long time since we could claim such a decisive voice.

I became convinced about 18 years ago, in the early days of the European Coal and Steel Community, that it would be very much to our advantage to participate fully in the developing pattern of European integration. We did not join the Coal and Steel Community. We made a further mistake in the negotiations about the ill-fated European Defence Com- munity. We made the greatest mistake of all by declining to participate in the negotiations and discussions which led to the Treaty of Rome.

I agree with those who say that there is no point in dwelling today on past errors except in so far as they have a direct relevance to our present decision, as they do in the effect they have on the terms of entry. We are all too well aware of these difficulties, especially those presented by the common agricultural policy—higher prices and the contributions we must pay across the exchanges to the detriment of our balance of payments—because these flow in large measure directly from our decision not to become founder members of the Community. Then we changed our mind, but in the meantime General de Gaulle had come to power and for his own reasons he vetoed our application.

The House must understand that if we decline to join now the terms on a future occasion, if there is one, will be more onerous than they are today. This is not because the Six would be any more difficult but because they are bound to evolve their affairs further and the cost of our adjusting to their practices would be that much greater. No one could reasonably expect them to set aside 12 or 13 years of achievement for the benefit of their people merely to suit us.

I was attracted to the idea of a united Europe because it seemed to offer a more secure economic future and would give us more political influence. In the immediate post-war period it seemed clear that the changing balances of power were such that we could no longer sustain the rôle of a world power and that we would impoverish ourselves if we tried. I was also attracted by what was sometimes called the European idea, the concept that Western Europe has a genuine and important rôle to play in world affairs and that collectively we can do very much more than the individual nations of Europe. That point was extremely well developed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart) in his eloquent and moving speech. It is this thinking and idealism, rather more than policies and institutions, that has accounted for the success of the Community, and for that reason it enjoys the wholehearted support of the people of its member countries. Therefore, it is a matter of very great concern to me that public opinion in Britain is hostile or, at best, lukewarm to our approach to Europe.

As the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry evidently did, I have also spent a considerable time during the last months in my constituency discussing these issues. I found a few people who are enthusiastic at the prospect of our entry and some who have admitted that they have reluctantly concluded that it was the best course, but also a great number who are very much opposed to it. I did not seek to have any kind of referendum, but if one were possible I hazard a guess that the number who would not express an opinion would exceed the total of those for and against. It is of very great concern that public opinion is so unenthusiastic towards our approach to Europe. The Government must accept a large measure of responsibility for this, partly because of the way that they presented the case and partly because of their current economic policies.

Mr. John Mendelson

As my right hon. Friend and I both live in the city of Sheffield, I would point out that there is some up-to-date evidence. He must have received, as I have in the last five days, a statement from the Sheffield Telegraph, which is a moderate morning newspaper, that in the summer it held a poll and 71 per cent. were against and 29 per cent. were for entry. Ten days ago it held another one and the result was 80 per cent. against and 20 per cent. for. That is some movement of opinion, is it not?

Mr. Mulley

I am aware of the figure that my hon. Friend quotes. However, I would not place too much importance on a poll of fewer than 2,000 voters in a city of 500,000. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that not only in Sheffield but throughout the country there is great apprehension and lack of public support for the Motion that we have before the House. I think the House should attach great importance to this because if we are not only to join the Community but to play a proper part in it we need in this country a radical change of attitude over the whole range of politics at all levels from the ordinary citizen to Ministers and civil servants. I believe that we can and must take a tough line in pursuit of our national interests within the negotiations and within the Community, but we shall succeed there only if we are convinced that we are committed to the ideals set out in the preamble to the Treaty of Rome.

In view of my own commitment over a very long period to the desirability of our playing a full part in the development of Western Europe, I think the House will understand that for the first time in 21 years I am unable to accept the advice of my party or to join its members in the Lobby tomorrow. It used to be the practice in such circumstances that hon. Members would abstain, but abstention, like many other things, has been devalued in recent years and I think everyone will agree that abstention on a matter of this magnitude is not an attractive proposition.

Failure to vote will certainly be misunderstood and misinterpreted, and I think will incur the displeasure of partisans, inside and outside the House, on both sides of the argument. Nevertheless this is the course that I propose to take and I propose to take it for one quite simple reason. I have already explained the state of opinion in my constituency, as I understand it, of a great number of people who are opposed to the Motion before the House. I hope they will understand why I cannot, as they would wish me, join my party in voting against it. Equally, rightly or wrongly, I do not feel that I am entitled to vote for it on their behalf as well as my own. Accordingly it is my intention not to vote when the Question is put at the end of this debate.

10.19 p.m.

Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) has made clear the action that he will take, and we have to respect him for the decision that he has arrived at.

The last words of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry were to ask the whole House, if we eventually sign the Treaty of Rome and enter the Community, to work hard and helpfully in making the thing work. We have a long way to go yet, but if those in favour of the Motion get their vote—and there are many other votes which they have got to get before we are in—I would expect every Britisher and certainly every British Member of Parliament, once we are in, to use all his efforts, skill and judgment to see that we get the best possible out of it for Britain. So I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend was making an appeal which would be answered in the way one would expect.

But I ask my right hon. Friend whether he, not only on his own behalf but on behalf of all of his colleagues who differ from me, can guarantee that if we do not get in—as I say, there is a long way to go yet—they will work hard and will use their skills to see that we make the best of that situation. I have heard it suggested that if we do not go in, if we do no, take the advice given us by the Government, they will have to throw in the sponge, hand in their mandate, and accept the leadership of the Labour Party in a new Government. There is no need for that. Constitutionally, there is no ground for it. Therefore, as I say, after full and free debate and the judgment which we shall be able to give as individuals, I hope that my right hon. Friend will himself, if such be the position, respond to this appeal to help make a success of a Britain outside E.E.C.

As a negotiator myself in business, over the past nine years, when both sides of the House have wanted to negotiate to enter the Community, I have never been able to understand why they have not had some other negotiations going on alongside. I have never understood why we have not had a little Ottawa Conference or why we have not tried to strengthen our position in E.F.T.A. I put the point to the leader of my party: if you want to get good terms from others, never let them think that they are the only pebbles on the beach; let them see that there are some alternatives. I believe that the great weakness of my party in this matter, and the great weakness of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, is that all along they have given the impression to the people with whom they were negotiating that there is no alternative.

My other dissatisfaction with my right hon. Friends who have been urging us to accept these terms is that they never really make themselves clear. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State noted seven clear questions to be answered tonight. His replies were wordy, stilted, some of them contradictory, and, I must say, some were very much the opposite of my experience in dealing with similar people.

I direct attention not so much to the general talk of dynamism and the emotional appeal which so many people make but to some of the facts which are there to be recognised and on which we can form a judgment. One fact always uppermost in my mind is that at the moment we are a wealthy and influential country, and we have produced living conditions for our people which compare well with those in the rest of the world. I do not accept all the talk about the uplift which the Common Market countries are supposed to have had in comparison with ourselves. I have not seen it in looking about my constituency or in visiting Europe.

I speak here as a business man, a small business man, not a representative of one of the great empires about whom we hear when evidence is produced. Our wealth at this time depends on the way we trade. We do 30 per cent. of our business with imperial preference countries, 16 per cent. with the E.F.T.A. countries, 34 per cent. with the rest of the world—we are a maritime nation with old traditions on which our trade is built—but only 20 or 21 per cent. with the European Economic Community.

I have never known a business man worth his salt who would put 80 per cent. of his established business at risk in the hope that he might improve on the 20 per cent. I have never known it. If the percentage were 45 or 55 per cent., I could accept the argument that, recognising certain trends, it might be wise to take advantage of it; but with the ratio at 80 to 20 per cent., the gap is too wide. It is not on.

My hon. Friends ask: Why should we lose some of the 80 per cent.? It is certain that we shall lose much of our imperial preference trade.

Mr. Tom Boardman (Leicester, South-West)


Sir Harmar Nicholls

I shall not give way.

Hon. Members

Give way.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

No. I usually give way a great deal, but I will not give up the time now.

We shall lose much of our imperial preference trade and part of the trade we have with the E.F.T.A. countries, because it is clear that when they join their business will be taken over by the Community countries.

Mr. Tom Boardman


Sir Harmar Nicholls

To save time and blood pressures, may I make it perfectly clear that because of the promise I have made to the Chair that I shall take the minimum time I shall not give way.

I shall give the reasons why I shall be voting against the advice of my party tomorrow night.

Mr. Tom Boardman


Hon. Members

Give way.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

My hon. Friends are acting like Young Liberals.

The second fact that cannot be denied is that if we join the Community as it is envisaged we are joining a Community which can be clearly defined. It so happens that geography is against us there. The one fact that even my interrupters cannot deny is that we shall be on the perimeter of that new market, and if there is a second lesson I have learned in business it is that if a businessman is to enter a new market he makes certain that his industrial plant and warehouses for distribution are in the centre of that market and not on the perimeter.

Next to the wages ingredient in costs, transport come a very good second. Our being on the perimeter will mean that our industries will find it more difficult to meet the keen competition we shall have to face within the Common Market countries in the way that they should. I am certain that our industries, both large and small, will not sit idly by. I am convinced that a result of joining the Community under the present terms will be that their capital investment over the years to come will be in their European subsidiaries.

More than that, I am convinced that once we are inside the Community American and other international investment will be in Europe and not here, for two reasons. First, international investors will want to get into the centre of their market. Here the timing is against our deciding to join. I do not disagree with the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), who said that the timing of being asked to sign the Treaty of Rome is very important.

I have every reason to believe that the following facts were submitted to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State by an international body. If an American investor were considering where to invest his money in Europe, not taking into account the possibility of our entering the Community, and not taking account of political feelings, prejudices or special relationships such as we have had in the past, he would bear in mind that the present cost of production in this country works out at 67 per cent. of the gross income, which means that he is left with 33 per cent. for development, investment and profit. In the European countries, particularly those in the Community, the production costs range from 61 per cent. to 65 per cent. This means in terms of investment, looking at it as a pure business proposition, that they have 35 to 37 per cent. to get from their profits and future investment as against 33 per cent. existing here. So if we remove from them the advantages of being based here—which are to have markets in imperial preference countries and the special arrangements with E.F.T.A.—and they merely have to make their judgments on return from investment, there is every inducement to them to invest in Europe, and that is precisely what they will do.

At this moment, geography is against us, the existing balances of our trading figures are against us, and timing is against us. It is upon these grounds that I believe that, if it is that we view the situation on the hard facts of business, we should not sign the Treaty of Rome. I believe that we should take full advantage of the base we already have.

I turn to the purely party issues in this House. We shall have a mixed bag in the Lobbies tomorrow night. I shall be voting with hon. Members whom I never expected to join in partnership. My right hon. and hon. Friends supporting the Government will be voting with many people who would not usually fit into their thinking. The big fish they want is the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins). He has made it clear, in the letter he sent to the 101 colleagues who pleaded with him to follow the Whip, that he believes in signing the Treaty of Rome in order that we shall have "International Socialism". Is that why my right hon. Friends want him in their Lobby? The whole of the argument produced by some right hon. and hon. Members opposite in order to excuse their voting with the Government is that they want to get international Socialism. I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to defeat the Motion because I believe that, by staying out and developing the strength we have got and the experience we have gained in the markets that are ours, we shall be able to strengthen British capitalism, and I believe that it is the strengthening of British capitalism which is vital.

I have two minutes left of the promise I made and my final words are to the Government Whips. The Government may be voted down either tomorrow or on the consequential legislation. I hope that they will persuade the Prime Minister and the Government to announce well in advance that this does not mean that they hand over their mandate. I hope that they will explain to the Government that many of the allies they will have in the Lobby tomorrow will be only too eager, on the ground that they think they might bring the Government down, to vote against them later. There is no constitutional reason on this issue for handing over the mandate. It was not in the manifesto. [Interruption.] The Prime Minister in many speeches made it clear that this was not a pledge in the sense that it had to go through merely at the Government's behest. He said that Parliament and people had to be consulted.

On this ground, the Government owe it to the Conservative Party not to repay the loyalty that party workers have shown to them by handing over their mandate if they are defeated on this issue. The Government have every right to urge the House and the country to let them have their way, but if on this issue they do not have their way there is no reason why they should hand over their mandate. If they can make clear in advance that however hon. Members opposite vote it will not bring the Government down, they will be removing much of the opposition that comes from that quarter.

Tomorrow night we shall vote, and I shall have to vote against the Government on this issue and possibly on the consequential legislation. It is possible that the Government will be defeated on one or other of the procedural Motions. I should not like to think that they were so besotted by this piece of policy that they could allow it to overcome their good judgment and to make them forget that Conservative principles and Conservative policy are the basis of Government policy, and should remain so for the next four years.

10.36 p.m.

Mr. Geoffrey Rhodes (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)

I hope that the hon. Member for Peterborough (Sir Harmar Nicholls) will forgive me if I do not comment in detail on what he said, but I should like to direct some pertinent questions to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and I hope that he does not dash off before I have had the chance to do so. [HON. MEMBERS: "He is off."] At any rate, he will have the opportunity to read them in HANSARD tomorrow.

While he is still in earshot, I should like to say that if it is true that the British Government cannot be over-ruled in the Council of Ministers in the drawing up of national and community regional policy as he suggested, there never will be a Community regional policy, because the very concept of a regional policy for the Community presupposes that somebody at some place at some time can stop an individual nation's complete sovereignty over regional planning policy. One cannot have it both ways and national regional planning policies will be restricted by the Community, or there will not be this extra aid which the Community says it will be able to get.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)

indicated dissent.

Mr. Rhodes

It is all very well for the. Foreign Secretary to shake his head, but I got that information from M. Borschette when I interviewed him recently at the headquarters in Brussels. He said that unless national sovereignty were conceded in regional policy, Community policy could not work. That is a simple fact of life.

One of the difficulties about this argument is that everyone tries to develop his own arguments along lines which suit his own prejudices. This has been the basic problem with the statistics of the economic effects. We are told in an act of faith and flurry of misleading statistics that the Community's economic growth in the last ten years having been greater than that of the United Kingdom, ipso facto it was because the countries concerned were members of the E.E.C. That is simply not true.

Many expert economists who have studied this very issue know perfectly well that there are countries within Europe which were not members of the E.E.C. which had a faster rate of development than members of the E.E.C. Even if it were true, it would not follow and could not be proven that if the United Kingdom were to join the Community, we should have the same benefits of growth which supposedly the Six had obtained through being members, simply because the structure of our economy and the nature of our trading relationships with the rest of the world are radically different today from those of the Six when they formed themselves into the Community a decade ago.

Furthermore, the rate of growth in the Community itself may be slowing down. Consequently, when we are going into all the mass of statistics and non-proven arguments, it must be remembered that it is all highly speculative and that even if it were not, there will still be grave economic problems for this country in the short run: so that the economic argument for going in is basically nothing other than an act of faith. I wish that the propagandists would stop trying to blind us with the statistics. They sometimes use figures rather like a drunk uses a lamp post—more for support than for illumination.

I do not claim to be any more objective in my approach than any other hon. Member, but if hon. Members opposite who are chattering away will listen for a moment, I will say that I have never been a campaigner against the Economic Community. In fact, until recently, I was a member of the Labour Committee for Europe, and in 1967 I was sent by the then Prime Minister to the Council of Europe to find out about the Community. I undertook 50 visits to the Community in three years, and I have recently returned from a fortnight's fact-finding mission of my own around the periphery of the Community, during which time I met Ministers in Rome, Brussels and Paris and saw three of the Commissioners in Brussels and ambassadors in Paris and elsewhere. I think it can be said that, whatever else I am. I am reasonably well-informed about current developments in the Community.

For this reason I ought to correct the assertion of the Secretary of State that we could play any way we liked with regional policy. The implication of what he said was that we can do as much and exactly as we like and determine our own central area, that we can continue to conduct our own regional policy in the Community as we wish.

One of my concerns has been the uneven development of living standards. This is causing deep tension throughout the world. In the affluent society, with all the technological revolution that is taking place, all kinds of disruptive disparities are arising. The growing gap between the relative poverty in the southerly parts of the world compared with the great affluence of the northern hemisphere, whether it be in Japan, the Soviet Union, Europe or North America, is the possible flashpoint for a future world conflagration.

I cannot see the integration of the United Kingdom with the E.E.C. making any noticeable contribution to solving that problem. I know all about comparative statistics on overseas aid in Italy and Germany on a per capita measurement.

Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I in all courtesy call your attention to the fact that there are six separate debates now taking place in the Chamber. This is not fair to my hon. Friend who is trying to make a good case.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir R. Grant-Ferris)

I am afraid there is also a debate going on around the Chair. I hope that hon. Members will contain their enthusiasms and that they will be as happy at six o'clock tomorrow morning.

Mr. Rhodes

I would not mind so much if hon. Members were heckling me, but they seem to be heckling one another.

I have seen all the statistics about relative contributions to overseas aid by France and Germany compared with those by the United Kingdom. They still leave me relatively unimpressed in toto that the northern hemisphere countries understand the problems of poorer parts of the world.

There is also a gap in the rate of prosperity within the more prosperous nations themselves between the relatively affluent industrialists and many workers in the new, technologically based industries on the one hand, and the elderly, sick, unemployed and lower-paid service workers and those with large families on the other hand.

I have been increasingly disturbed in the last few years at the way taxation policy has been evolving in the Community. In some nations of the E.E.C. there is considerable tax evasion when levied on factors of production. Many statisticians have calculated that over a third of the income which comes to governments from factors of production in France and Italy is lost through evasion. There has been a persistent swing in the last few years away from such taxes towards consumer taxes on goods and services. These are taxes which consumers cannot avoid.

As a Socialist, I have always believed we should levy taxes according to ability to pay, not according to the necessity to spend. This was why, year after year, I refused to support my own Government on the selective employment tax. For the very same reason, I am thoroughly opposed to the value-added tax. I spent a lot of time in Europe during the period when the V.A.T. was being introduced. I saw the fantastic increase in the prices of certain basic commodities—incidentially, including food stuffs—as a result of the levy. In their most recent developments, E.E.C. fiscal policies have been typically regressive, characteristic of a capitalist system, and Tory in inspiration. I find it disconcerting when some of my right hon. and hon. Friends say that they are anti-V.A.T. and will fight it all the way, but are pro-E.E.C. We cannot have one without the other. Only one nation in the Community, Italy, has held out against the V.A.T. Before long, it will have to toe the line.

The main point of my speech concerns regional policies. Newcastle-upon-Tyne is a working-class community with a heavy Labour following. It returns four hon. Members to this House, only one of whom will be voting for entry into the Community. For that reason, I wish to devote a few words to explaining how the North of England will fare as a result of regional policies evolving in this country and those evolving in the Community.

I came back from my recent fortnight's tour genuinely trying to allay my fears and doubts about Community regional policies. Most of my pro-Market friends have argued—I have used the same arguments myself—that resulting from entry we shall have substantial economic growth, which I believe is non-proven, and, therefore, we shall have a spin-off effect in the regions which will be of great benefit to them.

The Economic Community itself has had a very rapid rate of economic development since it was founded. Because, in general, there are wider regional disparities, especially in France and Italy, than there are in this country, one would have expected a tremendous effort to close the gap at national Government level, since there was no Community regional policy. When I argued in a Parliamentary Labour Party meeting a few weeks ago that the regional gaps were not closing, one of my hon. Friends told me that I was talking a load of nonsense. I thought that that was rather arrogant, and perhaps I might make a few quotations to suggest that I was not altogether wrong in my argument.

I begin with the European Economic Commission's Report on its own history of regional development within the Community. It was written two years ago. On page 143, under the heading "Demographic Aspects", one reads: In the Community as a whole, the lowest rate of population increase was found especially in regions with an economy having a large agricultural element and in regions experiencing an industrial decline. Is that nonsense?

On page 154, one finds: In Italy, Belgium and France… regional concentration is still increasing. The densely populated regions (north-western Italy, the Brussels region and the Paris region) are still growing faster than the national average. Is that nonsense?

On page 175, under the heading, "Economic Growth", it says: In Italy, the area with the strongest economy, namely the north-west, recorded the highest economic growth rate. The south, on the other hand, lagged somewhat behind the national average. Is that nonsense? In the declining old industrial areas of Belgium, Liege, Namur, Hainaut, and Belgian Luxembourg they failed to attain the national average. Mr. Albert Borschette, E.E.C. Commissioner for Regional Policy, in June, 1971, said that a Community regional policy, which should complement national policies, had become urgent because the gap between the rich and the poor areas was growing. Is that nonsense?

On 5th July, the European Communities Press and Information Division said: Economic disparities between the regions are in many cases great and in some cases increasing … Left entirely to itself, industrial centralisation may easily feed on itself … Changes and improvements in the transport network are conferring new privileges on the areas near the new growth points. New industries establish themselves for preference near the big centres of large-scale consumption.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)

What does that prove?

Mr. Rhodes

One of my hon. Friends asks what that proves. It proves that when I said the central pull in the Community had stopped the regional gaps from closing and some of my hon. Friends and the right hon. Gentleman said "Nonsense" they are betraying a high level of intellectual arrogance.

Mr. John Wilkinson (Bradford, West)

Does the hon. Gentleman deny that the disparity between the development areas of the south and the prosperous areas of the north of Italy has diminished by 50 per cent. since the E.E.C. has been in being, whereas the disparity between the development areas and the prosperous areas of the United Kingdom has diminished by only 25 per cent.? Incidentally, Italy is the worst example and the one most quoted by hon. Gentlemen opposite.

Mr. Rhodes

I have just come back from the south of Italy. I did a tour of Sicily, Mezzogiorno and Rome with many of the Development Ministers, so I can answer the hon. Gentleman's question.

First, we cannot compare the South of Italy with the development areas of this country. I am sure that my pro-Market Friends will agree that we cannot compare the industrialisation of a relatively poor agricultural area with a declining industrial region such as that in the North of England, Central Scotland, or, for that matter, the Lille area of France, in statistical terms. The south of Italy has a per capita consumption of approximately half that of north and central Italy. Nearly every politician in Southern Italy uses the same complaint about the gravitation of all their talented offspring towards the flesh pots of the North. We shall be saying the same in ten years about the drift South from Scotland, the North, and other areas.

Amongst those who are talking "nonsense" about this central pull we must presumably also include the Business Editor of the Sunday Times who, 10 days ago, said: There are commercial advantages in being located near the centre of the Market. The epicentre of the E.E.C., once expanded to ten members, and calculated from the size and locations of conurbations of I million people or more, will be on the Franco-Belgian border. Plants located there will have the lowest 'distance costs'—and this includes not just transport costs, but other related things, such as accessibility for executives and salesmen. It so happens that I have just come back from the Franco-Belgian frontier. I was told by my pro-Market Friends that I ought to find out the facts, and I went to find the facts. So far, none of the facts I have given have been answered. I will stay and listen to the answers if there are any.

I went to the port of Dunkirk and saw the massive development of its cargo complex. I have seen the new berth being developed which will take 300,000 deadweight ton tankers. The port manager told me that they had just built a 125,000 tonner. I said that on the Tyne we were launching 250,000 tonners. He said, "Of course, Mr. Rhodes, but we are in the centre of the Community and your big tankers will be using our port, not the port on the Tyne where they are built." I hope that he is wrong. [AN HON. MEMBER: "He is a salesman".] If my hon. Friends compare the relatively poor development of the Port of Tyne with that of Dunkirk they will realise that what I am saying is true.

Mr. Ernle Money (Ipswich)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Rhodes

I will give way when I have finished the train of my argument.

A team of economists in Oxford, led by Colin Clark, who is no fool, does not talk "nonsense", and, so far as I know, is not anti-Market, has developed a complex points system of scoring whereby areas of the European Community of Ten were rated according to their regional income and "distance costs", including land and sea transport costs, tariffs, and so on. They found that an area comprising South Belgium, Holland and the adjoining corner of Germany had a premium over the South-East of England of 27 per cent., and that the South East had a premium over Wales and the North of England of 14 per cent.

People who want to say that I talk nonsense are entitled to that political privilege, but if they go on saying, "Nonsense," to Albert Borschette and Colin Clark and the Community's own policy statements either they are intellectually arrogant or they know that they are wrong and are not prepared to listen to the truth.

Mr. Money

In the light of his visit to Belgium and his mention of the situation in the Walloon belt, has the hon. Gentleman borne in mind the tremendous recrudescence of Antwerp and those areas which are closer to my consituency than Manchester, the fact that the port of Felixstowe now does more container traffic than Rotterdam, and what that means for this country?

Mr. Rhodes

That is very interesting. When I was in Paris—[Laughter.] The hon. Member may laugh, but he asked a question and he should have the courtesy to listen to the answer. When I was in Paris the port managers told me that before long there would be one-way traffic through the Channel from east to west. They may be wrong, but when I asked them to name the ports on the United Kingdom mainland which would gain most from the Central pull of the Community and our advance into the Community, they named London, Southampton—[Interruption.] Oh, yes. These were port managers who know their job —not the hon. Member. When I asked about the prospects for Newcastle, they shrugged and said that they did not know—

Mr. Wilfred Proudfoot (Brighouse and Spenborough)

What about Teesside?

Mr. Rhodes

They thought that Teesside would do better than Tyneside, but very badly compared with the Channel ports. I think that they are right and that most people who study the business of port development think that they are right, too.

I am glad that the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has returned, because I was saying that if he believes he is right that we cannot be over-ridden by the Council of Ministers of the Commission on regional policy, he wants to talk to Albert Borschette, who will tell him that there will never be a regional policy at Community level if that is the case.

There will be a need after entry to step up rather than reduce our regional aid programmes, and I ask myself what the reaction of the Conservative Government will be to this challenge. I am afraid that because the overwhelming representation from our regions is not of their party they have very little to lose. Because of the very competitive character, based on free enterprise, of the Community, decisions will be taken in short-term national interests which will either stop a hard stick policy over I.D.Cs., because multi-nationals will move out altogether if we are too tough with them, or cause a trimming back in the carrot technique and a concentration on infrastructure. In Rome, Ministers told me that infrastructure development was no solution to regional imbalances.

We have seen the writing on the wall. The Government have already approved plans for a four to five million growth in population in the South-East in the next generation. The G.L.C. and others have massive plans for office development in the London area. There is a tendency towards relaxation of I.D.C. policy because, if they are too tough, in the long run, they may damage us in Europe. We know that R.E.P. is being phased out. The Chancellor of the Duchy asked me the other day what I was bleating about, since the North Sea would become a great European lake and that this would help our Northern ports. I retorted that if he believed that he was suffering from the mad hallucinations of a drunken sailor. All the evidence is that the pull is towards the centre, and it will need vigorous regional policies to reverse the trend.

It is not that what is happening in Europe is not happening here. It is simply that by entering the Community the process will be accelerated. If I thought that the Commissioners and the Council of Ministers could reverse this trend, I would modify my views about entry. But since I have no faith in a Tory Government and the free enterprise capitalist system to carry out the policies which will reverse the natural pull towards the centre of the Community, I cannot and will not go in the Government Lobby tomorrow night.

11.0 p.m.

Sir George Sinclair (Dorking)

I was fascinated by the way in which the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Rhodes) conjured up fears about the patterns of port development in Europe. I do not believe that what he said will happen. Our regional policy within an enlarged Community can be effective; our Government have the will to make it effective and this will greatly affect port development, whether the present Government or any other Government are in power.

Some remarkable speeches have been made in the debate. This issue has drawn out people's full experience and has brought them to a judgment: they have risen to the level of this great issue. I have waited for 42 hours to be called to speak, and it has been fascinating to me to hear how much experience and hard work have gone in to the 10 to 30 minutes which back-bench Members have allocated to themselves.

Most of us have been discussing this issue with our constituents. I have found, and I believe many of my colleagues on both sides of the argument have found, that, in spite of the public discussion and the coverage by the mass media, there is still widespread misunderstanding of the basic issues. There is a general fear of great change and a particular fear that, even if the long-term economic benefits of entry are arguable, the short-term cost would be greater than the country and individuals could afford.

There is still lurking about some distrust and even dislike of foreigners. These fears are the core of the opposition in the country to our entry to Europe.

Similar fears worried the members of the Six while they were making their Community. They were worried about preserving their sovereignty, their separate identities, their culture and languages. They were worried about influxes of hordes of foreign workers to take their jobs and massive imports of goods at prices they could not match. But, as the Six have learned over recent years to work together to common advantage, these fears have largely disappeared. They have proved to be groundless. They do not feel that they have lost out over sovereignty. They do not feel that they have lost their identities. They do feel that they have gained greatly in prosperity.

I expect confidently that when we join the enlarged E.E.C.—as the vast majority of the British people have already accepted that we shall do—the fears that today underlie opposition to our entry will gradually be dissolved. There have, indeed, been many worries that have made people in Britain doubt the wisdom of our going in. I shall mention some of them because it is our responsibility to examine the fears our constituents have put before us.

Sovereignty was and remains a major worry. But for many of us, including many of my constituents, this worry has been somewhat relieved by the important understanding that has emerged among the Six that if any issue was regarded by any member government as of vital national interest, the decision on that issue would need to be unanimous; thus no country's vital interest would be overlaid by a majority vote. Stemming from Luxembourg in 1967, this agreement, as the House knows, was highlighted at a recent meeting between my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and President Pompidou. But in effect, it is merely a confirmation of the practice that members of the Six had, by experience, worked out and found to be the best method of adjusting their differences.

This safeguard for individual sovereignties and separate national identities is helping to build confidence and trust between the members of the Six. This will be a slow process, and the pooling of sovereignty is bound to be a slow process with people proud of their history and wanting to learn slowly to work together. This safeguard is of basic importance for us in Britain.

A second problem was how to safeguard Commonwealth interests. For many of my constituents, and for me personally, this was also a major issue. Before I entered Parliament, most of my working life was spent in Africa. My wife was half Australian. Most of my immediate family spent the greater part of their lives working in India and Africa, and most of my cousins are Canadians.

But the most important of my worries for the Commonwealth have been removed. At a time when we are entering the Community, I am glad that the Government have shown their deep concern for our most distant Commonwealth partners, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore, by joining with them in a defence agreement for the Far East.

The Six have already decided to give generalised tariff preferences to developing countries. When we are inside—this is important—we shall need to ensure that the quotas, too, are generous. The Six have also offered associate membership to many developing countries, including many of our Commonwealth partners in Africa, and now, by negotiation, we have got favourable deals for the Commonwealth—old and new. This is the view also of the Director General of the Commonwealth Secretariat. Many individual Commonwealth countries have also agreed that these arrangements are in their favour. I congratulate both the Six and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on their joint and historic achievement.

A Britain that is economically weak cannot be of much help to the Commonwealth as a market or a source of capital. If, as I expect, we gain strength by joining the E.E.C., we shall, with our partners in the Community, be in a much better position to help.

Apart from sovereignty and the Commonwealth, another widespread worry has been that entry will bring a sharp rise in the cost of living which will overwhelm those on small fixed incomes. All of us who have been about in our constituencies during recent weeks know how deep this worry is and how widely shared it is, even by those who are not in the same circumstances. The Government have given some far-reaching assurances that they will safeguard the interests of many of those on pensions and small fixed incomes. The Secretary of State for Social Services said in this debate last week that he was examining how best to protect those who are not already covered by the proposed measures. This is a responsibility which the Government must discharge. We must protect these groups of our fellow citizens while we are dealing with the changes in incomes and prices that our entry will bring.

But for me, the most worrying of all our current difficulties is the high rate of unemployment in Britain. As one who learned, in the early 1930s and later from the Jarrow hunger marchers, of the terrible impact of continuing unemployment on family life, I regard this as a major issue. I welcome the strong and widespread measures being taken by the Government to reverse this trend. In common humanity, let us pray that they succeed.

But I agree with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment, who spoke on Monday, that our entry into Europe will give us opportunities to expand our industries and provide more jobs. In Europe unemployment, except in a small part of Italy, as hon. Members have already mentioned, is no longer a problem. The Six are having to recruit workers from outside—3 million Yugoslavs within the E.E.C., and now active recruitment from Greece and Turkey because all the local reserves have been sopped up. But the 64 dollar question is what use we make of these opportunities in the largest home market in the world. If there is a recession in world trade, we shall—again I agree with my right hon. Friend—be better able within the Community to reduce our unemployment than we should be if we remained outside.

One special problem not yet resolved is how best to protect our fisheries if we enter the Community. My constituency is hardly involved, but I speak of this because, at my home in Cornwall, I live among fishermen. I welcome the assurances given by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, but he will need to secure firmer safeguards if they are to be effective. In fishing we lead Europe both in our catches and in our measures of conservation, and many depend on this work. This is one of the industries in which the Community will do well to change its policy, to the common long-term advantage of our fishermen and their own. They have said that they will change it. I hope we shall be able to help them in this decision.

