§ Amendment proposed [25th April]: No. 136, in page 2, line 25, leave out 'from time to time'.—[Mr. Powell]
§ Question again proposed, That the Amendment be made.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
On a point of order, Sir Robert. May I revert to the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas)?
§ The Chairman
I did not allow that point of order; I ruled it out of order from the start. It would be better for us all to leave that point now.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
Then may I raise another point of order with you, Sir Robert? Is it in order for any hon. Member to cast reflection upon the Chair by suggesting that the Chair has allowed the same debate day after day? That is what the hon. Member for Chelmsford did.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I rise to make a brief intervention. It will be brief for two reasons, partly by way of some compensation for having necessarily taken up a little of the Committee's time yesterday and, second, because of the informal arrangement which I understand has been entered into not unduly to protract proceedings on the debate today.
I intervene for two main reasons—first, to give some clarification of the position as I see it and, second, because there has been a repeated reference by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General to my observations on this point on Second Reading. Although this would in the ordinary way be flattering, there has in their references been, perhaps, some over-simplification of the argument which I then sought to advance. 1552 Therefore, it would be as well if I sought to clarify the position now.
The object and effect of the Amendments, as I understand them, is to exclude from the self-enacting provisions of subsection (1) future regulations, while leaving the existing regulations—the 42 volumes with which we are familiar—in this perhaps unenviable and unattractive category of self-enacting provisions.
On that two questions arise. First, is it technically possible to do what the Amendments seek to do? Second, if it is technically possible, is it desirable? The question whether it is possible to do this turns on the construction of subsection (1) and, in particular, on the answer to the question: does the requirement of Article 189 of the Treaty of Rome in regard to the direct application of Community regulations exclude the possibility of member States making their own statute law the vehicle for this application?
For the avoidance of doubt, in my view the answer to that question is "No". But it perhaps requires a little explanation. The position under Article 189 is that regulations, unlike directives, are directly applicable in all member States. That is the wording of the article. In regard to directives, Article 189 says:A directive shall be binding, as to the result to be achieved, upon each Member State to which it is directed, but shall leave to the national authorities the choice of form and methods.Therefore, we see a clear difference between what is prescribed in relation to regulations and directives. The difference is not that the one precludes any statutory enactment while the other calls for it. The difference is narrower than that. The words "directly applicable" do not forbid the use of statutory enactment as a vehicle. What they forbid is any deviation from the ipsissima verbaof the regulations. They require that regulations, if they are to be statutorily enacted in the legislation of a member State, must be enacted in the precise form of the Community enactment, because that is inherent in the requisite of direct application. It is in this that they differ from directives.
In respect of directives, as long as the purport and effect is carried into the domestic law of the member State, the member State can suit itself as to the 1553 form in which it is done. The consequence of that is that directives are perhaps more suited to statutory enactment than regulations, because they can more readily be clothed in the idiom of English law, whereas regulations must follow the less familiar idiom of Community law, although absorbed into a British Statute.
Though for that reason regulations lend themselves less conveniently perhaps to statutory enactment than directives, there is no reason not to take the course of the statutory enactment of regulations if Parliament is willing to shoulder any consequential inconvenience that may ensue. No doubt there would have been considerable inconvenience if the Bill had scheduled 42 volumes of existing regulations. It would have been inconvenient, but it would have been possible as an exercise of draftsmanship, albeit a clumsy one.
I think and I hope that I made this point clear on Second Reading when I said that it would have been possible to schedule by way of statutory enactment the Community regulations as an exercise of draftsmanship. I went on to say:but to set out word for word and syllable for syllable what is in the Community regulations—and nothing less would meet our obligation under the treaty—could not lessen one jot or one tittle the surrender of sovereignty and the subordination of our law."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th February, 1972: Vol. 831, c. 314–15.]That is true.
What I was doing in that speech, which my right hon. and learned Friend has been good enough to cite on more than one occasion, was making three points clear. The first was that the approach of statutory enactment by the scheduling of existing regulations would have been possible, though inconvenient. The second was that, if that had been adopted, it would have been necessary to incorporate the ipsissima verba of the regulations to satisfy the requirement in Article 189 in regard to direct application. The third was that in any event, if that course had been followed, it would not have lessened the loss of sovereignty. That was the main point with which we were concerned on Second Reading.
Now in these Amendments we are not concerned with existing regulations and, 1554 therefore, we are not concerned with or inhibited by the inconvenience of scheduling the 42 volumes. What we are here concerned with is whether there should be some form of statutory enactment for future regulations.
As the answer to my first question—whether it is technically possible to do what the Amendments seek to do—is "Yes", I pass to the second question as to whether, that being so, it is desirable. In answering this question, we start from the principle that, anything which extends consideration or control by Parliament is a good thing, provided that there is no overriding or insuperable inconvenience attached to it. In the case of the future regulations there would be no such overriding inconvenience. It would not here be a case of the simultaneous scheduling of 42 volumes of regulations, the accumulation of more than a decade of the secondary legislation of the Community. We are here concerned with the future regulations, and these would be able to be dealt with as they came out ad hoc. I apprehend that there could be no mechanical or logistical difficulties about doing that as the Amendments would require.
It follows therefore that the answer to the second question is also "Yes", that what is proposed by the Amendment is both technically possible and desirable, and it follows that they should be supported.
In conclusion, I would add only this in a slightly more general sense: the principle vice of the Bill is the subordination of the sovereignty of Parliament and the British law. The Amendments, while they would improve the position marginally, would not eradicate that vice from the Bill. That we could have done yesterday on my Amendment No. 79, and the Committee will have further opportunities to do so on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" and on Third Reading. If the opportunities are not taken, this essential and inherent vice will remain, and Parliament must stand responsible for it in history.
The Amendments that we are dealing with, however, are on narrower ground and less fundamental issues. They serve a modest but good purpose, and, that being so, they should be welcomed and supported.
§ Mr. Nigel Spearing (Acton)
I wish briefly to do two things in the course of a few remarks. The first is to address myself to Amendment No. 208, which has not been mentioned so far in the debate, and, second, to add to what the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) has said about the desirability of the enforceable rights of the Community being dealt with through the normal means of debate in the House.
The phrase "enforceable Community right" has already attracted a great deal of attention, and yesterday at about this time the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton) suggested that we should have had a complete examination of this novel expression. This is why I and some of my hon. Friends have put down Amendment No. 208. It seeks not only to provide an opportunity to discover the meaning of the phrase but to tie down in more exact legal language what it actually means. The Amendment is in page 2, line 31, leave out from 'right' to end of line 33 and insert:'means a right enforceable by any Community Institution in respect of—Nowhere else is it spelt out in the Bill what the all-important phrase means. One of the Schedules says that an enforceable Community right would be construed as in accordance with Clause 2(1), but that is meaningless. I will not deal at length with the need for an explanation of the phrase. I hope that in reply the Chancellor of the Duchy or the Solicitor-General will say why he cannot accept the Amendment, if he cannot, and if he cannot what Amendment the Government intend to table at a later stage to deal with this important point. If they do not think either of these steps appropriate, I hope they will explain why. I hope that, as it has not been possible to have a full debate about this important phrase due to the 1556 exigencies of grouping, the answers will become clear at that stage.
- (a) any Treaty or treaty, their protocols or annexes or other international agreements defined as such in this section and in Schedule 1 to this Act;
- (b) regulations, directives, or decisions of Community Institutions made prior to 22nd January 1972; and
- (c) regulations, directives or decisions of Community Institutions enforceable in respect of the Treaty of Accession signed at Brussels on 22nd January 1972'.
I wish to add to what the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East has said about those obligations which will be enforceable on this country after accession, if we get that far. It is appropriate that we should discuss this on Committee stage, not only because it is the Committee stage but because the stages of our legislation were accepted by all hon. Members when they were first elected. Very few people think of the reason for these stagesand how they have come into existence.
The traditions of the House and of British democracy tell us that before there shall be legislation, initially by the Crown, there shall be consultation, and unless there is consultation there cannot be a degree of confidence in the legislation that is passed. Unless there is a degree of confidence in the legislation, let alone the power to change it if necessary, there cannot be easy compliance, and it is compliance with the law which is a matter of great moment in this country for all sorts of reasons.
But even without certain legislation which we dealt with last year I believe that the whole tenor of the times makes this a very important matter. No longer are people prepared to accept out of habit what the law decrees. They need to be convinced of its justice and the necessity for it, I think that is happening all over the world, and the younger the people concerned are the more they feel this to be necessary. If this House, inside or outside the EEC, or any legislative assembly in the world, wishes to retain a coherent form of society through the enactments it pursues, this process becomes ever more important as time passes, and this is the reason for many of the difficulties and tensions which this country and many other democratic countries face.
Therefore, if we are to change the means of consultation before legislation, which is the ancient prerogative of this House in relation to the Crown, the way in which such consultation takes place in respect of any other authority for legislation is of vital importance. But the Government do not see it like that. They offered the ad hoc committee at the last moment, and these processes of consultation will be very much more difficult. 1557 Therefore, we are asking that in relation to the EEC, while there may not be formal statutory consultation—we know there may be representatives and the sort of schemes which exist in the German Bundesrat—the actual implementation of such obligations should be in the customary form of this House.
I know that Ministers will say that if this was done Parliament still could not alter a jot, syllable or comma of the obligations. But that happens very very often in Standing Committee or in Committee of the whole House when the Government refuse to accept an Amendment. This does not mean that the time has been wasted. We may vote in the end and lose the Amendment, but there would have been an opportunity to scrutinise, clarify and understand the object of the legislation and to see the effect if would have on the lives of the people, and without that procedure such scrutiny would not be possible.
If Community legislation after accesssion had to go through this House it would enable hon. Members to contribute to the institutions of the EEC in a far more substantial way than if that procedure did not apply. By discussing what we had to pass through this House in the way which is customary we would come very rapidly to understand how the EEC works, and we might even be converted to its merits. The Amendment would at least provide an opportunity, and there is very little reason why we should not accept it. The matters involved affect the lives of ordinary people, and if they cannot be discussed here then there is either something wrong constitutionally or people have something to hide.
I am not a lawyer. I am trying to speak for people who have a great respect for democracy. Can there be any respect for law which emanates without consultation and without full and proper scrutiny? It might have it if such legislation came from the Assembly or even from the Council of Ministers, but that is not so. As we on this side read the Treaty of Rome, the powers stem from the Commission.
It was on the differences of opinion as to whether the Commission could act on its own, without reference to the Council, or whether it had more or less unfettered powers that there was an exchange late 1558 yesterday between the Solicitor-General and my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay). The facts of that exchange, as I understand them, make the Amendment even more necessary.
I hope we can clear up the position. As I tried to show in a point of order, matters of fact, irrespective of the merits, can be discussed in Committee and in the House in a tolerant and objective way. Having agreed on the facts, we can then debate them. That did not happen last night, because the Solicitor-General would not give way to my right hon. Friend on a matter of substantial importance.
In the Library we have a copy of the "pre-OFFICIAL REPORT" for the period after 10.30 last night, according to which the Solicitor-General said:The passage in Article 155 referred to by the right hon. Gentleman"—my right hon. Friend—refers to the rôle of the Commission in the formulation of measures taken by the Council".So it may. It may well be that the Council could say to the Commission "We want you to do this, that, or the other." I do not recall having read anything in the Treaty of Rome saying that it can do so, but let us assume that it can. That does not mean that it cannot take action on its own; it does not exclude that possibility.
The Solicitor-General went on:and it is the last sentence which deals with the matter to which I referred, namely, the exercise of powers conferred on it by the Council.That is, conferred on the Commission. Again, that is the same point. There may well be powers conferred on the Commission by the Council, but we are not necessarily concerned with them. We are concerned with the powers conferred on the Commission by the Treaty of Rome, which we believe are, to use a favourite expression here, at large.
Then the Solicitor-General said:In any event, it does not invalidate my general point that the operation of the Commision is limited, in broad terms, to the safeguard provisions—for example, Article 25—or the decision of particular cases within the ambit of policy or to operating on policy lines laid down by the Council of Ministers and not beyond that.I emphasise the last three words. I understand that the important Article 155 1559 is not subsidiary to any powers of the the Council. Therefore there can be no question of "beyond it". The powers of the Commission under that Article stem directly from, and are directly applicable as a result of, Articles 2 and 3 of the treaty itself. This is made quite clear in the first few lines of Article 155:In order to ensure the proper functioning and development of the common market, the Commision shall".Then follows a whole series of things. The earlier articles make it quite clear what the proper functioning of the Community shall be. Article 3 states in paragraphs (a) to (k) the objectives of the Common Market.
Irrespective of the merits of the matter, is it not clear from the passages I have just read that the powers of the Commission stem directly from Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty of Rome, and that, therefore, it is empowered to take what measures it likes, whatever the Council may say? The Council may informally indicate what it wants, but there is nothing in this written constitution to say that the Commission shall be confined to that. Indeed, so far as we know, the Council can act only on a proposition from the Commission. My right hon. Friend quoted from a very valuable document yesterday showing that that provision was specifically put in to try to negate the natural urges towards national sovereignty and governmental influence which the member Governments would have.
I had not wished to detain the Committee for so long, but if I had not spelt out that last point at length there would be room for further misunderstanding. Those of us who are not lawyers sometimes wonder at the way in which lawyers spell out everything in exact detail, but now I know why.
The Solicitor-General said yesterday that he would be willing to take back what he had said if he found anything inconsistent with his statement. Unless we hear from him anything to the contrary of what he said, I hope the Committee will understand why we feel it is necessary to support the Amendments concerning future legislation, for the great, wide social reasons I have already outlined, and, in particular, the legal and 1560 constitutional reasons. These include a proper spelling out of the phrase "enforceable Community right", which we have tried to achieve in Amendment No. 208.
§ Sir Robin Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
As the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Spearing) said, these Amendments are designed to insert some parliamentary control over the Executive, here and in Brussels, in a Clause that completely lacks any such control.
There has been a certain amount of confusion about the stages at which Parliamentary control can be exercised. There seem to be three possible stages. The first stage is before the regulation is made. Secondly, there is the stage when it has been made and must be directly applied. The third stage, which the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Dell) and I have been talking about, is the stage after it has been directly applied, when Parliament can see how it has changed the law.
Clearly, we have a reason for thinking that Parliament should be able to voice its views on the Executive here—our own Ministers—and in Brussels before the regulation is made. We can pray in aid of that the fact that other Parliaments have that power. Why should we in Britain be denied the power that other Parliaments possess?
My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said last night:What they"—the Germans and Dutch—have done is to bring their adherence to the treaty into effect in accordance with their own constitutional procedures.…I have emphasised that…we do not want to bind or fetter future Parliaments".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th April, 1972; Vol. 835, c. 1338–39.]Why are we rejecting this system of bringing a draft regulation into consideration on the Floor of the House so that opinions on it can be voiced?
If I remember rightly, the change in the wheat price in Germany was brought in as a draft regulation, the German Parliament expressed a view upon it, and as a result that particular Measure, rightly or wrongly, had to be radically altered by the Council of Ministers. I think that this is the kind of power which parliamentary control and tradition requires.
1561 I rather fall out with the hon. Member for Acton, as I have with other hon. Members, who implied that the Government had offered an ad hoc committee to deal with the matter. That is not what has been offered. The ad hoc committee was offered in place of this Committee stage of the Bill to think out the form of control of this pre-legislative stage. I think that it is far better for it to be done in this Committee by a consensus of those who are for and against entry trying to devise some method of pre-legislative parliamentary control. It should not be difficult for my right hon. and learned Friend at this or some later stage of the Bill to say "On pre-legislative control, I will insert in the Bill some provision for parliamentary control".
I come now to the second, the most vital, stage. The Solicitor-General made a fair case why he was disinclined to enact regulations which have already been made. However, I can see no argument—no doubt he will address himself to this point in reply—for enacting, either by Act of Parliament or by Statutory Instrument, regulations which are to be made in future. There can be no inconvenience. Many of them will vitally affect the people of this country. Therefore, the representatives of the people should be able to give their views in Parliament.
I take issue with my right hon. and learned Friend on one remark which he made yesterday. I have great admiration for the Chancellor of the Duchy, but I hope that he will explain what he meant when, according to the OFFICIAL REPORT, he said:I have emphasised that we should not deal with them by an Act, because we do not want to bind or fetter future Parliaments as to the way in which they deal with such matters."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th April, 1972; Vol. 835, c. 1339.]I think that this is an absolute denial of everything which my party and I believe regarding parliamentary control. Surely this is what we are here for.
§ Mr. Powell
Does my right hon. Friend also accept that in those words which he has quoted my right hon. and learned Friend has accepted that Article 189 does not require implementation "without further enactment" and has consequently accepted that Clause 2(1) has no content since there are no such powers, etc., in existence?
§ Sir Robin Turton
I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend. My right hon. and learned Friend said that there are these two alternatives: doing it by automatic enactment, as we have here, or doing it by legislation. He said that he did not want to do it by legislation, whether Statutory Instrument or Act, because he did not want to fetter future Parliaments. I suggest that this requires some explanation in reply. At the moment, it makes me doubt whether my right hon. and learned Friend is addressing himself in the right attitude to effective parliamentary control over this legislation.
I now come to my third subdivision, the post-mortem period. I think that the issues between us here are much narrower. I was greatly impressed by the reply given by my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General. I gather that in reply to the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Dell) and myself he said "I agree that we must have some form of consolidation procedure." He said that he had talked to the Law Commission, and that it is to deal with this matter. Will he consider whether the Law Commissions Act, 1965, is sufficient statutory authority for this work? I do not ask this question in any hostile way. I imagine that the power is given in Section 3(1)(d) of the Law Commissions Act, which provides:to prepare from time to time at the request of the Minister"—the Lord Chancellor—comprehensive programmes of consolidation and statute law revision, and to undertake the preparation of draft Bills pursuant to any such programme approved by the Minister".It is a long time since I practised at the Bar—probably before the Solicitor-General was born—but I think that we need more explicit power than that. The Bill would be improved if it contained a power showing that the Law Commission was to prepare this consolidation. I agree that the difference between us on this matter is not great. However, I am sure that the country would welcome the inclusion of an Amendment to that effect. I do not suggest that Amendment No. 7 is verbally correct in every item, but I think that some extension of the power, to show that the Law Commissions Act, 1965, is included and that the Law Commission has power to weld 1563 these regulations into the present Statute law, is desirable.
§ The Solicitor-General (Sir Geoffrey Howe)
My right hon. Friend—after what he said, I feel tempted to say "my venerable and reverend Friend"——
§ The Solicitor-General
Learned as well. Every epithet is appropriate to him. In case there is any misunderstanding, I should point out that in reply to his question at an earlier stage I explained the way in which the Statute Law Committee—I think that is its current name—in course of preparing the forthcoming loose-leaf volumes of our legislation, will endeavour to give early attention to those Statutes which are affected by Community legislation.
Yesterday, when dealing with the Amendment moved by the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Dell), I indicated that within the scope of its existing duties, under the Law Commissions Act, 1965, as defined no doubt in the section, which I do not have before me, the Law Commission was also prepared to ensure that it paid attention to the impact of Community law in discharging its function. That is as far as I have gone. I think that my right hon. Friend and I are agreed about the importance of this matter, and I have given him the answers on those two points. I should not like him to think that I have said anything more than that at this stage.
§ Sir Robin Turton
As I said, the issue between us is narrow. I hope that my hon. and learned Friend will go a little further and put into the Bill, so that all can see, what the intention is. I think that the intention should be that the work of consolidation, bringing up to date the existing law, should be a continuous process and should be dealt with under Standing Order 87A.
§ Sir Elwyn Jones
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is to be hoped that the Solicitor-General will give a fair wind to increasing the establishment of the Law Commission for this heavy additional burden which it is proposed to place upon it?
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Sir Robin Turton
It is my old profession and I would not want to stand in the way of its getting a certain amount of dividend out of this matter. Indeed, I agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman that this is a natural consequence.
It is a pity that the Bill should go forward without any mention of this postoperative work, which I think is vitally necessary. My right hon. and learned Friend has always prayed in aid the fact that parliamentary control and the legal consequences are exactly as set out in the White Paper of 1967. The right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones) touched on this at an early hour in the morning. I remind the Committee of what that White Paper said in dealing with the question of future regulations, covered by Amendment No. 136.
First of all, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman pointed out, it says in paragraph 20:A substantial body of legislation would be required to enable us to accept the law.Paragraph 21 deals with directives, which I leave out because we will come to them later when we reach subsection (2).
But paragraph 22 says:…it would be necessary to pass legislation giving the force of law to those provisions of the Treaties.…The legislation would have to cover both provisions in force when we joined and those coming into force subsequently as a result of instruments issued by the Community institutions. No new problem would be created by the provisions which were in force at the time we became a member of the Communities.We dealt with that aspect in yesterday's debates. The paragraph goes on:The constitutional innovation would lie in the acceptance in advance as part of the law of the United Kingdom of provisions to be made in the future by instruments issued by the Community institutions—a situation for which there is no precedent in this country.Then come the vital words:However, these instruments, like ordinary delegated legislation, would derive their force under the law of the United Kingdom.…I do not quite know what is meant by that expression, but I would have thought that it implied that we would be using some form of delegated legislation to deal 1565 with what would be a constitutional innovation. If I have any doubt about that, it comes in paragraph 23 of the White Paper, which deals with the problem of the conflict between British national law and the Community law. It says:This result need not be left to implication, and it would be open to Parliament to enact from time to time any necessary consequential amendments or repeals.That, I thought, made it clear, if we are relying on the White Paper of the Labour Government, that what they envisaged was not Clause 2 of this Bill but some method, certainly dealing with the future, whereby Parliament would deal with the matter by means of Statutory Instrument or legislation.
I hope, therefore, that between now and Report my right hon. and learned Friend will have second thoughts about the problem of future regulations and will see that some parliamentary control is effected, because I welcomed so much the speech made by the right hon. Member for Birkenhead, who said last night that the vital problem is that of ensuring adequate parliamentary control over the Executive once we are in the Community. This is a point which the Government have never answered. They have never stated why there is no proper provision in the Bill for this matter. That has been my very great worry ever since the Bill was introduced, and I beg my right hon. and learned Friends to correct it.
§ Mr. Deakins
The right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton) has very powerfully voiced, based on a great deal of experience, the concern of the Committee about the rights of Parliament over future secondary legislation stemming from the EEC. I want to follow his remarks by pointing out that in future there will be two sorts of secondary legislation to consider. The first group will be those instruments which stem from the existing Community treaties and the second group will be those which stem from future Community treaties which have as yet not only not been signed but have not even been negotiated.
We were told on Clause 1that if one of these future Community treaties involved a very severe derogation from the rights and powers of Parliament, no doubt that treaty would first have to face 1566 the full panoply of Parliamentary enactment. But we have passed Clause 1, and its subsection (3)(b) does not give us that right of parliamentary enactment, although we fought very far for it. Therefore, it is quite possible that future Community treaties which widely extend the scope and powers of various of the Communities could be brought into force in the House of Commons by the Affirmative Resolution procedure, and that therefore secondary legislation stemming from them could go straight through without any "yea" or "nay" from the House under Clause 2(1).
Not only do we have to be concerned about the rights of Parliament. We should also be concerned about the position of our courts under subsection (1) and about the position of our citizens. It seems to me that a number of matters of very considerable doubt have not been cleared up either by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster or by the Solicitor-General. The first of these doubts concerns the status of future Community legislation stemming from Community treaties. The position is that the Government have resisted Amendments to specify all the Community treaties from which secondary legislation will flow under Schedule 1(7) because, they say, they cannot be absolutely certain that they know what is a Community treaty and what is not.
If the Government do not know fully and finally what is a Community treaty, we may well be faced with a very serious situation if secondary legislation under a treaty purporting to be a Community treaty but not in fact a Community treaty is treated as part of our law. The courts will be in considerable difficulty if we cannot, as we have not so far done in the Bill, specify those treaties which authorise the secondary legislation under subsection (1). Would it be a defence in a British court, or even before a European court, to say that secondary legislation not stemming from a Community treaty could not possibly be enforced or enforceable? I do not know. Can the Government even tell us that every single one of the instruments, directives and decisions, in the 41 volumes of secondary legislation up to 10th December, 1971, stems from an existing Community treaty? Can they be certain on that point when they are not certain whether 1567 they have covered, in their ten volumes of treaties and related instruments, every single thing that is a Community treaty?
The reverse could be true. It could be something which was not a Community treaty in our legislation was in fact a Community treaty. That again would present a problem to the courts if we have not specified the list of final Community treaties. It is, therefore, essential to provide an authoritative guide to the courts as to how they should approach the secondary legislation. We have some sort of parliamentary safeguard in the first part of Clause 1(3), whereby there can be an Order in Council to state definitely what is a Community treaty. One would have thought that this Committee should insist that we need a similar safeguard for our courts in Clause 2(1), and Amendment No. 208 would fit the Bill.
My next doubt is: what is the judicial status under Clause 2(1) of decisions? If we turn to the Treaty of Rome, Article 192 we find:Decisions of the Council or of the Commission which impose a pecuniary obligation on persons other than States shall be enforceable.If that means anything at all, it means that there is a class of decision not affecting pecuniary obligations which is not necessarily enforceable. How are the courts to react to such decisions when an attempt is made by interested parties to take advantage of the liabilities, obligations and restrictions which may well be laid on the ordinary citizen under those decisions?
My next point concerns the safeguards for the citizen, both in the Treaty of Rome and in the Bill. It is a dreadful commentary on the drafters of the Treaty that there are hardly any safeguards for the ordinary citizen. Article 173 has a bearing on this, but it is a very scanty safeguard and it seems most unlikely—I do not speak as a lawyer since I am not one—that a private citizen could bring an action equivalent to an action of ultra vires against any Community institution for trying to exceed or exceeding its powers under the treaty. This is a safeguard which we have at the moment, and it will disappear in secondary legislation under Clause 2(1).
1568 Furthermore, at the moment a citizen can, I think, claim that a statutory instrument has not been treated in the right way, particularly one creating a criminal offence. He can claim that such an instrument is contrary to the rules of natural justice. That will no longer be possible under the procedure with which we are now faced. The point was made yesterday by a number of hon. Members that in this subsection we are lumping together regulations, directives, and decisions, all of which enjoy a different status under certain Articles of the Treaty of Rome. For example some decisions do not appear to have the right to be enforced. Surely Clause 2(1), if it is to apply to any Community legislation at all, should apply only to those regulations which have to be directly enforceable since directives and decisions do not. have to be directly enforceable by the methods laid down in subsection (1).
Here I commend Amendment No. 250 to the Committee because that is what it seeks to do. I share the strong concern of the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton and the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) about parliamentary control and in particular control of those areas, namely directives and decisions where we can legitimately, without any shadow of doubt, under the explicit provisions of the Treaty of Rome, exercise our own parliamentary safeguards in our own way, namely by means of Statutory Instrument.
The real issue facing us on these Amendments is the issue of parliamentary sovereignty or supra-nationalism, and supra-nationalism which is beginning more and more to take a federal form. If there are no parliamentary checks on future Community secondary legislation, there will undoubtedly be from some hon. Members and from some people in the country a demand for checks by a European Parliament. That must inevitably mean that in those respects, if not more, that European Parliament will be given powers denied to the House of Commons. That would be the start of subordinating the House to a European Assembly.
There is no half-way house between parliamentary sovereignty and supra-nationalism. Clause 2(1) tries to find such a half-way house but fails. It is a 1569 federalist subsection. In my view it is seeking to be more catholic than the Pope since it places restrictions on parliamentary sovereignty which are not required by the Treaty of Rome. The path to federalism in Western Europe will not be through a cataclysmic blow whereby the Government come to this Parliament and say, "Here is a treaty for federal reform, sign it and we can have a grand debate to decide whether to be federalists." The path to federalism more and more will be step by step, bit by bit. I would remind the Committee of the saying of the wise Chinese philosopher Lao Tse:The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.If we pass this subsection unamended we shall be taking the first step towards federalism, and I beg the Committee to accept the Amendment.
§ [Miss HARVIE ANDERSON in the Chair]
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr. J. C. Jennings (Burton)
About 12 years ago in the House the issue of entry to the Common Market became a live one. Since then with words and political behaviour I have consistently opposed it.
I have dared to put down an Amendment quite separately from the five other persons whose names appear on it, Amendment No. 136. Contrary to what has been suggested, this is not a narrow Amendment but a very wide one. To show—[Interruption.]—how wide it is we have to look at—[Interruption.] There is room for only one speech at a time in Committee. We are getting three or four at the moment. This is the first speech I have made in Committee on this subject, and I am determined to say what I think.
We have to look at the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum and at the Clause to see exactly how this Amendment applies, leaving out the words "from time to time". The explanatory memorandum in paragraph (a) says that the main purposes of Part 1are:to give the force of law in the United Kingdom to present and future Community law which under the Community Treaties is directly applicable in Member States".If we strip some of the words away from the Clause, as we used to do in the old days when they taught parsing and analysing in the primary schools of this country—it is a pity they do not do it 1570 now—and if we look at the main sentence in the Clause it reads thus:All such rights, powers, liabilities, obligations and restrictions from time to time created under the Treaties are without further enactment to be given legal effect in the United Kingdom.That is the key sentence in the whole of the Clause and it gives the game away.
The economic arguments for entering the Market are marginal, and I would be foolish not to realise that there are some good reasons, economically, for going in. There are also some good reasons for staying out. The issues dealt with in this Amendment are constitutional because it is on the constitutional issues that I have always opposed entry. The words "without further enactment" and "from time to time" give authority and power to a body abroad, outside this Parliament, to do almost whatever it likes without any hon. Member being able to say or do the slightest thing about it.