So much for some of the doubts and worries that I have shared with my constituents. On the positive side, what kind of Britain and Europe do I want to see for my children and, I hope, for my grand-children?—for this is what the debate is really about. Certainly Britain in an enlarged Community. Certainly a Community strong enough, in close alliance with the United States, to secure the defence of its own peoples; a Community at peace within and actively seeking peace with its powerful neighbour, the Soviet Union. Certainly a community of nations which will gradually grow together in trust and understanding, pooling only those decisions that are essential for the common advantage; a community which will provide for its own different peoples at home better standards of living and, outside, increasing world trade and more help for the developing countries. We shall, I believe, have much to give to such an enlarged Community. Equally, we shall, I suspect, have much to learn from their experience.

Although that is what I should hope to see emerge, I recognise many external hazards which might hinder the development of such a Community. There are wars being fought and threatened. The United States, on which our defence depends, is beset by serious financial difficulties and serious external and internal problems and needs to reduce its defence commitment in Europe. There is a world monetary crisis. There is a threat of a recession in world trade, and the United States is facing demands for a retreat into protectionism. There is disillusion in many industrial countries over the usefulness of help given to the developing countries.

But, for me, these external hazards are arguments in favour of our joining the Community and, with other members, taking a full part in its efforts to meet these threats to peace and prosperity.

As a first duty, members of the Community will, in my view, need, on the basis of their industrial strength, to take a greater part in the defence burden, especially in conventional forces, which the United States has carried for far too long. In the meantime, with the support of the Community, Western Germany is making a major contribution to a detente with Russia, while the United States is making a separate effort. So much for the fears conjured up by some of the opponents of Europe, saying that a major obstacle to a detente is Germany.

The E.E.C., by lowering its external tariff barriers at a time when there is a threat that others will raise theirs, has made a promising contribution to freeing world trade. Certainly, the E.E.C., through its members, singly and collectively, is making a major contribution to helping the developing countries, as my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) showed so well in his eloquent speech. But, when we are in, we shall need to look carefully at the terms of this help and, in particular, ensure that trade with these countries is not unreasonably restrained by quotas.

What of Britain herself? It has been said again and again in the debate that there will be wider opportunities open to us once we are part of the largest home market in the world. I do not doubt it. But there will be risks also as we remove the protection of our own tariff barriers.

To my mind, what must be repeatedly stressed is that we shall not, just by going into an enlarged Community, automatically solve a single one of our major economic problems. This will still depend on our own efforts, on how we use our skills and experience, and how management and labour together are able to improve our competitive abilities. A great deal will depend on how far our Government succeed in providing incentives within our economy and drawing out the great but too often latent capacities of our people.

Like most right hon. and hon. Members I believe deeply in our own people and in our capacity to build at home an open, tolerant and compassionate society with rising standards of living. By entering the Community, we shall, I believe, increase our strength and influence. We have it in us to do well for Britain in Europe, to do well for Europe itself, to do well for our Commonwealth partners and other developing countries, and, above all, to do well for world peace. I shall be voting for Britain's entry.

11.19 p.m.

Mr. Leo Abse (Pontypool)

When my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn), speaking from our Front Bench, emphasised the enormous gap between public opinion and the House, no one, whether an anti-Marketeer or a pro-Market man, could gainsay that that gulf exists. I thought that there had never been a more determined demolition speech in the House of the whole rôole of democratic leadership. Surely never before has such an enthusiastic plea for the end of democratic leadership been used as a bid to become Deputy Leader of our party. However, whatever may be the explanation for that gap, it is one that we are bound to examine, and it is bound to trouble us.

I am not afraid of holding what is a minority opinion within the community. It is a customary position for me at the beginning of any campaign with which I have been identified. I do not believe that it is necessary for us always to act as a seismograph, merely registering passively outside opinions. Indeed, nothing that I have been able to do since I have been in the House would have been gained if I did not take a contrary view.

But whenever the House has been generous enough to accept a minority view I have urged, I have always been aware that already there was a tide of opinion flowing towards the view which the House was accepting. The campaign to educate and mature opinion in the country and bring to the surface new insights has always led to a movement towards the view adopted by the majority of the House.

That is not the position today. It cannot be gainsaid that public opinion is ebbing away and is not coming with us. It is a serious matter, and we are entitled to ask why that is happening. I do not doubt that one of the reasons is that the community has been fed on illusions. The narcissism of all of us politicians, the manic dispositions of our parties, have conspired to mask the reduction in Britain's rôle.

The Dutch, like ourselves, had open seas and they had an empire. But immediately we go to Brussels and the Commission we are struck by the European spirit there, particularly amongst the Dutch. How can they take such a different attitude from ours? One of the reasons is that the Dutch knew that their empire had come to an end. They lost a war, and then they knew that they had to assume a new rôle in Europe.

But under Attlee's Administration we transformed our empire into a Commonwealth. As a result we brought to our nation perhaps an excess of solace. A public obeisance to our changing position was adopted by all the political parties, but there was a stubborn retention of the inner fantasy that still the sun never set upon our empire. The Prime Minister, with his east of Suez policy, was matched by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, with his daydream that our frontier was on the Himalayas. So, together, we all failed to adjust to reality.

Now the moment of truth has come. Unfortunately, it is too painful to be endured—understandably, by many outside the House, but, less pardonably, by too many in the House. Some may have stood on their heads cynically and some have yielded under party pressures which bear especially hard upon the family man living on a derisory salary and unfortunately lacking financial independence. But not a few have debauched themselves by self-administered opiates which gained them the delusions of the grandeur of a Britain with which, with rare conceit—and none of us lack that—they identified. Now we are having an ugly chauvinism which distorts all arguments. Every fact is selected to the effect that alone Britain is great but in the Community is nothing. An eager public, proferred such fantasies by men of great rhetorical skill, applaud these false soothsayers and turn savagely on the realists who would take away their sweet dreams. The major fault for this unhappy situation of public opinion being flung overwhelmingly against the majority in this House does not lie upon those who, lacking maturity to enter into new relationships, invite us to regress into joyless masturbatory isolation. Responsibility lies on this Government. Of that there is no doubt. No post-war administration has so brutally put its ideology before the national interest as this Tory Government.

Aware, as the Government were, that the issue of our entry into Europe was an historic one likely to affect the lives of our children and grandchildren, they have nevertheless refused to abate their provocative policies. There was an overwhelming need to have a calm electorate able to assess the merits and demerits of entry. Instead, in the 15 months since the election, during the period in any Parliament when it is easiest to avoid inflaming party strife, this swashbuckling Government have activated the maximum degree of anger and anxiety among the whole community.

At this historic moment when conciliatory policies were needed, when an electoral victory should have been used judiciously and generously, they could not resist the temptations of power and, yielding to them, they have pursued policies and irrelevant legislation which has left the nation divided and distrustful.

An Hon. Member

You are voting for them.

Mr. Abse

I shall come to that and to my hon. Friends. Now we have a fevered nation, bewildered above everything else by a frightening unemployment problem which evokes in Wales all the memories of the dreadful 'twenties and' thirties. In my constituency, now threatened by 10 per cent. unemployment, the view undoubtedly begins to be formed that this unemployment has been deliberately created to damp down wage claims and to tame trade unionists. The very style and boasts of some of the Cabinet has fed these beliefs, and so it comes about that it is a sullen nation, mistrustful of the Common Market precisely because those in the Tory Government who urge it are themselves mistrusted.

So it comes about that we do not have a debate concerning how we can democratise this European Community. We should have had from my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East, with his great concern about participation in the Community, something about how we may raise standards of life and how we can ward off the anomie and alienation which is endured by modern western man; instead we are having yet another debate in which we seek to persuade our reluctant constituents of the merits of the principle of entry.

We should have been able to use this debate to insist upon the democratisation of the institutions of the European Community. I find the Brussels bureaucrats—I know not why we use the word pejoratively; bureaucrats assist us in this country as they assist Europe—often to be men of high quality and great dedication, keenly aware of their isolation, and they themselves are yearning for the greater involvement of the man in every European street in the affairs of the Commission. I believe that the peculiar British genius to create and foster democratic institutions means that this country has a special contribution to make in shaping new institutional forms and new institutional practices which will feed into the Commission the views and aspirations of the people of Europe.

The British social democratic movement will betray its destiny if it sulks its way through the next few years instead of using the occasion to obtain greater accountability from European civil servants. Do not my hon. Friends realise that Gaullism is dead, and that the result will be not only to bring Britain into Europe but to bring the possibility of a true European spirit into Brussels? With the rigid nationalistic stranglehold of de Gaulle on the European Community ended, the institutions of the E.E.C. are revealed as inchoate.

I do not complain, as have my right hon. Friends on the Opposition Front Bench have, that regional policies are not defined in the Community—that the "T's" are not crossed and the "I's" not dotted. I welcome it. I welcome the fact that we are going into an institution where undoubtedly the practices are, surprisingly and fortunately, unformed, because an imaginative Socialist movement, finding a natural resonance with this new international spirit, should be hammering out techniques by which participation in government should become the right of every citizen of the new Europe. It would be a far more profitable exercise than the self-indulgence of a miserable, hairsplitting debate on the terms of entry, punctuated by some squalid heresy hunting of those who persist in being men and not weathercocks.

I, too, because of this, must use the occasion—because the opportunity has been lost to speak of these bigger issues—to speak to my constituents through the House and to my constituency party. Not surprisingly, the majority of my constituency party provoked by Tory misconduct, profoundly fear entry into Europe under a Tory Government. I tell them that Governments come and go, and that certainly this Tory Government's mismanagement will ensure their early demise. But the opportunity to enter Europe may never come again, and to refuse—because of this temporary ramshackle Government—to go into Europe now, even though it will bring great benefits and few disadvantages to Wales, would be a supremely foolish attempt to cut off a nose to spite a face.

I have told the workers in my constituency—and through this House I tell them again—that although the Common Market is no panacea for our economic problems, entry gives my miners, steelworkers, car component workers and aviation workers, like my man-made fibre workers, far greater certainty of job security than will occur if we stay out. I believe that an attempt to stand alone brings with it overwhelming dangers that this country will be burdened with long-term chronic unemployment. All of us know from the grim historical record that when unemployment strikes this country those who are most likely to suffer are those who live in the valley townships of Wales. I want my constituents to know that my prime reason for voting for the principle of entry into the Common Market is that I believe that it will stave off the hardships that otherwise will, in the short or long run, be likely to come to the families of my valley.

I have no intention of helping to cut the economic throat of my constituency. Nowhere, for example, are the advantages of entry more clearly shown than for our miners. They have suffered enough from the ill-considered run-down of pits. If there is no assured and expanding market for coal, instead of having increased bargaining power to demand the higher wages which they certainly deserve they will have unemployment without the opportunity of alternative work.

Already coal stocks are increasing dangerously. A total of 29 million tons are in stock—1.5 million tons more than a year ago. Meantime more and more opencast mining operations employing wandering Irish labour are becoming a direct threat to deep-mined coal. Forty-three sites are already being worked and, on the edge of my constituency, my miners can see it is intended to have a vast new opencast operation near the mountains at Blaenavon.

I do not want my miners to live always in the fear that their jobs will disappear. If we enter the Common Market with restrictions and quotas removed we can begin to threaten the 25 million to 30 million tons of coal, most of it from the U.S.A. and some from Poland, which the Six are importing.

I find nothing more sickening in the whole of this Common Market debate than the crocodile tears wept by some miners' leaders, including those who spoke at the Labour Party conference, prompted by odd, bizarre political motivations, who, although recognising the advantages of entry to our miners, weep over the possible results on miners in the United States or behind the Iron Curtain. Wherever their loyalties may lie, belonging to a mining constiuency as I do, mine belong to the miners in Blaenavon. Hafodrynes and the South Wales coalfield.

Nor can we doubt the valuation of the consequences of entry to the steel industry made by the management and those people or organisations with specialised knowledge of and commitment to the industry. My constituency owes a special debt to Lord Melchett and his management. Without their aid I do not doubt the stainless steel works we have at Panteg would not only never have been developed but would by now have been hived off and undoubtedly cannibalised by Sheffield.

My Panteg workers, like other steel workers, including those working in Llanwern, will take heed of the opinion of Lord Melchett's team, shared by the steel union which voted at the Labour Party conference for entry, that they look forward with confidence to the advantages they can gain inside Europe.

With a Government like this, clearly reluctant to invest the capital needed for our publicly-owned steel industry, with a trade war stepped up as the United States attempts with surcharges and revaluations of currency to make us and Europe pay for their Vietnam follies and their unproductive megalomania) space programme, the threat to Japanese steel, thwarted by American protection from finding its traditional outlets, will be an increasing risk to the jobs of my steel workers. Only if we join the European Steel Community will we have the base to enable us to attempt to ward off the threat of Japanese steel to our third world markets.

My car component workers at Girlings know their work and rate of wages depend upon the success of the car and commercial vehicle industry in increasing their exports. Every large car manufacturer in Britain, from Lord Stokes, of British Leyland, to the management of Ford's at Swansea, wants to enter Europe. With a market six times bigger than our own home market and with as yet, as we know when we drive on the continent, only one European in seven owning a car, the opportunities are enormous. If we do not take them, the work and wages of my Girling workers can languish.

This is not theory. It is fact in my constituency. Already, the fact is that on a previous occasion when we failed to enter Europe a Girling factory intended to expand in my constituency opened on the continent, just as the failure to enter meant that the man-made fibre industry that could have been expanded in Pontypool went across into Germany.

It is, of course, not only because the balance of economic advantage lies in my constituency heavily in favour of the Community that I want to enter. It is because I continue to yearn for the ideal set before us and learned by me more than 40 years ago as a boy. It is the ideal set by Keir Hardie of a United States of Europe. I want to see borders blurred, a mixing of nations, an ending to the infantile chauvinism which has already precipitated two terrible world wars. I do not fear, as some of my colleagues do, for the identity of the Welsh people. If they have survived the English for so many centuries, they have nothing to fear from mere Frenchmen or mere Germans. I want to see a Europe formed to which the Welsh will be able to contribute their distinct brand of radical socialism.

Every hon. Member I have heard so far who has said that he will vote for Europe has begun his speech with a proem or ended with a peroration which said that he has been here for ten, or 20 or 30 years and has never before voted against the Whip. That is not something I can claim. I have always been with the heretics. Why? I have been with them on the issue of Vietnam and on the issue of defence. I have been with them because fundamentally what was intolerable was that our Labour Government were being forced, because of their dependence upon America, to abdicate their sovereignty. I do not want this nation to be a vassal State. I want it to be able to participate in a Europe where is voice will be heard and where the destiny of this nation will be shaped by us together with our European comrades. It is for all these reasons that I shall be voting for Europe, against the Tories, towards the Socialist realisation of the workers of all lands to unite.

11.44 p.m.

Mr. Peter Fry (Wellingborough)

It is quite impossible to follow the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse). I am convinced that when he enters Europe he will be recognised not only for his eloquence but by his usual sartorial elegance as well.

People in the country at large have over the last few years had a rather low opinion of politicians. Some people have quoted the fact that a majority of our people are against entry into Europe. That an even larger majority feel that we shall go in any way regardless of what they think rather underlines that fact. I would hope that after this great debate the opinion of the people of politicians will rise. It is ironic, for example, that some of those who have commented about Members of Parliament being lobby fodder are now demanding that their own Members do exactly what they are told and not vote as they individually think. I reject this view utterly. I believe that any form of unfair pressure from whatever quarter on any Member, whatever his view, must be seen not to succeed, otherwise our status as individual Members will be reduced and parliamentary democracy itself will be in danger.

I want to make it clear that in my case I shall be voting against the wishes of my constituency executive. It accepted my decision with sorrow but with understanding. I hope that just as it respects my views it will accept this tribute I pay to it for its fair mindedness. I believe that this is an issue on which each Member can only make up his own mind. I must admit that making up my mind was a long and wearying process and that for the first time in my life I lost sleep about a political issue. But I finally decided, and without that great degree of emotion which many other hon. Members seem to have on this issue, that I should vote against entry at this moment.

I have had no sudden conversion on the road to Damascus or on the road to office, but I believe that it is up to me this evening to explain to my constituents exactly why I shall be going into the Lobby tomorrow night. I take four factors which have helped me to make up my mind—principle, my country, my constituency, my party.

I have always seen that it would be exceptionally difficult to take the country into the E.E.C. if the majority of the people were against doing so. In the 1970 General Election, my own interpretation of my party's attitude was that I should not have to vote for entry against the wishes of the people. I appreciate that others on this side of the House interpreted what we said in a rather different way. All I can say is that I did not. Having said that I would not vote against the people's wishes, I do not feel as a matter of principle that I should go against that statement tomorrow night.

However, I must say that I think that parliamentary democracy has been given a great boost by allowing a free vote on the Government side. I shall not go into the reasons why we are to have it, for I do not think that that matters in the long run; the fact is that we are to have it, and I think that the country at large is grateful. It is a matter of regret to me that the Opposition could not do the same.

I believe that on a free vote of the House as a whole a rather puzzled and worried nation would have accepted the verdict that will be recorded tomorrow night. I believe that party politics will only be more despised when it is recognised generally that it is still the policy of all political parties in principle to go into the E.E.C. That is certainly not what the majority of the electorate believes to be the policy of the Labour Party.

I have no doubt that if tomorrow night the vote is "Yes", the real choice for the future is not whether we go in, but merely whether we go in under a Conservative or Labour Government. Therefore, for me tomorrow night's decision is a matter of principle, the time when everyone has to stand up and be counted.

From my country's point of view, I considered the economic issue. For me the economic case is simply not proven. Indeed, it cannot be, as we have heard over and over again during these debates. Some vague and emotive phrases have been used, such as "economies of scale", "greater competition", phrases supposed to give us inspiration to go in. Economies of scale mean large units and large units do not always make for greater competition. I read with interest a pamphlet written by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South-West (Mr. Tom Boardman). I want to discuss not the details but merely the title. He called it "Supermarket". It was not very promising for the future of many small businesses in view of what supermarkets have done to the retail trade in this country.

It is interesting to note there have been no official up to date figures supplied by Her Majesty's Government on the same basis as those they prepared in July last year when they first took up negotiations after the General Election. It was estimated then that by 1977, taking the new bases of contribution of 1 per cent. of V.A.T., the levies and customs duties, the net effect on the balance of payments would be a loss of some £470 million a year. Why has there not been an up to date assessment of those figures on the same basis? Perhaps it could be that either of those figures were right, or perhaps too optimistic. Since that date we have had the effect of the United States surcharge, which has been estimated to cost us another £70 million or so on our balance of payments.

Therefore, to my mind the economic case is pure conjecture. There is no proof of it, and anybody who puts it forward must do so as a matter of faith. I do not object to anybody having that faith, but I have not got it and I believe it is up to the pro-Marketeers to prove that case and to give me that faith.

Turning to the political aspects, I am very concerned, as are some of my constituents, about the future of Ministerial responsibility in this Chamber. It is bad enough at the moment with the proliferation of State boards and corporations to represent one's individual constituent's complaints. Heaven knows, what it will be like when we go into the Common Market—if we do. Is there any likelihood, for example, of a Minister of Agriculture having to resign on a question of principle, as was the case a few years ago? I think not. The bureaucracy in Brussels will be blamed for many things to make life easier, and for this very reason I feel that my constituents will be ill-served when we go into Europe.

The White Paper sets great store on the veto. I would like my hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Sir J. Rodgers) to know—he is not here tonight—that what finally tipped me into voting against entry is the decision by the Council of Europe Committee, of which he took the chair, that Europe should move to majority rule immediately after Britain joined the E.E.C. I ask myself how long will the veto last? What can we use it for, and what cannot we use it for? There is a whole range of questions which have not been answered by Her Majesty's Ministers.

I do not doubt people will say "Do not worry about these things—they can be sorted out after we get inside". I do not feel these fundamental questions can wait to be answered after we get inside. I do not doubt the sincerity and the ability of the present Administration in defending this country's vital interest. But Governments come and Governments go, and I have some doubt about the ability of future Administrations so to preserve this country's vital interests.

The third issue that worries me in the political sphere is that of European defence. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Lieut.-Colonel Colin Mitchell) expressed my sentiments on this matter last night. I believe the idea of Europe standing on its own feet poses more questions than it answers. The one factor likely to lead to a European war is not a Franco German rivalry, and I should be surprised if any hon. Member thought that was a possibility. The real danger is a Germany with a finger on the nuclear trigger, the one thing I do not think the Soviet Union would stand for, certainly not in the foreseeable future.

Therefore, the Government should explain exactly what they mean when they talk about a Europe that is going to defend itself even more. I believe that questions I have raised about Ministerial responsibility, the veto, and defence have all been insufficiently discussed. I believe it is fears about these kind of issues that is the root of much deep opposition among our people to the idea of going into Europe. They want to know how far they will be taken and how much of their sovereignty will go, bearing in mind that any compromise means the loss of some sovereignty. It is not acceptable to me, nor, I believe, to the majority of our people to leave these matters until later, to the wave of an arm, and worry about them when the time comes. Fundamental issues like these affect our future security, and I do not think that we should wait.

I believe also that the Commission itself is one of the prime reasons for the concern of the public about what will happen to us in the future. I should like some undertaking about the extent to which we shall be able to control decisions taken by the Commission.

I want at this point to become a little parochial and to talk about my constituency concerns. Those hon. Members who are familiar with my constituency will know that it is one of the main boot and shoe manufacturing areas of the country. Although the right hon. Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas) has said that Europe will be good for the boot and shoe industry, I have not seen one authoritative report based on long-term planning which agrees with that view.

The only detailed report that I have seen is one which was requested by the Boot and Shoe Manufacturers' Association, which showed that, unless a drastic change took place, the production of walking out shoes—that is, men and women's ordinary shoes—could be reduced by 20 per cent. by 1980 should we go into the Market. That estimate was made up of a combination of factors: the fact that the French and Italians could compete on equal terms not only here but in E.F.T.A. countries; the fact that we should lose preference to E.F.T.A., other countries, and the Commonwealth; and the fact that the common external tariff, which is lower than ours, would allow countries like Spain and Greece to export more to us.

There is a problem in this industry which is common to many others. We hear it said often that one reason why price rises will be kept down in this country is our superior distribution. The converse of that is that the Continental countries have a much more efficient distribution. Therefore, our selling costs on a distributive basis will be higher than those of our friends on the Continent.

Mr. Tom Boardman

Is not the footwear industry in favour of our going into the Market?

Mr. Fry

Individual manufacturers will pooh-pooh the idea. I have no doubt that the chairmen of U.C.S. and Rolls-Royce pooh-poohed any idea that their industries were in difficulty. It cannot be said categorically that every firm will do badly. The point made in all the reports is that some firms will tend to do well and that others will not.

Mr. Boardman

But is not it a fact that the industry, through its association, has said that it is in favour of entry?

Mr. Fry

As is normally the case, the people who sit on the board of the industry's association represent the larger firms. It is the smaller firms which have voiced their doubts.

It was perhaps their concern for their future livelihood which led people in my constituency to take part in a referendum recently. Hon. Members have scoffed about the size of polls. I took no part in this referendum, and I did not try to push it one way or the other. I was amazed to discover that more than 50 per cent. of my constituents voted and that something like 67 or 68 per cent. of those voted an emphatic "No." Perhaps they, like me, agree that they are Europeans but not Continental Europeans. They made a very important distinction.

I turn briefly to discuss my concern about going into Europe as it affects my party. I have heard the E.E.C. described by some as "a neo-fascist organisation". I have no fears in that direction. Mine are exactly the reverse.

I listened with interest to what was said at the Labour Party conference on the question of going into Europe. Over and over again the safe refrain came through: "Let us go into a Socialist Western Europe." I am, therefore, suspicious of a European Parliament in which the largest party will be a Socialist Party and will also contain a considerable Communist Party as well. I also believe that the machinery of the E.E.C. is ideally suited to Socialist beaurocracy.

Mr. Emery

I am sure that my hon. Friend does not want to mislead the House. The majority party in the European Parliament at the moment is not the Socialist Party, nor is there more than one Communist there.

Mr. Fry

Is my hon. Friend trying to tell me that the European Parliament is fully representative? If so, it would justify more than one Communist.

Perhaps the Commission is not Left enough for some hon. Gentlemen opposite, but it is Left enough for me. The whole framework is too remote and lacking in democratic control. Therefore, I unashamedly regard it with the deepest suspicion.

Mr. Idris Owen (Stockport, North)

I find myself in some difficulty, because my hon. Friend is suggesting that by supporting the European Economic Community we shall be supporting European Socialism. I wonder whether he has read the Lambeth, Norwood Constituency Labour Party's resolution at the Labour Party conference: This Conference believes that British entry into the European Economic Community will only serve to strengthen the interests of international big business monopolies and their ability to exploit the European working class. Conference therefore declares its total opposition to entry under any terms, and in particular rejects entry by Britain on the terms negotiated by the Tory Government. It calls upon the National Executive Committee to convene a conference of the European Labour Movements to discuss basic policies towards the construction of a United Socialist States of Europe.

Mr. Fry

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's intervention. Unlike hon. Gentlemen opposite, I would rather accept the opinion of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) than that of the Lambeth, Norwood Constituency Labour Party.

The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. William Rodgers), on the first day of the debate, said that the Community was not laissez-faire. In fact, he took the view that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry might find himself not in accord with the policies of the Community.

Underlying the Community's policies is not what I understand to be Conservative philosophy. There are certain things about which I feel somewhat puzzled.

I find it odd that Government spokesmen should tell us that one of the advantages of going into Europe is that family allowances are much larger than in this country. In my own little way I thought that we on this side of the House were supposed to be gradually doing away with family allowances, not building them up. Yet I am told that is one reason for going in. We seem to be going along an odd path, and the destination seems even stranger.

My opposition to going into the E.E.C. is not based on anti-Conservatism. I believe that my criticisms of the Government's policy are based on good Conservative principles.

I believe that in voting against entry I shall not be going against the interests of my country, my constituency, or my party. Despite the strength of emotion in the country on this issue, I detect a wide feeling that it should be settled one way or another before long.

I do not believe that this is our last chance to go in, because the reason that the French and the Germans want us in will be maintained for a considerable time. Nevertheless, from many points of view, not least the business community, it would be better if the country knew whether we were going in or not.

Whatever the arguments over terms, most people in the country expect the principle of entry to be settled tomorrow night. I hope, therefore, that all hon. Members will vote according to their consciences and not their party loyalty or any personal ambition. I believe that the electorate hope that this will be the case and that, once the decision is made, it will be accepted. I fear that it will not be accepted in the House or in the country.

I sincerely hope that the answer tomorrow will be "No". But if it is "Yes", it is essential, in the national interest, that we make the best of it. To go into Europe in a half-hearted way will be courting disaster and fatal to this country's interest.

The talk today of changing treaties took me back to my days reading history, about when this country had the title "Perfidious Albion": it was never trusted by Continental Powers because it was always changing its mind. It took us many years to lose this reputation and we do not want to acquire it again.

If the House decides tomorrow to join the E.E.C., I shall be sorry, but I hope that in that event the future will still my fears and prove me wrong. If that is the case, I shall be glad to have been proved wrong.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. May I, with great respect, put a point of view to the House? We have had two speeches from the back benches of 29 minutes each, some of 24 minutes each and so on. I believe that hon. Members who catch the eye of the Chair should have some regard for the fact that I have the names of 150 hon. Members who still wish to speak. I would make the plea that from now until 7 a.m. hon. Members should be rather unselfish.

12.7 a.m.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)

I shall try to take note of what you have said, Mr. Speaker, and set an example which I hope will be followed by other speakers.

Although we have just heard two rather long speeches, they were both interesting. I was more persuaded by the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Fry), although I disagreed with some of his speech, than I was by the flamboyant oratory of my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse), parts of whose speech seemed to verge on megalomania. For this reason, I found him somewhat unconvincing.

I received a telegram this evening which said: Good luck and congratulations to you and your friends on your courage and integrity. I thought when I read that, "That's me all right." As one who has a long record of being in some trouble with discipline, I am not unused to this sort of tribute. But it ended with another tribute which I have never received before: "From three Tory admirers." This is not an area of the world from which I have had the pleasure of receiving support in the past.

I was also put back a little by the way it started—" To the Rt. Hon. Hugh Jenkins"—and then of course the penny dropped—

Mr. Callaghan

It took a hell of a long time.

Mr. Jenkins

I need hardly add that it had dropped immediately, but I spread it out for the benefit of some of my right hon. Friends who are not quite so quick.

This is not the first time that there has been confusion in this matter. I am sorry that my right hon. Friend is not here so that he could hear another message which I received by post this morning: Congratulations on your decision to vote with our dear Prime Minister on Thursday and help keep the Russians out. There is one aspect of this debate which has not received the attention which it deserves, although it was touched on by the hon. Member for Wellingborough. I refer to the question of the defence implications of the Common Market. One or two things said by hon. Members opposite suggest that among their reasons for going into Europe there is another consideration which occasionally peeps out of the bag. It should be mentioned, because ever since his Godkin lectures at Harvard in 1967 the Prime Minister has been an open advocate of Anglo-French pooling of nuclear weapons in an enlarged Community. Government spokesmen, when pressed in Parliament on this issue, have said that nuclear sharing was not a bargaining factor during the negotiations but that nuclear collaboration following British membership was not ruled out. That is, I think, a fair statement of what has been said, and it fills me with profound disquiet.

The reason for that disquiet is that such a development would be completely against the spirit of the Non-Proliferation Treaty which France, incidentally, has not signed. If following on our entry to the Common Market we propose to go into arrangements with a country which has not signed the Treaty which has maintained the fear of nuclear weapons at a low level, this is an alarming development for us on both sides of the House. None of us will easily put on one side the consciousness that mankind lives in peril. Therefore, we should examine anything which appears to move us in a more perilous direction.

The Secretary of State for Defence let the cat right out of the bag when he said at Sutton Coldfield in June this year: Britain's Common Market military alliance with Europe will be just as successful as her rôle in N.A.T.O. … That suggests that there is in the Government's mind defence considerations which are intended to follow other arrangements with the Market. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said to an audience at Harvard that for over a quarter of a century the Americans had carried too high a share of N.A.T.O.'s costs. An enlarged E.E.C. would enable the European members of N.A.T.O. to relieve the United States and take a larger share of Western defence spending". The proposition that this country should take a larger share of Western defence spending would not be very popular in this country. Perhaps the country suspects that there is something in the background. This may be one of the reasons that the British people, with that well known common sense which we always attribute to them when they say things with which we agree, are saying that they do not want this country to go into the Common Market.

I turn to another subject, which has not been referred to hitherto in the debate and which ought to be mentioned. This is a brief examination of considerations which are not the substance of the debate but, since the arguments for and against have been so widely pressed, I want to examine the reasons why we make up our minds as we do and what will happen as a result of those decisions.

I recall travelling to the European Coal and Steel Community in 1950 to see it at its beginning. I was a Labour candidate at the time. The European Movement has been pouring out money for years and years and I made this trip at their expense.

I say in passing that considering the money expended, the results suggest that public relations and advertising are not quite so persuasive as some people argue. For the money poured out, the net result is a public opinion more hostile to the idea than it was years ago. One of my companions on this trip was my hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin (Mrs. Shirley Williams). We saw the Community at its inception. We travelled to Paris and Luxembourg. I thought immediately, and she agreed, that this was a proposition that would get off the ground. I came to the conclusion that we should not under any circumstances associate ourselves with it and my hon. Friend decided almost straight away that we should.

The consistent attitude we have both adopted since, and the consistency of the attitudes of hon. Members on both sides of the House, has led me to the conclusion that it is those who are primarily concerned with means who want us in and those primarily concerned with ends who want to stay out. This seems to be the touchstone which one can put to opinion forming on this matter.

Fascination with institutions is the death of socialism. I commend that idea to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley). One recalls Herbert Morrison, who began as a Socialist and finished as a Parliamentarian. One of the early Europeans, R. W. G. Mackay, who was a Member of Parliament for Reading, a very Left-wing Socialist and a good friend of mine, became so merged into a passionate concern for a European federation that in the end one thought that it was any sort of federation. There are still others, alive and in the party, who have fallen hook, line and sinker for the fascination of a new and larger community into which nationalism can merge. They have not asked themselves fully what sort of community we are proposing to join; rather, perhaps, they have had doubts and have said to themselves, "Let us join it, and perhaps afterwards we can mould it into a more Socialist shape."

This is the 64 thousand dollar question. Can one do that? Can we join this organisation, which is undoubtedly dedicated to the preservation of the acquisitive society—one has only to read the Treaty of Rome to see that—and by our membership transform it into an organisation more socially orientated than it is? It is not possible at present. On the whole, the Community is hostile to social actions and priorities. It tends to worsen the institutions we have, to substitute, for example, the common agricultural policy. It substitutes in other ways things worse than those we have already, such as not having a free health service, as we have—or the remnants of one.