This Amendment seeks to keep our power over our own legislation, our taxation and our Executive. Where would the Executive be if this Clause were to be passed unamended? It would be in Brussels. That is what sovereignty is about. When a Young Conservative asked me on Friday night what I really meant by loss of sovereignty I tried to explain that that was what it meant—that this place of which we are all fond will in the years to come be denuded of its powers.
The Treaty of Rome and this Bill are not about a customs union. Let us make no mistake about that. In the end, as the hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins) said, this is a political union, and step by step, in some subtle way, we shall get a federal Europe, and, as those steps are taken, gradually Community law will be imposed year by year upon us, with new laws being trotted out time after time, and Community law will supersede British law in all the fields covered by this Clause and will do so "without further enactment". So we shall have taken away from us all the time our effective ability of discussion, of criticism, of emendation as the House of Commons. That is what loss of sovereignty means.
Where, then, will the power really lie? It will lie in the institutions of the Market. That is why we have got to leave 1571 out these words "from time to time". It is not, therefore, the narrowness of the Amendment which should be considered but the breadth and depth of it, because "from time to time" refers to what may be done by all those institutions such as the Commission which represent the general Community interest, which enforce the treaties and the subsequent decisions, and which are responsible for proposing common policy measures.
I come again to the question of Parliament. The European Parliament at present is pretty innocuous, and pro-Marketeers on both Front Benches have given us innocuous answers, and it is only in the last few months that the pro-Marketeers have really got down to envisaging what will happen if we go into the Common Market, and what will happen about parliamentary representation.
§ Mr. Raymond Fletcher (Ilkeston)
I intervene briefly to remind the hon. Member, though I am sure he does not really need reminding, that the pro-Marketeers are conspicuous by their absence from our debate and show no willingness whatever to realise what all the implications of what they did on 28th October really are.
§ Mr. Jennings
I do not mind their absence now, I would welcome their absence far more from the voting Lobby in a few moments' time.
The question of the European Parliament will loom larger and larger as the months go by. The European Parliament is based on democratic control of the Community's executive power, but in this place and other places there will be arguments as to what the functions of Members of this Parliament here are to be—as, for instance, what my function as a British Member of Parliament will be. Suppose, for instance, my leaders, say "Here is a good man, the hon. Member for Burton, and we will send him to the European Parliament". I was about to use a non-parliamentary expression, but I will content myself with saying that there is not a dog's chance of that. But suppose it did happen. What would my constituents think if I were to spend more than half of my time in Europe and less and less of my time here? So somebody has trotted 1572 out the bright idea of having dual membership for a large constituency, so that one half of that membership for the constituency may be here and the other half in Europe. Imagine what would happen if there were two incompatibles. There is plenty of—I nearly said jiggery-pokery, but that is the wrong word—scheming to get nominated for one seat, let alone two. But these are problems which will come up.
There is another institution, the court of justice, which the hon. Member for Walthamstow, West also mentioned, whose findings and whose rulings are final and binding on the Commission and on the Council. See exactly what this means. They are binding on national Governments and on individuals and—if only I could get chambers of commerce throughout the country to believe it—on firms. In five or ten years' time, if we have become a Member of the Community, those of us who are Tory anti-Marketeers, and who are criticised, particularly for instance, by the Daily Telegraph leader writer, as villains, while pro-Marketeer Socialists are described as heroes, will be thought to be heroes. I take the Daily Telegraph only for its crossword and Andrew Alexander. When people, firms and individuals, and national Governments, realise what is going to strike them in five or ten years' time, fellows like me, instead of being double-dyed villains, will be great heroes.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that the Brussels Community Court has already, I think on two occasions, referred to any legislation of national Parliaments inconsistent with the treaties, or which it holds to be inconsistent with the treaties, as invalid? That does not seem to leave much sovereignty to this Parliament.
§ Mr. Jennings
The National Industrial Relations Court will not be in it compared with what we shall have to face in the Common Market in years to come.
Lastly on this point, Community decisions are directly binding in the territories of the member States, without having to be embodied in national legislation. This is creating a body of Community law which supersedes national law in the fields prescribed. Many of these words that I have been saying are not 1573 mine at all. I am not a lawyer, and I like to go for evidence where it is simple and straightforward and devoid of all technicalities of legal language, and I went back to this booklet—"The Facts"—about the European Community. It was issued by the information department, and there one finds all spelt out, years ago, what is the real aim.
To sum up, this Clause, unamended, would mean that future Community legislation would automatically become part of British law, directly applicable to British subjects. This is the crunch. That is the message which we hope to get over to the British people, the understanding of exactly what Parliament is doing to this country. Such Community law will not be laid before Parliament, and the Community institutions making the law will not, as such, be answerable to this Parliament. This is the negation of parliamentary democracy. That has always been the basis of my opposition to entry into the Common Market, and I shall not be a party to it now.
§ Mr. Raymond Fletcher
All I really need to do is to say, "Hear, hear" to the remarks made by the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings), but since I am on my feet and have an opportunity I want to add a few words of my own by way of an appendix to his and other Members' contributions.
We have to start out not only legalistically, because many of us are hardly qualified to do that, but by a consideration of history. It is time that the argument moved into the context of the history of this and other countries. We have learned that legislative assemblies rarely understand what they are doing at the time they are doing it. The men who resisted the government of George III in the now United States of America, then the Colonies, in 1776 thought that they were participating in a geographical extension of the party struggle in this Chamber. Some described themselves as Whigs and others as Tories. It was only after about eighteen months of fighting and the publication of the pamphlet "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine that the colonists realised that they were in the middle of an inescapable revolution.
The historic perspective that is provided by brooding over experiences of 1574 that kind is necessary when we look at the seemingly narrow points that are being made in the debate. From the time we started to debate the Amendments it has seemed to me that some of us are attempting to do what I thought no House of Commons would ever do. We are, to the degree that we accept Community law in the way outlined in the Bill, providing ourselves with a written constitution. It has always been one of the great glories of this Parliament and the system into which it fits that we do not have a written constitution and that in legislating we do not have to refer to a document laid down somewhere else by other people and relate what we are doing to and test its justifiability against a written document.
We are now moving into that situation. The surrender of sovereignty will be a substantial surrender. I cannot accept that we are engaged in an exercise which will lead to the pooling of sovereignty. We had some unfortunate experiences in the last war when there was an apparent pooling of command. There can no more be pooling of sovereignty than there can be pooling of command in war. There can be a surrender of sovereignty, a yielding of sovereignty or the imposition of another sovereignty upon ours, but I can accept neither the phrase "pooling or sovereignty" nor the idea behind it.
I was impressed by one of the narrower points that has been mentioned. The third sub-paragraph of Article 155 states:The Commission shall…have its own power of decision and participate in the shaping of measures taken by the Council and by the Assembly in the manner provided for in this Treaty.To move from the English non-authentic translation of the Treaty of Rome to the only legitimate one in my possession, which is the German text, it is highly significant that the German word used in Article 155 is enscheidunsgskraft. At least five other words of weaker force could have been used. The word which is used conjures up the image of power, the power to decide. What have the members of the Commission the power to decide? I am not talking about the Germans, because the German members of the Commission in many contexts have been far more liberal than the others. I am talking about the Commission itself and its power to make decisions which will affect member States.
1575 To believe that a Council of Ministers at one end of the procedure and a Parliament at the basement level of the procedure can apply effective control over the powers contained in Article 155 is to move into the realm of cloud cuckooland.
I do not believe that the present structure in Europe can evolve into the federal structure in which many of its founders believed and which many pro-Marketeers on this side of the Committee hope to see realised. The present Community cannot properly evolve into a federal structure when a Parliament exists which has powers comparable to those of the Parliament in which we all have the privilege to serve. Members of Parliament raise objections and use obstructive procedures. Members of Parliament from time to time refuse to obey the party line. As I said in possibly the first speech I made in the long extended debate on the principle of entry, the purpose of this Parliament is not so much to rule or to provide a group of rulers as to prevent misrule.
No federal State in history except Switzerland has been created with the willing consent of all its federal parts. It took the American Civil War—one of the bloodiest and most savage wars in history—to preserve the American Union, in spite of the fact that the right of secession was clearly accepted by the Founding Fathers of the American Republic.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
The hon. Gentleman will recall that the Labour Party was once a party of international outlook which prided itself on its internationalism. Would he say that his remarks reflect that internationalism to be merely a memory of the past?
§ Mr. Fletcher
The hon. Gentleman has given me the opportunity to make a simple observation. There are no more truly internationalist Members of the House of Commons than I and my colleagues. Like the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) we proclaim not only our love of Europe but our connection with Europe by blood. But what has internationalism, working together with people in other countries in groups and institutions, to do with the slow but remorseless creation of a federal system 1576 of government which will rob my European friends of many of the rights which they now enjoy in relation to their own National Assemblies or Parliaments?
If we are to have a Federal Europe, here and now, in this decade in which we are unfortunate enough to live, there must be some institutional equivalent of a Bismarck. I speak in no denigration of that great man. There must be an institutional substitute for a George Washington and an Abraham Lincoln, who was not the silly sentimentalist legend has made of him but one of the most decisive, ruthless and powerful war leaders the world has ever seen. There has to be a strong figure or a strong institution which will override the national Parliaments.
The only institution that fills the bill is the Commission. I repeat myself here, but one has to repeat oneself at least three times in discussing the Bill before the message sinks home. The kind of Parliament that can serve a Commission which has set itself that task is not such a Parliament as ours. It could be a Parlement in the pre-1789 French sense of the term, a consultative body which can agree with the King or the Commission and remove a comma here, put in a semi-colon there. A fully democratic Parliament of our kind, responsible to an electorate, would even now be creating considerable difficulties for the EEC structure. If one thing has been proven by President Pompidou's referendum, it is that the French are not exactly enthusiastic about either President Pomidou and his domestic policies or the Common Market structure.
Those of us who travel to Europe—not paid for by the Council of Europe or by the Commission in Brussels, but by paying our own fares and by working in Europe; those of us who do not belong to the league of blue-eyed boys who enjoy the patronage of both Whips'offices—those of us who travel in Europe in much the same way as Europeans travel in Europe and who eat in the same cafes and who talk with the same kind of people, discover that enthusiasm for the Market is declining in Europe itself. Had the election in Baden Wurtemberg been a referendum on the Market, it would almost certainly have gone against the German Federal Government on the agricultural issue alone. Although they are 1577 beneficiaries, most of the agricultural people in that part of Germany do not regard themselves as having benefited enough.
§ Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)
I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman has left the point about the federal system which may or may not develop in Europe, but surely it is not a valid argument to create a picture of what may happen and then to examine an existing situation on the basis of the hypothesis.
§ Mr. Fletcher
That is an extremely interesting point, as I would expect from a colleague in the Anglo-German Group which is distinguished by the clarity of its thought and the shortness of its chairmen. I am trying to project into the future because most of the speeches which have been made by pro-Marketeers on both sides of the Committee become meaningless unless they relate, not to the Community as it is, but to the Community as it is going to be.
The very nature of this Bill, and in particular the nature of the Clause, strongly suggests that Her Majesty's Government also envisage the evolution of a federal structure in Europe. It would not have been done in this way had they conceived of the kind of Europe General de Gaulle used to talk about. We ancient Britons occasionally visit France, and I played a minor part in the referendum—which was not quite successful from my point of view since I persuaded three people to vote "No". In France President Pompidou has begun to use the word "confederation", and the dead body of the late President de Gaulle is spinning like a top. He would never have used such a word, any more than the Pope would write an advertisement for a contraceptive firm. Nevertheless, the whole meaning and purpose of the speeches we hear on both sides of the Channel make sense only if the ultimate goal is a federal Europe, and it is necessary to look two or three decades ahead.
It matters how we enter the Community just as much as whether we enter it. The best people in Europe are anxious to have us in because they want to import our kind of democracy into their kind of undemocratic structure. Nobody has made this more clear than Dr. Mansholt from Holland and Chancellor Willy Brandt of Western Germany. 1578 They do not want to import our kind of Parliament in toto or as a complete scale model, but they want our attitudes towards power, our checks on the executive and our power to obstruct an executive which we think is going the wrong way. What we are doing in this Bill is depriving ourselves of any such opportunity for the Bill is the most procrustean instrument of accession of any instrument of accession which was signed to create the Common Market in the first place. By virtue of the means adopted by the Government, we are depriving ourselves of that democratic virility which Europe requires of us.
Those pro-Marketeers who are absent from both benches—and I apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead) who I am sure will agree with most of my speech—should be voting for this set of Amendments which perform a drastic surgical operation or, if that fails, a series of minor surgical operations which makes this Clause at least half respectable in the eyes of a sincere democrat.
If we do not make those Amendments, if we let the Clause go through in its present form, we are depriving ourselves by an Act of self-emasculation of that democratic virility which our real friends in Europe want us to import into Europe. Far from being able to export that to Europe, we have imported into our own legislation, our own procedure practices and conventions, something Governments of all political colors have always stoutly resisted, and that is a written constitution. This is not a very good bargain, and I cannot possibly accept it.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Geoffrey Rippon)
We had a very long discussion on the general principles of Clause 2(1) yesterday. This group of Amendments is concerned with a more limited and modest purpose. I am sure the Committee will forgive me if I do not follow the temptation to deal with the remarks of the hon. Member for Ilkeston (Mr. Raymond Fletcher) about sovereignty, or with the speeches of my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Redmond) on general opposition to entry, though it is right that he should seek an opportunity to express his general views. Equally, I will not 1579 take up the remarks of the hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins) about how a federal Europe might develop. These are all matters which one way or the other have been canvassed over many days and nights in this place.
I turn directly to the group of Amendments with which we are now faced. The main thread that runs through them is the attempt in some way to limit Community law imposed by Clause 2(1) to the existing state of Community obligations and to exclude provision for future developments. In other words, we are requested either to "stop the train" as at 22nd January, 1972, or at 1st January, 1973, depending on whether the particular Amendment refers to the date of the Accession Treaty or the date of entry. What the Amendment asks the Committee to do is to ignore one of the central features of the Communities, namely their living and organic nature.
Amendments Nos. 136 and 137 would strike out the words "from time to time" in both places where they occur in the subsection. In effect, that would mean that the future directly applicable Community law would not have effect under Clause 2(1). I think that it is logical that we decided yesterday to consider under this head Amendment No.143 which would make it no longer possible to exercise the powers of subordinate legislation given by subsection (2) for the purpose of dealing with matters arising out of or related to the coming into force or the operation from time to time of Clause 2(1) which allows directly applicable Community law to take effect in the United Kingdom.
That is what we have to come back to again and again: that we must ensure that directly applicable Community law has effect in the United Kingdom. Amendment No. 140 tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) has much the same effect in that it would add an express proviso that the subsection shall not apply to Community law arising after the entry date.
Subsection (1) extends to all directly applicable laws created or arising by or under the treaties. Such law may be contained in a regulation or other instru- 1580 ment of secondary legislation made under a treaty or in the provisions of a treaty itself.
We have to consider first the effect of these Amendments to which I have referred. If they were adopted, their effect would be that the Bill would do nothing to secure that such future law would have the force of law in this country whether it consisted of future regulations made under the EEC Treaty or of articles of future Community treaties.
Last night, my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West developed his argument that the Government were in some way mistaken in their view of the implications of the Community treaties. He suggested that there was nothing in Article 189 of the EEC Treaty which could be held to entail any provision on the lines of Clause 2(1). As I understood his argument, there was nothing in the treaties which required member States to proceed by what he called a self-denying ordinance and to exclude the possibility of the enactment or re-enactment of future Community law. He was supported in his argument by the right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones).
There is some confusion about this matter. Under the treaties as applied by the European Court it is clear that certain provisions are directly applicable. I think that that is common ground. One is not concerned with the merits of the matter in dealing with these Amendments. Clearly there are people who are opposed to the Bill and the treaty, and they have said so over and over again. I can only deal with the legal requirements of the situation.
The Committee must accept that "direct applicability" means that the promulgation by a Community institution of an instrument which under the treaties is directly applicable will immediately and of itself give rise to legal rights and obligations in member States. So that principle excludes the concept or possibility of re-enactment by national Parliaments. The right to re-enact must carry with it a right not to re-enact. As I have explained to the Committee, that would be contrary to the obligations that we assume on membership of the Community.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
Surely the logic of that argument, if it were right, would be that it would not even be necessary to have Clause 2(1) because the promulgation by the Community would then be effective here. But that runs contrary to our basic doctrine here that the courts will not enforce anything which is not embodied in a statute.
§ Mr. Rippon
That is perhaps where the misunderstanding arises. Clause 2(1) is the original enactment. This is a point which was taken up by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton), who referred to the White Paper of 1967 on the legal and constitutional implications of United Kingdom membership. My right hon. Friend read part of paragraph 22. He read:No new problem would be created by the provisions which were in force at the time we became a member of the Communities. The constitutional innovation would lie in the acceptance in advance as part of the law of the United Kingdom of provisions to be made in the future by instruments issued by the Community institutions—a situation for which there is no precedent in this country. However, these instruments, like ordinary delegated legislation, would derive their force under the law of the United Kingdom…My right hon. Friend stopped at that point. However, the paragraph goes on:…from the original enactment passed by Parliament—that is to say, by Clause 2(1). That is why from the outset there has been envisaged some provision in an original Act of Parliament, which is Parliament exercising its sovereign power in order to be in a position to ratify the treaties and accept the Community obligations——
§ Mr. Powell
I am anxious not to delay my right hon. and learned Friend, but if, as he has just reaffirmed, "direct applicability" in Article 189 implies applicability without further enactment, in the terms of the subsection, why does my right hon. and learned Friend repeatedly say that subsection (1) is only one of several ways in which that result might be achieved—that in the Government's opinion is the best way, but that it is not the only way and that other methods are admitted to be practicable?
§ Mr. Rippon
With respect, that has never been said. We had to have something of the nature of Clause 2(1) in the 1582 sense that the substance of that Clause is essential. Of course, it could always be argued that something could be better drafted and that the use of language is not as precise as it might be. But that is the only sense in which it has been modestly suggested by the Government that an improvement might be made. There is no possibility of changing the substance, and again with respect, I suggest that none of the Amendments improves the present drafting.
I am dealing with this point at some length because I appreciate the concern of my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton in these matters. He went on to read part of paragraph 23 of the White Paper, and he found some inconsistency between what I had been saying and the statement there. Paragraph 23 makes it clear:The Community law having direct internal effect is designed to take precedence over the domestic law of the Member States. From this it follows that the legislation of the Parliament of the United Kingdom giving effect to that law would have to do so in such a way as to override existing national law so far as inconsistent with it.My right hon. Friend asked why we did not go on and provide that this result need not be left to implication, and that it should be open to Parliament to enact from time to time any necessary consequential Amendments or repeals. But that is what we are doing later in the Bill. Once the regulation is made, immediately it has direct internal effect in the courts. But it is open to Parliament to do what we are doing later in the Bill, which is to tidy up domestic legislation which would be inconsistent with these Community obligations.
§ Sir Robin Turton
I accept at once that what my right hon. and learned Friend has read deals with what we were discussing yesterday. We are now dealing with what will happen in the future. In my view, my right hon. and learned Friend's quotation from paragraph 23 of the White Paper makes it clear that the preceding Government thought that future regulations would be dealt with by enactment, by the ordinary parliamentary processes.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Rippon
This matter was dealt with a long time ago, but it is still valid, and we have throughout held to the 1583 statement of the law by the then Lord Chancellor. Talking specifically of the legislation that would be required, he said:This legislation would include an enactment applying as law in the United Kingdom so much of the provisions of the Treaties and of the instruments made under them as then had direct internal effect as law within the Member States and providing that future instruments similarly took effect as law here."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 8th May, 1967; Vol. 282, c. 1202.]That would be within the enactment about which he was speaking, and I do not think that there is room for doubt about that.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton went on to deal with an entirely separate matter, namely, what is the position before these regulations are made? It is at that point that Parliament has to be free and unfettered in the way that it considers these matters in accordance with its own procedures. It is important to make this clear. That is why the Government suggested the setting up of an ad hoc committee; not, as my right hon. Friend said, as a permanent body, but as a body which could consider what would be the best method, or perhaps the best forum within which Parliament might consider these matters. That was put to the Opposition through the usual channels, but they did not like the idea.
That does not mean that there is nothing left. There is the Committee under Lord Brooke of Cumnor which is considering the effect of delegated legislation as we have it now operating within our domestic law. There is the Procedure Committee which might be the appropriate forum for considering these matters. The Procedure Committee is a Committee of the House.
What I have argued before, and argue again here, is that it is not proper to write into a Bill, which is concerned with our complying with our treaty obligations, procedures which could be changed from time to time. But what is certain is that under the ordinary procedures of Parliament innumerable opportunities exist to raise any matters which might be going through the various Community channels. We have heard, over and over again, how these draft regulations appear and are then sent to the 1584 European Assembly, or go to a particular Committee and are discussed by particular business interests. This could be raised in Parliament at any time.
It has been suggested that we might do what the Bundestag do, and send an official or an observer to Brussels. We could do that at any time. There are innumerable ways in which Parliament could improve the channel of information about what is happening in Brussels and to determine how it should consider those draft regulations.
People say that it may be that Parliament would indicate its view to the Government of the day. Ultimately, as the right hon. Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever) and others have said, Parliament is sovereign. If, contrary to the wishes of the House, the Government were to allow a regulation to be made, they would run the risk that the House would, in effect, order our domestic courts not to give effect to it. That would be a breach of the treaty obligations. I cannot conceive of any circumstances in which that would arise. But that is the position.
There are two stages in the process, and a number of hon. Members are mixing them up. There is the stage which arises before the regulation is made. At that stage there is room for considerable flexibility in the way in which Parliament deals with the matter. But after the regulation is made it cannot be re-enacted. It is directly applicable, and there is good reason for that, because once the regulation is made it has to apply in the same form throughout the Community. There is no possibility of any of the other Parliaments of the Community States re-enacting or amending it. It has to be accepted once it has gone through all its due processes. That is for the protection of all members of the Community.
§ Mr. Deakins
The right hon. and learned Gentleman keeps talking about regulations and treaty obligations. Accepting for the purpose of the argument that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is correct, that regulations, being directly enforceable, must be put through the House in accordance with the procedures in the subsection as drafted, can the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us what is to happen to directives and 1585 decisions? Under Article 189, national authorities are given the choice of deciding the form and method whereby directives will be put into operation.
§ Mr. Rippon
Subsection (2) deals with directives. We are now dealing with regulations. The hon. Gentleman also raised the question of decisions. We know the distinction between a regulation, which takes direct effect, and a directive, which leaves a certain amount of room for manœuvre for the member country to bring it into effect in the most appropriate way. Last night my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General dealt with the question of decisions, and I do not think that I need add to what he said.
For all those reasons, I cannot advise the Committee to accept any of the Amendments.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
I found great difficulty in following what has been said by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He said that these Amendments were intended to write in procedures. I wish that I could find that in any of the Amendments. The only effect of the Amendments is to provide that for future law the ordinary procedures by which we make laws shall apply.
Further, the right hon. and learned Gentleman had some view about fettering future Parliaments. We cannot do that. Our legislation cannot fetter a future Parliament. What fetters a future Parliament are the treaties which the Government make—not, perhaps, on a strict sort of Montesquieu idea of sovereignty, but in reality. We cannot legislate in breach of the treaties by which we are committed. Parliament has always recognised that. That is what binds us—not any piece of legislation.
We have heard three interesting speeches. With two of them, that of the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings) and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Ilkeston (Mr. Raymond Fletcher), I heartily agree. With the third, that from the Minister, I agree less. But those three speeches seem to have had one thing in common. They were almost totally irrelevant to the Amendments.
After all, what we are considering today is a narrow Amendment indeed. It was 1586 yesterday that we decided to subordinate our Parliament and our constitution. It was yesterday that we decided to downgrade our laws. Today we are being asked to deal with a narrow question indeed. It is about how we shall operate some degree of parliamentary control over the Executive in that subordinate rôle which alone is left to us. That is what we are deciding, and that is all that we are deciding.
The Minister dealt with this question not at all. I am sorry that he has left the Chamber, because I should have liked to have addressed him on the subject. I happen to believe that parliamentary control, even if we become a subordinate assembly, is still important. What is happening today may appear to contradict me. Parliamentary control is by no means a perfect instrument. It is an instrument which tends to lack persistence. At the moment parliamentary control is proving itself pretty well valueless.
We are seeing a majority whipped into unconsciousness, no longer desiring or seeking to discover about what they are voting. If that majority, which by a three-line Whip has been reduced to unconsciousness, could follow the example, which I applaud, of the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) and come here to listen to our remarks about this series of Amendments—I include in this the majority who want to go into Europe—they would support these Amendments because they are concerned entirely with the implementation of the Treaty. Even the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes, with his strong convictions, could vote for these Amendments because they merely provide that in the implementation of the Treaty we shall exercise parliamentary control over our Executive.
We ask, in effect, that when a regulation is put on the table in Brussels it should be put on the table here and that, before a decision is taken, we shall have the opportunity to consider it. I understand that when a decision is taken—we are here dealing with the future—then, by a convention of the European Constitution, a veto exists. However, our Ministers need not accept regulations, or at any rate need not accept them without such alterations as are deemed by them to be desirable.
1587 It is, therefore, all-important, if we are to have any parliamentary control, for us to consider carefully the authority we give to the Minister in regard to regulations which he brings back as legislation. Naturally, when the Minister brings back a regulation, we, as a subordinate assembly, have to accept it, but even then it is a matter of some importance that we should accept it in a form which is intelligible. Our people should have notice, either by Statute or regulation, of what has been accepted.
It is equally important that our people should know the effect of any new law on our existing law. When we pass a Statute there is at the end of it—the same applies to a regulation—a schedule containing the necessary repeals and amendments of existing legislation. That is necessary to keep our legal system intelligible. We require that in this case. We must be assured that when new laws come, they are considered and contain schedules giving notice of their effect and the titles of other laws which thereupon cease to be in being.
All these things are simply implementing the Treaty. They are procedures over which, as a subordinate assembly, we can nevertheless operate a measure of parliamentary control. If the absent majority who will shortly troop through the Lobby knew these facts, they would be voting with us. I regret, however, that at this point a fatigue has come over the assembly and we are parting with our liberties, customs and parliamentary control without even our fellow hon. Members inquiring into what they are doing.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Spearing
On a point of order, may I seek your guidance, Miss Harvie Anderson? Amendment No. 208, to which I spoke, appears among the group which is under discussion. The Minister did not even mention this Amendment in his remarks. Have I any redress in this matter? May I be assured that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will deal with the issue raised by the Amendment?
The First Deputy Chairman
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman knows that that is not a matter for the Chair. Perhaps 1588 he will find his own method for remedying it later in the day.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
A fatigue certainly seems to have come over the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who, having made his speech, has retreated from the Chamber. I regret that he has not remained to hear our comments on his remarks.
I got the impression from the right hon. and learned Gentleman's speech that the Government do not intend to accept any Amendments moved at this stage. If that is their view, then they are making a farce of our debates and we can only hope that this is not the first instalment of Continental parliamentary methods being introduced into our system.
§ Mr. Jay
During our recent discussions both Ministers concerned have made some surprising statements and have left some crucial questions unanswered. A major issue is whether the regulations described in Article 189 as "directly applicable" really cannot be enacted in proper form by this Parliament.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones), the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) and the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) have all argued that, though the words "directly applicable" occur in Article 189, the Government would nevertheless have had the choice to enact the same regulations in this Chamber in a way which would have made it possible for us to debate them.
That contention was challenged by the Chancellor, though he did not advance arguments, except one, in favour of his challenge. He merely asserted that those right hon. and right hon. and learned Members were, on this legal and constitutional point, wrong. The only argument the Chancellor advanced for saying that it would not be possible to enact the regulations in this Parliament was that that would have implied a right not to enact them, which would be contrary to the Treaty. If that were true, then it would not be possible to have in Clause 1 a reference to Orders in Council giving effect to certain treaties. The same 1589 can be said of Clause 2(2). The right hon. and learned Gentleman did not adduce a convincing argument.
§ Mr. Jay
That might or might not be done. Nevertheless, the Bill provides for Orders in Council, and they can be negatived, even if not amended. Those Orders in Council will be designed to carry out certain decisions of the Council and Commission. There is clearly on this vital issue a conflict of opinion. My conclusion is that the Government could have decided to enact these regulations in this Parliament.
The second question which has been left completely unresolved is the status of decisions of the Council and the Commission as opposed to regulations or directives. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has just said that the Solicitor-General dealt with this question. That is precisely what the Solicitor-General failed to do, and he left the whole matter completely in doubt.
Let us assume for a moment that the regulations are directly applicable. I do not agree that they are, but let us assume it as the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggests it. Is it true that the decisions are also directly applicable? This is of great importance, because there will be hundreds, or I suppose in time thousands, of these decisions from both the Council and the Commission in the future, as in the past. The Solicitor-General's statement that these decisions are directly applicable and need no further enactment by this Parliament is contrary to what most people have assumed up to now and seems to me to be contrary to the plain interpretation of the Treaty.
Article 189 says explicitly that regulations are directly applicable and that directives:shall leave to the national authorities the choice of form and methods".This it is explicit about both regulations and directives, but as to decisions it says neither the one thing nor the other. On that point the Article says simply:A decision shall be binding in its entirety upon those to whom it is addressed.1590 If it were intended that decisions were to be directly applicable in exactly the same sense as regulations, surely Article 189 would have said so. The Article has just said only four lines further up that regulations are directly applicable. It would surely be unbelievably slipshod drafting to say this explicitly in one part of the Article and then when meaning exactly the same thing to refrain from saying it only four lines further on.