In the very long term it is possible that the Community may evolve into a more socially orientated body, but its present purpose is to preserve the acquisitive society and perhaps to extend its life beyond its natural length. It boils down to this. If one is prepared to settle for welfare capitalism with more capitalism than welfare, one may be able to force oneself into the Lobbies with the Tories on Thursday. But those who do that should. I think, be limited to those who feel that they can do so with the support of their constituency parties. On such a count, would all the fingers of one hand be needed to number them? I see two of my hon. Friends who could do so. There are some, but if hon. Members were to say "We do not arrogate to ourselves the responsibility for all decisions. We rely upon the democratic process to give us some guidance", this is a touchstone that I have found useful in the past and I commend it to my hon. Friends who find themselves in this situation.

I have been alarmed and astonished at the degree to which the Eurofans are out of touch with reality. They must have been reading the political journalists. Almost all of them have been continuously airborne over Europe from the beginning. The most cruel punishment that could be dished out to these journalists would be to force them to read their own rantings over the last year or so. Sheer imagination has been dished up as cold fact. I read David Wood, Nora Beloff and Peter Jenkins for a laugh and I read the cartoons and the women's page for serious comment.

My very good friend the right hon. Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever) has offered to bet six to four that "Jenkins Minor" will be reelected as Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party. I am referring to a chronological minority, of course. I happen to be senior in years to my right hon. Friend. Having no money and not being a betting man, I took him on only in pence, and I hope that my right hon. Friend, whom I greatly esteem, will hold the bet open so that hon. Members opposite who feel like taking him up on this may—[HON. MEMBERS: "Get on with it."] I am still within my time limit. I started speaking at 12.07 and it is now 12.22.

I do not think we shall get in and, what is more, I do not think we ought to go in. If we want to make fundamental changes in the nature of our society, we can only do that by preserving the power on the Floor of this House. If we surrender that power to another authority, we reduce our own power to control our own affairs.

There is one other thing to say. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has the power in his own hands to keep us out. If, when he winds up the debate, he says that should we fail—I do not think we shall—on Thursday, and the vote goes against us, Labour will take us out on returning to office. I believe that France will withdraw the invitation and the Tories will not be able to take us in. Let him say the word and we shall still be saved.

12.24 a.m.

Mr. Robert Boscawen (Wells)

Hearing that last speech, I am sorry that the telegram sent by the three dear Tory ladies was delivered in the wrong place.

I have come more slowly along the road in favour of the Market than many of my colleagues. I admit that it took me some time to overcome the emotional prejudices and anxieties for the stability of our potential partners in the Common Market, and I therefore readily understand, although it depresses me, how many people who have expressed their views in public and in letters to me are motivated still by a distrust and anxiety of what happened in Europe over 30 years ago. But, however long it takes for memories of that sort to fade, it is, I believe, for the House of Commons and our Parliament not to be guided by the distrust, suspicions and hatreds of 30 years ago, for the decision which we take tomorrow will affect the children and grandchildren of this generation for 30 years and more ahead.

I do not take the naive view that all will be wonderful as soon as we enter the Common Market. Entry cannot wipe away overnight the many hard-core persistent problems which are part of the very nature of this country. Whether we are in or out, they will remain for a long time yet.

Neither have I liked the possibility of weakening our attachments and obligations to our distant Commonwealth friends. When we are in the Market, as I believe we shall be, this House will have to watch carefully to ensure that our trade and relations with our Commonwealth friends are not disrupted more than we have been told they are likely to be.

Moreover, I regard the common agricultural policy as an awkward, unwieldy and complex way of bringing about a reasonable livelihood for a reduced number of European farmers. I consider that it has occupied far too much of the time of the Commission itself, and its attention would have been better occupied in advancing some of its other policies.

Nevertheless, in spite of some of these drawbacks, the years have proved that there have been great gains to be had by the nations of the Community doing together certain things better than they could have done them apart. And those gains have been sustained now for at least a decade. As far as I can judge it, the evidence shows that the persistent problems which they face and we face stand as good if not a much better chance of being eroded by our being in a closer trading community rather than plodding on our own way alone.

There is an essential similarity between the main problems facing the European countries and those which we face. They are far more similar than dissimilar. Many hon. Members have referred already to the problem of regional industrial imbalance. We all have before us the awful warning of what happens when we fail to deal with mass unemployment such as there was in the 1930s. We all know what happens when nations seek to hide behind too much protectionism. We all share the same background of collapsed agricultural industries between the wars.

In considering what my attitude should be, I have several times asked myself this question: when we have suffered or are suffering from the same persistent economic problems, is a closer trading involvement more or less likely to bring about a mutual interest in solving those problems? That is the key question. Will the other member States be more interested or less in the growth of the poorer areas of our country which will become part of their home market as well as ours once we are members?

I am convinced that they and the Commission are more likely to do so if they share a direct and mutual aim in building up our regions as areas of high purchasing power as a potential market for their goods, just as we shall do in theirs. They have no interest in the impoverishment of our development areas of Merseyside, Cornwall or South Wales, any more than we have any interest in wages remaining as low as they are in Southern Italy, distorting competition with our goods in this country and harming a factory in my constituency.

Similarly, we share an interest in aiding the developing world to break out of its subsistence-level existence. I have heard with great interest in the debate the view that Europe does not aid the developing countries in the best way, that high growth in Europe is not the best way to aid them. The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) rightly said that providing long-term guaranteed markets for the produce of developing countries is one of the best ways to help them. But that is only part of the story. They also need massive investment in high-cost projects, not necessarily labour-intensive products but ones which give them a high return of income. Unless they get that—and they will get it only from a Europe which is growing in prosperity—they will not come off the floor. Equally important, they will not gain their self-respect, which is of just as much value to them as getting a better standard of living. They need to have their self-respect increased as well as their ability to produce more food and more goods.

All the European countries—especially those of the enlarged Common Market—share a great common interest in reducing the tensions between them and the Soviet European empire. This is where I profoundly disagree with those who believe that the gap between the East and the West will be much harder to bridge and will be made more precarious by our presence in the Community. The more economically powerful Europe becomes without us—and it will become more powerful whether we like it or not—the more dangerous the position becomes, and the more the skill, moderation, restraint and great diplomatic experience of Great Britain will be needed to bring about a continued peace between East and West.

We should look to entry as a positive opportunity to work for a common European approach, however long it takes to achieve and however difficult it is to get there, rather than sit back pessimistically as the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) did at the beginning of the debate, saying that we can never achieve it because of France.

The debate has been between those who, no doubt sincerely, hold the view, because of their nature, that before entering any venture it is right to build up the snags and snares, to inflate the costs to the highest possible figure, to look upon the end of the transitional period from the most pessimistic angle, to argue always that we can have no, or little, influence on our fellow members to magnify the possible disadvantages on every occasion and to play on the natural fears and deep suspicions of the British people and their insular hostility of yesterday.

That is the view taken on one side, and on the other there are those who believe that the British Commonwealth was never built—and the future of the British people can never be built—on aggrandising the difficulties that lie ahead. We cannot achieve any success in this venture if we play up the difficulties all the time—play up the cost, and arouse the fears and suspicions of the British people. That is not the sort of leadership that I want to see from this House of Commons. If we are going into this venture—and I believe that it is right to do so—let us go in accepting the challenge as we always have in the past, and accepting it with the determination to make it a great success. That is why I shall be counted tomorrow amongst those who take the view that we should go in.

12.36 a.m.

Mr. David Marquand (Ashfield)

At various stages in this debate there has been a great deal of discussion about consistency. There have been many criticisms of those who have changed their minds—sometimes with the imputation of bad motives. I want to say at the outset that I am one of those who have changed their minds on this issue; I have changed my mind from being an opponent of British entry to being a strong supporter of it.

The first time that the British Government applied for entry I agreed with the then view of my party. I was very sceptical—indeed, hostile—to the whole enterprise. But the experience of sitting in this House as a back bencher in the last Parliament made me more and more convinced of the necessity of joining the European Community if we were to achieve the objectives for which I joined the Labour Party in the first place.

I want briefly to explain why I came to that view. For me, the whole essence of democratic Socialism is redistribution—the creation of a more egalitarian society—and the breaking down of class barriers. It was proved beyond dispute by the unhappy experience that all my hon. Friends went through—the agonies of conscience that we had to go through again and again in the last Parliament—that in a democracy it is not possible to redistribute from the comfortable majority to the poor minority unless we have a rapid rate of economic growth. Redistribution in a stagnant economy involves making an absolute cut in the living standards of the comfortable majority, and the comfortable majority will not accept it. They will frustrate any attempt to achieve it, one way or another.

It is essential—it is a precondition of an effective Socialist policy in Britain—to have a satisfactory rate of growth. That is why the pro-Marketeers in the Labour Party have laid such emphasis on economic growth. It is not because we are selfish materialists but because we recognise that in the real world this is the only way in which the ideals of our party can be realised effectively.

How can we achieve a more satisfactory rate of economic growth? I am not one of those who believe that entry into the Common Market offers a panacea. Of course it offers no panacea; of course there is a balance of argument; of course many people whom one greatly respects are to be found on the opposite of the argument—and each of us must make his own judgment as best he can. But it seems to me that the weight of argument is strongly in favour of the proposition that entry is more likely than not to give us the opportunity to get a faster rate of growth than we have had in the past decade or two. This is not simply a question of catching growth like catching measles. It is a much more powerful argument than that. If we enter the Common Market we enter a dynamic market in which businesses and firms who fail to invest are penalised and those who carry out investment are rewarded as they have not been in the stagnant economy we have known for the past 10 years in this country. That is the first reason why I believe that entry will bring about greater growth.

I do not want to bore the House with a lot of statistics, but it also seems clear that the member countries of the Common Market have enjoyed a much greater expansion of trade between themselves than they would have done otherwise. Hon. Members may have seen the estimate of Professor Williamson that intra-Community trade has increased 50 per cent. over what it would otherwise have been. Maybe the estimate is wrong. But this is what they believe themselves; this is what the figures suggest; this is what one would expect to happen, and therefore the balance of argument is that it probably did happen.

If we enter the Common Market and have anything like the same sort of experience as those who are already in it, our rate of growth can therefore pick up by more than the balance of payments costs to our economy. That is the crux of the economic argument. Nobody denies that there are balance of payments costs. Of course there are. The point at issue is: Do the balance of payments costs outweight or not outweigh the likely advantages?

I wish sometimes that my hon. and right hon. Friends who have been speaking from the Despatch Box in the past few days would at least admit that there are likely to be some benefits to outweigh the costs and not concentrate wholly, as they have, on the costs. We are told that there is likely to be £500 million cost on the balance of payments and that the benefits are purely speculative. But the figure of £500 million is as speculative, as much based on guesswork, as is the calculation of benefits. Both are guesswork. The only thing we know for certain is the amount of our contribution to the Community budget in the transition period. We do not know for certain what it will be by 1980, let alone beyond then. We have to weigh all the intangibles, all the uncertain benefits, against the uncertain costs; and in my view the balance of argument is that the benefits will outweigh the costs.

Supposing we do not go in. What is the alternative? We have not heard much about alternatives in this debate. My hon. Friends who disapprove of the whole enterprise are entitled to say, if they like, that it is not up to them to produce an alternative in this debate. In a debating sense, they may be justified in saying that. They are not justified in a real sense. Tomorrow we have to decide the future destiny of this country until after the end of this century. It would be irresponsible of the House to take that decision solely on the basis of the advantages and disadvantages of joining, without paying any attention at all to the advantages and disadvantages of staying out. We should look at the alternatives, the real alternatives.

Lurking in the background of this debate, at the backs of the minds of some of my hon. Friends who oppose entry on principle, there is a belief that it would somehow be possible for this country, in isolation from the rest of Europe and the rest of the Western world, to create a Socialist society. That is what they believe; and they also believe that entry will make this very difficult or perhaps impossible. That is why they oppose entry. If I agreed with them I would be joining them in the Lobby, but it seems to me again that the brutal truth, borne out by the experience of six years of Labour Government, is that it is not possible in a nation of 50 million people as dependent as this country is on world trade, and as it is bound to be, to create the kind of Socialist society we want in isolation from the rest of Western Europe and the rest of the Western world.

Why were the Labour Government blown off course?

Mr. Orme

Not because of Socialism.

Mr. Marquand

No, not because of Socialism. They were blown off course because economic power was not under their control. They were blown off course because no nation of 50 million people in the modern world can be wholly the master of its own economic destiny, wholly master in its own economic house. That is a fact of life whether we like it or not. I believe that if we try to create a Socialist society in isolation from the rest of Western Europe and the rest of the Western world, we shall go through the same miserable experience as we did from 1964 to 1970. I do not believe that alternative is valid. I regret it—emotionally, I regret it. Emotionally I can see the attractions of creating a Socialist society in Britain alone, a sort of beacon to lighten the rest of the world. It is an attractive vision, but it is not real; and I do not see it as a practical alternative.

The only real alternative to entry is to continue as we have been doing for the last 50 years, trying to play the traditional 19th century rôle of this country in the 20th century, struggling on, trying to remain the head of the Commonwealth, trying to maintain a special relationship with the United States, trying to be the banker of the world. I believe that it is because successive British Governments and successive British Parliaments—both parties are equally to blame—for 50 years have refused to abandon that traditional rôle, which made this country great in the past, that we have seen the real influence, the relative prosperity and the relative power of this country in the world sink steadily decade by decade.

Mr. Orme

My hon. Friend makes the point about abandoning the traditional role. When some of us were advocating that the Labour Government should abandon this rôle—east of Suez, for example—I cannot remember him always being alongside us in that argument.

Mr. Marquand

My hon. Friend's memory in that case is rather short. I remember being told by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, some not terribly comradely things when I was advocating devaluation. I fought as hard as I could against that traditional rôle.

Mr. Orme

It was not evident.

Mr. Marquand

It was not evident to my hon. Friend but it was to me, and that is the position I take now. But we should get away from these trivial personal reminiscences. If we stay out of Europe, the real alternative is to carry on in the traditional way, gradually getting less and less and less successful. In 1971 we have less influence in the world than we had in 1961—who can doubt that? In 1961 we had less than we had in 1951 and in 1951 we had less than we had in 1941. Where shall we be in 1981 if we stay out of this Market? There can be no dispute that we shall have gone even further downhill.

I promised to take a short time and I will try to keep that promise. Virtually the entire debate has concentrated, apart from the speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart) yesterday, on the advantages and disadvantages of membership to this country. This is very right and proper, because we represent our constituents here and our first duty is naturally to them. But something should be said about the advantages and disadvantages of our possible rejection of entry to the Continent, of which we are a part, whether we enter or not.

It is because of our friends in Europe that the veto on British entry was lifted. I do not believe we should have got entry terms at all but for the coming to power of Willy Brandt in Germany, but for the centre-left Government in Italy, but for the fact that the forces of the democratic Left in Europe have become steadily more powerful over the past 10 years. These are our friends in Europe. Many of them have taken political risks in their own country, have fought political battles in favour of British entry. What will be the effect on the balance of political force in Europe if we, the House of Commons and particularly the Labour Party, reject entry on these terms? It can only be to strengthen the enemies of this country, the enemies of democracy and of the democratic left, on the Continent.

Too often in the last 50 years this country has, by sins of ommission and commission, kicked its best friends on the Continent in the teeth. It was partly our fault that because of the Versailles settlement, Hitler came to power in Germany when he did. It was partly because we failed to give the Left-wing Government in France in the 1930s enough support and security that the Second World War took place when it did. It would be a tragedy if the same thing happened again in the 1970s and the 1980s as a result of the action of this House, above all, as a result of the action of my party.

That for me is a very powerful reason to think very carefully before rejecting these terms. Entry into the Common Market offers the best practical way by which the values of my party can be realised in practice. Therefore I find it obligatory to vote in favour of that principle tomorrow night. I do not like voting with the Conservative Party. It seems to me I have no alternative.

Mr. Money

It will grow on you.

Mr. Marquand

I do not believe that is any more likely than the reverse would be about the hon. Gentleman. It would be much nicer for me to shelter behind the argument that it would be possible sometime, somehow, somewhere, at some stage in the future for a Labour Government to negotiate better terms. I do not believe that. These are the only terms. If we reject them now, we reject entry on any terms for the foreseeable future. This is, therefore, the moment we have to stand up and be counted. If hon. Members believe as I do that the ideals of democratic Socialism can be realised only by entry, they have no alternative but to vote for it tomorrow night.

12.55 a.m.

Mr. Carol Mather (Esher)

I gather that the lion. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Marquand) has that sinking feeling; I hope that he does not sink out of sight before tomorrow night.

During my career I have been involved in situations in which Britain's interests have been acutely and actively engaged, politico-strategic situations, and I have developed fairly sensitive political antennae and in the situation facing us I scent danger for this country. The reason may be that the aim seems to be far from clear. We do not know whether it is political or economic. In a decision and movement as important as this, it is vital that the aim should be clear. This ambiguity explains some of the reluctance of the British people to endorse the decision. One remembers the quotation: For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?". That is the situation.

It is no good believing that if we take this step forward things will continue to be the same, that we will keep our sovereignty and our links with the Commonwealth. One has to accept that all these will change, that in this situation we cannot have our cake and eat it. M. Pompidou was right in his doctrine when he said that this was to be a European Europe and that Britain must turn her back on the open seas. He was right, and if one takes this step one has to accept that the choice is not between a mixture of British and European sovereignty but one or the other.

A measure of sovereignty will begin to pass the moment we deny Parliament the right to veto decisions and regulations deriving from the common policies, but this measure of sovereignty will be passing not from one Parliament, the British Parliament, to another, the European Parliament, but from the British Parliament to what one might call the Community decision-making machinery, which is essentially a non-democratic body, until such time as a European Parliament develops.

What European tradition leads one to believe that this could be a strong and stable Parliament? This measure of sovereignty to be lost is an expanding measure increasing all the time. Today, the common policies cover trade and transport, agriculture and food, labour and capital movements, but tomorrow there will be taxation and regional policies, monetary and currency affairs, an ever-increasing area in which Parliament will be denied decisions.

The Treaty of Rome says that there is no way in which a country can get out, that it is for an unlimited period, but it is not the fact that the Treaty of Rome says so which causes concern, but the fact that as it is an integrating organisation with common policies which are expanding there is a kind of meshing in process, and once one becomes meshed in it will be extremely difficult to get out. It has been said by some of my hon. Friends that if entry is found not to suit us we can always get out. But this will be difficult once one has travelled some way along the road, and will be illegal in the eyes of international law. This could lead to a great deal of unpleasantness.

It has been said that our joining the Common Market will be good for peace. Indeed, some of my hon. Friends have said that if there had been a Common Market earlier in the 1940s, or even earlier in 1914, the great European wars might have been avoided. This seems to me to be a far-fetched analogy. It is like saying that if we had had tanks we could have won the battle of Hastings. I feel that in this situation one has to know one's enemy, and our enemy today is not the Germans; it is the Soviet Union. Therefore, a logical extension of this argument would require the inclusion of the Soviet Union in the Common Market as well.

A word about the Commonwealth and monarchy. The one supports the other—the Commonwealth supports the monarchy and the monarchy supports the Commonwealth. One has only to recall the Queen's Christmas message last year and down the years to realise that this is so. If one knocks away the Commonwealth prop, one leaves the monarchy exposed. I cannot believe that pollution, or preservation of the Welsh languauge, or promotion of bird life can be an adequate substitute.

There are also some intangibles to be weighed in the scales. On the one side there is growth, dynamism and material wellbeing; on the other side one has to throw in independence, democracy and old friendships. And who can weigh the cost of these?

I feel that the system is not going to work in its present form and various factors will be the cause of this. The present attitude of the British people cannot be disregarded. We must have the people behind us. Secondly, I cannot see Parliament watching the continual erosion of its powers. Thirdly, I wonder whether the Government, once we get in, will put up with the situation which they find in existence and whether they will not want to make fundamental changes which may cause the break-up of the present system. If this happens—and it is possible it may happen—one can only hope something better will emerge better to suit our interests—something wider and more outward looking.

There needs to be some political power behind this kind of argument in respect of the fundamental changes which I believe are necessary, and this is why I shall vote against entry.

1.5 a.m.

Mr. Roy Hughes (Newport)

Last Friday evening, the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) was speaking in my constituency. He pointed out that, on this issue of the Common Market, it was the Labour Party that was speaking for Britain. That was his categorical statement, and I can do no more than say how right the right hon. Gentleman is.

I had hoped to make my short speech on Tuesday, since that was the day allocated to regional policies—

Mr. Speaker

Order. If other hon. Members had made shorter speeches, the hon. Gentleman would have made it on Tuesday.

Mr. Hughes

I was tempted to make the same comment, Mr. Speaker. However, I gave up the ghost at five minutes to two. Before that, I had listened to what I thought was a deplorable speech by the Secretary of State for Wales. It had one redeeming feature in that it may have converted hon. Members on this side of the House who had intended supporting the Government.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman made some selective quotations from the Report of the Welsh Council. He did not point out that he is largely responsible for the appointment of the Council. He made no reference to the Welsh trade union movement, which is overwhelmingly against going into the Common Market. It represents many thousands of people in South Wales, and they are the very type of people whom I represent in Newport.

We in Wales have come to realise that we have no spokesman in the Cabinet. The Secretary of State is the right hon. and learned Member for Hendon. South and, incidentally, is also in full-time occupation as Chairman of the Conservative Party.

I oppose going into the Common Market for economic reasons. I have always felt that Britain was essentially a world trading nation. I am concerned about the 80 per cent. of our trade and how we can enlarge it, rather than putting that 80 per cent. in jeopardy.

I am against going into the Market for political reasons, too. Certainly it will involve the surrender of sovereignty. It may be thought odd that I, as a Socialist, am opposed to the surrender of certain aspects of British sovereignty. I am in favour of giving up some of our sovereignty, but not to the inward-looking, reactionary, capitalist bloc that the Common Market is at present.

The surrender of sovereignty is perhaps symbolised in this House. This century has witnessed a great battle over the powers of this House to control taxation. It was a fight of my illustrious countryman, David Lloyd George.

We know all about the value-added tax, over which Parliament would have no control. It would be handed over to the bureaucrats in Brussels.

It would also be the end of the cheap food which we have had over such a long period. There would be erosion, too, of certain aspects of the liberty which has been won by the people of this country and which we have enjoyed. That is not to be handed over lightly.

I have been opposed to this country going into the Common Market from the outset. I spoke against it, and am on record as doing so at the annual conference of the Labour Party in 1962. I did not support the Labour Government in 1967, and I am of the same opinion today.

I suppose that I can claim some measure of consistency, along with my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins). We have been consistent. The difference between us is that he is the Deputy Leader of the party. The Press tell us—I have no reason to doubt it—that he is essentially a man of principle. Therefore, some of us find it difficult to understand why he hangs on to his job when he is so diametrically opposed to the policies democratically arrived at by the Labour Party.

My right hon. Friend's father was the Member of Parliament for Pontypool. He had a very distinguished career. He was a miners' leader. It is worth reminding the House that the South Wales miners know what loyalty is.

Mr. Harold Lever (Manchester, Cheetham)

I do not wish to express any partisan view, but merely to ask a question of my hon. Friend. I know that he has not given notice to my right hon. Friend's father that he would be referring to him, but may I ask whether he has told my right hon. Friend that he would be making these references to him?

Mr. Hughes

I notified my right hon. Friend in writing, and he has acknowledged my letter.

People in Wales are concerned about regional policies. We noticed the cursory treatment which this subject received in the White Paper—three short paragraphs.

Some economists and hon. Members say that regional policies are permissible under the Treaty of Rome; others of equal authority-economists, and so on—say that such policies are not permissible. There is a big question over the subject of regional policies at this time. These issues cannot be left in abeyance. They cannot be settled purely on the daydreams of the so-called Eurofanatics, as my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) termed them. We know that, as a result of the regional policies of the Labour Government, many new factories came to Wales, and certainly regional policies are vital to Wales. But we have had no assurances from the Secretary of State for Wales on the matter.

We have had repeated references to Italy—in particular, Southern Italy. I understand that over recent years no fewer than 3½ million people have migrated from Southern Italy. Was not that the way that the unemployment problems of South Wales were partially alleviated in the 'twenties and 'thirties? This is why there are such large Welsh communities in areas like Slough. Oxford, Birmingham, Coventry and so on. We do not want this kind of solution in Wales.

One can recall Labour's inheritance in 1964—that huge £800 million deficit, the largest in our history. Britain now has a strong balance of payments, but those credits were created, as my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) said yesterday, by the efforts and sacrifices of the British people. Now we feel that they should be used to put the unemployed back in work. The present unemployment situation we feel, has been contrived by the Government.

There are repeated redundancy announcements in Wales. The Secretary of State for Employment told me in answer to a Question last week that the total number of applications to the Redundancy Fund in the first nine months of last year was 8,465, and for the same period this year the figure is 12,854—about a 60 per cent. increase. Many people, particularly in Wales, are wondering where the axe will fall next.

The Welsh economy is essentially based on the steel industry. We are told that if we enter the Common Market, the industry will have a fine future. I have a cutting here from The Times business News of Monday this week. Headed, "B.S.C. talks could lead to a joint … steel complex" on the Continent, it says: The British Steel Corporation is having talks with three Continental steel producers which could lead to joint investment in a massive European steel-making complex during the next few years. A senior executive of B.S.C. has described the chances of such a venture as 'very, very certain'. The type of joint investment programme the Corporation is discussing would be based on a huge coastal steelworks producing up to 10m tons a year and costing hundreds of millions of pounds"—

Mr. A. E. P. Duffy (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

Where will it be located?

Mr. Hughes

On the Continent.

Mr. Duffy

It did not say that.

Mr. Hughes

B.S.C. talks could lead to a joint … steel complex on the Continent.

It goes on to say that it is based on the premise of Britain joining the Common Market. What I am concerned about is not so much the interests of the British Steel Corporation as those of the steel workers. There are plenty of green fields sites in Wales, Scotland or the North-East of England, without investing all these millions in a green field site on the Continent.

The Government of this country, whether it is Conservative or Labour, have a good deal of control over the steel industry. If we go into the Common Market, the industry immediately goes over to the European Coal and Steel Community. There are many anomalies regarding pricing policy. That was clearly pointed out by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor) yesterday. Those anomalies are very worrying to me. The Government should be responsible for full employment and for economic growth. But how could control rest entirely in the hands of the British Government if these two major industries—coal and steel—were handed over to the Coal and Steel Community?

The present Government have proved to be the most reactionary for a generation. The Prime Minister promised to cut unemployment and prices at a stroke. The Government have not kept that promise. Now they are looking for an escape route, and the one they have chosen is the Common Market. Their gesture of a free vote on this issue is essentially phoney in character. The Sunday Times on 17th October said that the Government could not command a majority in this House from their own supporters, and that was confirmed the following day on the front page of The Guardian. We know all the arm-twisting which has gone on in the Conservative constituencies throughout the summer. We know about the 100 involved in the payroll vote. We know that the Prime Minister and his colleagues hope to exchange the 30 anti-Marketeers on their side of the House for possibly much more than that number on this side. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends realise this and that they do not fall for such tactics.

Finally—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"]. I have waited a long time to make these remarks. My constituency management committee held a series of meetings on the Common Market issue. At the final session a vote was taken, the result of which was 37 in favour of the present policies of the Opposition and five in favour of the terms negotiated by the Government. My trade union, the Transport and General Workers' Union, voted by an overwhelming majority against the terms negotiated by the Government. So dfid the T.U.C., the National Executive of the Labour Party and the Labour Party conference. There is no doubt about where the people of this country stand on this matter—and it is they who must decide. The Labour Party was created to represent the essential interests of working people, and we should speak for them in the vote.

1.24 a.m.

Mr. John Tilney (Liverpool, Waver-tree)

I hope that my contribution to the debate will be among the shortest, so I will say only this about what was said by the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Roy Hughes). He got a little mixed up in his time scale at the start of his speech. His party also have got mixed up in their time scale. Although he has always been against the Common Market, as have several of his colleagues, it is the policy of the Opposition that the time is not right at present, I suspect largely because the public appear unwilling to support the Government in the policy which I believe to be right.

I am old enough to remember the League of Nations peace ballot and the East Fulham by-election. There were no public opinion polls to listen to then. Had the Government of the day listened to what that ballot was saying we would not have had the Hurricanes and Spitfires which saved this nation at the critical moment; many of us, and even this Chamber, would not be here today.

Mr. John Roper (Farnworth)

The hon. Gentleman was suggesting that the peace ballot was against rearmament. I understand that it was for effective collective security in the 1930's, and if that policy had been followed up we would not have had the Second World War.

Mr. Tilney

We knew at the time how ineffective collective security was and had already shown itself to be. By their action tomorrow the Labour Party will show, by whipping the majority of their members against their erstwhile Policy—

Mr. Roy Hughes

The hon. Gentleman said that I had my time scale mixed up. He will appreciate that he has his time scale mixed up.

Mr. Tilney

I accept that.

At the next general election, when the benefits of our entry into the Common Market will have begun to show, the public will remember that the bulk of the Opposition voted against entry. I may be accused of being a Pharisee when I refer to what my party did in support of the Labour Government in 1967. When I became a Member of the House in 1950, there was a debate about Korea, whether the Army was the right size and whether National Service should be extended. The Labour Government then had a majority of about six and were intensely unpopular only a few months after their re-election. At the time, Sir Winston Churchill said at once that the Opposition would give their support to any measures proposed by the Government which seemed right or necessary in the public interest, whether they were popular or not. How different the Opposition's attitude is today.

I make only two points, the first about investment and the development areas, because I am privileged to represent one of those. The argument is that the capitalists will not invest in the development areas or even in the United Kingdom but would prefer to invest in the golden triangle. The reason why we are short of the investment that Britain so badly needs is that the capitalists, whether here or in America or Germany, are waiting to see how our vote goes tomorrow and in February, and all the following legisla- tion. It is nonsense to say, as do some hon. Members opposite, that because the level of tariffs of the Common Market is lower than ours and another Kennedy Round may lower them still more, tariffs wil always remain low. I cannot see that if we remain out of the Common Market, what is now the Common Market will always keep their tariffs low. They may well raise them when we are out. We have seen what has happened in the United States and even what is threatened in Denmark.

I fear that a Common Market without us may well revert to mercantilism with their shipping. That would affect the city I have the privilege to represent. It would be bad for our shins and for the Port of Liverpool, where over 6 per cent. of the population are unemployed. If we join the Common Market we shall have good terms on regional aid. We can help to form the policy and get the benefits from the European Investment Fund.

I therefore welcome what the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry said yesterday. I believe that as we have got a pool of skilled labour, capital investment is more likely to come to this country than anywhere else in the Common Market. I accept that there is heavy unemployment in south Italy, but it is unskilled labour. There is already a big steel works at Otranto. There is the Alfa Romeo works which is about to come into operation near Naples, Forty per cent. of new investment in Italy has got to go to the development areas there. I cannot see why we should not have the same benefit in the developing areas in this country. We have less need because we have the pool of skill, which is not available elsewhere. I believe that because we have that pool of skill we shall get the investment.

When I was in the Army I learned that projects should be considered under the following heads: first, information; then intention, method, administration and intercommunication. We have had, I believe, too much information about the Common Market. We shall know the intention of most hon. Members later today. We have heard much less about the other three heads. The Port of Liverpool is nearer North America than Rotterdam. We have great new container berths at Seaforth and we can produce as good services as any port on the congested English Channel.

Therefore my third and last point deals with communications. It may seem odd for a Member for Liverpool and Lancashire, with all our great variety of manufactures, to say that I believe that it would be best for us to go ahead as soon as possible with a tunnel under the English Channel. I happen to believe that in times of unemployment there is justification in public works. Lancashire has suffered from the absence of a link between the MI and M6, and particularly Liverpool with the uncompleted motorways in North Cheshire and South Lancashire. We compare badly, therefore, with the Port of Bristol.

Lancashire, many people believe, is in the wrong place from the point of view of the Common Market. [Laughter.] This is part of the argument of the Opposition, as I understand it. We are a long way from the golden triangle. Nor, unfortunately, are we near the oil and gas which have been discovered in the North Sea. All the more reason, therefore, to get good communications with Lancashire. We have a first-class electric train service from Lancashire but it ends at London. We therefore want a rail route round London to a Channel Tunnel, and the sooner it is started the better.

I do not think we think big enough in this country. The example in my own part of the world is the Mersey Tunnel and even the Runcorn-Widnes bridge built since the war. All the more reason to go ahead now with a Channel Tunnel and to be thinking in terms of the next recession when a bridge, too, might be built. If we belong to Europe we have to see that the communications with Europe are right.