The Solicitor-General seemed to weaken this case hereby saying, if I understood him aright—I apologise if I misrepresent him, but we have no HANSARD today—that Article 192 shows that decisions are directly applicable. Article 192 does not do this. The words "directly applicable" occur nowhere in Article 192. What Article 192 deals with is not enactment but enforcement. As my hon. Friend the Member for Acton (Mr. Spearing) pointed out earlier, the only relevant part of Article 192 is this sentence:Decisions of the Council or of the Commission which impose a pecuniary obligation on persons other than States shall be enforceable.First, this refers only to decisionswhich impose a pecuniary obligation on persons other than Statesand not to other decisions. Second, it does not even say that these are directly applicable but merely that they are enforceable.
Therefore, the Solicitor-General is—I do not say plainly, but apparently at any rate to the non-lawyers among us wrong in saying that on the basis of Article 192 decisions are directly applicable. As such an assertion is contrary to the normal sense of Article 189, the Committee must conclude, unless the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster or the Solicitor-General will produce some other argument or evidence, that the Solicitor-General is mistaken in saying that decisions are directly applicable.
In that case, the truth is that they are covered, not by Clause 2(1), but by Clause 2(2). It would then follow, as the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West pointed out yesterday, that every decision would require to be enacted by an Order in Council before it was enforceable in this country. This is of the first importance, because the courts, quite apart from Parliament, must know 1591 whether a decision in future is law in this country.
Third, neither the Chancellor of the Duchy nor the Solicitor-General has made out the case that the Commission's powers of legislation are in any way limited by the Council of Ministers. They asserted this, but we still need some evidence for the assertion, because, according to the Treaty, it is plainly contrary to the fact. We know that the Commission can make regulations, directives and decisions.
The Solicitor-General, in arguing that the Commission could legislate—for in effect that is what is it is doing—only within limits laid down by the Council of Ministers, quoted Article 155. Article 155 does not say that. It says this:In order to ensure the proper functioning and development of the common market, the Commission shalland then the Article lists a number of things that the Commission may do. One of them is—have its own power of decision and participate in the shaping of measures taken by the Council…".Those are two separate things that the Commission can do, and it is clear from the words—I will not read them all to the Committee, as our time is limited—that the statement thatthe Commission shall have its own power of decisionis not limited in any way by any reference to principles laid down by the Council. Indeed, nowhere is it laid down that the Commission's powers of decision are limited in that way. That is as far as the wording of the Treaty goes.
As to the practice, we have the incontrovertible evidence which I cited yesterday from the Director-General of the Commission that in practice the Commission is the initiator of policy and that in the vast majority of cases the Council can only act on a proposal from the Commission.
Therefore, the Solicitor-General's statement is just not borne out by the facts. All the evidence of the Treaty and of
§ what the Director-General says is against him. He should agree that it is the plain interpretation of Articles 189 and 155 together that the Commission has a power of legislation which is limited only by the provisions of the Treaty. Of course it cannot go outside the provisions of the Treaty, but that is the only limitation.
§ The Solicitor-General should either agree to that or he should produce further evidence that it is not so. Does he question the words of Article 155 or the interpretation that I have just put upon them?
§ In short, before we part with these Amendments, at least on these three points, and particularly on the second—the status of the decisions of the Council and of the Commission and the limitation, if any, on the powers of the Commission—we should have rather better answers to the questions we have asked than have yet been forthcoming from either of the Ministers on the Treasury Bench.
§ Mr. Spearing
Before my right hon. Friend sits down, may I ask him to recall that the Solicitor-General said yesterday that he would take an early opportunity of making sure of the position? Does not my right hon. Friend think it right that the Solicitor-General should now, for the sake of the Committee and of the country, say whether he accepts my right hon. Friend's interpretation? If he does not so accept it, can it not be concluded that the Solicitor-General was misleading the Committee yesterday?
§ Question put, That the Amendment be made:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 219, Noes 249.1595
|Division No. 152.]||AYES||[6.00 p.m.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Bell, Ronald||Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland)|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Biffen, John||Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)|
|Ashley, Jack||Blenkinsop, Arthur||Buchan, Norman|
|Atkinson, Norman||Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Booth, Albert||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)|
|Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton)||Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James|
|Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)||Hunter, Adam||Oswald, Thomas|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Paget, R. T.|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Coleman, Donald||John, Brynmor||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Conlan, Bernard||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Pentland, Norman|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)||Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.|
|Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Prescott, John|
|Dalyell, Tam||Jones, Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn (W.Ham,S.)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Davidson, Arthur||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)||Probert, Arthur|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||Judd, Frank||Rankin, John|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Kaufman, Gerald||Reed, D. (Sedgefield)|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Kerr, Russell||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Kinnock, Neil||Richard, Ivor|
|Deakins, Eric||Lambie, David||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Lamond, James||Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Br'c'nSR'dnor)|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Latham, Arthur||Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Dempsey, James||Leadbitter, Ted||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)|
|Doig, Peter||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Sandelson, Neville|
|Dormand, J. D.||Leonard, Dick||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Lestor, Miss Joan||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold||Short, Rt.Hn.Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Driberg, Tom||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton.N.E.)|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Lipton, Marcus||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Dunn, James A.||Lomas, Kenneth||Sillars, James|
|Eadie, Alex||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Small, William|
|Ellis, Tom||McBride, Neil||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)|
|English, Michael||McCartney, Hugh||Spearing, Nigel|
|Evans, Fred||McElhone, Frank||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Ewing, Harry||McGuire, Michael||Stallard, A. W.|
|Faulds, Andrew||Mackenzie, Gregor||Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)|
|Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham,Ladywood)||Mackie, John||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||McMaster, Stanley||Strang, Gavin|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||McNamara, J. Kevin||Swain, Thomas|
|Foley, Maurice||Marquand, David||Taverne, Dick|
|Foot, Michael||Marsden, F.||Thomas,Rt. Hn.George (Cardiff,W.)|
|Ford, Ben||Marshall, Dr. Edmund||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Forrester, John||Marten, Neil||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Tomney, Frank|
|Gilbert, Dr. John||Mayhew, Christopher||Torney, Tom|
|Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)||Meacher, Michael||Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin|
|Golding, John||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Urwin, T. W.|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||Mendelson, John||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Gourlay, Harry||Mikardo, Ian||Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)|
|Grant, George (Morpeth)||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Milne, Edward||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)||Watkins, David|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Moate, Roger||Weitzman, David|
|Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Molyneaux, James||Wellbeloved, James|
|Hamiing, William||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Hardy, Peter||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Whitehead Phillip|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Abe Avon)||Whitlock, William|
|Hattersley, Roy||Moyle, Roland||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Murray, Ronald King||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Horam, John||Oakes, Gordon||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||O'Halloran, Michael||Woof, Robert|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||O'Malley, Brian||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Huckfield, Leslie||Oram, Bert||Mr. Tom Pendry and Mr. Joseph Harper.|
|Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Orbach, Maurice|
|Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Orme, Stanley|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Adley, Robert||Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Bryan, Paul|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Berry, Hn. Anthony||Burden, F. A.|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Biggs-Davison, John||Butler, Adam (Bosworth)|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Blaker, Peter||Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray&Nairn)|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Carlisle, Mark|
|Astor, John||Boscawen, Robert||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Bossom, Sir Clive||Channon, Paul|
|Awdry, Daniel||Bowden, Andrew||Chapman, Sydney|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Braine, Sir Bernard||Churchill, W. S.|
|Balniel, Lord||Bray, Ronald||Clark, William (Surrey, E.)|
|Batsford, Brian||Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Clegg, Waller|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Cockeram, Eric|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Cooke, Robert|
|Coombs, Derek||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hunt, John||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Iremonger, T. L.||Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.|
|Cormack, Patrick||James, David||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Costain, A. P.||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis|
|Critchley, Julian||Jessel, Toby||Raison, Timothy|
|Crouch, David||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Crowder, F. P.||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Redmond, Robert|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid,Maj.-Gen. James||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)|
|Dean, Paul||Kershaw, Anthony||Rees, Peter (Dover)|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Kimball, Marcus||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Dixon, Piers||King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Drayson, G. B.||Kinsey, J. R.||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Dykes, Hugh||Kirk, Peter||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Eden, Sir John||Kitson, Timothy||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Knox, David||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Lane, David||Rost, Peter|
|Emery, Peter||Langford-Holt, Sir John||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Eyre, Reginald||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Scott, Nicholas|
|Farr, John||Le Marchant, Spencer||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Shelton, William (Clapham)|
|Fidler, Michael||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Simeons, Charles|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Longden, Gilbert||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Loveridge, John||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mingion)|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Luce, R. N.||Soref, Harold|
|Fortescue, Tim||MacArthur, Ian||Speed, Keith|
|Fox, Marcus||McCrindle, R. A.||Spence, John|
|Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||McLaren, Martin||Sproat, Iain|
|Gardner, Edward||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Gibson-Watt, David||McNair-Wilson, Michael||Steel, David|
|Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)||Stewart-Smith. Geoffrey (Belper)|
|Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Maddan, Martin||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Goodhart, Philip||Madel, David||Stokes, John|
|Goodhew, Victor||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Gorst, John||Mather, Carol||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Gower, Raymond||Maude, Angus||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Tebbit, Norman|
|Gray, Hamish||Mawby, Ray||Temple, John M.|
|Green, Alan||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Grylls, Michael||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Tilney, John|
|Gummer, Selwyn||Mitchell,Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire,W)||Trew, Peter|
|Gurden, Harold||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||Money, Ernle||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Monks, Mrs. Connie||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Monro, Hector||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Hannam, John (Exeter)||Montgomery, Fergus||Wall, Patrick|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||More, Jasper||Walters, Dennis|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Morgan-Giles, Rear Adm.||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Morrison, Charles||Warren, Kenneth|
|Hastings, Stephen||Murton, Oscar||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Havers, Michael||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Hawkins, Paul||Neave, Airey||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Hay, John||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Normanton, Tom||Wilkinson, John|
|Heseltine, Michael||Nott, John||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Hicks, Robert||Onslow, Cranley||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Hiley, Joseph||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Hill, James (Southampton, Test)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Holland, Philip||Pardoe, John||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Holt, Miss Mary||Parkinson, Cecil||Younger, Hn. George|
|Hordern, Peter||Feel, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hornby, Richard||Percival, Ian||Mr. Michael Jopling and|
|Hornsby-Smilh,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia||Peyton, Rt. Hn. John||Mr. Kenneth Clarke.|
|Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Mr. Peter Shore (Stepney)
I beg to move Amendment No. 100, in page 2, line 26, after 'Treaties', insert:'except such rights, powers, liabilities, obligations and restrictions as arise under the following decision relating to Agricultural Structure, namely, Decision 64/488'.
The First Deputy Chairman
With this Amendment we are to discuss Amendment No. 103, in line 26, after 'Treaties', insert:'except such rights, powers, liabilities, obligations and restrictions as arise under the following regulations and directives dealing with Agricultural Statistics, namely, Regulations Nos. 1597 79/65, 91/66, 118/66, and 184/66, Directives Nos. 68/161, and 69/400'.
Amendment No. 104, in line 26, after 'Treaties', insert:
'except such rights, powers, liabilities, obligations and restrictions as arise under the following regulations and notices dealing with Agricultural Finance, namely, Regulations Nos. 17/64, 127/64, 155/66, 653/68, 988/68, 1135/68, 449/69, 786/69, 687/69, 788/69, 2052/69, 2334/69, 728/70, 729/70, 2305/70, 2306/70, 1096/71, 1697/71, and 2181/71, Notification 69/261'.
Amendment No. 105, in line 26, after 'Treaties', insert:
'except such rights, powers, liabilities, obligations and restrictions as arise under the following decisions relating to Agricultural Advisory Committees, namely. Decision of the European Economic Community dated 18th July 1962, Decisions Nos. 64/18, 64/434, 64/435, 64/436, 69/84, 69/146, 70/284, 71/31, 71/32, 71/90, and 71/128.'
Amendment No. 106, in line 26, after 'Treaties', insert:
'except such rights, powers, liabilities, obligations and restrictions as arise under the following general regulations on agriculture, namely, Regulations Nos. 1041/67, 204/69, 441/69, 499/69, 2062/69, 1253/70, 1373/70, 2637/70, and 434/71'.
§ Mr. Shore
This group of Amendments follows logically from the discussion we had yesterday and earlier today. We first attempted to exclude altogether the automatic enactment of past and future regulations as provided in subsection (1). Then we attempted greatly to limit the use of the subsection in various ways that were discussed earlier today and late last night. Today, we are attempting to limit the damage of the Clause by excluding from its ambit the regulations referred to in the Amendments.
Our discussions earlier today and yesterday dealt above all with the principle of self-enactment. We found plenty to argue about on the constitutional and legal implications of the presence and use of the subsection. But this is the first time we have been able to consider the actual use of subsection (1) in a very important area of policy.
Just how tightly packed are the Amendments that form the group may be judged by the fact that they cover no fewer than four volumes of secondary legislation and about 47 separate regulations, themselves only a very small sample of the very large number of relevant regulations already issued. They are part 1598 of the thousand or so in regard to agricultural policy which must somehow or other be imported into our law and our agricultural and food policy.
Just how important the regulations are will be understood by looking at the subject matter which they cover. The group covers above all the structure of the common agricultural policy and the method of financing it.
Amendments Nos. 100 and 105, each of which refers to a number of regulations, deal above all with the advisory committee structure under the CAP. They concern advisory committees which are set up to consider the whole of agricultural policy, as well as advisory and consultative producer committees for the main agricultural products.
§ [Sir MYER GALPERN in the Chair]
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Amendment No. 103 deals with the agricultural statistics, the various returns that must be made by Community farmers, presumably to provide the necessary information on which Community agricultural policy is based.
§ The very important Amendment No. 104 refers to the financing of the common agricultural policy, the financing of FEOGA in general, and the method by with particular commodities covered by the CAP, from rice, fruit and vegetables, meat and milk, to fat, cereals, pig meat and the like, are financed under the CAP.
§ Amendment No. 106 brings together a cluster of regulations dealing with a matter associated with the financing of the CAP, the payment of principal export refunds to Common Market producers.
§ It is a very important group of Amendments, covering a large part of the structure and financing of the common agricultural policy. Why do we particularly wish to exclude from subsection (1) the matters covered in the Amendments? First, acceptance by Britain of the food and agricultural system of the Six will certainly lower the standard of living of our people, with food prices higher for many commodities in Europe than they are in Britain.
§ I am glad to see that the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and his colleagues have added a freshness to the 1599 Treasury Bench which we came to feel was badly needed at times during our earlier debates. We have no doubt that they will share with us the wisdom they have gained from the study of British agriculture with which they are most concerned. In spite of the efforts of the Minister and his colleagues to raise Britain's food prices during the past two years, they have a long way to go before they achieve the current price levels in Europe. We must still go a considerable way before we wipe out the great, historical benefit of cheap food that this country, more than any other industrial nation, has enjoyed since the repeal of the Corn Laws over a century ago.