I believe this to be our last chance of getting in. Many Labour Party Members say that they want better terms. Like the antique Romans in the time of Tarquin, who lost the Sybilline books and could not make up their minds, arguing among themselves about whether to pay the proper price and finding, every time they thought they would go back and buy them, that the books had grown fewer and fewer, so will the Labour Opposition, under their present Tarquin, if they have their way, find that the price of entry will remain high but the benefits will get further and further away, for our power to bargain, or to be heard, if we are outside, will be much diminished.

1.35 a.m.

Mr. Richard Crawshaw (Liverpool, Toxteth)

I cannot claim to be one of the original pro- or anti-Marketeers, but I think that I can claim to be one of the first to say that I wished to know what the terms were before I decided whether we should go into the Common Market. I said that, although I had a basic feeling that we ought to be in Europe. I believed that, by being in Europe, we could serve the cause of Socialism to which I have dedicated part of my life.

I was, therefore, interested to see what the terms would be. I was particularly concerned about the Commonwealth. Having served with Commonwealth troops during the war, one had, so to speak, a nostalgic memory of the Commonwealth. Had the terms been, in my view, such that they had not paid proper regard to the Commonwealth's interests, I should have said firmly today that I would not wish to go into the Common Market.

Terms have been agreed for New Zealand, for the sugar producers, and so on. But still we hear the argument that these terms are not satisfactory. We do not hear the argument from New Zealand or from the sugar interests. We hear it from my hon. Friends. It strikes me as a queer sort of argument to ask for more for other people than they ask for themselves, and then use that as an excuse for not going into the Common Market.

I was interested in other issues, such as the common agricultural policy and the value-added tax. I voted in 1967 for negotiations to open in the full knowledge that the leader of my party had said categorically that neither of these was negotiable. To me, as a lawyer, that meant that we had to accept those policies irrespective of whether we liked them or not. If one does not like them, one does not make application. Having said that they were not negotiable, one could not be expected to start arguing about them at a later stage, when agreement had been reached. I do not accept what my party says on this matter. I think that these are pure excuses. I believe that there would have been a national day's holiday if my party had brought such terms back.

There are other questions to be considered. First, are these the best terms? I do not know what terms my Government had in mind when they were negotiating. I can only draw conclusions from what some of my right hon. Friends have said about the terms, and I shall come back to that in a moment.

What is the alternative? If we do not go in, what is presented to the country not only for our generation but for the next and thereafter? What practical alternative has been suggested? The only one I have heard, and one that has been taken up by many of my colleagues, is that put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has said that there should be a burst for growth to the limit of our capacity, doing away with trade barriers and also looking after the undeveloped countries. But when he was Chancellor where was his burst for growth in the three years? I am not criticising him—and I probably should not continue saying this in his absence—for the actions he took them. I believe that they were the only actions he or anyone was capable of taking, with the deficit we were then running on our balance of payments. But if it was necessary to damp down the economy and put on import levies, surcharges and the like, how is it possible today to say that we can solve the problem by methods which were impossible during that time?

Therefore, I do not accept those arguments. There must be some other reason why they are being put forward. I have always felt that the difference between a statesman and a politician is that a statesman is prepared to say, in opposition as well as in Government, what he honestly believes the situation to be, without necessarily pressing a party point. I have listened to what several former Cabinet Ministers have had to say, and I have had to try to draw conclusions as to whom I should believe on whether the terms would have been accepted. I have had to try to judge which of them might go down in history as statesmen, or live and die as politicians.

I accept what my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart), the former Foreign Secretary, said yesterday. I believe that the terms would have been accepted by a Labour Government. So I am driven to ask, is there any logic in what I am being asked to do? I am being asked to reject entry to the Common Market on Tory terms, and I am being told at the same time that the decision is irrevocable, that we are giving away our sovereignty.

I wonder how many hon. Members heard the impassioned speech last night of my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Raphael Tuck) on why we should stay out. For a lawyer, he had a few inconsistencies in his argument. In one flight of oratory he said, "We are going into the Community. There is no way out. We have lost our sovereignty", and in the next breath he was asking my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition to say that when Labour returns to power we shall come out.

The question of sovereignty is very serious. Are we going to lose it? Could we in the ultimate lose it? Sovereignty depends on who has power. I may resent it very much, but Smith is sovereign in Rhodesia at the moment, because Smith has got power. Power is a question of fact, and power is the reality of sovereignty.

There is nothing at all in this Treaty which means that in the ultimate we would not be able say, at any stage: "This we will not accept. This is an infringement of the rights of our country which we are not prepared to accept." People say "Nonsense"—

Mr. Jeffrey Thomas (Abertillery)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Crawshaw

I do not want to waste time, but I will.

Mr. Thomas

Does he suggest that the Treaty of Rome does not preclude this Government from taking a decision against the wishes of the rest of the Community members? What does he think the European Court is for? It is to resolve disputes. It speaks for itself.

Mr. Crawshaw

Of course this is so and so do courts in this country decide o issues between husbands and wives. What closer association is there than that between husband and wife? That sort of association lasts just as long as the parties wish it to last. If one party wishes to be completely unreasonable, the marriage comes to an end earlier, but the association of the Community, like a marriage, is brought about for the betterment of all the parties to it.

Mr. Elystan Morgan (Cardigan)

I am sure my hon. Friend would not wish to mislead the House in this matter. In Article 92, there is a general prohibition against certain aids and there are six exemptions. If any State were to act in contravention of that article, it could be hauled before the European Court and sued. Is that not a fact?

Mr. Crawshaw

My hon. Friend misses the whole point of the argument, that insofar as there is a court, it is of course there to give decisions, but whether a country accepts a decision in the ultimate is a question of fact. Of course this must be so.

France signed the N.A.T.O. treaty. It decided not to keep forces within N.A.T.O. Was it bound to keep them there? Of course.

As my hon. Friend knows, sovereignty is a matter of power, and where power resides, is sovereignty. Whatever the issues are, ultimately it comes down to whether that country wishes to accept. There will be instances when the Minister will argue the case, and he will be answerable, and have to explain at the Box, as for present policy.

I have to decide my attitude in this matter, knowing that the Executive of my Party have already condemned me for being pro-Market.

In conclusion, I take a few words from this morning's Guardian which gave an extract from the contribution by the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson) to the 1971 volume of the Brittanica Book of the Year, which I think is very relevant to this issue. In discus. sing what his views were as to how Governments or persons should be persuaded by public opinion polls—and I say here and now that I know that if there were a vote tomorrow we would not be carrying the public with us—

Mr. Elystan Morgan


Mr. Crawshaw

My hon. Friend says "Yes". I should have thought that if a politician were worth his salt he should be leading the people.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton said. The statesman's conclusion might be —dealing with public opinion polls— Accord respect but not idolatry. That is fair enough. Then recognise you were elected as a legislator—as an executive to exercise judgment—not on what is expedience or politically rewarding, but a judgment of what is right. That is why I shall be voting for entry into the European Community.

1.50 a.m.

Mr. Edward du Cann (Taunton)

If I speak too fast it is in the interests of brevity. I intend neither discourtesy to anyone I do not mention and who has already spoken, nor unintelligibility.

If today's debate has a theme it was set by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in what all would agree was a remarkable and excellent speech. He said that above all we must make a personal judgment. How well thought out was the speech of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw), to whom we listened with attention. I admire his great sincerity. Earlier the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) spoke to a difficult theme, which even his fluent pen could not make credible, but it was reassuring to learn that at least he writes his own speeches. All said this is a matter of judgment: that is precisely my point.

This debate has been one of contrasts and ironies, and it will no doubt be wound up by the Leader of the Opposition with a show of great humbug. From the sidelines some have called it dull. From the point of view of those who must make personal decisions it has been the antithesis of that. Many of us have had our private moments of what I can only call agony.

This has been the roost significant debate that I have heard in the House, and the most fascinating one that I have the obvious clash of group or party presattended—and it was all the better for sures against personal judgment. How splendid it has been when that judgment has won.

Much of our discussion has been about the economic effects of entry. Speaking as a business man and, I hope, a practical man, I find the case for the dynamic potential or even for a substantial balance of advantage not proven, and even unlikely. Having in the last four weeks visited the United States, France, Germany and Brussels and seen at first hand some of the trends of protectionism and declining activity that are now apparent, it surprises me very much that some see in today's scene not today's realities but the economic picture of 10 years ago.

Little has been said about the structural changes that we shall have to face in our own economy. It surprises me very much how little has been said about the vaster changes in world trading patterns which will flow if we join the Community, and which will also set us very real problems.

The fact is that there is little economic advantage for us inside Europe that we could not get outside, given the skill and determination to do so. Much has been said about the alternatives. I do not accept either the past or the present view that there never have been any. The truth is that no treaty can bring us automatic prosperity. Hard work and skilled management are the only sure recipes for economic success and growth.

But neither the terms nor the economic situation is the point of this debate; what we have to consider principally are political matters.

I am a party man. I am proud of my party, its principles, all it has inspired and will yet achieve. I have served it—I hope, honourably and, too, with some small credit—all my adult life. Such loyalty comes not only from habit but from deep conviction.

I cannot and I will not oppose my right hon. Friends, all of whom I know so well and whose integrity I respect. But I cannot and will not vote for this Motion and I am grateful to them for having relieved me of embarrassment by providing a free vote on this side.

The object of those who would sign the Treaty of Rome is political unity. That is to say the six, seven, 10, or whatever the number of nations, will have one economic policy, one defence policy, one foreign policy—one voice as it is sometimes called. In a word, we shall cease to govern ourselves in today's manner and by the methods to which we are accustomed. This federal concept I do not and cannot accept. I cannot and will not vote for so substantial, so inevitable, so inexorable a derogation of the rights and responsibilities of this Parliament.

Accession to the Community must eventually reduce the status of this Parliament—how soon, none of us know—to inexorable a derogation of the rights and that of, say, the Bavarian Landtag or an English county council. Over the centuries, we have established, nurtered and protected our democracy. In so many cases we have sacrificed our private interests for it. Our chief responsibility has been the preservation of its traditional sovereignty, hard won and hard held.

How casually now we propose to shed that noble history, replace it, supplement it, with what? We do not know. We are not told. We have asked the questions and have heard no answers. We know of the present constitution of the Community—the Council of Ministers, the Commission, the Parliament. It is hardly an example of democracy. The Parliament is consultative only—a mere talking shop; the Commission is all-powerful. How should we in this House regard this, we whose whole history has been a continuous attempt at increased control of the executive? The Constitution will be changed, I was told when I was in Brussels. How or when is not decided; nor, alas, have we any guidance in this House as to the detailed view of the Government or even the view of the Opposition.

I said in my election address, in my adoption speech and before then that I would sign no political blank cheque, and I will not. I was not elected to this Parliament to connive at its emasculation.

Public opinion, that fickle mistress, is less relevant than some pretend. One must speak and act as one believes. Honour and so great an issue demand the truth and nothing less.

I love this place. Yet the form, though agreeable, is nothing. It is the substance I respect. If there is conflict in this debate, not the least part of it is due to the pride of some of us still have in the constitution of our country, in our relationship with our constituents, whose independent servants, party politics apart, we are glad to be. Some may call us narrow, old fashioned, perhaps. I can only reply that I know what I love, I love what I know, and I know what I have. I do not wish readily to change it for something which I do not know or understand or cannot perceive. It has always been an honourable cause to defend the constitution of our country.

Mr. John Gorst (Hendon, North)

I respect entirely what my right hon. Friend says. Would he not concede that we have a duty to share the legacy which we have inherited from a thousand years of history with other people now that perhaps, although we may not have brought it to the peak of perfection, it is at least the envy of the rest of the world?

Mr. du Cann

That is a fair point. I am proud of what we have done in this regard already. I shall shortly give an answer to what my hon. Friend suggests.

Perhaps enough of regret or reproach. Like other debates in this Chamber, alas, its result is confidently forecast before it starts. I fancy that numbers at the end may have changed during the currency of the debate a little. I say "alas" because that is what makes our debates on some occasions dull, to some facile commentators at any rate.

If we do sign the Treaty of Rome, let us at once prepare to play our part and play it well. I speak not only of domestic issues; Ministers will have these matters well in mind. I speak more particularly about policies in regard to the Community.

Press first for a proper democracy in its Parliament, a greater political control of its executive, a system of command and questioning. Taxation without representation in Europe will be as intolerable today as it historically ever was in our country. Send our ablest representatives to the Parliament and the Commission at every level.

Press urgently for the common standards, for the common investment, banking, insurance and company laws which we are told will constitute an advantage to our traders.

There is a fallacy that the City of London will automatically do well if we sign the Treaty. That is not so. There is much preparation and hard work to be done and some of it can be done only by the Government, clear-minded and determined to give us the opportunities of which certainly we shall take advantage if the chance comes.

I am an old supporter of floating exchange rates, an older advocate of new monetary policies, a new Bretton Woods perhaps, although the proper solutions and most likely remedies for today's problems were first suggested a generation ago. We stood a few months past—I recall the Chancellor of the Exchequer's excellent speech to the International Monetary Fund—on the verge of financial collapse as severe, perhaps as that of 40 years ago. The danger is not over. It will recur. The possibility needs continuous and urgent study. We must lead, and promptly, and bring together the many opposing views of those especially in Europe and North America.

What of the third world? Surely the greatest of all the political problems which face the civilised world is the growing disparity in living standards between the developing and the developed countries. This is the political powder keg of the future. Aid can no longer be a budgetary postscript. It is a first priority for Europe. We must say so. We must see to it.

There must be new policies for agriculture. There must be credible regional policies, on which as yet, as others have said, particularly my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, the Commission has made trivial progress. The list for attention and action is long.

I am one who has grave reservations regarding the political stability of some countries among the Six. I recognise however that stability will be the easier to achieve given the economic and political success of the Communities.

I have stated already the overriding reasons which lead me, without regret, to believe that it is wrong for us to sign the Treaty. But if it proves to be the wish of this House that we shall do so, it will be our duty, I am equally sure, to inspire Europe by our exertions and by our example. I remind the House of some of Drake's words which appear in the Chapel of Remembrance at the Naval College at Dartmouth: See that ye hold fast the heritage we leave you, yea, and teach your children its value, that never in the coming centuries their hearts may fail or their hands grow weak. Those words are appropriate in or out of Europe.

2.5 a.m.

Mr. Michael Cocks (Bristol, South)

I listened with great interest and attention to the right hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann). I hope that he will forgive me if I do not follow him except in the practice of being brief.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) mentioned the Peace Ballot. I reinforce what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Roper). One of the things which have distressed me in the course of the debate has been the way in which the poor long-suffering British public have been blamed by the Conservatives for the events leading up to the Second World War. The critical questions in the Peace Ballot were 5(a) and 5(b). It asked: Do you consider that if a nation insists on attacking another, the other nations should combine to compel it to stop by

  1. (a) economic and non-military measures;
  2. (b) if necessary, military measures?"
The economic and non-military measures were supported by some 10 million people, while 635,000 answered "No" to that question, and 855,000 abstained; some 6,800,000 people said that the nations should combine, if necessary, to take military measures, 2,350,000 said "No" to that question, and there were 2,860,000 abstentions. A substantial majority were in favour of collective economic action.

For hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite now to try to shirk their direct responsibility to the National Government from 1931 and the Conservative Government from 1935, which had massive majorities in the House, is carrying their own propaganda a little too far.

I hope the House will accept that the speech I prepared at the beginning of the debate has been severely pruned and that I hope not to repeat material already presented to the House. I mention first my constituency's reaction. There was flooding there last week and many people think it ironic that we are talking in terms of the dynamism of Europe and so on when thousands are still very worried when it begins to rain heavily. We must always remember that in or out of Europe there is a great deal to do in the ordinary run-of-the-mill affairs of life.

One of the great complaints of my constituents is about the lack of informa- tion. I draw attention to something raised in a Question by the hon. Member for Wembley, South (Sir R. Russell) to the Prime Minister about the diagram on page 10 of the shortened version of the White Paper. The diagram shows the growth of exports since 1958, but the way in which it has been constructed is grotesque. There are accepted scientifically correct techniques for these things. I grant that the Prime Minister did his best in his answer, but it is the length of the tree in the diagram which represents the growth, and yet it is a well-known convention in diagrams of this sort that it is the whole area ratio which is what counts. The Government should give the general public some apology for the error.

My constituents want more information and have been attracted by the idea that they would have some voice in the decision. I am rather sorry about the way in which some of the polls on this matter have been rather disparaged. I should like to quote from the Halesworth Times, which I know many hon. Members read. It is a local newspaper in the Lowestoft constituency. The Keep Britain Out campaign conducted a referendum in the area and the results were that out of 26,000 voting papers sent out 23,158 were returned, showing some 16,000 against entry and 6,000 in favour.

I do not want to dwell too much on that, but the number taking part compares favourably with the latest local election polls in the Lowestoft constituency, and if we are honest with ourselves we will all agree that at local council level if we get a turnout of 30 to 35 per cent. the party which happens to be victorious will say that the electorate has demonstrated its confidence, that it is a resurgence or a renewal of a mandate, and so on. The way in which the astonishing response in some of these polls has been taken is a rather sad thing.

On the question of a referendum, I think I should say a little about Edmund Burke, because I have the honour to represent a Bristol constituency and my colleague and neighbour, the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn), has had Burke thrown at him a number of times. In fact, a number of right hon. Gentlemen have called Burke in aid during this debate. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy—

Mr. Arthur Palmer (Bristol, Central)

I think I ought to point out to my hon. Friend that the statue of Burke is in my constituency.

Mr. Cocks

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. This is something we shall have to settle between us afterwards. It is of no interest to the House.

Mr. Gorst

Perhaps the hon. Member would explain what relevance Lowestoft has in connection with this argument.

Mr. Cocks

I gave way to the hon. Gentleman to encourage him in the habit, which I see he is beginning to assume, of intervening from a standing position, but I rather regret it now.

Burke is, of course, associated with Bristol. I must confess that at one time I could not understand why this man had such an enormous political reputation when, as far as I could see, he had been a Member of Parliament for only six years. The date on his statue is 1774 to 1780. The statue is well known in Bristol. There is a great deal of to-ing and fro-ing around the statue because the planners, in their wisdom, decided to put a public lavatory in the centre of Bristol behind the statue. I do not know whether my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Palmer) will wish to claim that lavatory for his constiuency. It is a matter for him.

Before Burke came to Bristol, he was Member of Parliament for some nine years for Wendover, which was a pocket borough in the gift of Lord Verney. There is no contest recorded in Wendover from 1747 to 1784. In 1774 Burke was in the grace of Lord Rockingham, who fixed him up with another pocket borough at Malton. But he had an offer to come to Bristol, and accepted. At that time Bristol was the second city in the land.

The two Members elected were Cruger and Burke. When Cruger made his speech, as is the custom after the result was announced, he said he would respect the wishes of his electorate. It was then Burke made his pronouncement which has so often been called in aid. That was in 1774. In September 1775 Burke visited the constituency. He wrote to Rockingham: An annual complimentary visit is, I find, necessary even in the most quiet times. It is a mark of decent attention and respect which they require from their Members. He went again in August 1776, but that was his last visit to the constituency until 1780.

On the first day he polled badly, his friends persuaded him to withdraw, and he agreed to do so, his main opponent having refused £2,000 to stand down. After that, he continued to represent Malton for 14 or 15 years, and at Malton there was no contest from 1722 to 1807. While I do not wish to disparage a very famous man, it is fair to put this matter into context and say that nowadays there are more substantial pressures on Members of Parliament.

In my constituency I find a good deal of cynicism. People feel that this decision is cut and dried. I was even asked why I was bothering to go round asking for people's opinions when the Government's proposal would be accepted, anyway. My constituents feel that the benefits are problematical and that only the price is certain. They fear that they will have to pay the price but that the benefits will go elsewhere.

The price calculations on which the White Paper bases its estimates are an example of the gap between theory and reality that we have seen in decimalisation. The recent remarks of the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food about prices and about dishonest traders being unscrupulous over decimalisation only confirm what many housewives have felt for a long time.

We have heard an argument about going into the Market for our children's sake. That is an unfortunate way of discussing these matters. The implication is that those who are not so keen on entry do not care about the future generations. While we are very concerned about our children and their future, we should also think of people who will have to make sacrifices, especially the elderly. These people are responsible for everything that we have or are today. They have been through two World Wars. In the 1930s many of them were unable to save. Are we to ask them to make even further sacrifices in their twilight years? I do not think that the section in the White Paper about pensioners is adequate. It is one of the great weaknesses that elderly folk will be crucified by rising prices, and there appears to be no will on the part of the Government to make exceptional provision for them.

As for the sugar producers, right hon. and hon. Members will know that there has been a great deal of discussion about the Sugar Agreement. It may be that in the coming years the sugar producers do not find the way that the agreement is working very satisfactory. I beg the House not to think in terms of their growing something else and trying to diversify more. The sugar-producing countries have been conscious for years of the economic danger that mono-culture carries with it. In the past they have tried to diversify and to find other things to grow, but it is very difficult, for reasons of soil, marketing and grading. They are totally dependent on the sugar crop, which binds the soil together; if other things are grown in these tropical areas there is a serious risk of soil erosion.

In all the wards that I have heard and read in this debate, I feel that the most significant contribution was made by the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr. More), who spoke about the requirement for a new realm of economic thinking. When reports of this debate are read in 30 or 40 years, I believe that the hon. Gentleman will be recognised as having made ones of the most significant speeches in it. Despite the words of all our expert economists, the hon. Gentleman stretched forward a generation in his thinking and drew attention to the real problem which will face us in years to come.

2.19 a.m.

Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)

I am in favour of Britain's entry into the European Economic Community for two reasons: first, because I believe that it will provide a key to help solve many of our problems, and, secondly, because in the long perspective of history Britain's destiny lies in the leadership of a united Europe.

I hope that the hon. Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Michael Cocks) will forgive me if I do not follow him in discussing the terms and details of our possible entry, important though those considerations are. I believe that over-concentration on points of detail during the national debate on this subject has helped to make it more boring and perplexing than it deserves to be. It also provides one reason for the general public appearing to be somewhat disenchanted about this great issue.

We should lift our eyes to considerations far above the detailed terms. They appear to me to be reasonable. We cannot expect to win a great prize without making some sacrifice. While entry involves risk, I believe that it is justifiable. I see nothing in the terms, or, rather, in the likely burden of the obligations involved in our membership of the Community, to cause me to believe that entry would not be beneficial for the British people as a whole.

Like other hon. Members, I have been impressed by the integrity and wisdom displayed in the arguments adduced by many speakers on both sides of this debate. But in some ways I believe that the question is beyond mere argument; it is more a matter of faith.

Opponents of entry on this side of the House are sincerely inspired by the sentiment of patriotism which, although insufficient, is thoroughly commendable. Opponents of entry on the other side of the House draw similar inspiration from Socialism, which is even more important for them.

If I have any complaint to make against my hon. but backward-looking, Friends on this side of the House, it is not so much that they are suspicious of foreigners—that is understandable—but that they under-estimate the ability of the British people to rise to a challenge. That is unforgivable.

Those who ask for proof of the benefits of British entry are asking the impossible. No great venture in our long and glorious history would have been attempted if we had observed that rule.

I have believed in the principle of British participation in a united Europe since the war—all my adult life. I see it as the logical course for Britain, and I rejoice that at last we are set upon it.

We British are a glorious people, being both pragmatic and idealistic. We have never been greater or more successful than in those periods of our history when self-interest and sentiment combined. Those periods produced a national ego, a self-confidence, and a belief in our own effortless superiority which has characterised the British race in the eyes of the world.

The key factors in all our success hitherto have been the qualities and talents of our people, matched by opportunities to use them. The Empire provided such an opportunity. Those who talk today wistfully about its loss—indeed, wistfully about its glory, bitterly about its loss—tend to forget that it was kept in existence not by force, but by the consent of its peoples. We never had enough troops and military resources to sustain our imperial rôle east or south of Suez without that consent. That imperial rôle was sustained not by military forces but by a deep respect for the British race and the personal qualities of its local representatives.

I hope that military strategists, like my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Lt.-Col. Colin Mitchell), will reflect on these wise words uttered by a junior pro-consul of Empire, for I speak from personal knowledge. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Dorking (Sir George Sinclair) and a number of other hon. Members, I was a proud member of Her Majesty's Colonial Service, which, with the Indian and Sudan Civil Services, operated our great imperial exercise. It was an exercise in the interests of the British people, certainly, but in the interests of the colonial people also, and with their consent.

It was this which assured us of the trade, the markets, the influence and our rôle in the world. It is part of what the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) called the "British genius". Inevitably, the world has changed and that consent with which we governed has been withdrawn for reasons which are not discreditable to us. But for the past 25 years, having shed our imperial responsibilities, successive British Governments have tried and failed to find similar outlets for the energies and spirit of our people.

Lacking a sense of purpose, our recent achievements have not matched our glorious past. Our industry, faced with strong competition and deprived of guaranteed markets, has failed adequately to modernise. Organised labour has too often pursued selfish and irresponsible policies in the interests of the class war. Management has been complacent and too many politicians have bickered and played only the party game, preferring to ignore the deteriorating condition of Britain rather than to be seen to be assisting their political opponents. The Church has lost its way.

For years the nation has been crying out for leadership. So we shall not cure ourselves of this condition unless there is a drastic change of attitude and direction by the whole nation. Today, at last, under this Government, there is hope that we shall have the strength of will to achieve it. Under the stimulus of the competition, new opportunities and ideals offered to us by Europe, there will be such a change as will lead us to new strength, economic prosperity and spiritual health.

I can understand why some of my hon. Friends are concerned about sovereignty and are unwilling voluntarily to transfer power from this assembly. They seem to think that no opportunity, however great, is worth the loss of legislative power which entry appears to involve. For them, alternative solutions to Britain's dilemma are irrelevant. I respect that view, but those of us who are not so single-minded—or, as I would prefer to put it, whose vision is not blinkered—are driven to consider alternative solutions to the political, economic and spiritual dilemma in which Britain now finds herself.

There are three possible courses. We could soldier on. Mindful of the electorate's tendency to turn out a Government imposing harsh remedial measures which fail to produce a sufficient quick boost to the economy, we could muddle through our economic difficulties; we could make the best of the world in which we would be a declining force with a diminishing share of world trade and influence and at the mercy of more powerful economic groups. This is not the kind of Britain that any of us wishes to pass on to his children.

Or we could, if only we had the will, summon up the unity and self-discipline required to streamline our economy, making those sacrifices albeit temporarily, in our standard of living, which would have to be made if we were to survive and prosper within our present economic limitations. Perhaps that is the course favoured by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). But without some miracle, some sudden spiritual regeneration, this possible course of action unfortunately remains a dream.

Thirdly, we could impose discipline. We could control wages, prices, location of industry, mobility of labour and the ownership of land. We could make the nation conform to a pattern which would allow us to maintain an independent economic existence. I believe that that is the pure Socialist solution. It would entail a degree of control over the economy and the lives of citizens which would be unacceptable in any free country. It could not be maintained without in the end depriving us of our free and democratic existence. It would certainly not restore to us the key factor of national self-confidence.

But I do not advocate joining Europe out of lack of an alternative policy. I advocate it because I believe that the British race—and I mean the British race—has made a unique contribution to the progress of mankind in the past and is now far from having exhausted its vitality, whatever the geo-political context in which it may operate; and I advocate it because I believe that the wider the arena in which Britain's power and influence is exercised, the better for mankind. I advocate it because narrow nationalism, which inspires good as well as evil, is, for those who have the vision to see, beginning to work itself out in our part of the world. It will continue to be major agent of change and controversy and war in other areas, but Western Europe, which embraces the most mature of the modern nation states and has stamped its name on contemporary world civilisation, has come to the beginning of the end of that kind of nationalism.

The benefits of international partnership and co-operation, peace, neighbourliness, love—call it what one will—which have a Christian basis, can be made secure and effective in the modern world only by the abandonment of narrow nationalism and the voluntary pooling and organisation of resources for the benefit of all. Because I believe that the E.E.C. is working towards that concept, however imperfectly, entry to the Community is not only necessary but right for Britain.

2.32 a.m.

Mr. Arthur Palmer (Bristol, Central)

I hope that the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) will forgive me if I do not comment on his speech. His style of politics is rather different from that of his predecessor. I should prefer to say a few words about the very eloquent and moving speech of the right hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann).

The right hon. Gentleman and I have two things in common. We both disagree with the majority view of our parties, and we both represent West Country constituencies. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is a West Countryman. I happen to be one. I was born and brought up in my early life in that most English of English counties, Devon, and yet I have always been instinctively pro-European. This springs probably from my entry into politics in my early youth in the immediate pre-war years—in the days of the struggle against Nazism and Fascism which left a very deep impression on my mind and thinking; when the causes which are closest to my heart, social democracy and humanism of both the Christian and secular variety: the rational, civilised traditions of public life, were nearly overwhelmed in Europe by the dark forces of reaction and obscurantism. Therefore, any institution that makes for integration and unity in Europe appeals very naturally to me.

I am not coming forward tonight with hard figures one way or the other. Experience has taught us, especially in this debate, that these figures often tend to cancel each other out. Nor am I coming forward with gloomy predictions of disaster or optimistic forecasts of automatic success, because again such views tend to cancel each other out.

In the short time available to me, I am anxious to make two observations. The first is a practical observation in the scientific and technical sphere, in which, as the House knows, I am much interested. The second observation is a general political point.

It is fashionable—and this fashion is growing, even on the Left in politics, which should know better—to sneer at science and technology, particularly advanced technology. It is said that it causes pollution or extermination in war. The Labour Government of 1964–70 came to power with a radical programme of social reform and improvements generally in the national life, based upon the hope of economic expansion, winch in turn was based upon technological expectations. Certainly in those years we did better than the Conservative Party are doing. It would not be hard to do better. Our approach was more pragmatic and less doctrinaire than theirs. But if we on this side of the House are honest, we will realise that in the period 1964 to 1970 we did not achieve all our goals, whether on housing, pensions, schools, health or much else.

That was certainly not for lack of will, ability or principle. We were bedevilled by balance of payments difficulties which led to unpopular credit squeezes and wage freezes. In the end this came back to a single cause, the failure to raise productivity and to increase growth.

There is no time to develop the arguments tonight. It is hardly the stage of the debate to do so. But I am deeply convinced, from my experience and knowledge of science, technology and industry, that entry into the E.E.C., with its much larger market and many new opportunities for the use of our reserves—which are at present often under-used—of engineers, scientists and skilled technicians, will provide that stimulus to growth which our economy obviously needs. All these questions and doubts which have been raised by academic economists who are against the E.E.C. will be resolved by the reality of industrial advance as a result of the larger market and the new opportunities which will be available.

Whilst we must be concerned with the future of agriculture in Britain, and with fishing, primarily Britain is an industrial country. It lives by industry and will continue to do so. In the modern world it will grow in strength through advanced technological industry.

One of our problems has been, and remains, that it is very difficult with a limited market to justify or find the money for the research that large-scale industry needs. I can give examples from nuclear energy development. At one time we were well in advance in the peaceful development of nuclear energy, but in the last 10 years Britain has not sold one nuclear reactor abroad. The Americans and the Germans are now selling many. The reason is that our market base has not been broad enough to support the manufacture of the variety or the types wanted by the world. We had to concentrate on one particular type, the gas cooled, which suited our electricity supply system but which is unsuitable for sale overseas.

There are parallel examples that I could quote from aerospace. To see this argument well developed, I would refer hon. Members to the maiden speech earlier this week of Lord Zuckerman in the other place. He is a man of great experience in this field. He has been chief scientific adviser to a succession of Governments—coalition, Labour and until recently the present Conservative Government.

Also may I quote some remarks made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson), not when he was Prime Minister but fairly recently—only five months ago. This is what he said in a television interview: The strongest argument in my mind—rather a difficult argument—what has appealed to me and what I stressed so much in government and since is that in an advanced technological age where we are a very advanced country, if we have a market of £300 million then we can take all the risks of industrial research. I could not have put it better myself.

I will not develop that point any further, but will move immediately to the political point with which I promised I would deal. I maintain that the closer economic and political unity of European States, or as many as can be brought together, is the natural evolution of governmental organisation in this part of the world. I was a small child, of course, during the First World War, but I think, looking back at the last two world wars, which originated in Europe, which to a great extent were fought out in Europe and finished in Europe, although it was difficult to see it at the time, one can now see them as having something of the character of civil wars—European civil war. There was in each one of them the inner striving perhaps for unity to be imposed brutally by force. But now the opportunity is available to bring about that unity by consent, which will considerably reduce the risk of future wars in this part of the world.

No unity of European States is conceivable or can be satisfied unless the people of the United Kingdom are included, because we are essentially a European people. There has not been a conflict or a struggle or a division in European politics for a thousands years in which we have not been involved in one way or another. We have all dropped carelessly into the way of talking about "entry into Europe". But I think the phrase "entry into Europe" would have astonished Henry V, Cromwell, Pitt, Wellington and several since.

However, I will not concern myself with the captains and the kings, being a good people's democrat. I think of the common people of this land who had to fight the wars and die. If the ghosts of those unknown soldiers and sailors—those who fought from Agincourt right the way through to the Somme and Arnhem or from the Armada to Trafalgar, to Jutland and the North Cape—could come back and one told them that they were not involved in Europe, when they gave their blood for Europe or for the safety of their country within Europe, they would be astonished. For us to talk of "entering Europe" is foolish and unreal. Britain is a European Power, has been, and will remain so.

The real question politically, as I see it, is how to exercise our beneficial influence and seek our best advantage in our own Continent at the present time in history. The question must be answered differently from the way in which it would have been answered 20, 30 or 50 years ago. I believe that the true answer is to be found now in entering the European Economic Community, while the opportunity is open to us.

I know that there are many of my hon. Friends, and some hon. Members opposite, who disagree with my conclusion. Given the same assumptions which I make, they come to a different view. I accept that, and, were it just an argument on an academic plane, I might concede by judgment possibly to be wrong. Had my party, which I have served in an elected capacity in one way or another since my early twenties, stood consistently against entry, I might have thought that I was possibly wrong; and so might I have thought if it had come forward with some alternative—sticking to E.F.T.A. or the Atlantic alliance, or even following a Yugoslavian or Swedish policy of neutrality. But that was not the way my party looked at it when we were in Government. They opted for the Market. In fact, whatever may be our differences on domestic policy with the Conservative Party, in power my right hon. and hon. Friends came to the same conclusion as that to which the Conservatives had already come. I am inclined to think, therefore, by a process of simple logic, that I am probably correct in believing that the immediatae course for the country to take, in its own interests, is to enter the European Economic Community.

I frankly acknowledge that public opinion is doubtful on the matter. It will, I think, remain doubtful. I never supposed that we should reach a point at which people would say, "Now do it, because we believe in it". In free societies, people rarely demonstrate for things; they usually march against things. But they have a right—I ask those on my own side who now speak so much about the traditions of Parliament to remember this—to ask Parliament to make up the nation's mind for it. That is our historic task; it always has been.

Whatever view one may take of the opinion polls—my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Michael Cocks) referred to one which he thought convincing—the one factor common to the opinion polls is that, if people are asked whether they think that the House of Commons should on this matter have a free vote, they are almost invariably in favour of a free vote. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Gallup Poll?"] Yes, in the case of the Gallup Poll, it was 80 per cent. in favour of a free vote. They sense, in effect, that on an issue about which they can never have enough information to judge, at least their elected representative should be placed in the most advantageous position to make a sound judgment.

I greatly regret that my party decided to impose a Whip, though narrowly, for the matter was contested in the party meeting. But, as things are turning out, there is no real Whip. It seems to me that this will be about as free a vote as the Labour Party has had at any time in the House. Many of us are determined to make it so, anyhow.

I shall vote at the end of this debate according to my deep conviction, believing that, in so doing, I am serving the best interests of my country and of free Europe, and believing also that, in the long run, I can see the best interests of my party more clearly, perhaps, than some of my hon. and right hon. Friends can at present.

In any case, I know that if we had won the General Election in 1970, as we deserved to, this vote would probably have been taking place at roughly the same time under a Labour Government, and I should be voting with the leaders of my party for entry into the Communities, as I propose to do tonight anyhow. I have accordingly informed my supporters and my constituents of my intention.

2.50 a.m.

Mr. John E. Maginnis (Armagh)

At this early hour I do not intend to go into the pros and cons of entry into Europe. But I should like to say a few words about the position of Northern Ireland if this country does gain entry.

We heard much from the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Palmer) about the progress of our entry and the conquests of the great kings who led armies to and from this country. I think that I shall speak for most of the people of Northern Ireland when I say that if the Treaty of Rome had another title it would have much more support there! Be that as it may, we in Northern Ireland have our own point of view.

In 1961 I voted for discussions to be opened with the E.E.C. By 1962 we were more or less pushed out into the cold. Ever since than I have given a great deal of attention to the problem of joining Europe. I have made my position absolutely clear during the intervening years and at the last two General Elections. I was opposed in principle to entry, but I also stated that if the House decided to enter Europe I was prepared to work for my constituents to see that the change-over would not harm them too much. That is still my position.

The process of joining Europe has been long and painful. Entry will not remove from us in Northern Ireland our biggest bogey, our remoteness from our markets. I am especially worried about our fruit industry, which has taken quite a hammering from the Italians during the past two or three years. I represent what is known as the Garden of Ireland. Ninety per cent. of our apples are grown in Armagh, where people are very worried about the future of the apple industry. In many European countries the industry has been retarded, and many apple plantations are being rooted out. We have spent quite a large amount of money on bringing in new strains and orchards, and it would be a big detriment to the industry in my constituency if the trend in Europe were continued throughout Northern Ireland.

We have one very big problem—transport. For certain other commodities we have a transport subvention, under arrangements with the Government here, especially for eggs. What would happen, if we join Europe, if this Parliament were unable to continue the subvention?

We also have what is known as our remoteness grant, to compensate our farmers for their remoteness from their main markets on the mainland. Our feeding stuffs cost more, and that will no doubt be a big barrier to increasing our production of eggs, meat, milk and pork.

An important piece of legislation in Northern Ireland is the Protection of Employment Act, introduced in 1947 to protect employment in industries in the Province. We have had a five-year guarantee on that. But we should like a much longer period because of our high unemployment.

We have been told that the decision whether to join is political. Other people would say that it is an economic decision. My view is that it is a historic decision. Most hon. Members who have spoken have said that there will be a motley collection of Members in each Lobby. That is as it should be, because I believe, like the hon. Member for Bristol, Central, that this should be a free and unfettered vote of all hon. Members and this is recognised in the country as a whole.

It is all very well to say that the House of Commons should make up its mind and that is the mind of the nation, but this is a two-way process and most hon. Members will agree that it is the duty of every hon. Member to ascertain, as far as humanly possible, the feelings of people in his own constituency, but having done so, it is up to him to exercise his own judgment in voting for or against the Market.

I have done that and I hope no person in this House will say that I have changed my mind or that I have been forced into taking this action in any way. I am doing it as a free man, representing free people, and I hope that if this country decides to join the European Economic Community, that I shall be spared to fight for my constituents so that the deal which is made will be beneficial to them in future.

2.56 a.m.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield (Nuneaton)

Apart from being overwhelmed, I would hate to follow the hon. Member for Armagh (Mr. Maginnis) into the apple orchards of Northern Ireland. Apart from that I am rather glad to see that he, too, has not been very reassured by the assurances he has had from his own Front Bench.

I started out last Thursday intending to make a speech which could only be interpreted as being an abstention speech, but having heard some of the incredible lack of assurance right hon. Members opposite seem to display on some vital issues, I am even moved to vote against them.

I have been one in the past who has been pro-Europe. I have been pro-Market. I have not been the kind of passionate, missionary advocate my hon. Friends the Members for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) and Ashfield (Mr. Marquand) have always been and consequently I can never claim to go out and preach with the same kind of missionary dedication. Nevertheless, out of fatalistic or realistic acceptance that one day this country has to be part of a larger grouping of countries I have in the past been a Marketeer. I am one of those who find it rather difficult to go through the political gymnastics which seem to be required on this side to conform to the official party line.

Following my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol Central (Mr. Palmer). I feel, too, that we do ourselves no credit on this side of the House in committing our- selves so heavily with a three-line Whip. Many of us involved in politics accept that this is a party committed by a majority conference decision and committed to a three-line Whip by a majority Vote in the Parliamentary Labour Party, but that is not the way it is seen outside in the country. There, the decision is seen as pressure, as a force on each individual hon. Member to prevent him voting the way he would wish. I have always told my constituents that whatever way I vote, it would not be a vote dictated by the Party Whip but a vote after I had made up my mind on all the issues involved.

It does this side no credit to put on the pressure which a three-line Whip means. Nor do I feel like bailing out the Conservative Party, because there is no doubt that, granting the free vote they have, they cannot get a majority for these proposals from within their own ranks. I shall not help them to get into Europe if they cannot find a majority themselves.

The reason why I have been pro-Europe in the past is that I feel that—especially in this very advanced technological age in which we find ourselves moving—we must have both a bigger base to give ourselves the necessary productive capacity and a larger domestic market. My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, Central mentioned nuclear reactors. I could quote the case of aircraft and computers. We have already reached the stage where we cannot sell nuclear reactors because we do not have that sufficiently large productive base. We have already reached the stage where we cannot produce our own aircraft without, in advance, committing our nationalised airlines to buy them, and where we can have our own computer industry only by fiddling the contracts. We have reached the stage where we must have a larger European base if we want to stay in this generation of technology. If we are to survive we must move into the next generation of technology.

Similarly, far from being a free trade atmosphere, the world trade atmosphere has become one of protectionism. We already see the moves made by President Nixon and the retaliatory moves made by the Japanese and others. I have been concerned lest we find ourselves outside a Europe which is itself protectionist. With both America and Europe going protectionist, to be outside those blocs would not benefit this country in the future.

The trouble is that to get some of these advantages we have to pay a heavy price in the short term. It has been said by hon. Members on both sides of the House that the Government have already made a serious miscalculation in their estimate of the contribution that this country will have to make to the common agricultural fund. We know that many of the estimates that we shall have to make will be only guesswork. It must be admitted that the Government were basing their estimates on the kind of maize harvest we had last year; that that harvest has already been exceeded and those calculations have already proved to be wrong.

The other important aspect of the question of the cost that we shall have to pay is that we shall have to concede one of the basic ingredients of our high standard of living, namely, our cheap food policy. If there is anything that gives us a standard of living comparable to that of those countries already in the Common Market it is that we operate a cheap food policy.

One of the other doubts that I began to harbour when I saw the Government's White Paper concerned not so much the terms—because I am not particularly impressed by the "terms argument" put forward officially by my party—as the whole tone of that White Paper. Everything in it seemed to be written from the point of view of what the Confederation of British Industry wanted. Everything seemed to be saying that the Confederation had carried out surveys and had found that to the majority of its members entry into the E.E.C. would he beneficial. The C.B.I. does not represent the majority of my constituents. The aspirations and hopes of my constituents are not represented by the general tone of the White Paper. Its whole tone, and the whole ethos of the Treaty of Rome, is competition—and free market competition, the kind of competition that must not be interfered with. We have a whole bureaucracy in Brussels to ensure that competition is not interfered with.

I find myself in a particularly difficult position, because I belong to a party which believes in deliberately interfering with the market, and deliberately altering it, to ensure social justice, to make sure that we have a redistribution of incomes and give people who have not had a good start in life equality of opportunity. The fact that we have a Government that is committed to competition—particularly with this branch of Conservativism—and a White Paper which speaks very much in the ethos of a free market makes it difficult for me to accept the spirit of the White Paper.

One of the turning points that has made me doubtful recently is that like so many Members opposite I have been to certain Commonwealth countries. I have just returned from Australia and New Zealand and it was the feeling I heard expressed by many of their politicians and others that gave me fresh doubts. It may be all right for many Members who have been making the pro-Market case to say that Europe will be outward looking. It might be all right for them to defend that by saying that the European countries have a pretty liberal aid record. But no other country inside the Common Market has a Commonwealth or a multiracial band of nations round the globe which is the equivalent of the British Commonwealth.

It cannot be said that the French or the Germans have the same kind of colonial record that we have. It could not be said that, for example, the French have the same kind of policy towards arms sales to South Africa that we have. I find it most worrying that we would find ourselves in a group of nations which have not had the same kind of colonial experience that we have and do not have the same kind of Commonwealth connections that we still have.

We still send about 36 per cent. of our exports to that preference area compared with nearly 20 per cent. to the Common Market. I wonder whether we can afford to upset those preferences, whether we can afford to lose all of their markets just for the chance that we may get an increased share of an even tougher market.

It has been said that the Commonwealth markets do not grow very fast. But it has also been said on both sides of the House that there is a real possibility that growth inside the Common Market may slow down as well. When one considers the kind of assurances we have been given in trying to swap these preference markets for the E.E.C., one must heartily disagree with the Chancellor of the Duchy. He has not been given "bankable assurances". When one looks at the assurances we have on Carribbean sugar and the position of New Zealand, beyond about three years I cannot see anything which is all that definite.

One of my primary objections to the way the Government is treating the Commonwealth is because they have resolved the dilemma they always had of not knowing whether they should be a party of empire or a party of Europe. They have finally decided it must be a European party. In coming to that decision they seem quite prepared to jeopardise our interests in the Commonwealth and to jeopardise all that the Commonwealth means.

Most of us saw the Prime Ministers' conference at Singapore in January as the first stroke. We saw a British Prime Minister quite prepared to jeopardise Britain's position in the eyes of the African and the Asian Commonwealth countries. The Conservatives now seem prepared to settle with the Smith régime in Rhodesia on any kind of terms, with all that that may involve for the black Commonwealth in Africa and for the Commonwealth in Asia.

By being prepared to settle with Smith and in taking the line they have over the sale of arms to South Africa, they seem implicitly to find their refuge in this European dream they harbour. It is because we have this kind of party putting forward the White Paper, a party which is prepared to turn its back on the Commonwealth, that I have some quite severe reservations. Irrespective of what may be happening through the disappearance of Commonwealth trade preferences—and I accept that they are diminishing; irrespective of what may be happening to the percentage of trade that is done in sterling, and I know that is diminishing too; the Commonwealth is still a quite unique multiracial band of nations stretching right round the globe. It stands for something which is still meaningful; it stands for social justice; it stands as an example of stable constitutional democracy which we have given to the world and the Commonwealth. I am not being jingoistic or essentially patriotic. I am saying that this is a band of nations which is unrivalled in its significance as a multiracial society, in its significance for constitutional and stable democracy.

I come back to my essential point about European technology, and it is on this, too, that I have started to have doubts. There is a lot of gross national product worship in the White Paper as well as a lot of European technological worship. One could reflect that we could reach the stage in 1980 when we shall all be flying in European-produced airbuses, when every one of our movements will be logged by European-produced computers, when we shall be showing our identity cards as we go, of course, leaving a trail of pollution and destruction of the environment and upsetting nature's balance.

So much of the White Paper is written in the spirit of the greater glorification of gross national product and in encouraging modern technology without taking sufficiently into account the fact that world technology can be an enslaver as well as a liberator. It is because of that and the fact that no reservations have been expressed on these lines that I even have some doubts on this score.

We know that world technology is moving so fast that there is now quite a severe risk that we can move on to another generation of technology without first digesting and accepting all the social changes of the one we have already. I had hoped to see some reference to this aspect in the White Paper. In closing down coal mines and transferring labour to another industry, in bringing in computers and nuclear reactors and the rest, we may sometimes just happen to forget the serious human consequences and that it is people with whom we are dealing after all.

I began by saying that I felt originally that I must abstain or vote against the Motion. I was looking originally to hearing from the Government some kind of reassurance, particularly on some of the long-term political issues, because it is politically that I find more difficulty in accepting the concept of the E.E.C. The issue of sovereignty has been raised. I was surprised to hear the Secretary of State for Wales and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry say that in the case of vital national interest a decision had to be unanimous. The trouble is, as anyone who has looked at the Luxembourg Accord of 1965 knows, what exactly is a vital national interest has never been defined. The Accord itself is at variance with the terms of the Rome Treaty and neither the Commission nor the Six agree on how the Accord should be interpreted.

So we have the fact that in the event of some kind of conflict between member countries and the Commission, the Government say; "Don't worry, it is all covered by that mystical formula of 'vital national interest.' ". But that formula, which is supposed to protect us in the way the Government claim, has never been clearly legally defined. Far from being sure about the kind of regional development policy which I think we must have, far from being sure of being able to debate some of the things we debate in this House, and far from being reassured that all this will be covered by that phrase "vital national interest", once more I am very much at a loss in accepting some of the incredible lack of reassurance we have had from the Government.

I realise that in suggesting that I should abstain I am proposing on my constituents' behalf that I should go only half way towards accepting the proposals in the Motion. I accept, too, that in my constituency, as in most others, there is a majority against the proposal. I accept, too, that my constituency Labour Party has a majority against the proposal.

I have always believed that this country's rôle in the world ought to be international, not as one member of a close and introvert grouping, but showing the world that we can have an ongoing, stable, constitutional democracy which knows how to live with and come to terms with modern technology and which is, above all, capable of coping with all the changes and balances with which most modern westernised civilised societies have to contend at the moment.

I very much doubt whether we can pursue that rôle, whether we can have a meaningful interpretation of that rôle inside the E.E.C. as it is envisaged in the present Government's White Paper.

3.16 a.m.

Sir Richard Thompson (Croydon, South)

At this very late hour I have two obligations, one to the Chair and one to hon. Members. That to the Chair is to be genuinely brief and that to hon. Members is not to attempt to rehearse in great detail and at great length arguments which in this sixth day of this six-day debate have been mulled over, rightly so, again and again.

The debate has lasted a good deal longer than six days, because for hon. Members it has been going on for the best part of a decade. During that time, as we well know, a previous Conservative and a previous Labour Government applied to join the Six, and we know that it has long been the official policy of the Liberal Party to do so.

Therefore, one might ask what the argument is all about. If it has been the official policy of all parties to join, why are we locked in a six-day debate at all? Does it make sense? One can understand the cynicism of the public, mentioned by both sides, on this issue. One figure about which we can all be sure in the percentages we quote is the very high percentage of people who, whatever their views on the merits, are convinced that we are going in. Both major parties have applied for entry and everybody knows—and the debate has reinforced this—that if the fortunes of war had been different and the Conservative Party were now in opposition and the Labour Party had control in these matters it would unquestionably be pressing our application and urging us to go in. This lends an air of unreality to the public view of some of our discussions.

Yet this has been one of the finest debates in the House in the 17 years I have attended. I did not think that this kind of debate could be sustained for a week without gross repetition and a good deal of boredom, but it has been, and many of the best speeches on both sides have been made by the dissidents, those not accepting the line of their party. I respect this hard core of dissent on both sides, but I must candidly say that I am for going in.

My reason is briefly that I accept—some do not—the totality of the economic argument, and it was put exceedingly well in one of the best speeches, that of the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Marquand). He made the refreshing and surprising assertion, speaking as a Socialist, that we cannot talk about redistributing wealth more fairly and all the rest unless we first create extra wealth, and that we cannot do that from the narrow base we now have. We must get the volume if we are to get growth and a more profitable output. Only on that basis can we achieve the things we want to achieve for our people. I thought the hon. Member put it very well.

The other outstanding speech in today's debate came also from the Opposition benches, namely from the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) in an impassioned and eloquent speech which lifted the debate out of all the piddling business of matching gains against losses and arguments whether this or that figure is right, or how one can quantify it, and all the rest. I thought the hon. Gentleman took us well out of that rut and made a first-class case for going in.

I have found that most of my constituents accept the economic argument when it is put to them—I do not say they do so with great enthusiasm, but they can see the point of it. Where the trouble arises is on the question of sovereignty, the feeling that if we do this we are giving away something precious that we could never reclaim. I have thought about this matter very anxiously. If I thought we were losing our right to do as we think proper in essential fields, I would not vote for entry. But I do not take this view. One of the reasons is that for many decades past we have not had and do not now enjoy absolute sovereignty in this country. We cannot give up what we do not fully possess now. For years in defence, currency, economic matters and trade our sovereignty has not been absolute.

Mr. Donald Stewart (Western Isles)

Although it is true that no country enjoys absolute sovereignty, surely there are degrees in reducing the amount of sovereignty a nation possesses.

Sir R. Thompson

The hon. Gentleman is quite right that there are degrees between no sovereignty at all and absolute sovereignty. I was making the point that not even the United States or the Soviet Union in this closely integrated world are any longer totally independent units which can do what they like all the time on every occasion. It is true that this country in the matter of defence for some 20 years has entrusted the greater part of its armed forces to N.A.T.O. without much complaint. Everybody knows this country could not be defended on any other basis.

What about the question of economic sovereignty? Twice since the war we have had to devalue the £. The Government in charge at the time happened to be a Labour Government in each case. They did not want it to happen, but had not the sovereignty or means to stop it. They were swept along by events—and this could happen again. Every trade treaty we have ever signed has abrogated and qualified our sovereignty to a certain extent. We have given up things in return for others which we thought worth while and important to us. We should not look at the question of sovereignty as if we were still living in the 18th century, because we are not.

I said I would be brief and I shall. My conclusion is that the economic argument which has been tossed to and fro stands up. I believe that there is a better future for this country in closer economic and political ties with our neighbours and allies on the continent of Europe. I believe that the prospects for employment and for a better life for all in these islands are bound up in our making that choice. I believe that effective alternatives to that do not exist. We have come to the end of an era. We have a chance now to get in on acceptable terms. If we do not take it now and the chance ever recurs, those terms will be harsher and the prize will be harder to achieve.

For these reasons, I intend to support the Motion, and I commend it to the House.

3.25 a.m.

Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)

The hon. Member for Croydon, South (Sir R. Thompson) has referred favourably to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Marquand) and expressed support for the point that he made. In that, the hon. Gentleman and I are at one.

There are few occasions when parliamentary assemblies face such major decisions of importance as whether to join an international organisation. Not many decisions are comparable in importance with the one that will face us a few hours from now.

Looking back over the last half century, two such occasions spring to mind. One was the failure of the U.S. Senate to ratify the agreement to enter the League of Nations. The second was the failure of the French National Assembly to ratify the European Defence Community agreement. Whatever the merits of those decisions—and they are still argued—they were seen to be irreversible. In my view a decision by us against going into the European Economic Community would be a tragic error for the country and, if not irreversible, difficult to reverse.

The moment has come for us to decide, and it is not an ideal moment for many reasons. It is not ideal because the negotiations have been conducted on our behalf by an inept Government who have failed completely to put over the case for entry and who have presided over such a serious deterioration of our country's economy that they have forfeited the confidence of the people, who have, as a result, withdrawn their support from this major aspect of Government policy.

It is not an ideal moment to decide because the negotiations are not complete. One thinks especially of the fisheries policy over which negotiations are still not complete.

It is not ideal because of the state of public opinion. No parliamentary democrat can afford to ignore or regard lightly the fact that public opinion is so little enchanted with the idea of entry.

Despite these grave difficulties, if we take the view that it is in the overall interests of the country to join the Community we have no choice but to take up the opportunity now. In international negotiations an application of this kind cannot be picked up or dropped at the will of one of the partners to the negotiations. If we reject this opportunity now, it is inconceivable that we shall find it possible to reopen negotiations in the foreseeable future.

That is one of the imperative reasons why I find it necessary to dissent from my party on this issue. It is not the first time that I have disagreed with my party. Indeed, I recall that in the lifetime of the last Government there were a number of occasions—some of great moment—when I profoundly dissented from what they were doing. But I did not think it right to register my dissent by voting against the party line, largely because, on all these issues, it was open to the Government and to my party to change the policy at will. That possibility is not open to us today, so I find myself driven by that private imperative.

It is also the public expectation, borne out by all the opinion polls, that this House will take a decision, and one in favour of entry. None the less, we have a special duty, in a debate of this kind, when out of line with the majority opinion, to explain some of the reasons why, particularly as they affect our constituencies. For that reason I feel obliged to revert, albeit briefly in view of the hour and the time which has already been devoted to this subject, to the problems which have been foreseen for the regions of this country if we enter the European Economic Community.

I should make it plain from the start that for me a compelling consideration in the debate is the prospect that entry into the E.E.C. will provide this country with the possibility of sustaining a higher level of economic growth than has proved possible during the last two decades. I accept that this is not a demonstrable fact, but the experience of the Six encourages that expectation, for each of those countries has enjoyed a growth rate at least twice ours in the last decade.

I take some satisfaction and support from the conviction of all the Social Democratic parties and the democratic trade unions of the Six that that growth is in large part due to their membership of the Community. The point is not capable of proof, but the balance of the evidence is persuasive.

What is beyond argument is that our freedom to pursue the regional policies which we have pursued, and indeed any regional policies which we cared to devise, is quite unfettered by the arrangements in the Community at this time. This is a matter of high importance to my constituency, lying, as it does, at the northern extremity of our islands, far removed, it may be argued, from what has been loosely referred to as the industrial heartland of Europe. Indeed, it is because I believe that my constituency stands to gain from the economic growth which I anticipate will follow our entry into the Community that I also feel impelled to dissent from the official line of my party.

Some hours earlier we had a contribution from my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Rhodes) in which he suggested that industry would ineluctably be drawn towards the heart of Europe if we entered, and that, indeed, this had happened within the Community to date. This is not so. My hon. Friend talked about an article which had appeared in the Sunday Times which alleged that the industrial centre of Europe lay somewhere on the border between Belgium and France and that that was the place to which all industry would go or would tend to gravitate. The southern part of Belgium has in fact had little success in its regional development within the Community. It has one of the highest rates of unemployment, around 5.6 per cent. Its proximity to this mythical centre seems not to have stood it in good stead. The success or failure of regional policies depends more on the measures pursued by member Governments themselves than on geographical location. It is not inhibited by existing rules.

As for the further anxiety about the free movement of capital and its possible effect upon our capacity to pursue a successful industrial development certificate policy, it was the reluctance of firms to move, not their readiness to move abroad, which tended to defeat that policy as pursued by the last Labour Government.

Anyway, there is not free movement of capital within the Community at this date. The French have put restrictions on it since 1968, invoking Article 108 of the treaty. In the light of the new emphasis in the institutions of the Community upon the importance of regional policy, the need to develop harmoniously the economy of the community and to mitigate the backwardness of the less favoured areas could be prayed in aid to permit any necessary restrictions on the movement of capital under Article 73 if that were felt to be necessary.

But one must take issue, and at the most fundamental level, with those of my hon. Friends who have argued that in regional development what is really at issue is the loss we suffer to our capacity to plan these matters for ourselves. It was argued yesterday from the Front Bench that we should lose our capacity to control our fate in this respect. But how much sovereignty did we enjoy when we wrote those letters of intent to the International Monetary Fund, which were such a constant feature of the lifetime of the last Labour Government?

It was obvious then that our ability to manage our economy for the benefit of developed or under-developed parts of the country was greatly limited. It is to break out of that kind of restraint that we should join the Community, in whose decisions and policy-making we could play a continuing and constructive rôle.

It has been said that the vote will end the debate. I do not believe that that is so, nor should it be so. But it will end the speculation about Parliament's will to join the Community. I hope that it will also be the beginning of new investment activity in the public and private sectors to get the economy moving again. But it will be the beginning of a new debate—and it would have been better if we had heard more of it in this debate—on how to maximise the benefits of entry, because they are not automatic.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Palmer) made an interesting speech about his expectations for some of the high technology industries, in which I also have an interest. I had hoped to hear some thoughts about this matter during the debate. The disadvantages for the atomic energy industry, in particular, of remaining outside this wider market have been apparent. Nuclear reactor systems have been developed in this country which we have been unable to market. Collaborative arrangements at a governmental level, not merely at an inter-company level, will be the foundation for a new surge forward of the atomic energy industry. I remember how, as a result of the restrictions on public expenditure imposed in the lifetime of the last Government, the Minister of Technology found himself curtailing the nuclear fusion programme. I hope that this matter will be taken up again when we go into the Community, as I think we shall.

The most profound misunderstandings have arisen as to the nature of the Community. People have tended to look at it in a pathological section and not to examine it as a living organism which grows, changes and develops and to which we can contribute our ideas, priorities and notions for its democratic improvement. The changes which have taken place in the last 10 years have been dramatic, in the development of regional policy, in the flow of people from peasant holdings on the land into industry and in the attitude of the Community to aid for the under-developed countries. We shall help in the Community to accelerate these processes of change.

What we shall not see developing rapidly is uniformity. Unity does not mean uniformity, and I believe that we shall find it open to us to eschew such continental customs as we do not care for, and that the Common Market countries will eschew ours which they dislike. We in Scotland submitted to a parliamentary union which was much more far-reaching and much more final than the one which it is proposed we should enter now, and yet we still retain striking religious and cultural distinctiveness and differences of law, and this situation will continue.

It is impossible for us to remain in isolation from the rest of the world, and that has been the alternative which has been put forward by many who oppose entry at this time. We have seen how our economy can be hit at the whim of another Government—for example, the imposition of the 10 per cent. surcharge by the United States. It is an illusion to believe that we can pursue policies alone which will achieve the economic and social ends which we as democratic Socialists wish to pursue.

The initial inspiration of the E.E.C. was one of peace and reconciliation. It is from there that my conviction stemmed that it was right for us to move into wider and closer co-operation with Europe. For me it goes back a long time, even to before the establishment of the Coal and Steel Community.

The threat to peace now does not stem from the same quarters as it did in the 1930s. That that is so is due in large measure to the success of the European Economic Community. Today the most encouraging feature of the international scene in Europe is the approach to détente with the East, the normalisation of relations between West Germany and the countries of Eastern Europe and Russia, initiated by that greatest of all Social Democrats, Willy Brandt. This is rooted deeply in the unity of Western Europe, and without that unity this détente would have been impossible. We are now called upon to play a part in these developments for the security and prosperity of our country and of Western Europe as a whole.

3.46 a.m.

Mr. Patrick Wolrige-Gordon (Aberdeenshire, East)

In the debate many right hon. and hon. Members have treated this issue as being one of the most tremendous importance, from whichever side of the case they have approached it. Every issue which we discuss and decide upon in the House is of the most tremendous importance in that it affects directly the lives and welfare of a great many thousands and millions of people each time. This issue is different only in degree.

A big power bloc seems to me no more or less aggravating than a number of small power blocs. We are as much or more the hostage to fortune outside Europe as inside it. European problems will continue to affect us directly, whether or not we enter the E.E.C. Our security, our well being and even our future will still depend upon us whether we join or not. So I am very glad to say that I consider this issue solely from my constituents' point of view. That brings me immediately to the crucial question of fisheries, and as it is late in the night that is the one matter with which I wish to deal.

It should be clearly understood that no regional policy, however well conceived and however directly applied, could take the place which fishing now occupies in the economy of the north of Scotland. The inshore industry employs directly about 8,000 men. But that figure takes no account of the enormous investment in the area for the food processing industries built upon the catch of that fishing. If that is included, it is estimated to involve about 100,000 people. They are people working in a competitive industry, locally based, efficient, go-ahead, able and willing to stand on its own feet and strategically situated all round the northern coast and the isles of Scotland.

What alternative based on a Community investment policy in line with regional development can be expected to take its place? I do not suppose that an alternative has even been thought about, but I would doubt its efficacy anyway because to be effective regional development must excite as much local involvement as possible, and that we have par excellence in the fishing industry in the north of Scotland already. That is one reason why for me, at this point, the fisheries issue is the dominant question in considering my vote today.

All the other major matters have been settled, and in my opinion well settled—Commonwealth sugar, New Zealand, agriculture, etc. For better or worse, everybody directly concerned in such issues knows the facts on which to make his own judgment. It is true that people seem able to interpret the same facts completely differently, but at least the facts are known. On fishing they are not.

Let me repeat what we do have, in the words of my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster the day before yesterday, first in regard to our original proposal. He said: Our proposal, therefore, was that the Community principle of free access for member States without discrimination should apply to the waters of all existing and new members between six and 12 miles. But, in the event, our proposal did not seem to find favour. My right hon. and learned Friend delicately forbore to mention with whom they did not find favour. That original proposal, incidentally, has not been withdrawn. Anyway, he went into what we have now proposed; namely, the status quo: which for us means the existing state of affairs, until agreement could be reached after enlargement on what changes were needed and, most important, were acceptable to all concerned—I repeat, to all concerned. He then went on to the Community's position, and said: For its part, the Community has accepted that the present fisheries policy needs changes, and it has formally acknowledged that a new policy must establish an overall balance of advantage that takes account of the legitimate interests of all member countries … we will not agree to any arrangements that do not satisfactorily protect our legitimate interests."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th October, 1971; Vol. 823, c. 1242.] That is where we are at the moment. Everybody is full of the profoundest optimism. Heartwarming assurances fly round this place like confetti.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in his speech in the debate, went so far as to say that he believed that matters were now moving in the right direction. He also fairly pointed out in the same speech that to some of us fisheries is a very major issue and that: One of the major issues on which we still have to complete negotiations with the Community is fisheries."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st October, 1971; Vol. 823, c. 1032.] Yet the House will be aware that the Motion before us is that we should approve of a decision of principle to join on the basis of the arrangements which have been negotiated. Here is the issue on which they have not yet been negotiated, and here, therefore, is the issue on which I shall not be able to support the Motion in the Lobby this evening. That is not an emotional issue for me. It is a question of bread and butter and the chance for the fishermen of continuing to earn it.