§ I must draw attention to something which is rather disturbing. We were assured a year ago that world commodity prices were going up more quickly than prices in the Community. The inference to be drawn, if that were happening in the world at large, was that the obvious disadvantage to Britain's prices on joining the Common Market would steadily diminish. Those trends, which Ministers were able to describe a year ago, appear to have been sharply reversed, except for dairy products. The reasons for that are well understood. In consequence, there is an extraordinary gap between the level of prices prevailing for agricultural commodities in the Common Market and those outside.
§ The figures which I have suggest that the Common Market price for barley is 125 per cent. over the current world price, for wheat, over 100 per cent., for corn, about 50 per cent., and for butter very much greater again. Therefore, we are not dealing with small margins; we are dealing with a large difference between the Common Market price, which is at a much higher level, and the world price. The trends which Ministers thought they decried a year ago appear not to have developed, but indeed to have been reversed.
§ The result of going in will mean that the rise in the cost of living will be considerable. I shall not attempt an estimate. Various estimates have been made and given. The point which I stress is that our acceptance of CAP will have a major and adverse consequence for the people of Britain. It will bring about a 1600 considerable redistribution of income, since it is the average corners and the lower-earning sections of our people whose budgets are heavily weighted by food expenditure. It may be possible to counteract these effects for selected groups of people, but for those who are not in receipt of State benefits no alleviation is possible. They must face the full rigour of the Market and the higher food prices.
§ The damage which the CAP will do is clearly not confined to our cost or the standard of living. It imposes an unwelcome, unnecessary and unfair burden on our national resources.
§ I refer to the Committee to Regulation 728/70 in this volume of secondary legislation on agricultural finance. This is the latest of the financial regulations of the CAP which we seek to remove from the ambit of Clause 2(1). It touches on the immense change in the financial system of the Common Market which is about to take place. On page 147 of Part 14 on agricultural finance, there is described the key which governs the contribution of member States to the agricultural fund for the year 1970. It is important to notice that the key ceases to be the major factor determining the contribution of the member States from this time on. In Article 15 of that same Regulation there is, as it were, the first mention of the new system which has started to be introduced into the European Economic Community, the new system of the Community's own resources, which was designed to come into effect from 1st January, 1971.
§ The Community is abandoning the old concept of a key which had that element of fairness built into it, that nations contributed roughly according to their national income or GNP, and is now moving, as it is proposed that we should enter, into a new system whereby the contribution of the member States is not related, or very remotely, to their national income, but to entirely different principles which I fear will apply severely and adversely to ourselves.
§ I will not develop in great detail the case against the new system. However, I wish to make it clear that this is one of the main reasons for wishing to expunge the agricultural regulations from the ambit of Clause 2(1).1601
§ The essence of the new system of Community farm finance is not a national key based on GNP, but the contribution of three taxes; levies or taxes imposed on food from third countries; the yield of our customs duties levied on goods coming into Britain from third countries; and up to the yield of 1per cent. value-added tax. That is the new system under which, on the best estimates that we can make, Britain will be forced to contribute at least £400 million a year across the balance of payments and possibly up to £700 million a year.
§ Mr. Deakins
Before up my right hon. Friend leaves this point about value-added tax, will he clear up a doubt which has been in my mind and the minds of other hon. Members for some time? When we talk of a 1 per cent. value-added tax, do we mean the proceeds of a 1per cent. tax of value added or 1 per cent. of the proceeds of a value-added tax at whatever rate it is applied by particular countries?
§ Mr. Shore
No, not of the proceeds. I understand that it is the yield of a 1 per cent. value-added tax. No doubt I shall be corrected if I am wrong.
It is reasonable—indeed, unfortunately inescapable—to conclude that the damage to us in these arrangements amounts to a self-inflicted wound for which it is difficult to find any parallel in our history.
The damage which will be caused by the CAP is not confined to ourselves. Those who will suffer with us are our traditional low-cost food suppliers—Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the sugar islands, amongst others. I will not go into the question of their diminished access to the British market. That is a separate matter. However, their farms are geared to the British market, and they face the prospect of exclusion from our market substantially, if not completely, before the decade is out.
That is not their only hazard. Our traditional suppliers must face the effects, in such other markets in the world as there may be, of competition from Common Market food supplies sold at dumped prices in third markets.
Amendment No. 106 deals with a whole series of regulations concerned with export refunds. An export refund is one of the principal ways in which the Community's farm policy helps Community 1602 farmers to sell at low, dumped prices in third markets by making up the difference between the market dumped price which they receive and what is considered to be a fair return.
This is a very important part of the cost of the CAP. I was very surprised by the last serious breakdown which I saw of expenditure on different agricultural commodities in the Common Market, dividing up the expenditure between Market intervention money—maintaining presumably the internal price—and export subsidies—that is, paying the difference between what is considered to be a reasonable internal price and a low dumped price. I confess that the latest figures which I have are for 1968–69, but they show to what an extraordinary extent the enormous annual expenditure under the CAP is linked to compensating Community farmers for the low proceeds of dumped selling in third markets.
In grain, Market intervention was 212 million dollars, but export subsidies amounted to 454 million dollars in that year, a proportion of one to two. Similar figures could be quoted for virtually all the other commodities. It is almost scandalous that there should be virtually no expenditure on internal rice but over 18 million dollars expenditure on subsidising the export of rice. To subsidise the export of rice when the developing countries of the third world are so heavily dependent on this commodity helps to bring home the full impact and the regressive and dangerous effects of the CAP on the rest of the world.
The threat of the CAP is even wider than I have described. It threatens not only future progress but even our present achievements in liberalising world trade. The chances of a further post-Kennedy Round of tariff reductions which would be of benefit to the whole trading world are threatened by, more than anything else, Common Market insistence on near-total protectionism and self-sufficiency in food and agriculture. There is no doubt that the whole mechanism of the CAP and the variable levies which it uses to protect producers in the Common Market constitute an almost perfect device for protecting the internal Market against competitors, however efficient and price-competitive they may be.
1603 These are serious and important reasons affecting the rest of the world why the CAP is a damaging policy. This brings me to the question of our entry and why we wish, whatever else our relationship with the Common Market should be, to wipe out the effects and obligations on us which would arise under Clause 2(1) from the CAP. One of the worst effects of our proposed entry would be to prolong the life of an increasingly discredited and increasingly costly agricultural system.
I do not know whether the Committee is aware how the costs have mounted from over £400 million in 1967 to £1,200 million in 1971 and will mount, on the Government's figures in the White Paper, to £1,400 million in 1973 and an estimated £1,600 million in 1977. These figures took no account of the latest increase in prices—the average 6½ per cent. which was announced and agreed only in March this year by the Commission and the Council and which will shortly come into effect.
This level of costs was such that the system was generating within the Six very substantial opposition to it. As anyone who has followed these matters knows, there have been many critics of the CAP in the Six, even French critics. I say "even" because France is the greatest beneficiary of the CAP. But if Britain joins the Community and accepts the obligations of the CAP the pressure to change will be lifted; there is no question about that. No longer will the burden of cost be borne primarily by Germany, Italy and Belgium to the present advantage of France and, to a lesser extent, of Holland; the main weight will be passed to the United Kingdom. That is the fact. We shall become by far the largest, and quite disproportionately the major, contributor to the whole system. As the whole world knows, except apparently the Government, we are to go in and accept the CAP, providing a second stomach to be filled with the surpluses of French farms.
What can be said about this? I have already indicated that the chances of reform will be greatly weakened if we go in. I do not take a hopelessly depressed view about the intelligence and good will of the people who are operating the CAP. I do not wish to be misunderstood about this. The serious problem of the Six is 1604 that it has inherited a tradition of near self-sufficiency and a structure of agriculture and a dependence on agriculture in terms of employment and, above all, of political power of the farmers and peasants in Europe. It is this which puts a serious brake on the possibilities of change.
The other point we must bear in mind is that even with quite fast change, even with partially adapted or adopted Mansholt plans, even with a continuing movement of people from the farms to the towns, which undoubtedly is taking place, even with increasing expenditure on the structure of farms as opposed to the heavy expenditure on support prices, there is so far to go, so many unnecessary producers to be persuaded off the land, such an enormous gap to be closed between the price levels in the Common Market and those countries outside that no serious possibility of alleviation through internal change in the Common Market exists which would help us in terms of expecting a deceleration or lowering of prices or a relief from the vast burden of our contribution to the CAP which we would be committed to make.
I conclude by saying that I have no hesitation in commending these Amendments to the Committee. By voting to exclude our automatic acceptance of the main provisions of the common agricultural policy, we shall be doing a great service not only to the housewives, not only to this nation, to our Commonwealth partners and to the cause of world trade, but, taking a slightly longer perspective, even to the Common Market itself.
§ Mr. Mark Hughes (Durham)
I trust that when we turn now not merely to look at the nuts and bolts, as the Bill has been described, but in considerable detail at the pitch of the thread on the bolt, we shall appreciate the presence of the Minister of Agriculture and his Minister of State. I think it necessary for the Committee to go through this group of Amendments in some detail, indicating the nature of the particular regulations and decisions that individually as well as in the aggregate are totally to change the law of this land and the procedures we have had for the support of our farming community for 40 years.
Article 3 of Decision 64/488, which would be deleted by Amendment No. 100, 1605 established an advisory committee on agricultural structure. Originally, this committee was to be composed of 36 members, of whom five were to be agricultural workers. By a subsequent decision, 71/79, the membership was in-increase to 38 and the agricultural worker representation raised from five to six. Producers outnumber the workers by two to one; the co-operatives can provide seven, the credit institutions three, the rural families have a right of one, and industry, trade and the trade unions have three. These 38 persons advise on the agricultural structure.
Are we satisfied that that mix of representation is what we would wish? Does the change involved in 71/79 finish the job of changing the composition of the advisory committee? I see nothing in the various annexes to our Treaty of Accession which in any way suggests that there will be a change in membership. Are we to suppose that a membership mix which may have had a validity to a Community of six to advise on agricultural structure has an automatic validity for a Community of ten, with very different structural problems
Perhaps more importantly, it is clear that the powers given to the advisory committee are extraordinarily limited. As amended by Regulation 65/371, its power is that of drawing attention through the Chairman of the Commission to the desirability of consulting the committee upon matters not referred to it, which means that, through the chairman of the advisory committee going to the Commission, he can draw its attention to the desirability of its advising. It does not seem to be a very powerful advisory provision. It is not the sort of advisory provision that the National Farmers' Union has been in the habit of enjoying in this country for the last 30 years. It is not the sort of advisory access which would appeal automatically to the farming community in this country.
The same must be said of Amendment No. 105, which sets out the whole series of other, similar agricultural advisory committees on the various products on which the committees may be consulted by the Commission. The chairman of such a committee may point out to the Commission the expediency of consult- 1606 ing it. We either have "desirability" or "expediency" as the only criteria for giving advice. There is no direct access. The membership of each committee is so laid down and apparently, according to the annexes to the Treaty of Accession, no attempt was made to alter their composition. We are lumbered with a most inept group of advisory committees.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Rippon
There is no obligation in this case on national industries to take part in the advisory committees or any other provision in any way. It may be to their advantage to do so, but there was nothing to negotiate about this.
§ Mr. Hughes
I am somewhat taken aback that we should, in half a sentence of Clause 2(1), throw away all the powers of consultation built into the Agriculture Act, 1947, over a great range of activities in the farming community and that what we see is that, according to Agra-Europe of 6th April,U.K. farmers' organisations will begin to participate in the representative organisations in Brussels as from the beginning of April this year. Both the national farmers unions and the co-operatives will take up membership of COPA and the…general committee of agricultural co-operatives respectively at a reduced subscription rate, ready to become full formal members from the beginning of 1973.At least our farmers' unions are willing and eager to take up their position in Brussels. What I am arguing is that we are left with the position that such advisory bodies under the common agricultural policy are too weak. That we have a right to join or not to join is not what is being argued. The argument is that the right to give advice rests on the Commission's desire to take advice, not on the right of the producers, consumers and workers to give advice whether the Commission wants it or not.
The Minister of Agriculture knows that the NFU has the right to give advice to the Ministry. The Ministry has a right to refuse it. But these advisory committees under the common agricultural policy do not have automatic right of access. Until the agricultural (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill passes into law, certain powers of consultation are guaranteed to farming organisations in this country. County agricultural executive committees "shall" be consulted by the Ministry 1607 There is nothing in the common agricultural policy which says that the Commission "shall" take the advice of its own advisory committees. This is the distinction—that the advisory committees' power of giving advice is too limited.
More important, perhaps, is that it is already clear that the structural committee has been overtaken. I draw attention to a somewhat bizarre situation which exists. During the meeting of the Common Market Agriculture and Finance Ministers on 21st to 24th March, agreement was reached establishing a set of structural reform measures to be implemented by directive. We are told by an unofficial publication—no statement has been made to the House—that the United Kingdom and Ireland, Denmark and Norway:gave their formal agreement to the ministers' decisions on farm prices and the reform plan".This is what the publication Agra Europe tells us. What do we find? The official journal of the Community, according to its Press and Information Office, has not yet published these directives to which we have agreed. There has been no statement made in the House on matters that materially affect the long-term future of the structure plans for agriculture in this country. It is laid down in Directive A of this group:The Directive also provides for a ban,"—not a temporary derogation—in principle, on national investment aids, while specifying exceptions particularly with regard to developing holdings entitled to aids for the construction of farm buildings.…The United Kingdom, it was agreed, can continue to give 30 per cent. capital grant on farm buildings.
On Monday evening we debated increasing the rate of grant for horticultural purposes from 35 per cent. to 40 per cent. Yet three weeks earlier the Ministry of Agriculture had agreed in principle to ban all national investment aids. I find the flow of information, if nothing else on this topic, to be somewhat curious. The same Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill in passage through the House changes some of the provisions for retirement benefits and so on. I take it that by the time we reach Report the Government will have tabled Amendments which will at least bring what they are doing into line with what they have said they agreed to and accep- 1608 ted between 21st and 24th March in Brussels.
Are we, then, to have it said that member States are to provide an annual income to farmers between the ages of 60 and 65 who wish to retire? Will this be introduced into the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill? We have already agreed this. Are we to introduce matters controlling what should be done with vacated agricultural properties? Member States can establish an incentive scheme for the betterment of farm work and the vocational training of farmers. We have agreed this. Shall we see this in the Agriculture Bill which has already been in Committee? Or will it be in some other Bill?