On balance, I think the best bargain for Britain is to join the Common Market, but I do not think it would be a bargain at all if we had to join at the expense of the inshore fishermen. If their welfare is sacrificed, not only they but Britain and the Community will be the poorer. If it is them today, who will it be tomorrow? I do not say that their welfare will be sacrificed, and I wholly believe in the Government's good faith and good work in this issue, but I cannot support this Motion until I can assess for certain, for my own sake, what effect entry will have on the inshore fishing industry. It is not only limits and their protection. If Norway does not go in and we end up lumbered with a six-mile limit, we shall rapidly have to revise our whole concept of fishery protection. There is also the damaging effect of the marketing regulations which has to be made clear.

I trust that my action in abstaining, which is meant to be helpful, will assist my right hon. Friends to alert the E.E.C. to the deadly serious way in which we view this question and our determination to get it right.

3.55 a.m.

Mr. Jeffrey Thomas (Abertillery)

Having regard to the content of his speech, I am glad to be able to follow the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Wolrige-Gordon), though I hope he will forgive me if I do not take up his line of argument in what I have to say. I am grateful to you Mr. Speaker, for having called me. It shows that everything comes to him who waits, and, if waiting is a virtue, then even in this place virtue has its reward.

To many of us on this side, it must be a sad debate inasmuch as so many of one's hon. Friends have views running counter to one's own. In the light of the speeches which I have heard, I would say this to the pro-Marketeers on both sides. While I yield to no one in admiration for their sincerity and my belief in their right to hold the views they hold, it has seemed to me that much of what they have said has been more appropriate to the privacy of the confessional than to a debate in the House. It seems, moreover, that there is a feeling on their part that, although we, the anti-Marketeers, may have the best arguments—just as the devil has the best tunes—right is on their side and they have a monopoly of wisdom, of foresight and even of morality. This is something which many of us find unwholesome and intolerable.

I wish to take up one or two of the points which have been made by the pro-Marketeers, and I deal, first, with the question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Marquand) about the alternatives to our joining the Community. The complaint was that this matter had never been canvassed in the debate. What are the alternatives? Let us look at the picture. North America has the fastest growing market in the world. The first thing we should do, at the top of our list of priorities, is to obtain maximum access and exposure to that market. An initiative which included North America, E.F.T.A.—which the pro-Marketeers seem to forget altogether—and the rest of non-E.E.C. Europe and Japan alone would account for over three-quarters of the industrialised non-Communist world. That is enough for a start. That is a big enough market for this country.

There is no guarantee of growth in Europe. Similarly, there is no guarantee, unless we change our ways, of growth in this country. The pro-Marketeers seem to talk as though the six Community countries, which they eulogise as Europe, offer the panacea to all our economic ills and malaise. It simply is not true. Markets are worldwide. Research and development has been and always will be worldwide, generated on a world basis. What Britain will be like in the 1980s, I believe, will depend primarily on what we do in Britain.

Mr. Alan Haselhurst (Middleton & Prestwich)

The hon. Gentleman has referred to other parts of the world with which we might develop trading contacts. There are no guarantees for the future, as he says, but there is no evidence, unless he can produce it, that those other parts of the world are prepared to co-operate with us. At least, the countries which now form the European Economic Community are prepared to co-operate with us. Does not the hon. Gentleman agree, therefore, that their co-operation offers a more practical basis for us than any prospect of co-operation with those other countries, on which there is little or no evidence?

Mr. Thomas

One of the features of the debate, if not the only common denominator between the antis and the pros, is the belief that even if there are economic advantages in joining the Six they are marginal, ill-defined and unquantifiable. I am anxious not to erect barriers which will preclude us from worldwide markets. That is the answer to those who ask what is the alternative to going into the Six.

The question of unemployment in the Community has been raised, particularly by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, North (Mr. Edelman), who talked as if the Common Market countries had produced a magic formula and had no economic problems of any kind. The reality is different. In Belgium the aids to the regions, for example, are extremely low by international standards. The total investment allowed is only 20 per cent. of any project, and the long-term future of declining regions in Eastern Belgium is bleak. Already in that country there is talk of large emigration.

France's regional plans have never been accurate, and in the past two or three years the situation has changed for the worse. Unemployment is sharply on the increase. Unfortunately, the sharpest increase is to be found in the declining regions.

Italy is always mentioned by the pro-Marketeers as an example of what the Market can do. They are always reminding us about the wonders performed in the South. What they never underline is that Southern Italy is in such a depressed state as to form a class of its own, so much so that areas like Eastern Belgium, Northern France and South Wales have much more in common with the more prosperous areas of their countries than with an area like Southern Italy. Even though Northern and Southern Italy are now growing at about the same rate, there are no signs of the gap between them being closed. Even with the extra advantage of the Special Protocol, the assistance given under the treaty, and able to be given under the treaty, is nowhere remotely near the amount of assistance given by the last Labour Government in this country. For instance, whilst in 1969 we gave about £77 million to Northern Ireland, the special assistance given to Southern Italy amounted to only £3.5 million.

What are we being asked to substitute for what we have? What is the great attraction? I have not seen the so-called overwhelming advantages of going in. We have had many euphoric speeches from pro-Marketeers, but no facts. It has been largely a matter of faith. What Professor Dahrendorf has said has not been brought forward by pro-Marketeers. I do not want to dwell too much on him, but as the Commissioner for External Affairs he should know a little about the workings of the Market. He said in his article in Die Zeit in August: A democrat can only feel shame when he sees adult, and in their own countries, properly elected Members of Parliament playing out the farce that they have to put on 10 times a year for a week at a time in Strasbourg or Luxembourg. Either they must discuss matters which do not interest them—or if so only marginally—or else they take an interest in problems they are not allowed to discuss: either way, they are forbidden to take a decision. No one talks any more about the beginnings of a European Government. This is the situation. I have yet to hear of any evidence, I have yet to see any indication, that the Community has the will, the means or the ability to change this situation.

Politically the Community is a strange creature indeed. The hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Nicholas Edwards) described it as a living body. I prefer to describe it as a kind of political amoeba with not much shape and little backbone. It has not succeeded so far in putting forward any common industrial policy—it is still at the stage of issuing memoranda—it has no foreign policy, no defence policy and not much of an economic policy. At the first whiff of grapeshot in the recent monetary crisis it proved quite incapable of acting as a Community. It is not surprising in these circumstances that the late Sir Winston Churchill described the Six as "a sludgy amalgam".

I will not dwell on the question of sovereignty, but the foundation of the Community is the Treaty of Rome which many hon. Members in favour of going in are anxious enough to forget. We would be handing over power on our internal affairs to bodies outside the control of this House.

The Treaty gives power to legislate to outside non-responsible authorities, and those outside authorities will be the judges of what people in this country should or should not support or tolerate. Wherever the Treaty is silent on an issue, Community action is extended and implemented by rules, directives and regulations, all of which have the force of law.

By 1970 about 150 directives had been issued. The three Communities had published about 3,000 decisions and 7,000 regulations. During 1970 and so far this year, 2,500 regulations have been enacted. None of these instruments needs to be submitted to member Governments for approval or otherwise. That is the point. These are real objections for those who see the Community as undemocratic and bureaucratic.

Does anyone contend that the British public appreciate this situation? Do they appreciate that this House will be the largest rubber stamp in the business? That will happen. It is unrealistic to talk about changing the treaty and the framework once we have signed. The institutions of the Community are rather like the back end of a pantomime horse; they have their body firmly set in one direction and their feet equally firmly pointing in another.

Nothing has changed for the 13 years that the Community has been in existence. There is nothing new about it which has been going since 1958. It has been tethered to the post of the Rome Treaty and blinkered by its provisions, being able to perform only in ever-decreasing circles.

In regional policies, we were the first country to accept that economic difficulties have a particular regional bias and to try to do something about it by giving special assistance to particular regions.

The structure of the stick of the I.D.C. and the carrot of financial incentives has remained the basis of our regional policies since 1947. In 1967 the Labour Government introduced R.E.P., for the first time offering a subsidy to labour rather than capital in areas of high unemployment. This was a move on a massive scale, the resources deployed amounting to £150 million, or almost double the amount of assistance given to development areas.

Even the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry admitted last week that when the economic tide turns the time lag in regaining economic health is longer in the least-favoured areas of the country. Growth by itself is wholly insufficient to deal with the problems of the regions. Last night the Secretary of State told the House that we cannot be overridden in the matter of I.D.C.s, and that I.D.C.s were responsible for one in five firms going to development areas. He was quite wrong to say that we cannot be overruled and that it is a matter entirely for us.

The right hon. Gentleman said that if we go to the Council of Ministers our view is bound to prevail. I take issue with him on that because if we persist in pursuing policies going against decisions of the Council of Ministers that Council can and will take us to the European Court which is there to deal with nations and member countries which infringe and violate the terms of the Treaty of Rome.

I feel that if we go in there will be less and less reason for firms to shirk setting up across the Channel, nearer to the centre of the Community. I shall not go into details of an article in the Sunday Times last week; it has been dealt with at some length by one of my hon. Friends. I seek to emphasise that the centre of the Community has an advantage of about 27 per cent. over South-East England, and that South-East England has an advantage over Wales of about 15 per cent.

That is the position. There is no global regional policy at the moment in the Community, and what policies are permitted are wholly ineffective. Worse than that; the Treaty of Rome makes a set of coherent and effective regional policies almost impossible. It is not explicity mentioned in Part I of the Treaty, headed "Principles", and the Community has no mandate to pursue policies of this kind. I shall not deal with Article 92 except to say that it provides that aids may be given as long as they are compatible with the Common Market and in favour of regions with abnormally low standards of living or serious unemployment. Neither term "abnormally low" or "serious unemployment" is further defined.

The hon. Member for Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman) intervened when my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. George Thomas) was speaking in the debate the day before yesterday. She asked him what his views were on Article 130, which set up the European Investment Bank, and pointed out that that bank provided enormous facilities for regional policies. Again, I beg to differ. I venture to think that the hon. Lady has not read the Bersani Report, published in 1966, paragraph 116 of which criticised the European Investment Bank in these terms: One must recognise that the E.I.B. is not at the moment an instrument which has powers of initiative in regional policy but is only a body which may participate in the financing of such a policy. Under the Treaty the Bank may only intervene if there are difficulties of finance, without challenging the normal banking structures; furthermore, its intervention will normally demand a majority share provided by other means of finance. It can only act therefore in a supplementary capacity. Many of us hoped that the latest meetings held last week on 20th and 21st October on regional policies would provide a more coherent plan in relation to those policies. It is not extravagant to say that both sessions of those meetings ended in a shambles, and one is driven to the conclusion that Muldoon's Picnic was an organisational triumph in comparison with those meetings.

For Britain the future lies as a great world trading power selling to Europe but also unhampered from selling to the rest of the world. It is sheer folly to stunt our economic and political development by putting us into a European Community straitjacket. Far from unleashing new dynamic forces, it would be a retrograde step which would crib, cabin and confine the rôle Britain should be playing in Europe, in the third world and beyond.

So far from creating the kind of Europe we on this side want to see, we should be erecting barriers which would not be dismantled in our lifetime and might well prove a lasting impediment to democratic Socialism.

4.16 a.m.

Mr. Tom Normanton (Cheadle)

Before I came to this House some 15 months ago my political views, like those of most hon. and right hon. Members, were conditioned by the years before my election. I was conditioned for over 50 years during which two major factors influenced me more than others: I was born in the First World War and I fought and was wounded in the Second World War. The other factor was that the intervening years contained the greatest economic depression the world has ever known.

I recall this purely to show the angle from which I view and wish to discuss this issue, however briefly. A wide range of subjects have been discussed in the last three days. Most of them fall into the general categories of the economic arguments, the political and, to the distress and disgust of many hon. Members, the party political arguments. Some are purely and utterly irrelevant. I want to concentrate on the industrial and political arguments.

Earlier today the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry summed up precisely the industrial and economic arguments which have led the Government and industry to believe that the balance of advantage for both sides of industry would be in Britain joining the E.E.C. and as quickly as possible. This was the considered view of industry in 1964, and after continuous reconsideration it still remains the position today. Time has passed and opportunities have been lost to British industry.

A more parochial argument, but one which is no less valid, concerns my connections with the textile industry. As long ago as 1961 it was the considered view of companies and the trade unionists of the cotton textile industry that it would be to their advantage that we should join. There can be no partisan defection. It still is the case, and I want that to be firmly on the record.

More parochial still, the Manchester Chamber of Commerce and the Stockport Chamber of Commerce, both important, balanced groups of men who put the best interests of their community, both local and national, in the forefront of their considerations, have come out firmly and consistently in favour of Britain joining the E.E.C.

But I do not want to go any further on the broad industrial front, save to deplore the tendency which has been conspicuous in recent months in the way in which the economic argument has been so debased as to be described, in my opinion, as being at no higher than the level of the price of bread or butter. I remind the House that nearly 200 years ago the Americas were lost to Britain over the price of a packet of tea, and I would earnestly hope that on this occasion Europe and Britain will not be lost to posterity over the price of a pound of butter.

The real argument is to be summed up in political terms. I have no hesitation in saying that any means which can be brought to bear to end the internecine strife which has dominated European history for a thousand years will win my active support. Europe has twice within my lifetime been at the crossroads, and the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) rightly said today that it is once again at the same position. We are once again at a critical stage where the right decision has to be taken.

On the two previous occasions in this century—1914 and 1939—there was no political institution of Europe which could provide a medium for resolving the disputes, the growing jealousies and all the bitterness which was arising, particularly in the form of nationalist aspirations. But I warn the House that Europe, standing today at the third crucial and fatal crossroads, is facing a very similar challenge. If we do not take heed of it responsibly, posterity will live to curse us.

I refer to the developments in Europe, to those whom history has described as our enemies, the Germans; I refer particularly to these people who, having suffered the devastation of the greatest. bloodiest war in history, have come to the conclusion that they must do something to put an end to that long miserable record. Two whom I particularly want to commend for the work they have done, particularly in Germany, are the two great Chancellors, Konrad Adenauer, now passed on, and Willy Brandt. Though they held diametrically opposite political party convictions, both were equally convinced that they must make sure that the events of 1914–18 and 1939–45 were never repeated. They have done all that was possible, and more than any other European statesmen today, to rebuild Europe and make certain that the objectives are kept at the industrial level and not allowed to reach a point where political domination becomes the ultimate goal.

If we opt out of Europe, they will have been deserted in their moment of greatest need. I desperately hope, I passionately hope, that hon. Members will weigh very carefully the responsibilities which will lie on the shoulders of all of us if at this crucial moment at the political crossroads we drop out and fail them. If we do fail them, I have no doubt that to the epitaph mentioned by an hon. Member—"Born in one war, fought in the second" may well as a result be added, "Died in the third".

I am not scaremongering. I know many hon. Members have gone through the misery of the last war, and do not want that to occur again. The rôle which Britain will, can and must play is in the creation of a political structure, a political institution, for Europe, thus making our biggest possible contribution, indeed, our only positive contribution to permanent peace in Europe.

4.26 a.m.

Mr. A. E. P. Duffy (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

In view of the lateness of the hour, I trust that the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Normanton) will forgive me if I do not comment on his speech. I prefer to confine myself to three matters which have been notably productive of dialogue on this side of the House—regional policy, the desirability of entry at present, and the future of Socialism within the E.E.C. They also happen to represent the focus of concern in Labour Parties which I have visited in the Yorkshire area in recent weeks, and could therefore help me to define my attitude in the light of local feeling, especially within my own Attercliffe party, and allow me to bring to the attention of the House some of the problems and possibilities of the Yorkshire economy.

We have heard of the Welsh economy and the Scottish economy during the last hour, as we did yesterday. The House is rarely informed about the Yorkshire economy, and I hope that it will bear with me while I explain it this evening.

Regional policy was a persistent theme in a Common Market campaign which I have just concluded in my constituency. Against a background of rising unemployment, it was inevitable that job prospects should loom large in discussion. The most commonly expressed fear, and we have heard it again and again this evening, was that regional problems in the Six had worsened since the E.E.C. was founded, with the rich regions getting richer and the poor regions getting poorer, with the obvious implication that the outlook in the Yorkshire region was depressing.

What are the facts of the situation? All the principal instruments of regional policy in Britain are to be found in one country or more of the Six. Every one employs financial incentives. Most employ fiscal incentives. Both France and Italy employ location control policies, and, like Britain, France buttresses them with restrictive measures. Will these instruments rust into disuse after we enter the E.E.C.? Moreover, we had the statement from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Trade and industry. Finally, I remind the House of the agreement, reached in Brussels last week with Ireland, which seemed to demonstrate how far the Commission was prepared to go in making allowances for, and even accommodating, the regional policies of the applicants.

None of this means that the E.E.C. no longer has a regional problem. Industry is concentrating there, as elsewhere, as resources tend towards the points of greatest return. But such "golden triangles" make for a generation of wealth in which all regions, as well as the under-developed world, can share. Moreover, the North Sea has the ideal scenario for such growth. It will happen, therefore, whether we go in or not. But if we do, its focus will be that much further westward. If we do not, the danger is that more of our regions will slip further behind, given the changed trading patterns of the world and the consequential unemployment. The number of regions requiring development aid in our own country will increase.

I am anxious lest my own Yorkshire and Humberside region shall become one of those declining regions. For anyone acquainted with current trends within it knows that it is already ripe for development aid. In some parts the level of unemployment is already critical. Paradoxically, the problem of the Yorkshire and Humberside region is that it was regarded for too long as relatively prosperous; whereas in earnings, hours worked and employment in growth industry, it has tended to fall steadily behind other regions. So that now, for example, it has the lowest manual working earnings of any region except Northern Ireland.

I would be failing in my duty as one of its Members of Parliament if I did not consider every possible source of relief. I would be blind to reality if I did not acknowledge that at least a prima facie case has been made out for such consideration to be given to the E.E.C. The same concern doubtless prompted many of my hon. Friends to vote for Market entry in May, 1967. Yet I know of nothing that has happened since to invalidate that consent. Why, then, should I be expected to change sides? For the urgency is much more compelling in South Yorkshire now than it was then because of structural unemployment.

Some have consistently opposed entry and I honour them. But surely I also am entitled to remain consistent—consistent, that is to say, to the consideration of E.E.C. entry from the standpoint of job prospects. I cannot accept the recommendation of my hon. Friend the Member for Abertillery (Mr. Jeffrey Thomas) since the days when one could regard the whole world as a potential market are gone. If there is one feature in the world that strikes me more than any other it is the way in which the world is crystallising into regional trading blocks.

What is the alternative? I have yet to hear of a viable one—unless it is to continue to press for development status. But that is a "Robbing Peter to pay Paul" policy that will leave recipients even more vulnerable to the next slump; whereas a viable economy can come only from sustainable growth. That in turn requires us to put our regional resources on an opportunity basis. Membership of the E.E.C. opens up such a prospect. I say that as the result of the most careful analysis of Yorkshire and a life-long acquaintance with its social and industrial features.

On the one hand, the E.E.C. offers the development of the light engineering and similar industrial infrastructure, which my region badly lacks. On the other hand, it offers renewed life to all its old staple industries of coal, steel, textiles and chemicals. The National Coal Board will be the dominant member of the European coal industry and must surely supply a rising volume of the Common Market's vast coal imports. The British Steel Corporation will likewise dominate steel. Already there is a marked increase in demand for Yorkshire textiles in the countries of the Six. Yorkshire chemicals constitute an integral part of the European chemical industry in all but name.

The prospects for locally-mined coal and for steel, quality textiles and chemicals are not the only things that we have going for us in Yorkshire. A motorway network is shaping up round us. Its extension is inexorable to the east and towards Humberside. This is an enormous area of economic potential which surely will shape the development of the Yorkshire region towards the east and beyond to the Common Market.

In consequence, the traditional westward orientation of the British economy could be swung right round, and Yorkshire would be its pivot. Thus, Yorkshire could become the most exciting growth area in the country. It is easy of access from the south and north and will be soon from the west.

Earlier, the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) spoke of the prospects for Lancashire of Common Market entry, and he looked forward to future communications through to the South-East. However, the hon. Gentleman overlooked the new motorway which is already pushing its way from Lancashire over into Yorkshire. Several hon. Members are agitating for a further motorway to the south so as to link Manchester and Sheffield, and that will link up with the M18, which is already thrusting on to Scunthorpe and Grimsby.

Above all, the Yorkshire region faces Europe and the very heartland of the Common Market. Just across the North Sea, in Holland, the E.E.C.'s network of fast roads begins. The ports of Hull, Immingham and Goole, all modernised and capable of great expansion, must take a great share of the increased Continental trade which entry will stimulate.

Far from Yorkshire becoming a neglected region in an economy tilted increasingly in favour of the South-East, the Common Market can offer it opportunities for sustained growth, diversification and prosperity. The process will work both ways, of course. Yorkshire's industry will be subjected to European competition in return. Inevitably, inefficient management will come under pressure, but efficient management will prosper. The leaders of the coal, steel, textile and chemical industries recognise this and favour entry.

Most of the firms in my constituency tell me that they welcome the challenge and are confident of success. Only two firms have indicated otherwise.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

And the trade unions?

Mr. Duffy

The major trade union in the area, the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation, is in favour. Another major union, the General and Municipal Workers, is also in favour. The Clerical and Administrative Workers Union is also in favour.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

And the Transport and General Workers?

Mr. Duffy

The Transport and General says "No", as does the A.E.F. and the N.U.M. But it is about 50:50.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

The T.U.C?

Mr. Duffy

I recognise that certain conditions are objectionable. But the important point to remember is that they were known and accepted in principle by the Labour Government and those who supported them in May, 1967, as the price that we should have to pay in order to allow British industry a crack at the vast tariff-free market on the Con- tinent. It does not convince anyone to turn round subsequently and to attempt to justify it on the grounds of the C.A.P., V.A.T., the financial contribution, or the effect of all three on the level of prices at home and on trade patterns overseas. It was all known, or implied. That is why some of my hon. Friends have been opposed to entry consistently. Those who have since changed their minds cannot cite the terms, unless they are now opposed in principle. But that is not Labour Party policy, despite some of the speeches that we have heard from the Opposition Front Bench during the debate. All that is left to them seemingly is the plea that the present time is not opportune.

Secondly, let me examine this proposition. It is a familiar objection to change. If only the general conditions surrounding our application were different, if I interpret them correctly, then their attitude would be different. They may be right. It may be possible for a future Labour Government to renew the application. But can anyone imagine economic conditions more favourable than those which obtain at present? After all, unemployment is still rising. Does this not oblige us to look over the widest range of options in search of relief?

Yet, if our economy is distressed, have there not also taken place other, more hopeful, developments which have restored its competitiveness? Our relative costs position, narrowed price differentials, improved terms of trade, a stronger currency, and the liquidation of our international indebtedness, can ease our adaptation to new circumstances and speed the transition. All these factors in combination suggest that we are now poised for entry in a manner which could not have arisen at the times of previous applications or could conceivably apply on future occasions.

Furthermore, the world does not stand still, however disposed some of us may be to marking time. The recent dollar crisis affirms the extent to which trade patterns have changed. It should also serve to warn us that the liberalisation of trade, which characterised the early 1960s, is now giving way to protectionism. The United States has given notice that it intends to buy less and to sell more. The Japanese will suffer most, and they will retaliate in other markets. Their steel imports into the United Kingdom so far this year have trebled on last year. Other British industries, as well as steel, will surely be caught in the crossfire unless they can find a refuge. The Common Market offers the heaven-sent prospect of such a haven. If hon. Members still say not, then they have a clear duty to offer a constructive alternative.

Thirdly, it may be said that I am being too optimistic. I realise that I am vulnerable to that charge. But I am inclined to remind those who will say this—I imagine that they are my hon. Friends—that the British Labour movement is a product of the nineteenth century. Inevitably, it imbibed, in its formative years, a deep draught of Victorian optimism. This optimistic strand in our beliefs has been both a solace in dark days and a spur to creativeness in challenging situations.

The most crucial factor on entry might yet turn on the will power we display in exploiting the opportunities entry will provide. It is likely that we shall shed our nature in the event of entry, operating, as we shall, in the much more natural habitat for Socialists of international conditions, stimulated and reinforced, moreover, by the company of continental Socialists? The plain fact before British Socialists is that they have closer political ties with Europe than the Tories. It saddens me, therefore, that my party, having set out on the journey to Europe in 1967, should now pause on the thresh-hold.

It seems that failure at the polls a year ago has led to the failure of spirit within our own ranks, and our party, so recently united, self-confident and justifiably proud of its leaders, has suddenly and quite unnecessarily lost confidence, with the result that some of us are now more prone to blame others than to take responsibility upon ourselves. It is a mood which we must put behind us at the earliest possible moment.

Finally, it is distressing for me to see Socialist colleagues turn away from Europe and a practical opportunity to further the international brotherhood of man. But when they invite me to join them in the Lobby against entry they distress me even more. For they are not only asking me to vote in defiance of my basic convictions and sense of duty to my constituents, they are also asking me to do two other things. First, they are asking me to act in obedience to pressures which, if my mailbag up to last week is any guide, have been reinforced on this occasion by all the cranks and fanatics in our society. Second, they are asking me to join them in a Lobby that, however fortuitously, is confidently expected to attract representatives of the forces of all that is most narrow, parochial and puritanical in our society. I do not reproach my colleagues for this. I understand their position. I hope that they will understand mine when I say that I cannot join them.

4.45 a.m.

Mr. John H. Osborn (Sheffield, Hallam)

It is not often that I have spoken on such an important subject at this hour, but as a Sheffield Member, I have wanted to speak in this debate. First, I hope that friendship and congratulation from Hallam to Attercliffe will not be regarded as the kiss of death, but I wish to congratulate the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy) on a positive and constructive contribution, because I know only too well how few hon. Members from the South Yorkshire area will be voting for entry into the Common Market.

Our destiny, whether inside or outside the Common market, presents a challenge for the House and for the leaders of the country. Also, it is too often forgotten that, politically, economically, sociologically and technologically, we are in a rapidly changing world—as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Mr. Marples) said last Friday. But in the middle of all this, as the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) said, we all have our doubts about the right course. There are difficulties ahead in plotting the right course of this nation—not only after the Division later today but in the months and years which spread further ahead.

There are too many people in this country who have not recognised that there has been and will continue to be this drastic change which profoundly concerns Britain. The Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to the "passing from one era into another". I speak, too, because in Sheffield we are concerned about the prosperity of the people of that city, as well as bringing about the rising prosperity of this country. Our future prosperity and standard of living is important to many in Parliament. At present, the average wage packet in this country purchases less than that of any country in the Community, with the possible exception of Italy, whereas it had the greatest real purchasing power of any country in the Community, with the possible exception of Luxembourg ten years ago.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

Tell that to the Government.

Mr. Osborn

I listened to the hon. Member's speech I hope that he will listen to mine.

My concern is that whatever decision we reach should primarily be in the interest of the British people. If Britain's entry strengthens the Common Market, so much the better, because we should be aligned with the Common Market countries. If our entry, as a result of assurances given during the negotiation of the terms of entry, improves the opportunities for the Commonwealth countries and in particular the sugar industries and many others that I have seen and been concerned with, so much the better. But I speak tonight because I believe that we in Parliament must consider first and foremost the people of this country and their prosperity—including in my case those who live in Sheffield and South Yorkshire. Without a strong Britain, there will not be the ability to aid, help, and support the third world, which has so frequently been referred to this evening.

This debate takes place at a time when the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have told the country that we can look forward to an unprecedented boom. This will be referred to next week in the new Parliament. What I would suggest and what many of my fellow industrialists feel is that this boom, unless it is associated with an economic relationship with Europe, may well be short lived. In my judgment and that of many others, only by a more permanent relationship with Europe will this boom last not just for the next few years but for the next decade and beyond. Our prosperity will inevitably depend on the prosperity of Europe and a future based on a wider Europe.

One or two aspects of visits to Europe —and I have been going to the Continent for nearly 25 years—are relevant to this debate. The British traveller was wealthy 25 years ago. The reverse is the case now, and it is the Community tourist who is so welcome. But as a politician and an industrialist, I have been very impressed by the dynamic enthusiasm of the Europeans whom I have met in the towns and cities I have visited who have worked to ensure that their differences are resolved by negotiation and that Europe is not responsible for triggering off a third world war. France, Holland, Belgium and other European countries have gone: through a dramatic realignment resulting from the ending of their associations with their one-time empires or colonies. Their leaders sometimes wonder why we have not properly rid ourselves of our empire and its obligations.

There has been a geographical and historical change in Europe's relationship with the world which has been most rapid in the last 25 years. It convinces me that, whereas over recent centuries our destiny has been to ensure a proper balance of power in Europe, now it is to become part of Europe. I accept that the correct constitutional relationship between a number of countries presents the constitutional lawyers and politicians with a challenge. I even have sympathy with Lord Gladwyn's view expressed in The Times—enter first and put it right later. On my visits to Brussels the power and inflexibility of the Commission have alarmed me, but I find that there is to an increasing extent a better understanding of the situation. But I accept that the only means of aligning ourselves with Europe now is to go into the Lobby and accept the terms negotiated with the European Economic Community.

The change which confronts Europe must be recognised. It is not without significance—and I do not wish to ignore the history of Asian civilizations—that recently Iran celebrated the 2,500th year of the Persian Empire. The centre of civilisation moved west to Greece and then Rome. In the past five centuries empires have risen and fallen—the Spanish. French, Belgian, Prussian, Dutch and ours—the British Empire. For centuries until the Second World War the outcome of conflict and disagreement within Europe has been to escape to one colony or another. Now these colonies and empires have been peopled and the lands have been cultivated, and, starting with the Boston Tea Party, they have gained their independence from European influence. Not only have these new lands become cultivated and populated—sometimes they have become over-populated—but they no longer provide a safety valve for European conflict which they have provided over recent centuries. For this reason alone the different peoples of Europe must accept the challenge of living together, in harmony, because there is no longer this escape from conflict. This is the challenge which also faces Britain at this time.

There has been much reference to sovereignty and the power of sovereignty. We are in an age of super States. But what concerns me is that Britain no longer has the military or economic power on its own to enforce its will, or point of view. If this is the inevitable reality, perhaps it is right. Therefore, it is only as part of a larger regional grouping—and that is through the European Community—that our voice will be heard in the councils of the world, and that our leaders will be able to influence events.

My hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) referred to the change in the nature of the Empire and my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd) mentioned the Ottowa Agreement. There has been a changing relationship with our Empire which must be taken into consideration. We pioneered the industrial revolution. Perhaps because we were the pioneer of this industrial revolution we now find ourselves saddled with old processes, techniques and attitudes. But the industrial revolution went hand in hand with the Empire. The New World provided markets for our factories and provided us with food and raw materials.

One of the tragedies for us today is that the New World wishes to make its own cars, refrigerators, radios, television sets and consumer goads, which we supplied some 25 and 50 years ago. Over the last century—and this goes back to the Empire—the Empire was where our sons went as administrators, soldiers, farmers and engineers to develop those regions. They created prosperity and brought wealth back to this country. That is no longer the case.

Today there are still opportunities for exploration and development. But our experience with the oil producing countries tells us exactly how limited our sovereignty is over those areas now. Therefore, I am convinced that our relationship in the future must be with Europe.

I promised my colleagues that I would make a short speech. I had wanted to say much about how the future of the steel industry, including the heavy forging industry, because of concern about the B.S.C. River Don works in Sheffield, is related to our association with Europe, and how the future of our engineering industry, in which Sheffield has a major part, is dependent on Europe as a home market. In the field of science and technology I had wished to stress how much the scale of development depended on our working together with European friends at not only national but at a company and inter-company level.

One aspect I must emphasise is that over the last decade I have been one of but a few Members of Parliament who have debated this subject with the industrialists of Sheffield, Yorkshire and the whole country within the Confederation of British Industry and Chambers of Commerce. In industrial circles the debate has been interesting. It must be accepted that it is the executive management of industry who are the wealth-makers and the providers of employment for the future. Progressive management sees immense opportunities in Europe for the marketing of the products, of their factories, and in providing the employment so necessary in areas such as Yorkshire and Humberside—but in a Europe as a home market as against an overseas market.

We have reviewed the alternative. There is no alternative ahead for us, in the age of change and challenge, that offers better possibilities than aligning ourselves economically and politically with Europe.

This is a challenge which requires hard work, and an ability to seize opportunities. But I am convinced that the alternative, of being an island off the shore of Europe, with the Channel as a tariff barrier, despite the Kennedy Rounds and G.A.T.T., is one that holds no dynamic future. Some say Britain may be poorer but at least she will be honest. But relative poverty is a poor response to this challenge.

I am convinced that Britain cannot opt out of this challenge. For this reason I shall be one of the few South Yorkshire Members of Parliament supporting the Government in the Lobby tonight.

4.59 a.m.

Mr. Donald Stewart (Western Isles)

As one who is not a member of the Tory Party or the Labour Party, I have listened to the debate with great interest. The Conservative Party, who usually conduct their meetings with the Union flag on display, have come out in the main for action which would mean the obliteration of that flag in the foreseeable future if we enter the E.E.C. I have heard Labour Members talking euphorically about going into the Socialist States of Europe, no doubt with the C.B.I. in the lead carrying the Red Flag.

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. J. H. Osborn) will forgive me if I do not deal with his speech in detail. In all the speeches we have heard there are far too many points to discuss in detail.

Many curious points have arisen. Two days ago one hon. Member had serious doubts about the Market but he said that they have all been resolved, except one. He wanted an assurance from the Government that there would be no dumping of surplus apples, especially "Golden Delicious". Others have reservations a bit more serious than that.

Let me make my position clear. I have always been opposed since its inception to the idea of Britain entering the Common Market. I have no interest whatsoever in the terms. I do not agree that the terms which have been arranged are the best that we can get. I do not believe that a Labour Government would not have gone in if they had got equal terms.

My two points are fundamental—first, the effect on Scotland, and then the effect on sovereignty. Scotland entered the "common market" with England in 1707 and, despite what the Foreign Secretary told me in the last debate, that as a result Scotland had prospered and his ancestor of that day had been enabled to abandon his occupation as a cattle rustler, I prefer to accept Professor Kaldor's view that Scotland lost on that deal and England gained.

Many hon. Members have talked about the amalgamation of countries such as France and Germany avoiding war in the future. That is very likely in the case of those countries. But what about the large conglomeration which will engender forces outwith human control? I believe this will create a nuclear fist that will be a menace to world peace.

On the ground of the possible disappearance of regional policies, agricultural subsidies and unsatisfactory arrangements relating to fishing, I believe this will be a catastrophe for Scotland. It is significant that although some sort of arrangements were made for New Zealand and the sugar interests, the Government agreed on going into the E.E.C. without satisfactory arrangements for fishing. The Minister of Agriculture said the other day that there would be an agreement eventually which would be acceptable to all concerned. The Common Market countries have nothing to put into the pool with regard to fishing. They have cleaned up their own fishing grounds and they are waiting hungrily to get into ours. I believe that this has been the motive behind the Icelandic Government's threat to move their limit out as far as 70 miles.

I turn to the subject of regional development. Scotland is a development area. In the much franker era before the war we spoke of distressed areas, and Scotland is such an area. The Government claim that prosperity at the centre would raise the prosperity and wealth of all the regions as well. This has never been our experience in Scotland. I do not believe that this is so anywhere. It does not apply in Italy. From my reading of The Guardian yesterday, the south of Italy is largely unaffected by her entry into the Common Market, and this would be the fate of Scotland.

Hon. Members have referred to 10 per cent. as being the highest amount of unemployment. Others have referred to 6 per cent. My constituency has 26 per cent., and there is nothing new in that. It has been 30 per cent., it has been like that for decades, and no Government took a serious interest in doing anything about it. If we cannot get any help from London, we have far less chance of getting it from Brussels.

There has been argument about whether we can carry on with our regional policies. I wrote to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on the subject of the Belgian Government giving some assistance. They were obliged to desist on the orders of the Brussels Commissioners. The Chancellor said that they had not referred the proposals to the Brussels Commissioners. It seems to me that the truth about regional development is that we can carry on regional policies as they are now, provided that we first get permission from Brussels. That is a point which the pro-Marketeers are carefully avoiding making.

This brings me to the real issue of principle facing us tonight—the fact that the House has been asked to vote for what would be a tyrannical decision—and tyrannical in a precise and specific sense. A decision to accede is irreversible. Earlier in the debate, the hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Raphael Tuck) was accused of being inconsistent because at one point he had said that entry would be irreversible and at another he had asked the Leader of the Opposition to declare that the Labour Party would come out. I see nothing inconsistent in that, for if the Leader of the Opposition made that declaration now, it would, I believe, cause the E.E.C. countries to discontinue the negotiations.

A decision to accede is irreversible, or certainly would be within a year or two. So our decision would be a decision to remove from, perhaps, the minority in the House, though certainly the majority of the electorate, the power to overturn the most important decision of our lifetime. Right hon. and hon. Members should realise that a vote for entry against the wishes of the mass of the electorate and a substantial proportion of the House would be a disastrous and undemocratic decision.

It has been said that the polls show that, despite the small number in favour of going in, a large proportion of the electorate believe that we shall go in, and they say that because they believe that hon. Members should have a free vote. The truth is more sinister and reflects less credit on the House than that. What people outside say is, "We can declare our view, but those rascals the politicians will simply thumb their noses at us and go in regardless". That is the attitude of people outside.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

And they are right.

Mr. Stewart

And they are right. If the Motion is carried against the weight of public opinion, we shall give the nod to anarchy. It will be no use asking young people in extremist organisations to seek their redress through the accepted channels of Parliament. That will not wash again. People will say that, despite opinion in the country being opposed to entry, it had no effect in the House of Commons.

I oppose entry also because of the loss of sovereignty which it would entail. We have experienced this in Scotland. There have been occasions when the majority of Members of all parties in Scotland were agreed on a certain course of action out they have been overwhelmed by the preponderance of English Members here. That is the situation in which Britain will find itself in the European Community at the end of the day.

From the beginning, I have been an out-and-out opponent. It is not just the terms which worry me. I am opposed in principle, and that is how I shall vote.

5.8 a.m.

Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)

I have not been a "Marketeer", and I find the expression "pro-Marketeer" or "anti-Marketeer" as repulsive as did my hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow (Mr. More). On the other hand, I have always been a European, as well as a Commonwealth enthusiast, with Commonwealth service. Before I came to the House, I was at one time secretary to the British Conservative delegation to the Council of Europe. I think that it was then the heyday of the Council of Europe. I witnessed the unanimous acceptance by the Consultative Assembly, and then the rejection by Governments, of the famous Strasbourg Plan, which would have brought together the preferential trading arrangements of the Commonwealth and what was then the French Union. and which would, in a word, have linked Europe with Europe overseas. Those events only go to show that Ministers are not always wiser than back benchers.

The terms which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster brought back from Brussels, as set out in the White Paper, are not perfect. They are, however, the best now obtainable. This has been attested by right hon. Gentlemen opposite who are well equipped to know that a Labour Administration would have done no better.

But we should not have started from here at all. There might have been a Treaty of London instead of a Treaty of Rome, a Treaty of London neatly tailored, perhaps, to British and Commonwealth conditions. Successive Governments did not have sufficient wisdom and vision.

For some time I thought that the British interest could be secured by making arrangements with the Community from outside. The Soames affair, which provides an interesting passage in the memoirs of the Leader of the Opposition, suggests that that might have been done, but that is no longer the case. I have arrived painfully at the conclusion that for Britain to act constructively and count decisively in Europe she must get inside and have a hand on the levers of power.

For me this is more of a political than an economic question, it is more a question of power than of a market. For me, as for other hon. Members who have spoken, sovereignty is crucial. But I disagree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann), though I pay tribute to his splendid and moving speech, that it is a "federal end" that is being pursued. If it were a question of joining a federal union. I would be voting against the Government tonight. Far from that, I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister not only on the renewal of the Franco-British alliance but on the proclamation with President Pompidou of the right of veto. The nation State is still the great European political reality.

Dr. Dahrendorf has been referred by to a number of hon. Members. I thought that he did a great service as a member of the Commission in stressing the predominant importance of national Ministers and in putting his own bureaucracy at Brussels in its place. I believe that, far from entry being a surrender of British sovereignty, if we play our cards well we may regain through Europe affective British sovereignty, which has been sur- rendered on so many occasions since the the Second World War at so many vital points of British interest, whether to the United States, the United Nations, the I.M.F. or foreign bankers.

This is not the moment for Britain to be isolated. Secretary Connally has raised the flag of economic nationalism in the United States. No doubt we have been relieved by the assurances of President Nixon about keeping American Forces in Europe. Senator Mansfield's motion was rejected, but I do not think that Senator Mansfield will take that rebuff as final. We must draw the conclusions from these facts.

Reference has been made to alternatives. The hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy) said that if one is not to accept the European Community one is duty bound to suggest a "viable alternative". There is no Atlantic alternative. Pax Americana looks like being even shorter than Pax Britannica. The trouble is that the Americans are readier to quit Europe than are the Russians.

I know that there is nothing about defence or foreign policy in the Treaty of Rome. Yet I believe that the decision we shall be making tonight is intimately connected with foreign policy and defence. I know that Jaguar and the multi-rôle combat aircraft are being developed without Britain being part of the Community. But I also think that if Britain is inside an enlarged Community, that will facilitate a more rational defence technology and production and make it easier for Western Europe to afford a European deterrent. I do not see why we should be afraid to speak about that which I believe in time will have to come, based on the Royal Navy in the first instance and the Force de Frappe.

I do not think we have much time to unify Western Europe. I think the right hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) was wrong to say that we should wait and see. If we in this House repudiate the White Paper, we shall set back European unity, hearten our enemies and discourage our friends.

I do not join in the eulogies of Herr Willy Brandt. Frankly, I think he has been engaged in a rather perilous flirtation with the East. The danger of the Ostpolitik seems to me that in the present disunity of Western Europe it may enable Moscow to denounce as contrary to "normalisation" and the spirit of the detente political and military unity between West Germany and the west. Let us not forget that Russia, too, is in the united Europe business.

There is no Atlantic alternative. We are in Europe. We cannot up anchor and sail the Island off and moor it alongside the America seaboard. The Channel is a good anti-tank trap, but no barrier to current forms of aggression and subversion. There is no Atlantic alternative and no purely Commonwealth alternative, either.

The hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield) waxed enthusiastic about this "multiracial band". It is rather a discordant band, and I say this with regret. Nor is democracy a universal phenomenon in the multiracial Commonwealth. Some of its republics are favourable to Communism, and one cannot build a power base on a fiction.

We shall not turn our backs on the "open seas". How could we? How could Britain with her defence engagements beyond Suez, or France with her African associations and garrisons, these two leading powers in an enlarged Community, be inward looking. The Community record is not that of an inward-looking group.

There are those who say that Europe in future will need the high quality food of the European-settled Commonwealth. It is good to read Sir Keith Holyoake's interview with Handelsblatt and the change of view of Mr. Frank Anthony, who was so critical of the negotiations. Both Australia and New Zealand wish to forge lasting links with Europe as a whole and a Europe resolved to count again in the world, will scarcely yield its stake in Australasia to Japan, nor consent to total American absorption of a Canada which has sprung from Great Britain and old France. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will make good use of the transitional period both to bring about a sensible common agricultural policy with those people in the existing community who are very discontented with their policy and to bind Europe to Europe overseas.

The hon. Member for Attercliffe made a fine speech but I disagree with his description of the Community as a haven. It is not a haven at all. It is not, as many hon. Members have said, a panacea either. It is not a haven, but a base, not a retreat from world responsibility but a means to the performance of world duties which, as Americans falter, Europeans in Europe and Europe overseas must resume.

5.20 a.m.

Mr. Philip Whitehead (Derby, North)

Many hon. Members have begun their speeches in the debate with a personal statement of their position. That is right and proper because the wider public would wish the decision taken in principle by this House to be taken by the whole House on the principles involved.

We have listened with particular interest to statements made by such hon. Members as my hon. Friends the Members for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw) and Pontypool (Mr. Abse) tonight not because we particularly relish eavesdropping upon the confessional but because we realise the kind of pressures to which they have already been subjected. Equally, we have listened with interest to speeches such as that by the right hon. Member for Taunt on (Mr. du Cann), who stated the classic "Conservative"—with a large or small "C" —case for opposition to entry into Europe—eloquently expressed but, I believe, fundamentally wrong.

Every hon. Member trying to make up his mind how to vote on this great issue later tonight has struggled with the statistics, looked at the economists, weighed up the 197 in favour compared with the 193 against, considered Dr. Kaldor's pessimism and Mr. Harris's reluctant optimism and, at the end, come up with a judgment one way or the other.

Most hon. Members have come up with a judgment on the basis of what is right for their constituency, or what is right for their party and for the country. What is right for their party should also be right for their country, otherwise they have no business to advocate it as a policy for their party. I have come to the conclusion—representing, at least till the next General Election, some of the people of Derby—that it would be right to enter the European Economic Community.

Talking to my electors on this subject I am reminded that they see the House of Commons involved in a great dispute and great debate in which the fundamental issue of entry into the E.E.C. was not put by the last Government and has not been put by this Government to the people as an issue at a specific General Election. They see us deciding this matter rather as the Victorian House of Commons decided the issue of the repeal of the Corn Laws. Looking round we can see here who is to play Peel, and Bentinck, and indeed, Lord John Russell.

The difference now is that we have an electorate which is literate and extremely well versed in political affairs, well aware why we, here, are making the decisions that we are making and saying the things that we are saying. The reason why the same adult opinion has gone sour on Europe is the way in which it has been presented, and the people who have presented it. My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Ewing), in a very impressive maiden speech two days ago, said that when the people at the recent by-election triumphantly returned him to the House as their new Labour Member the predominant issue was unemployment and rising prices, and the question of the Common Market was a subsidiary issue. In discussing the Common Market with the electorate what came to the fore was their real reservations, in the light of their worries about the other matters. If the bill is increasing one begins to suspect those who are purveying the goods. One tries to change one's grocer if one does not like the price of his groceries.

In this case we cannot look at the matter simply in those terms. It is true that the Government have lost support, and have not put the matter properly to the people. I do not believe that either the propaganda levels of the White Paper or the campaign in the country has done much good to the European cause. But we must look at this question in the long-term interests of constituents and country, and having gone through what we have in Derby in the last six months I believe we stand to gain for many of the reasons put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy) in relation to his constituency.

Those reasons apply with particular force because of Derby's shattering experience in relation to the collapse of a high-technology industry with the bankruptcy of Rolls-Royce, precisely as a consequence of our trying to go it alone in an area where we should have been predominant and have had great success, because our economic base was too narrow and the research and development bill too high, and because we attempted to go into the United States market—which we were exhorted to go for because there was a large and growing market there for us—without a solid base in terms of the research and development necessary in this area.

I am told by some of my hon. Friends that we should get out of the area altogether, that we should sell tractors to the third world and not bother with aerospace, computers or chemicals. I have to say that I think that that is fundamentally wrong, and that we should be vacating the low-technology industries for the under-developed nations if they are to achieve their own industrial take-off point. We therefore have to maintain the industries and technologies in which we excel. It is almost impossible to do this if we stay outside the European market.

In our hopes for economic growth and expansion, as my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield) said earlier, we are not making a god of technology or growth. We also need international co-operation to combat pollution, to deal with the effects of the multinational firms, to create a basis of international company law, and international taxation, investment and so on. In all these areas it is the Labour Party, with the policies which it was pursuing when in Government, which is more capable of taking part in that comity of the Social Democratic parties of Europe, which I believe in the lifetimes of my children will come to be the governing force of a wider European group. This is inevitable because it is couched in the spirit of co-operation which is the very essence of democratic Socialism.

I fear that if we do not go into the E.E.C, if we turn aside from this opportunity, there will be a turning away from other things too. There will be a kind of explosion of feeling if this hope, long deferred, of a change in our national ways, a change away from the problems and the doubts which have beset us in a period of relative economic and political decline, is now stopped. I fear that that explosion would not be an explosion of the sort some of us on this side have desired—that is, a sudden blinding conviction that the policies of our party will naturally sweep up back into office. On the contrary, some very dark forces are in line and they will go much more in the direction of narrow chauvinism, which could be accepted by other political forces in this country but would not be anything of which democracy should be proud or in favour of.

I want the transitional period and the moment of entry to be presided over by a Labour Government because I believe Labour rather than the Conservatives will be able to look after the interests of the many people and groupings in this country who would be neglected if the Conservatives were in power. We have to think of our children and of the kind of world in which they are going to live after the transitional period. I do not relish a world in which we are excluded from a Europe of Six or Ten.

But the Europe to which I wish to belong does not stop at Six or Ten. It is not the Euro-fanatic's Europe, the Europe of the Eurocrats or the Europe of an intellectual elite. My father's people and mine were spear carriers in the European wars. My kind of people were always killed on the first day of the battle. I would not claim that I am a part of a wider, more sophisticated, élitist European culture; nor would I claim that the kind of culture to which I wish to belong stops with the Six or the Ten. I feel as much a part of and as much inspired by the culture which developed in Prague as of that which developed in Paris. I feel as much a part of the democratic political tradition of Thomas Masaryk as anything which has taken place or is taking place in France, Italy or Germany.

We have to start where we can, and for the moment we can only start by expanding the Six to the Ten and thereafter to Twelve and Fifteen. I believe that if we take this step now we are making a significant step towards the ultimate construction of an international authority for the whole world. I believe that that step will be taken first under the auspices of democratic Socialism in Europe. Where else in the world do the pre-conditions for democratic Socialism exist in so wide a measure? Free trade unions, democratic traditions, an industrial proletariat—all these things help us, and in our analyses we should not take a pessimistic or static view but look at the possibilities and what we can do with them. It can truly be said that a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. I hope that that single step, for all our hesitations, will be freely taken by this House today.

5.31 a.m.

Mr. John Hannam (Exeter)

I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in this epoch-making debate. I hope that the hon. Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead) will excuse my not taking up some of the excellent points he made, because, in the interests of brevity and of affording other hon. Members the opportunity to speak in the closing hours of this sitting, I want to explain my own position.

Entry into the E.E.C. is perhaps the most important single parliamentary decision that I shall be called upon to make. What we are deciding is the future not only for ourselves during the late 1970s and early 1980s but for our children and grandchildren. It is a decision which surely would have been made, had it not been for the obstinacy of General de Gaulle in 1963 and 1968, by previous Parliaments. By now we should have been reviewing the results of the first few years of membership and have been in a position to judge the results of those years. We would probably have been giving general approval to the rises in living standards and wages and probably deploring the sharp rises in prices and the cost of living which would have resulted from levelling up to the Common Market's price structure from our own lower levels in 1963 and 1968.

However, these conjectures are irrelevant and by the by, because outside the Common Market our own prices have gone up even faster than those of the Six, while our living standards and wages have risen more slowly—and, indeed, have shown signs of deterioration in real terms. Wages, pensions, welfare and other sectors have shown us lagging behind in growth rate.

At this moment of truth for the British people, and as one who has been a middle-of-the-roader but who has leaned gently, on political grounds, and increasingly on economic grounds, towards membership, I fully understand the doubts of those who, like myself, have felt both support for entry and opposition on what is an extremely complex subject. It is a question not of sitting on the fence but of breaking down fences in one's own mind on the basis of careful evaluation of all the known facts and figures, fears and opinions and estimates, and prejudices, hopes and ideals.

During the Summer Recess, like other hon. Members, I carried out a series of consultation meetings in my constituency. I have expressed my views on various aspects of entry and have listened to many representations from constituents from all walks of life. The full range of life as we see it in this country spoke up and attended the meetings. Over 1,500 people attended them. At no time have I declared which way I would vote. This has enabled me to take part objectively in the discussions. After that, today I can take this opportunity to reconcile the expressions of view put forward with the facts of the case as best I know them.

I believe that the objectives of the Community summarise under three heads: political, industrial and agricultural. I place them in that order because I believe that the obstacles and objections increase in that order.

Politically there can be little argument that an enlarged European Community with Britain in the lead would play a balancing rôle in the power scales of the world.

In defence we rely on a balance of nuclear power between Russia and the United States of America, and that has proved very successful. Yet beneath this deterrent umbrella more and more local conflagrations are breaking out. With the United States now withdrawing more and more from her world role, which has exhausted her, both economically and morally, and with a continuation of Communist pressures on the western free world, the dangers of further Communist expansion must never be underestimated.

A strong and prosperous Europe, able to develop its own defences, not reliant on shaky duo-national technological developments, but with comparable aerospace and seaways industries, could be our safeguard for the future. Politically, I have no hesitation in supporting entry and I therefore turn briefly to industry and commerce.

Here it has been extremely difficult until recently to come to any firm conclusion. It has been easy to generalise and make remarks about bigger markets and increased competitiveness, but actually to quantify the overall effect on our economy over the next decade has proved nearly impossible. Individual firms already well established in the European export market have shown great optimism, but until recently there was a baffling silence from many medium and smaller firms which had not evaluated their future in or out of the E.E.C.

Fortunately, in recent months a flood of information has been pouring in from industries large and small and a mass of evidence is now available. I am satisfied that British industry is ready and willing to take the challenge of this great market adjacent to its factories and shops and offering harmonisation of production techniques, similar consumer demands and sophisticated trading rules and regulations which would protect us from the fierce protectionist winds of the developing industrial world.

I am not a protectionist at heart, and if I felt that this "League of Ten" would remain a closed tariff area for many years, I should certainly not support it. However, the undeniable fact to be faced is that the world is rapidly shaking itself out of the jigsaw imbalance of very large and very small trading tariff areas into geographical trading blocs of 200 million to 300 million people, with dependent undeveloped satellite areas linked by special preferential trading agreements. I believe that we are evolving to larger and larger economic units—500 million and on to a 1,000 million people—ever more closely linked with each other and leading ultimately to a world of free trade but with an even balance between all nations. To remain isolated and depressed, as we have become, outside this European trading area would be folly, unless there were other similar sized and similar quality-demand areas for us to trade with. The recent United States trade protective measures have convinced me that the alternative no longer exists.

It is said that we cannot compete any longer with our Continental rivals, that they work harder, have better equipment and more money. I do not accept this premise for a m0oment. The British worker, the British manager, scientist and banker can defeat the opposition we are likely to meet in this competitively trading European Community. Successive years of misguided policies have sapped, their energies and ambitions, but already in the car industry we are beginning to see the first results of new incentives and objectives. It was Lord Chesterfield who said in 1730: That silly, sanguine notion, which is firmly entertained here, that one Englishman can beat three foreigners encourages and has enabled often one Englishman in reality to beat two foreigners. I believe that we can do that again in the competitive trading areas of the Market in fair and open competition. The immediate future might be difficult as we bring our plant and equipment up to date and develop the investment and growth of our capacity which will be necessary, but the medium and longer-term benefits should produce a rise in our living standards which will take Britain once again ahead in welfare and social policies.

The elderly and low income groups who I have found to be predominantly against entry are worried lest they should experience further erosions of their meagre incomes. I share those apprehensions and call upon the Government to carry out their promise to safeguard the pensioners and low income groups during the early transitional years before economic growth and prosperity bring rewards for all our people.

Yet let us not forget that the worst blows of inflation, unemployment and rising prices have hit at these helpless sections of our Community outside the E.E.C. Lack of economic prosperity and growth over a sustained period of 10 years has produced the dismal picture of "Stagnant Britain 1970". I believe that now is the time for take-off from this position, and I am confident that Britain can reach the top of the league once again. But, as my right hon. Friend for Taunton (Mr. du Cann) emphasised earlier this evening, we have to change many of our financial and industrial structures.

It is really only the agricultural policies of the E.E.C. that temper my political and economic enthusiasm for Europe. I fully accept the original social objectives of the common agricultural policy. Looking back on the massive 30 per cent of the population engaged in agriculture, on small inefficient farms, the Community's original aims of safeguarding their peasant population during a period of contraction by increasing agricultural productivity and individual earnings and by stabilising markets and guaranteeing regular food supplies, I would point out that these aims were largely submerged beneath the surpluses which resulted from a misguided prices policy.

Now, however, with a rethink of the C.A.P., I think we shall see a phasing out of this present system, and we can only hope that, with optimism for the future, the Community will change over to a British-sponsored quota-subsidy system.

On a recent visit to Brazil I had an opportunity on the subject of the Common Market to ask the Foreign Minister whether Brazil resented or regretted the development of a larger E.E.C. The Minister said that, on the contrary, it welcomed it and especially the new shape and form which Europe would take with Britain influencing and inspiring it. He thought that it was a question not of "if" but of "when", and he referred to the "renaissance of Europe".

I am grateful for this opportunity of adding my voice to this historic debate. I conclude by giving full support to the Government's terms of entry. Difficulties lie ahead, but I have faith in the future. I hope that, once the go-ahead has been given by the British Parliament and all the acrimony and dissent of the great debate has been forgotten, we shall join together in accepting the great challenge for our country's future.

5.44 a.m.

Mr. Brynmor John (Pontypridd)

I, on the contrary, shall vote against the Motion in accordance with the attitude I have long taken. In doing so, I would address some remarks to my hon. Friends on these benches who support Market entry. I accept fully their sincerity in so doing, and they must accept on my part no lack of internationalist feeling. There are few things more hurtful to a Welshman than to be called "a Little Englander".

It is well for the Labour pro-Marketeers to say that the Europe they are entering is not the same Europe as the Government are taking them into. Lord Goddard once said to a prisoner in a criminal case: It has been pleaded that you are a man of split personality, that you are not one person but two. All I can say is that both of you must go to prison. The institutions into which Britain will be taken by this Government will be the same for all of us, despite our radically different philosophies. When my hon. Friends who support the pro-Market case say they have a vision of a Social Democratic Europe I accept it, but how are they to achieve it and on what time scale? I believe both will prove much more difficult and much more frustrating and impossible to achieve.

Even before my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Michael Cocks) raised the question of Burke's statue being sited next to a public lavatory, I felt my hon. Friends were unwise to rely on Burke's doctrine in such an era.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead) said, it is precisely because the British electorate is much more sophisticated and intelligent now that whether we have a whipped vote or a free vote in this House is irrelevant. We should have the vote of the country. On such a major issue, only the electorate voting as a whole can decide.

In view of the lateness of the hour, I confine myself to one or two points which have to do with regional policy. We have heard about the beneficial effects of market entry on the various regions. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Waver-tree (Mr. Tilney) thought that this would result in the siting of the centre of the Market round Liverpool docks. My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy) saw a great future for Yorkshire as the pivot of the new Europe. On the other hand, Mr. Donald Anderson, a former Member of this House and a former secretary of the European Movement, speaking recently in Wales, said that Wales stood to gain in particular from its much closer proximity to the main markets compared with Scotland or the North-East. At present, the pro-Market case promises jam wherever the audience is, rather than in other parts of the country. That is an unsound attitude, especially when the evidence to the contrary is so readily available.

I fear not the current absence of any regional policy—that much is fairly well established—but the draft central area peripheral question now put forward by the Commission to the Council of Ministers. That says that the central areas must limit their aid to firms within those areas to a ceiling of 20 per cent.

It is not clear even now whether our development areas will be central or peripheral areas, and our doubts and anxieties on this question have been increased by the speech of the Secretary of State for Wales. Some areas will be central areas. If the Common Market countries offer only 20 per cent., as we at present offer the central areas of our internal economy no aid they will be at a disadvantage compared with the European central areas unless they can offer the same incentives, and if they offer the same incentives, under this policy the comparative benefit to the development areas will be eroded and they will be in a less favourable position against the central areas than they are at the moment.

I believe that the Europe that we shall be joining has passed its peak in terms of economic development. That much was conceded in the Report of the European Commission last year. It has been reinforced by reports in The Guardian this week, which speak of stagnation coming to Europe and of fewer German jobs next year. If that proves to be true, there will be greater pressure upon the available resources for economic development than there are at present. There will be more competition between the European countries for the amount of aid that they can get, in which case it is crucial to my area and to our other development areas that the British Government should be as free as possible to decide, in the light of the interests of their areas, what is the best policy to achieve for those areas.

Much has been said about the freedom of this country to institute development policies which accord with the wishes of the nation. But there is interference by the Commission, and when people talk about the growth of Common Market common law they must realise that common law grows up on the basis of precedents. There are precedents for the European Commission interfering with development policies which, in its view do not accord with the Treaty of Rome.

We have had the examples of Germany, Belgium and the Trieste area.

The hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Donald Stewart) referred to the example of the Italian textile aid. He spoke about the inadequacy of the information given. But there is another reason. It was turned down on the ground of the distortion of competition. The Commission said that subsidies are based on a purely national evaluation of overcapacity. The Commission thinks that when planning for their own textile industry the Italian authorities should take into account the situation in the Common Market as a whole.

It is therefore clear, and will become more clear in a depressed, stagnant Europe, that we shall have to take into account the under-capacity in the rest of the Market. Consequently, we shall have our ability to provide regional aids to our own areas circumscribed by the constriction of over-capacity in the rest of the Market.

It is for those reasons—not for any romantic notions of sovereignty but the ability which we as Socialists have to correct the imbalances which we think are the root cause of injustice in this country—that I shall follow my conscience and vote against entry, because it is no less a matter of conscience for me to vote against than for others to vote for entry.

5.52 a.m.

Mr. Tom Boardman (Leicester, South-West)

It has been said throughout the debate that this is a matter of personal judgment. It is a matter of weighing the advantages—those who are opposed to entry acknowledge that there are many—and the disadvantages, of which those in favour of entry concede there are some. It is a matter of weighing the advantages and the disadvantages in the balance and deciding on which side to come down.

I do not propose to parade these arguments before the House again; they have been discussed throughout the debate. I shall confine myself to the effect of joining upon the trade, commerce and industry of this country. If our entry into the Community means an increase in national prosperity, through an increase in our trade, commerce and industry then, although this is not an end in itself it is an essential means to the real end which would unite both sides—the ends talked about so movingly by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Spark-brook (Mr. Hattersley) and others—of achieving better hospitals, schools, full employment and all those other things which we in this House seek in our various ways. I propose to devote myself therefore to the question whether we can, by entering the Common Market, increase our trade, commercial and industrial prosperity and through that our national wealth. I believe that we can, for a variety of reasons.

First, the record of growth achieved by the countries of the Six, their increasing prosperity, and so on. I know that statistics have been bandied backwards and forwards across the Floor of the House showing that other countries have done almost as well, if not better than, the Six. But the record is clear, and it convinces me that the countries within the Community have benefited substantially from membership and that, following their pattern, we should expect to gain in a similar way.

Secondly, we are not having the choice of staying as we are or of going in. The choice is to go in or to accept the consequences of the positive decision to stay out. The consequences of the decision to stay out could be far more dramatic than have been acknowledged by those who are opposed to entry. There are other obstacles than the tariff barrier. I believe that we may overcome the 10 per cent, or whatever it may be—the tariff. There are the non-tariff barriers, the Government procurement policies, the different fiscal and legal systems, the safely regulations, and so on, which, if we are outside, could mean that doors of markets in Europe at present open to us would be closed in our face. That is a risk which we should not take.

Thirdly, I believe that we shall succeed within the Community because I have great confidence in the ability of our people—management, craftsmen, and people at all levels within industry—given equal terms, to compete effectively with other countries. I do not accept, as some hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to think, that we are not capable of competing. I do not accept what my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Sir Harmar Nicholls) said about industry suffering if we go into the Community; the craftsmen of Peterborough are as good as the craftsmen of Germany, France, and the other countries of the Six. If they are not, then how much worse will our position be if we have to compete not only with them on equal terms but with other barriers also put up against us?

Therefore, my judgment is that trade, industry and commerce will benefit from our joining the Common Market. But it is not only my judgment; that is perhaps a small matter. It is also the judgment of those who have responsibilities in industry and of those who have studied the question of entry from the point of view of how it will affect those industries. The leaders of industry have almost unanimously come down in favour of our joining.

It is said by those who oppose entry, "It is good for the bosses. Why should we take any notice of them? They are thinking about themselves". But on a moment's reflection hon. Members will realise that if it is good for the bosses it is good for everyone else. If going in results in an increase in profits, the national wealth and the power to invest, that means more and better jobs, better houses, factories and schools, more leisure and more of all the things which make up what we call civilisation. These are the rewards which will be won by our joining. It is because those who have responsibility in industy have formed that opinion—

Mr. Arthur Lewis

indicated dissent.

Mr. Boardman

The hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but he cannot deny—

Mr. Lewis

I am denying it.

Mr. Boardman

It is an undeniable fact, that the managers of industry who have studied this matter are convinced that joining the Common Market will bring benefit to British industry and to those who work in it. Only if we are able to generate additional national wealth which will come from our entry and accept the challenges and opportunities which Europe offers shall we achieve all the other worthwhile ends.

I shall therefore support the Motion with enthusiasm.

5.57 a.m.

Mr. Gwynoro Jones (Carmarthen)

I will endeavour to comply with the good will which has been shown on both sides of the House in participating in the so-called great debate.

It is interesting that the argument of those who want us to join the Common Market has been moving away from the economic advantages of entry—because they are not so clear cut as they were originally presented to the people—towards the political advantages. I understand from those who wish this country to join that in the long term the reasons for joining are not economic, because they cut both ways. They say that the political arguments which would accrue from becoming part of a larger market outweigh the economic arguments. It is the political arguments which have come more into prominence.