We have here an advisory committee in the first instance whose advice need or need not be sought and taken. We have a series of directives agreed by the Commission and the Council of Ministers in March and accepted by this Government, in good faith, which run counter to the things they are currently doing in other ways through legislation here. There are parts of these directives which everyone obviously welcomes, operating on the same lines as M. Cointat in his efforts on behalf of the French farmers to allow specific national solutions for specific national problems. In the area covered by Amendment No. 100 it is clear that the power of advice is inadequate and the general effect as carried out by Clause 2(1) rather than by the proven normal legislative processes is to short-circuit what is required.
When we come to Amendment 103 dealing with agricultural statistics we find that Regulation 79–65 establishes a committee or regional committees for statistical purposes. The Minister of State will no doubt correct me if I am wrong, but I have at the back of my mind a remembrance of the abolition of a statistical committee currently going through the House. We abolish one, but how many regional committees are we re-creating? It takes a Measure to abolish one, in the form of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, but we can set up 14 at the drop of a hat under Clause 2(1).
These new regional committees each with 12 members have no requirement for agricultural worker representation. They 1609 are faced with an appallingly difficult intellectual task.
They have to determine the characteristic, representative farms within their regions, representative climatically, soil-wise, form of farm enterprise and so on. They are extremely powerful committees and yet less than 18 months ago a Bill was introduced by the Minister of Agriculture to abolish such a national committee. The Community Committee we are told requires enlargement so that at least when we enter, if we enter, the statistical committee will enlarge. Presumably those members of the present committee about to be abolished in this country can be found suitable employment in the enlarged Community. It may well be that with such a shortage of manpower capable of doing this the only way to get additional manpower for the Community committee was to abolish the other one. We were never told that and it is a fairly unlikely proposition.
The definition of a holding under Regulation 91/66 is a very difficult one. The French term "exploitation agricole" is very different from what we in this country, both legally and statistically, have agreed to be an agricultural holding. Part-time farming in this country, except among Members of the House, is a relatively rare occupation. In much of the Continent part-time farming in conjunction with an industrial activity is relatively common. I should like to know whether the holding of a Member of the House could conceivably under the definition in 91/66 be held to be an agricultural holding "exploitation agricole". It would be difficult to determine in some cases whether it was the principal or major source of income of the proprietor.
We come to Regulation 88/66. Any farmer who has seen Annexes A and B to this must pray with all his might that he is not included among the select band of farmers required to fill them in. I recall early one morning not long after the Election hearing the Minister of Agriculture say that it was his duty to take the Ministry men out of the hair of British farmers. He said that the Government would reduce the bureaucracy, efforts would be made to simplify the collection of statistics, there would be a reduction of all this form filling. The Agriculture (Miscellaneous Pro- 1610 visions) Bill is making an attempt to simplfy the modes of collecting statistics used in this country. Then they provide us with a monstrous return which no farmer can fill in; a specialist panel of accountancy officers has to be brought in to fill in the form.
§ [Sir ROBERT GRANT- FERRIS in the Chair]
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ One notices, among the structural reform directives, that it is significant that the payment for the services of accountancy officers and such who certify the accounting under the guidance and guarantee section of Directive A must be undertaken by the member States. I assume that this Government will employ and pay the necessary accountancy officers to fill in this detailed form.
§ To take one of the relatively minor points, the average number of different types of beast on a holding during the accountancy period, if the accountancy period runs, as it will, from 1st April to 31st March, every calf becomes something else on 1st January for agricultural statistical purposes, and so from the date of its birth to 1st January, statistically it is accounted for in one column of the annexe, but from then till 31st March a portion of that poor beast has to be put in another column. The same goes for gimmers, dinmonts and so forth.
§ The difficulties of filling out this statistical return are beyond the wit of the Agricultural Adjustment Unit of the University of Newcastle, probably one of the most high-powered agricultural departments in the country, and yet this has to be foisted on unsuspecting farmers by a Government who boasted that they were taking the Ministry man off the backs of the farmers. No more complex method of collecting statistics could have been devised by the wit of man.
§ Mr. Neil Marten (Banbury)
Surely the hon. Gentleman knows exactly what the farmers will do with the form, does he not?
§ Mr. Hughes
I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I have a recollection. I used to go riding in the constituency of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and my fee for the borrowing of a horse for a week was to fill 1611 in its owner's agricultural census return—which we did after we had been riding, and complete with a bottle of improving spirit, and the return was none the less accurate.
However, there are pains and penalties for not doing it, and they are obligations and liabilities which are directly applicable to our poor farmers if they do not fill in the returns as required by the Brussels Commission. If they do not they suffer penalties. Though we may suspect how the returns may be filled in, whether they will be completed in the way which is considered by those in Brussels as desirable, if they are not, the farmers suffer certain penalties.
The amount of detailed information required under Regulation No. 118/66 is something which no Minister of Agriculture would come to this House to suggest. He would not suggest that so complex a statistical inquiry would be needed for British agriculture. He would find difficulty in persuading his colleagues, or comparable personages on either side of the House, of its necessity. Yet, without discussion, without debate, under Clause 2(1), every farmer in this country is at risk. Obviously, it would be only a sample of the farmers who will have this done to them.
The directive which suggests that farmers should establish book-keeping systems, which seems to me something which might commend itself to the Inland Revenue in this country, might be considered as to whether it is a proper incentive in this country, but I take it that as part of this country's administrative expenditure programme the Government will reimburse the British farmer for the time and labour taken in filling up this deplorable form.
The Regulations mentioned in Amendment No. 103 are, perhaps, less important, though I find Directive No. 68/161 somewhat tiresome. It requires a monthly census of pig numbers and requires great detail. It may be that a monthly census of pig numbers is required in order to regulate the flow of pigmeat, but that directive is not about dead pigs and killings but about numbers of pigs in all live forms. Whether this is desirable is not for me to say, but it seems to me a change in that we cannot use the present 1612 domestic statistical procedures, which may provide this information for a number of months. We shall have to institute a monthly separate monthly pig census, as I understand it.
§ Mr. Deakins
I do not want to get involved at this stage about pig meat, since that arises later, but is my hon. Friend aware that this insistence on a monthly sample census of pigs is in the completely opposite direction from that taken by the present Conservative Government who got rid of the old six-weekly sample? We have it quarterly, though basically we have an annual census. But the Community is going in a completely different direction.
§ Mr. Hughes
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, whose knowledge of the pig industry far exceeds mine. Perhaps the Minister will inform us what benefit is derived by his Ministry, or the country, or the pig industry, from this monthly census of live pigs. When we think of the detail involved we wonder how many new civil servants there must be, and how much they will cost on the statistical side of our agricultural industry. Such a consideration would, I suspect, be a normal process in connection with any other sort of Bill. It may be that the number will not be as great as some of us fear, but one would be surprised if it were nil.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney mentioned Amendment No. 104 which goes to the whole heart of the agricultural processes of the Community. Regulation No. 17/64 as amended by No. 729/70—I refer hon. Members to page 515 of Volume 14—establishesthe orientation of a guarantee fund now translated in official arbitrations as the guidance and guarantee fund. Perhaps for our more convenient use, at some time the Minister will give us an Anglicisation of FEOGA. Under this are the various regulations which we have listed, with details of the methods of financing expenditure, and of intervention, in cereals, rice, pig meat, food aid to the third world, sugar, milk, milk products, beef, veal, tobacco, wines, and so forth and all the methods for requesting reimbursement for the uprooting of apple, pear and beech trees. All these are laid down in detail. Under this, as my right hon. Friend has said, the whole basis of the Common Agricultural Policy is determined. This is 1613 an orientation section dealing with comparatively minor local structural technical improvements. There is the far more important guarantee section on intervention at will on the home market of any EEC country and for making refunds on exports to any third country in order to maintain the price levels.
Clearly, that will be just such a board as is to be created under Clause 6 of the Bill. It would, therefore, be improper for me at the moment to go too far into the powers which would be given to that board itself. But under this series of regulations which has been accepted on the nod with a derogation until 1977 in most cases, although by no means in all, we have changed the whole concept of farm support policy, the whole idea of a farm review and the whole idea of the Government's methods of dealing with levies. Inadequate though that method may be, it has been thrown away. In place of it the council, by a qualified majority, will make the decision.
One comes back—and I take in Amendment No. 106 in my comments—to the detailed regulations covering the documentation of claims, customs, rebates, refunds and so on. It is in this area that the selection of the indicator markets to be used as price fixing locations becomes crucial. To take, for example, whole carcase Smithfield as the price indicator for beef in Britain would totally disserve the farming communities elsewhere. Anyone conversant with the meat trade knows that whole car case Smithfield price bears a changing relationship to whole carcase meat prices in the North West, the North East, in Scotland or anywhere else. We have so far heard nothing on this comparatively technical, and to the farming community important, point of where are to be the reference markets in this country. In my perusal of the Treaty and its annexes I might have failed to turn it up, but to my knowledge this has not yet been made public.
There is no procedure whereby reference markets can be discussed either in the House of Commons or anywhere else. If the Commission decided that the reference market should be Liverpool, Smithfield or Glasgow, apparently we should have to accept that and all that flows from it in the way of twisting the price, refunds, guarantees and so on. At least so far in 1614 this country our present levy system has worked on a known series of price guide lines, and we have a national average for that purpose. Under the EEC procedures we should have a series of local ones. That is a totally regressive step and one which we should not willingly see undertaken without the opportunity of discussing it.
§ Mr. Deakins
My hon. Friend will be aware that in France the reference prices are based solely on the prices in La Villette Market, Paris, the French approach being that Paris is the centre of everything. It would be wrong to imagine that either Smithfield or Liverpool is representative of what goes on in the meat market of this country. We must either have a lot of markets or none at all. It would be a disservice to farmers for intervention prices in respect of refunds to be calculated by reference to the wholly unrepresentative prices at Smithfield or Liverpool because those prices are influenced by world prices and the price of Irish carcases.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Hughes
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I am using the meat market as an illustration of what we have accepted, apparently, and what by the Amendment we wish to pull back from automatic acceptance. In so far as our present procedures on these highly complex and detailed matters follow from a series of Acts that have been perused in Committee and in the House of Commons, those procedures have gone. We are saying that for at least what we have already signed up for in terms of treaty obligations, rights, liabilities and so on in this totally enclosed agricultural area, it is well within the competence of the Government to introduce an alternative form of legislating our accession to this part of the Community. The CAP directives listed in Amendments Nos. 100, 103, 104, 105 and 106 could have been, and could still be, passed through the House of Commons, with their direct applicability maintained if needed, in a way which would not require the artifact of the debate mechanism which is being operated today.
With the greatest good will to the Chair, it is clear that this method of excluding specific regulations can lead occasionally to a nonsense. I confess that the deletion of financial Regulation 1615 69/261 in volume 14 of the secondary legislation would not of itself make a massive difference. It deals with the international value of the unit of account in 1969 and is now well out of date.
In general, the whole group of agricultural regulations, structural to the concept of how one supports agriculture, can be abstracted from the remainder of the Community's regulations and from the other processes by which we harmonise our legislation, and can be included in a separate Bill containing a technical and highly complex series of propositions to which those who are interested in agricultural matters can devote their undivided attention. Apart from an occasional late night Prayer, there will be no opportunity, other than today, to examine this central feature of the European Community.
This is the first time other than on the Money Resolution that I have spoken on the European Community. It is the only chance we have to examine the detailed content of the regulations which will affect every farmer, every farm worker and, more important, every consumer of food in this country. To do this by the artifact of deleting a particular regulation from the automatic procedure is a total condemnation of the methods by which the Clause in particular and the European Communities Bill in general have been drafted.
§ Mr. Marten
The great fault is that the House of Commons did not have an opportunity to debate the Treaty of Accession. A five- or seven-day debate on the Treaty and then a vote on it would have been a real test of the degree of consent of Parliament to the details.
I did not intend to speak because, as will be apparent to the Committee, I have not done my homework on these compendious volumes, but, having listened to the right hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) and the hon. Members for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins) and Durham (Mr. Mark Hughes), I am urged to say something which was sparked off by one remark of the right hon. Member for Stepney when he referred to the Common Market subsidising the export of rice. That had slipped my memory.
1616 If we join in this rich, fat, self-centred and self-privileged organisation of the Common Market, as President Pompidou called it the other day, we shall become part of a privileged group. In that context the subsidy on rice, which throughout the world tends to be a peasant's product, is quite the most odious and immoral thing that has come out of the debate this afternoon.
I should like to know from the Minister whether, if we join the Common Market, the Government will tolerate this country taking part in subsidising rice, and whether any of our money will go into the common agricultural fund to subsidise in any way the export of that product in markets where we are competing with the rice produced by developing countries.
On an earlier occasion I asked the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House whether the Expenditure Committee would have a right to follow up the use of the money raised in various ways in this country and spent by the Community. The first question on which we should have a reply from the Minister is this: do the Government approve of subsidising agricultural exports?
Let us look, for example, at the situation in New Zealand which I visited last year. The people of New Zealand were worried about our entry into the Common Market. They said, "We have tried to diversify our export markets for butter away from Great Britain, because if Britain goes into the Common Market Britain will not be able to take so much of our butter. We have been searching for other markets." The hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Alfred Morris) was with me when we heard these things from representatives of the New Zealand Farmers' Union. They said, "We tried to sell our butter to Hong Kong, but when we got there we found that our product, which is the cheapest butter in the world, was in direct competition with butter from the Common Market, which is some of the most expensive butter in the world." The Common Market was subsidising the export of butter, and was undercutting even the New Zealanders.
It may be a good thing for the people of Hong Kong to get the price of butter knocked down, but it is hard on the world structure of butter prices when New Zealand had devoted so much time and 1617 effort to producing cheap and good agricultural products. I hope that we shall have an assurance from the Government that they will not tolerate this sort of activity if—and it is a big "if"—we join this curiously old-fashioned outfit called the Common Market.
In the context of subsidising products, I should like to mention sugar. Last year I was in Mauritius and examined the whole subject of the sugar produced there. I wish that I had with me some of the notes which I have prepared on this topic; since I have precise figures of the percentage of the population of Mauritius enaged on the production of sugar. It is not an easy island in which to produce anything. It is subject to tornadoes and hurricanes, and sugar is the one root crop that will stick in the ground when a cyclone passes reasonably near. They are trying to diversify into tea growing, but sugar is the basic product of the island. The average sugar plantation is very small indeed, around five acres. Therefore the lives and jobs of the people of Mauritius, 80 or 90 per cent. of whose exports are sugar, are at risk. This will affect the political situation and the stability of Mauritius if it cannot sell its sugar.
Nowhere in the Treaty of Accession is there detailed the Lancaster House agreement on sugar. This is why I was hoping for an opportunity to debate that Treaty. Nowhere is it said that the countries of the Six accept that agreement. I am extremely worried for the developing countries, particularly the sugar-producing countries, because the French are increasing their sugar beet production. When re-negotiation comes round in 1974–75, we shall not be able to say that we want the Commonwealth sugar to come in from Mauritius, Fiji and the West Indies and other developing countries. I have a deep suspicion that the Common Market countries, led by France, will then say, "No, you are now in the Common Market and you will have to take more French sugar beet." I have seen the advertisement in Figaro —and this is of interest in terms of the so-called bankable assurance—exhorting French sugar beet producers that now is the time to increase their beet production by around 1 million tons.