I am prepared to consider the political arguments, but I am sure that many hon. Members opposite would not follow me. Suppose that the argument is political and it is said that benefit would flow from the creation of a United States of Europe. The people of Wales and Scotland already feel remote from the central Government and Whitehall, despite devolution to Wales and Scotland over the years, and in Wales the creation of the Welsh Office. Therefore, if the ultimate aim is a federal Parliament or something similar, Wales and Scotland should have more devolution. If remoteness is the complaint now, how much more so will it be then?

If we look at economic growth we find that some countries outside E.E.C. have done better than those in the Common Market, according to the pamphlet, "The Common Market and the Common Man". For the sake of brevity, I will not name the countries or provide the figures. Equally, some countries which are larger in population than the Common Market, like America, have done far worse than not only the Common Market but also Britain. The Americans have realised that size will not guarantee economic growth. If a government mismanages its economy and overspends its resources it will have a time of trouble at some period or other.

Hon. Members opposite are talking of the advantages of economic growth at a time when the Commission's latest Economic Report talks of a gloomy future. The Guardian on 25th October said: Investment forecasts for 1972 are disappointing. In Brussels there is growing concern about an impending recession. So when the Prime Minister is saying that Britain is on the threshold of un-parallelled prosperity in Europe, the Commissioners tell us that, in 1972 and the foreseeable future, the Common Market will be in a recession. Where then is the economic advantage?

People know about the burden—the balance of payments, the common agricultural policy and the value-added tax. Whatever figure is given for the ultimate burden, one thing is clear. The cost of compliance will mean a severe worsening of the balance of payments. This is the background against which to consider the industrial benefits. The C.A.P., the levy system, the tariff situation, the loss of preferential treatment and the V.A.T. will be unavoidable and immediate. The industrial benefits are not automatic and will certainly be longer term.

I oppose entry because the burden after 1978, at the lowest, must be £300 to £400 million—and suppose the economic growth does not happen. A balance of payments burden, which always leads to a squeeze by the British Government, will thereby hit the regions. It ill behoves the Secretary of State for Wales, who made the greatest anti-Common Market speech I have heard in this debate, to say that the Government will safeguard the interests of Wales, as if they have done that already, when, in the last year 16,000 people in Wales have been made redundant, unemployment is 30 per cent, higher than a year ago, and the number of factories going into Wales is half what it was in 1969 and 1970. Factory after factory is closing and more are announcing investment cuts.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman referred to the Welsh Council decision to support entry. Yet the Welsh Council has said that allowances are better for inducing industrialists, but the C.B.I, in Wales say that investment grants would be better. Who are we to call in aid? Having considered the operation of the system over the last 12 years in the Common Market, one realises that the central pool of the market is bound to damage the regions of Britain.

It has been damaging to Southern Italy where since 1951, 3½ million people have left. I agree with my hon. Friends who demand that regional policy shall be allowable in the Community. Many opponents of entry have said quite erroneously that we shall not be allowed to pursue such policies, but in the main we shall be allowed to decide on regional inducement. But it does not matter whether we have a system of grants, allowances or something else to try to attract industry into the regions of Britain, because the central pull will far outweigh any sort of grant or inducement system.

In Wales, investment grants provided under a Labour Government £1 million a week to attract industry. Despite all the grants, 200 firms came to the Principality but in Carmarthenshire only 28 firms in 20 years. They were reluctant to come, despite the grants. If they were reluctant in the British context, how much more so will they be in terms of Western Europe and the Common Market?

No hon. Member who wants to take Britain into Europe has convinced me with his argument. Why should a manufacturer in Birmingham, Manchester or London, if he was reluctant to come to West Wales before, come from one of those places to Carmarthen, 200 miles further away from the main centres of the Market? If any hon. Member can persuade me that manufacturers will come to my part of the world if we join the E.E.C., he will certainly lessen my opposition to entry, but he will not convince me of the overall benefit to my area.

I turn briefly to two other points about the negotiations, although there have hardly been negotiations; it is a misnomer. Hon. Members who have been quoting my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, or relating what someone else may have said in this connection, must equally bring in the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, in Luxembourg on 30th June, talking of the budgetary system of the Common Market, said that unless this was changed before we went in it would be too much of a burden on this country. He said: If I appear to labour this point it is only because unless such a solution is found the burden on the United Kingdom could not be sustained and no British Government could contemplate joining. I ask what has changed. The Government have accepted the system.

Finally, this question of entry is of very great importance, but the views of the British people have been ignored altogether and they feel that they have no rights. The Conversative Party should not have dared to proceed to take us into Europe. They have no mandate for that. It was not an issue at the General Election. Everyone brushed it under the carpet. Yet 16 months after the election we are to vote upon whether to enter the Common Market. If the British people are losing faith in democracy and politicians, surely this is the reason. They feel that they do not matter and do not have a voice. After all, the Prime Minister's sole commitment, according to the Conservative Party manifesto, was to "negotiate, no more and no less"—not to enter. Those were the words.

I conclude with the words of the Home Secretary, speaking on the ingenuity of the British electorate: This is the essential basis of Parliamentary democracy. It is not easy to define or explain and it is impossible to export but its existence is undeniable. What is especially interesting is that the electorate by this sub-conscious instinct so often moves ahead of the political parties. At present the electorate is ahead of many of the politicians who want to take us into the Market.

Wales will have none of the Common Market. We hold no allegiance to the Tory Party. The majority of Members of Parliament for Welsh constituencies hold no allegiance to the Common Market. Since 1871 and the Ballot Act we have had no allegiance to the Tory Party—for the last 100 years.

I have every confidence in voting against the Common Market on behalf of my constituents because of concern for hill farmers, for income earners and pensioners in West Wales and the whole Principality to which I belong.

6.10 a.m.

Mr. David Walder (Clitheroe)

I envy the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr.

Gwynoro Jones) two things—his eloquence and his machine gun-like delivery. I cannot emulate the latter. Plainly in the context of the United Kingdom, the Welsh are no less Welsh.

My own views on this matter were made obvious some years ago when the Sunday Times did a round-up of Members of Parliament just after the General Election. When it referred to me it said that I had said, "Let us get into the Market and negotiate afterwards." It was kind enough to add that there were very few people like me left. Nevertheless there have been doubts even in the minds of persons like myself who are convinced pro-Marketeers—doubts largely, I think, on the issue of public opinion. There can be no doubt that public opinion is lagging behind those who, like myself, have advocated entry. There are large areas of fears and doubts which still exist in the minds of the public.

The difficulty is this: many people try to seek certainty on this matter, and this is a matter on which one cannot provide certainty either for the Market or against. Indeed, certainty on matters of the future, perhaps five to 10 years hence, is something which no Government, no party nor any individual Member of Parliament can provide.

We have now reached the stage when there are bodies who write to Members of Parliament not only demanding certainty but suggesting that we should ourselves seek the guidance of the Almighty. The guidance, of course, always points in one direction, away from the Market, and the only thing that one can do with such people, as they are fond of quotations, is to give them another quotation from Arthur Hugh Clough who up-dated the Ten Commandments in the middle of the last century. He said: Grace is given of God, but knowledge is bought in the market. Public opinion has been examined, prodded and tried; but I think that in addition to the feelings against, there is also a vast amount of indifference and apathy. The taking of public opinion, although it may be an art, is not yet an exact science. All of us in this House realise full well that one may get very different answers to only slightly different questions.

Mr. Elystan Morgan

May I make a very brief intervention?

Mr. Walder

No; I am sorry.

Mr. Morgan

It will take only 10 seconds.

Mr. Walder


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)

Order. If the hon. Member in possession of the Floor does not give way, the hon. Member must resume his seat.

Mr. Walder

The paradox is that at a time when the public rightly seeks more participation in government and has the means to hand of improved media, nevertheless it is still exceedingly difficult to find some true indication of public opinion on this matter. In my constituency, I distributed 26,000 returnable leaflets. To date I have received only 47 back. I have had 35 letters, and I have also recorded in a special book all those representations which were made to me by word of mouth. I am not suggesting that the tiny percentage of my own electorate is anything at all to go on. But I have been known in my constituency for many years as an ardent pro-Marketeer. What I was seeking was a body of opinion, perhaps amounting to something towards a majority, a body of reasonable opinion that was firmly opposed to our entry. That I certainly did not find.

What I did find was concern lest we might be joining a cast-iron system, fears about the E.E.C. in that direction, people who failed to see that this was a cooperative movement pledged to the economic well being and advancement of all its members. Obviously, we should be one of them.

As an extension of that feeling, I found among those whom I might call party activists—I say that in no derogatory sense; how could I? We all realise that such people are often most active in charitable and social work as well as being concerned about politics—a sense, particularly among members of the Labour Party, that, perhaps, there might be some party disadvantage in Britain's joining the E.E.C. and a feeling that their sort of society could not perhaps, be realised within the limits set by the Community.

My response to those who have such fears is to ask whether Britain outside the Community, a Britain increasingly under economic pressure, a Britain in which, perhaps, we were overmindful of our past glories, a Britain increasingly introspective and increasingly frustrated, might not be a Britain in which there would be a breeding ground for extremists of Right and Left. What would happen in those circumstances to our political parties as we know them and our view of society?

There is also the question of security and defence. I confess that I came to the E.E.C, as it were, through N.A.T.O. If we were outside the Community, we should find ourselves facing a situation in which there was a dangerous dichotomy between our security obligations to Europe and our lack of economic cooperation with that body.

Now, a brief word on the methods and mechanics rather than the merits of the case. Some suggest that there might be a referendum. Would it be consultative? Would it be binding? What sort of percentage would one accept as a poll, and what sort of percentage as a majority? There are too many unanswerable questions for that to be a feasible proposition. Very well then—not the sinister foreign referendum but the good old British General Election. I wonder what sort of choice those constituencies would have where, perhaps, all three candidates were for or all three were against. What sort of Government might be elected? Presumably, if it went one way a coalition of all the anti-Common Market talents.

Would this Government take us out of the Market and then resign, or would they continue with the most curious collection of political bed-fellows one can imagine, carrying out whatever policy they managed to agree on? It would not be exactly Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark, but certainly the Royal Family of Denmark would be considerably reduced. It might be rather like the last scene in "Hamlet" when, with the stage littered with bodies, the dying Hamlet says, But I do prophesy the election lights on Fortinbras —though who would be the lucky Fortinbras and who the unlucky Hamlet is more than I can prophesy.

One of the difficulties all along for people such as myself is that we have said, "Consider the alternatives", and this, I think, to the British people, still seems a negative attitude. Nevertheless, this is the choice facing us. I envisage having to stand on an electoral platform in five or even 10 years' time and, with the map of Europe in my hand, saying to the young people who by then will have the vote, "Here is the European Economic Community, linked with a great part of the world, including many developing and Commonwealth countries. Here is E.F.T.A."—in the form it will have then, probably merged in the Economic Community—"Here is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. But Britain has, for, perhaps, some misguided view of her past, stayed apart from these organisations".

The task of trying to explain that in the future to the coming generation, and not only to explain but to justify it, would be for me impossible. At the end of one of my meetings an elderly lady said to me, "You make the decision and we will judge the result." She was rather shorter than Edmund Burke on the subject. Incidentally, I am rather bored with Burke. So be it. That has always been the basis and the practice of our parliamentary democracy. On that basis later today I shall cast my vote, not without thought and reflection, but certainly in confidence and hope, for our entry into the European Community.

6.20 a.m.

Mr. John P. Mackintosh (Berwick and East Lothian)

The two most impressive anti-Market speeches that I have heard in the debate—and I refer to them because I fee! that it is proper to take on one's opponents—have been, on the Conservative side, that of the right hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann) and, on this side, that of my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot).

The interesting thing was that both picked on one major objection, as they thought, to entry to the Common Market, which was, my hon. Friend said, the derogation of the sovereignty of this Parliament and this country. What is amazing to me is the 19th-century concept of sovereignty being put forward by those two speakers and the many others who agree with them. They have a purely legalistic concept of sovereignty, like an old lady with a basket of apples, who feels that each time she gives a bit of sovereignty in the form of an apple to someone else there is one less in her basket. What a very restricted and old-fashioned concept of sovereignty!

The real point is that no nation has un-tramelled sovereignty, no nation has complete power to do as it likes, and what matters to the public is not the legal power to act but whether the consequences may mean anything.

I shall give some quick examples, starting with sterling. We in this Parliament have the sovereign power to regulate many things in connection with sterling as a currency, its control and the rates of exchange at which we offer to trade in sterling. If other forces outside the country result in a serious run on our sterling reserves we cannot continue to operate the system; we do not have the sovereignty to carry out economic policies through to the conclusion that our people want. Then the politicians must find the bodies or individuals who have taken that sovereignty away from us, and we turn and blame groups such as the gnomes of Zurich and international speculators. But if instead our legislators deliberately give sovereignty away and share it in an agreement at Basle with a number of other nations so to regulate a reserve currency that Britain's trading objectives can be achieved, then they have conceded some sovereignty to the nations with which they have had to discuss the question. But out of this they can show that they are producing the achievement of solid trading results and stable employment, which was the objective of the sovereignty originally held by this country alone. So the decision to join with the other powers was not in fact a derogation or loss of sovereignty; it was in reality an increase in the effective power of this House.

Another example is the recent successful international negotiation in which we took part, resulting in the agreement on Berlin. That was done by working completely with the other nations involved—America, Germany, and France—in the Committee of Four operating together from Bonn in dealings with the Soviet Union. In that negotiation we pooled our sovereignty with three other nations, producing a result that we could not have achieved by ourselves. These two examples illustrate the correct approach to sovereignty in the modern situation.

When my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale says that if we give away power over employment, regional policies, and wages and prices, people will condemn or look down on Parliament, he again has the wrong end of the stick. For years British politicians have told the public, "We will do this for you and that for you. We will end stop-go. We will have full employment, and even cut prices at a stroke", but they have never delivered the goods. That is why people look down on Parliament. That is why the public are less and less interested—because the politicians cannot achieve what they set out to do.

Why, over a period of time, have successive Governments of both parties failed to achieve their economic objectives? Why have we counted for less in international affairs? Why have we depressed our public by a series of failures? I believe that it is because the context in which Britain is working is not adequate to the present circumstances.

There is something very symbolic and suggestive in the way in which right hon. and hon. Members of the extreme Conservative type oppose entry on the grounds that Britain should remain as it is and always has been, keeping the little sovereignty that it has clutched tightly to its bosom, and the fact that the people with whom they find themselves in closest agreement are those on the Left-wing of the Labour Party. These Left-wing Members dislike Right-wing Conservatives because of their authority and property and power, but want to alter the situation in a traditional fashion, using British sovereignty through the machinery of Parliament, taking things away from an existing class structure which these two groups of Members have both, at different ends of the social scale, known and grown up with. These widely separated elements each want to nurse the class structure and attitudes to their bosom and go on living in the same political relationship with each other that they were familiar with in childhood.

There is, I regret to say, a type of conservative with a small "c" in the party to which I belong and when we approach change—radical change—in a radical attempt to grapple with the problems of this country, there is a negative response from the Right-wing and Left-wing forces of our society which wish to retain the status quo.

We are beginning for the first time to counter these attitudes by attempting a major change in the direction of this country. If one looks at the arguments and reads right through the debate in July and this debate, one finds that speeches of the pro-Marketeers have a background of appreciation that Britain had a Commonwealth and an Empire and that this relationship is declining and disappearing. We had a worldwide defence, trade and currency network but in every case we have begun the retreat and draw back.

We are becoming, without joining, more European in defence and trade interests of all kinds. The act of joining the E.E.C. is a further and major step along the road on which we are already going. It is one which will allow us to turn the corner and look forward to a pattern of politics and economic activity which would give the country a new sense of purpose and an opportunity to tackle problems it has failed to grapple with in the past 20 years. It is more than just signing the Treaty of Rome; it is a broad change of direction.

I deeply respect the views of the anti-Marketeers but their speeches have shown no overall philosophy, only a discrete group of fears. They are fearful people, fearful that they cannot adopt a brand of Socialism involving a wide extension of public ownership and physical controls. They fear that the regions will suffer and that it will not be possible to steer the extra growth engendered by a wider market in the right direction towards the regions. They fear contamination with what they regard as a less satisfactory attitude towards the third world, and they fear that British industry will be incapable of taking advantage of the wider opportunities in the Common Market. And as each one of these fears is answered, they fall back on others because the fundamental point is that they are worried about change.

It was summed up for me in a sentence in the New Statesman which in a leading article said that the case for entering the Common Market was not proven because one could not prove that all the people in this country would benefit. But if one had to prove that every major change would produce a guaranteed benefit for all sections we should still be running round in the jungle as primitive tribesmen. Now we face a real chance to take a major step forward. I do not take the view that British entry into the Common Market is a panacea, nor of itself a major change, but it is a small sign that we are prepared to change, prepared to move.

1 greeted only a few hours ago two friends who had come to hear this debate: an American I knew at Oxford and a German correspondent of the equivalent of the Financial Times in Germany. Both said how pleasant it was to return to Britain, because it never changed. In this debate they heard the same arguments; London was the same place with the same atmosphere.

But if one goes to Europe one finds that the startling thing is how much those countries have changed and how much they are moving forward. We want to end our stagnation and move forward, too. If we do not take this step and get the consequential legislation it will not be a disaster, but we shall be stuck in the rut that we have been in for the last 15–20 years. If we make this change we can go purposefully forward along this path more rapidly.

It is as silly to talk about joining a Social Democratic Europe as it is to talk about a totally Conservative Europe. If we go in under Labour leadership we shall try to work for a more egalitarian society in this country, and if we go in under a Conservative leadership we shall go for a more stratified, incentive-conscious society, with higher rewards and greater gaps. But, to whichever party we belong, we shall not get change or an advance unless we turn this corner and join the E.E.C. It is because I regard this as an important step in the history of our country, an act of symbolic importance as well as one which makes many further changes possible, that I have stayed until 6.30 a.m. to contribute to the debate, and why I shall vote in favour of entry later today. It will be a small act in a small and insignificant public career; yet my affirmative vote will be one of the things that will give me the greatest pleasure in my life.

6.31 a.m.

Mr. Selwyn Gummer (Lewisham, West)

To participate in this debate and cast my vote will be two things which not only will be the most significant but will give me most pleasure in what I have done in public life so far. It is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) in his comments on sovereignty, because if ever we heard a collection of misinformed legal tags it was in the discussion on sovereignty.

Our sovereignty has remained the same for hundreds of years, but if anyone believes that we have the same power to guide our destinies today as we had in 1945 or in 1900 he is taking a totally wrong attitude to life. Sovereignty is defined today as it was in 1900, but the power it gives us is totally different. Therefore, I am not interested in legalistic definitions of our sovereignty; I am interested in what we can do to create a new future for ourselves. How can we control our environment? How can we control our financial future? What do we do about the sort of society that we are building.

I suggest that certainly since the war and probably for some time before it we have lost, clearly and definitely, the power to control our own future. The time must come when we have to decide between losing by accident the powers which we once had and pooling sovereignty to gain, by purpose, the power which we need to face the life which we are to enter upon.

It is curious to me that members of a party which believes in planning and in deciding things in advance should express the fear that we should lose a form of control which we have never really had since we ceased to be an empire. We have had a good deal of what can be called sheer chauvinism from hon. Members on both sides of the House, who have made comments upon our allies—upon whom we depend for our defence—which ill become those hon. Members.

I was sad when I heard talk about the derogation of the sovereignty of Her Majesty's Government. Under the N.A.T.O. Treaty we have derogated the most important piece of sovereignty we had—our power to declare war. We do not have that power because we have now reached a situation in which if any N.A.T.O. members are attacked the others automatically go to war with the attacker. If a Parliament can do that surely a Parliament cannot bilk the pooling of sovereignty which would come from our joining the E.E.C.

The sovereignty argument lacks substance, and is merely part of a cloak designed to give point to the general fears of our people. When a decision is made it is much more difficult if sovereignty is a cloak for the general fear of change.

The economic arguments put forward by the anti-Marketeers are odd, to say the least. That must be, of course, because the conglomeration of extreme right and extreme left and "odd bods" makes it very difficult to have a genuine economic alternative and therefore the economic arguments have been largely a question of nit-picking, of choosing this or that argument, the problem of central Wales or the difficulty of the flax industry, as being a reasonable alternative to our entering the E.E.C. When I heard hon. Members discussing the particular problems of their constituencies I wondered whether it would be reasonable that the nation's whole prosperity should be held up because of the view of one group of the population. Should we not look at the future of Britain?

I cannot see how one can argue that firms will take their investment to the Common Market because we remove the tariff between Britain and the rest of the Ten. Surely we have had so little investment in our industry under both Governments for so long partly because firms have taken their investment from this country into a much migger market and have jumped the tariff barrier. If that tariff barrier is removed, we are much more likely to get the investment we need in this country. If we get the investment we shall get the expansion we need also.

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynoro Jones) has gone. I cannot see that Carmarthen is going to benefit from Britain specifically putting itself into a position in which investment is less likely merely because of some vague fear that people from Birmingham are not going to go to Carmarthen. If they are not going to go to Carmarthen inside the Market, they will certainly not go if Britain is outside, where we shall have neither the means nor the opportunity to provide the sort of encouragements we need.

Then there are all those people who bring out Professor Dahrendorf. How odd it is to find Left-wing Socialists quoting an extreme Right-wing laissez-faire economist, a man who makes many people in this country look modern when we sometimes think they belong to the 19th century. He believes there is too much interference from the Commission because he does not believe in interference by anybody in the free market system. One must look at his views in the context of his total outlook, not merely those on the Common Market.

If Britain is to play its full part in the world and do something about the regional problems from which it and the rest of Europe suffer, and if, above all, it is to help towards a change in the world which will bring to the developing countries the standard of life to which they are entitled, then I believe Britain must not bilk at the real choice. The real choice is the opportunity which the Common Market gives, on the one hand, and the certainty of decline which removal from the Market would give if we make the wrong choice. I shall vote "Yes" to opportunity and "No" to decline.

6.39 a.m.

Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)

It is very late or very early, depending on your life style. I suspect that the life style of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, overlaps the two and has for some time. He deserves some credit for being here this morning.

I am essentially a Liberal because I believe in reconciliation rather than conflict and it is that which made me in favour of the Community from the time the idea evolved. I have always thought it was a good thing for the countries of Western Europe to try to forget their enmities, resolve their problems and work out solutions in concert. This seems a good, desirable and simple objective.

When the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Jeffrey Thomas) said there was a sad aspect in this debate, which has in many respects been an immensely invigorating debate, I agree with him. It is not simply that some Members found it difficult to separate the issue from party unity but that they actually thought it wrong to do so.

I must say that as a Liberal I often find myself in the lobby with people with whose general objectives I would not agree, but I would not be able to vote otherwise. I do not regard that as being wrong. I think that the view expressed by the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield), when he said, "I am not going to help them get into Europe", was a most extraordinary attitude on what is a very great issue.

I am essentially speaking here as a Scot and as representative of a remote constituency, the largest in the United Kingdom. As a Scot, I do not feel happy about the representation of Scotland. In that sense I am rather like the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynoro Jones). On the other hand, paradoxically I think that in the larger grouping of Europe we shall get a greater concentration on decentralisation and on the self-government of regions and nations.

As Member for a remote area, inevitably I have had to give thought to the problems of the remote areas, despite what the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Selwyn Gummer) said. Each Member has to do this. Each Member has to remember that, whatever his own personal beliefs, the wellbeing, hopes and difficulties of the area he represents are in his hands to do something about.

I must say honestly that I have heard more nonsense talked about regional development in this debate than I have heard for a very long time. One cannot say on the one hand that the Community will stop us from doing practically anything and that regulations will be tumbling numberlessly out of Brussels, and on the other hand say that the Community has no regional policy and that it would be impossible for it ever to have one. M. Borschette was quoted. One cannot have it both ways.

There is little doubt that we should be able to go on doing what we are doing with regional policy. Let us not think that we have been doing all that well or have been doing it for all that long. We have not. The Community on the other hand, has been in existence for only 13 years and deep-seated attitudes do not change so much in such a short time.

No one has mentioned forestry in the debate, but Wiggins Teape and the Forestry Commission are delighted at the prospects. The opportunities are great. It is the competition of E.F.T.A. countries which has worried the pulp mill people.

I still feel worried about fishing, but I hope that what the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has said about the assurance which have been given will work out. The same applies to pensioners and the other low-income groups.

I will not now rehearse my views on the economic arguments, which are a matter of judgment, or indeed the political arguments. I make two points which I feel are of importance over and above all these things. The first concerns multi-national companies. If we are in some way in a free society to make such companies susceptible to democratic regulation and yet still able to proceed, it is only on the scale of Europe that we shall be able to do anything about it. That applies equally to the point which the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) was making about conservation, regional control and the consequences upon the environment.

Secondly, it is not only a question of what is going to happen to Britain if we do not go in but also of what is going to happen to Europe if we do not. Herr Dahrendorf has been mentioned many times. He is a classic Liberal rather than a right-wing reactionary, but I will not argue on that. In any event, I find it stimulating that a man in Brussels is criticising Brussels. That is a good and not a bad thing. It is something to be pleased about that there are signs that people are criticising themselves, and that in the end is very important. If the negotiations fail, the adverse effects on the future of Europe could be very serious and that in turn would affect us.

The Community has grave weaknesses. It has moved forward slowly. It has all sorts of weaknesses. But essentially the task of reconciliation in which I believe can be pursued only through its structure.

The right hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann) made a fine speech about his pride in this Parliament. My pride in it I hope equals his. I believe that it is more difficult to seek to unite than it is to divide, to co-operate than to separate. This is the right course on which we ought to chart ourselves.

6.45 a.m.

Mr. John Wilkinson (Bradford, West)

One of the most salutary aspects of the debate has been that hon. and right hon. Members have been willing to bare their political souls in public. The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. William Rodgers) did so when referring to his experience, early in his life in Liverpool, which led him to seek not only greater social welfare but through Socialism, wider perspectives. Two things led me towards Europe. The first was political and the second was social and economic.

The political one was my experience as an air cadet in the 1950s and later as a Regular Royal Air Force officer in the 1960s. It was a feeling of inspiration that I should be following my comrades who had flown over Germany and bombed it flat and yet, in service in the post-war era, I in concert with my German counterparts should be building the structure of security which was essential for any lasting prosperity and peace in Europe.

The second influence has been social and economic through politics in Bradford. The city of Bradford has a fine exporting record. We are entirely export orientated for our economy to survive. We have contributed greatly to the wealth of the country, and yet it is a fact that earnings in the West Riding industrial district are lower than those in any other industrial area in the country. There is urban decay and a need for new industry, for diversification and modernisation of the environment generally. In Europe there would be scope to improve the lot of Bradford.

I have felt that in the European idea was the opportunity for reconciliation in Europe. The heart of Europe for the development of security is Germany and the solution of the German problem is the most essential objective of any European policy. Just because the German problem is most likely to be satisfactorily solved within the concept of the enlargement of the European Economic Com- munity, I am most anxious that Britain should play her part in the enlargement of that Community.

Many hon. Members have referred to Franz Joseph Strauss as the arch revanchiste, but in the "Grand Design" he makes it clear that he sees the enlargement of the Community as creating the structure within which German aspirations could properly and peacefully be developed. If the Community is not enlarged, the danger of German revanchism will become real. There is already in Germany an increasing sense of national identity and at the same time the ideologies on both sides of the Iron Curtain are converging.

Already within the comparatively narrow confines of the Community of the Six, Germany is the most economically prosperous, and there is a Drang nach Osten both in Ostpolitik as well as economics taking place in Germany. Unless the Community is enlarged, Germany will become an over-mighty force in central Europe. It is, therefore, most important that the Community be enlarged at this stage.

Some will say, as did the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) that that development could endanger security, because the move towards détente would be endangered. I have not found the right hon. Gentleman's arguments convincing, particularly the argument that at a time when the Americans are likely to withdraw he should be seeking to react to the Russian advantage by force reductions. This seems to be playing straight into the hands of the Soviet Union. It was he himself who not long ago was foremost in advocating a greater European identity in defence, and if this is to happen it presupposes a greater degree of political harmonisation and political unification as well.

I found just as unconvincing the argument by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) that the accord between France and Germany was suspect. He said General de Gaulle had twisted the arm of the Germans and that the French got themselves into the Community only by forcing a common agricultural policy on the other members of the Common Market. I look at the matter differently. I think the fact that two great former antagonists in Europe were able to compromise is of far greater importance.

Turning to my own area and its regional problems, I feel that these have been well dealt with by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy), but it is nevertheless significant that Yorkshire wool men are not lightly prone to flights of fancy. And when for 10 years they, like their colleagues in the Lancashire trade, have been advocating the benefits of our membership of the Community, we should take note. The industry and its trade unions also realise the importance to their members of our accession to the E.E.C.

In my part of the world we look on our entry into E.E.C. as providing the opportunity to break out from the vicious cycle of narrow profit margins, poor investment, redundancy, short time, low earnings—all the features that have bedevilled a regional economy that has been over-reliant on one staple trade whose export markets have been constantly diminishing.

If we look at the achievements of the industry in past years, we find that the intra-E.E.C. trade in wool textiles in 1967–69 was 70 per cent. higher than it was in 1957–58. At the same time United Kingdom exports of wool textiles to the E.E.C. in 1967–69 were 50 per cent. lower than 1957–58; whereas the United Kingdom exports of wool textiles to E.F.T.A. in 1967–69 were 106 per cent. higher. In other words, where there were favourable tariffs we were able to make important export achievements. This is the confident expectation of the wool textile trade for the future also.

Lastly, I turn briefly to advanced technology. I do not see environmental objections as precluding growth as a responsible objective for political parties. On the contrary, I see technological development as the only hope for overcoming the aftermath of industrial development. The truth is that with growth and technological exploitation one can control the environment favourably. But unless this is based on adequate research and development in the advanced technologies, I see our country becoming ever more impoverished, not only financially but also in terms of innovation and inventiveness as well.

When Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber spoke of the dêbarquement, the invasion in 1944 terms, of American technology into Europe, he was speaking of the inventive and creative aspects of industry being undertaken in the New World and the productive functions being undertaken in the Old. I do not want to see that accentuated. I think that it will be if we do not enter the E.E.C.

I welcome the collaborative programmes that we have already undertaken. But, unless we have some say politically in Europe, we may find ourselves, as we did with the cancellation of the A.F.V.G. which we were conducting with the French, in the position of not being able to twist our partner's arms. The world of advanced technology is a brutal, realistic one. Unless we can bring direct political pressure to bear, we shall find ourselves placed at a disadvantage. There is every advantage to be gained from being in Europe.

In the immediate post-war period, I joined the R.A.F. At that time, we led the world in jet engine development, supersonic flight, and so on. We have always hitherto been at the frontiers of technical advance. I regret that we are not now in space. We could be. In the future, we could have space shuttles and re-usable boosters developed on a European basis. These are not precluded in the future, if we co-operate.

Fundamentally, it is a time for destiny, and I am aware of it. I look back to a great internationalist, who served not only Europe but the nations of the world. I refer, of course, to the late Dag Hammarskjöld. I turned up his "Markings", and the entry for 23rd June, 1957, reads: He who is challenged by Fate does not take umbrage at the terms", and later, The myths have always condemned those who looked back—condemned them, whatever the paradise may have been which they were leaving. I do not think that anyone could say, following the period 1964 to 1970, that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite left behind a paradise. As for my right hon. and hon. Friends, they have much to be proud of in the 15 months in which they have been in office. We are not a Conservative Party in the sense of being a reactionary party. Our greatest strength is that we have been able to adapt to changed circumstances and to rise above them. It is for that reason that I shall be proud to support this Motion.

6.58 a.m.

Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)

It is a great pleasure to be called immediately after my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Wilkinson). I have very happy memories of that city, having gone there to work, as a southerner, at the end of the last war. One of the characteristics of the people of Bradford is that they do not look back. Always they look forward, to new partners and new ventures.

I am very sorry that the Leader of the Opposition is not in his place—

Mr. Arthur Lewis

He is with the Prime Minister. They are both in bed.

Mr. Crouch

I gave the right hon. Gentleman notice that I intended to refer to him in my speech. I am also sorry that his supporters and those who do not support him are not round him on the benches opposite. He and they will not only miss what I have to say about my feelings on this great question of whether we should join the Common Market; they will have missed perhaps the most stirring part of the debate. In the last three or four hours, we have heard shorter speeches. They have been crisp and to the point. The lead was given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann), with whose views I cannot agree but who gave an example of how to express views clearly and with conviction and sincerity. This lead was followed by all who spoke after him.

In the short time left to me this morning, I want to refer to what I have found in my constituency as I have discussed the problems of our entry into the Common Market. My constituents know my views. I have been a convinced and confirmed European—

It being Seven o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Debate to he resumed this day.

  1. ADJOURNMENT 12 words
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