§ The Chairman
Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman but this 1618 part of his remarks should be directed towards the next group of Amendments I do not want to put too fine a point on it, but we are talking more about commodities and that is the subject of the next grouping.
§ Mr. Marten
That was a most convenient intervention, Sir Robert, because I had come to the end of that part of my remarks. I agree that this matter will be better dealt with a little later, and perhaps I may catch your eye on that occasion.
I wanted to illustrate a point which was brought out by President Pompidou in his television broadcast to the nation and at his Press conference at the Elysée Palace during the referendum campaign. He made it absolutely clear to the French people that there was to be no change whatsoever in the common agricultural policy. Yet we hear about the Mansholt plans for changing agriculture—but what guarantee have we that this will be changed if the French say "No" all the way down the line?
§ Mr. Shore
May we, through the hon. Gentleman, seek from the Minister further information about the extent to which Community sugar is export subsidised? I gave some figures on rice, and in the same year, 1968–69, the cost of supporting sugar in the Common Market was 300 million dollars, of which 170 million dollars was in the form of exports subsidised for Community sugar.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Marten
I am most grateful for that intervention, and I shall study those figures. The right hon. Member for Stepney only confirms what I was saying.
Following that, the point that I make is to attempt to illustrate the tremendous conflict between what we are told and what the French say. We are told that we shall be going into the Common Market in spite of our dislike of the common agricultural policy and that when we get in we shall do our best to alter it. The French say that we shall never alter the common agricultural policy.
Before the Committee votes on these Amendments, we should be told where the Government stand. This whole subject of joining the Common Market is full of similar conflict. On the previous 1619 Amendment dealing with the political question we discussed exactly the same conflict, with Germany, Holland and Italy all saying that they favoured a federal Parliament, with our own Government being shy about it, and with the French saying they did not favour it at all. It is this conflict that is confusing the whole country.
We have been told that we must get into the Common Market because the existing members want the value and benefit of our great political experience. That is fair enough. We can give it to them. However, I think that the Common Market should know that when we get in we shall try to alter the common agricultural policy. If we bring our parliamentary system into operation, then we must surely begin to alter the common agricultural policy. The same will happen with regional policy. If we are successful in introducing the Westminster type of democracy into the Common Market, the Common Market should take note that British entry will bring about a revival of our old imperialist aims.
We are told by the Americans that we have lost our Empire. But in many of our hearts there is still the old imperialism. When we get into the Common Market that imperialism will revive. We shall find new areas for exploitation. We may reduce some of the member countries to the status of colonies of this country. The Common Market must beware of British imperialism. That cannot be said too often. It is only honest of us to tell the Common Market countries what our intentions are when we get in.
The hon. Members for Walthamstow, West and Durham both mentioned the effect upon British food prices. We know that they will go up substantially. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will produce the White Paper that we were promised altering the original White Paper. By now there must be different estimates.
There is also the effect on our food prices before we get in. In Banbury, we have the biggest cattle market in the country if not in Europe. Continental buyers have always come to Banbury. Today they are paying prices which are 1620 much higher than the going rate should be for Britain alone. They ship their cattle back to the Common Market where prices are very much higher, and they make good profits even though they have paid well above the odds in Banbury.
Last weekend, as usual my wife asked me for more housekeeping money. I pointed out that she had had quite enough the previous week and had not been obliged to do very much since I had been in Westminster. She replied that we had people coming for the week end and that she had to buy a large joint—I think that it was mutton. She said that prices were going up and up. She had asked the local butcher why and he told her that it was because Continentals were coming to Banbury market and paying over the odds. He said that he could not afford to buy meat in the market because the people of Banbury could not afford to buy it from him. Without going into the Common Market, already we see the effect in terms of higher prices for meat in Banbury and the surrounding area. The same is happening with land prices. The Common Market countries are coming in and buying up land in this country.
I do not wish to detain the Committee any longer. I came into the Chamber not expecting to speak at all. However, I hope that I have made a few comments which will give rise to some interesting replies from the Minister.
§ [Mr. BRYANT GODMAN IRVINE in the Chair]
§ Mr. Deakins
Although the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) does not claim to be an agricultural expert, he has a keen interest in the subject. I know that there are a large number of very progressive farmers in his area, most of them cattle and pig producers. I am sure that they will be interested to read his remarks about the common agricultural policy, because it is a fact that only certain sections of the agricultural community—those who can do their homework or pay people to do it for them—will realise whether they will benefit by the common agricultural policy.
I have in mind particularly cereal producers and to a lesser extent livestock producers, mainly cattle producers. It is 1621 they who will look at the much higher prices in the Market and see that they will be a lot better off. However, one forgets, as sometimes the National Farmers Unions do, the many other producers whose future, to put it mildly, is uncertain. I refer to the producers of milk, dairy products, pigs, poultry and eggs, and our many hill farmers. Their future certainly is not as certain as that of the cereal and livestock producers.
On these Amendments, we are not discussing the details of the regulations applying to different sections of the agricultural community. There will be an opportunity when we deal with the next two groupings of Amendments to go into greater detail concerning cattle, sheep, pigs, oil, fats, tobacco and other matters. These Amendments are concerned with secondary legislation of the Communities contained in the first four volumes of Agricultural Regulations, namely, Parts 14, 15, 16 and 17.
It will be well known to those hon. Members who have bothered to read these volumes that they cover the heart of the common agricultural policy. They spell out the general principles of the policy, although the detailed implementation of it on each farm commodity is spelt out in a subsequent volume. So in this debate we are discussing the key to the Community's agricultural policy. The volumes to which I have referred deal mainly with the overall policy and with structural reform, and I believe that we should direct our minds to those key issues rather than go into detail about different commodities.
I begin with the very important first volume dealing with agricultural finance, Part 14. There are a number of regulations in that volume which have been singled out for approbrium by way of this Amendment because we feel that if they could be removed and not apply in this country we should face the task of negotiating an approved common agricultural policy which would suit the needs and interests both of our farmers and of our consumers.
I draw attention to the most important regulation, No. 17 of 1964, which set up the European Guidance and Guarantee Fund. For purposes of simplicity, I shall refer to it by its French initials, FEOGA. This is the basic regulation 1622 which says that there must be a common structural policy, that grants must be given, that powers must be given to management committees, to the Commission and to the Council to ensure that agriculture is made more efficient within the framework of assuring a reasonable standard of living to farmers in accordance with Article 39 and, come to that, Article 1 of the Treaty of Rome.
There are also a number of other regulations in this volume, which I merely mention en passant. These deal specifically with the intervention measures to be taken in particular commodities. Article 155/66 deals with rice. No. 988/68 deals with fruit and vegetables. No. 1135/68 deals with milk and dairy products. No. 786/66 deals with oils and fats, and I shall say more about that later. No. 787/69 deals with cereals. No. 788/69 deals with pig meat. No. 2334/69 deals with interventions in sugar. No. 2305/70 deals with beef and veal. No. 1697/71 deals with tobacco, and No. 2181/71 deals with wine.
Those are all the regulations that we know of at the moment, but it may be that, beavering away somewhere in Brussels, is a management committee set up under the CAP, or even officials of the Agriculture Directorate of the Commission, busily preparing new regulations for our edification, and perhaps amusement, on intervention measures in some other commodities, because there are many other agricultural, or semi-agricultural, products which are not covered by common agricultural policies.
Finally in this volume there are three vital and fundamental regulations. There is No. 25 of 1962, the first one in the volume, concerned with the financing of the CAP, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) alluded when he went into some detail about the effects of the common financing policy on the balance of payments, on international trade, on agriculture and on consumer expenditure.
There were two subsequent regulations, building on the principles laid down as long ago as 1962, for common financing of the CAP, namely, regulations Nos. 728 and 729 of 1970 which followed immediately from the agreement in the spring of 1970 to give the Community its own methods of financing, in order to 1623 ensure that the Community could finance a CAP out of its own budgetary resources.
I want to quote briefly from the most important of these regulations, No. 729 of 1970, because this lays down in a few sentences the basic principles of the CAP as it has developed and evolved over 10 years of Common Marketry. These are principles which I think most hon. Members, whatever their views about entry into Europe, will find quite odious:Whereas at the single market stage,—that is the stage of having a common price policy for the same agricultural product wherever it is produced in the Community—price systems being standardised and the agricultural policy being a Community policy, the resulting financial consequences devolve upon the Community; whereas, pursuant to the principle, as laid down in Article 2(2) of that Regulation,"—that regulation refers to Regulation No. 25/62 which is the basic regulation for this purpose—export funds to third countries, interventions designed to regulate agricultural markets and common measures adopted in order to achieve the objectives set out in Article 39(l)(a) of the Treaty, including structural alterations required for the smooth operations of the Common Market, are financed by the Fund.It goes on to refer to the FEOGA Fund which I have mentioned, and lays down further principles for the guidance of those who have to operate the Fund.
There can be no doubt that, in talking about the Amendment related specifically to Part 14 of the secondary legislation, we are talking about the guts of the CAP, and it is regrettable that we have never had an opportunity in this House, until now, to talk consecutively to one another across the Chamber about the CAP and what it means for this country. Various speakers in various Common Market debates since July last year have alluded to it, but there are many other matters which most hon. Members would consider to be more important than the CAP. It therefore cannot be said that we have effectively, fully and properly discussed this policy, until now.
On Part 14 and the Amendment appertaining thereto, I should like to start by echoing the words of my right hon. 1624 Friend the Member for Stepney, who pointed to the increasing cost of the CAP as it exists now. There is no doubt that the CAP as it now exists is likely to continue. When a policy has been fought for and evolved over 10 or 12 years of inter-Governmental and inter-departmental squabbles in Western Europe, when such a policy has resulted in the best part of 1,200 or 1,300 important regulations affecting nearly all the major, and, indeed, some minor, agricultural commodities, what hope is there that the entry of four, three, two, or even one new country can have any impact at all, other than a marginal adjustment, on that common policy?
It may be said—indeed, it has been said by a number of hon. Members on this side of the Committee who take a different view about the desirability of entry into the Common Market—that we shall be able to alter the policy when we go in. They also use the argument—it is rather contradictory—that the policy, even if it is not altered, will collapse under its own weight either because of inertia or expense, even if we fail to renegotiate when we are in.
Both those suppositions are wrong and, consequently, I can deal with both briefly by pointing to the facts of the CAP and its costs. First, in Western Europe, unlike in this country, at the time of the formation of the CAP about 18 per cent. of the working population were employed directly in agriculture. That was at a time when we had only 4 per cent. of our working population employed in agriculture. It was, therefore, a very much bigger social and political problem for them than agricultural policy has been for this country in the post-war period.
It is claimed by some of my hon. Friends that there has been a distinct improvement as a result of the CAP, that the number of people in the Six employed in agriculture has fallen in the last 10 years from 18 per cent. to 12 per cent. of the working population, and they merrily, and wrongly in my opinion, claim that within the next 10 years, by 1980—when we might be faced with unbearable costs as part of our contribution to the Community budget—the CAP will have been changed, because that 12 per cent. will have sunk to 6 per cent., 5 per cent. or even 4 per cent.
1625 That view is completely erroneous. It is unstatistical because, while it is comparatively easy to reduce the agricultural population by 33 per cent. in a decade when there is a vast surplus of labour in agriculture, when it is only just beginning to mechanise—the state in which Britain was at the beginning of the Second World War—and when there is a lot of surplus fat to lose, once the figure comes down to 12 per cent., 11 per cent. or 10 per cent., it becomes progressively more difficult to get people out of agriculture and into more productive occupations.
The proof of that pudding lies in the fact that there would be no need for structural reorganisation, or there would be no need for reform plans in Western Europe, if the 12 per cent. engaged in agriculture would disappear of their own volition so that the percentage of the population employed in the industry came down to our level in a very short space of time. In fact, it will not.
In 1945–46 the percentage of the working population of this country engaged in agriculture was just under five. It is now just under three. In other words, it has taken us 27 years to achieve that reduction. How much longer will it take the countries of the Community, if they go on at their present rate, to get down from 12 per cent. to even 6 per cent. or 5 per cent.? It will probably not happen this century.
The Mansholt plan for structural reform is foreshadowed in Part 14 and other volumes which we are seeking to amend. Dr. Mansholt is as aware as any hon. Member of the increasing costs of the CAP. The estimate of the Community a year ago was that, if nothing else happened, and in spite of people leaving the land, by 1980 the cost of the CAP—I apologise to the Committee for quoting dollars, which until recently was the unit of account used by the Community—would be 4,500 million dollars. The present cost is just over 2,500 million dollars and this is estimated to rise gradually, even if we do not join, to 3,500 million dollars by 1975–76 and to 4,500 million by 1980.
It is clear, therefore, that there will be no let-up for the British taxpayer and our balance of payments. It is pointless thinking that somehow the problems 1626 of the CAP will resolve themselves. They will not. That is why we have had two versions of the Mansholt plan, Dr. Mansholt being the Commissioner in charge of Community agricultural matters.
I disagree with many of Dr. Mansholt's policies and pronouncements. However, from the point of view of the Commission, he has done as well as any Commissioner in trying to persuade the countries of the EEC to improve their agricultural structures and in the long term to reduce to reasonable proportions the Common Market's present Sinbad-like burden that is placed on member countries.
I take issue with some of my hon. Friends who say that, once the second Mansholt plan is implemented, we and the Community will be able to devote much more money to social and regional policies, which would benefit the British people. I suggest that there is a misunderstanding in what is involved in the Mansholt plans.
Under the first part of the second plan, which stands some chance of being accepted—I would not put its chances too high—the total cost of the CAP by 1980 will have been reduced substantially, to 2,500 million dollars. One could say, therefore, that our contribution—about which we are particularly worried in view of the fact that after 1978 the full financial system will apply to Britain—will be perhaps no higher in 1980 than it would have been in 1977–78.
The second part of the second Mansholt plan suggests that money should be allocated—Mansholt suggests a sum of up to 2,000 million dollars—for providing alternative job opportunities. This is where the crunch comes. These opportunities are not designed for those in need of jobs in any part of the Community, but for those who are displaced from agriculture as a result of the implementation of his plan.
Indeed, it would be wrong of the Community to adopt measures which deprived farmers of their livelihood and at the same time made no attempt to cushion the effects by way of social payments and alternative employment opportunities. I refer, of course, not only to farmers but their families.
It is, in fact, an agricultural regional policy that Dr. Mansholt is seeking to 1627 implement in the Community. It is not a regional policy as we understand it. The money will go to help displaced farmers, but that is not the problem in the United Kingdom. Our problem is that we are running into a labour shortage in agriculture. It is doubtful whether we can go much below 2½ per cent. of our working population employed in agriculture without damaging the enormous effort that is being made by this great industry. It is clear that our farmers and farm workers cannot possibly benefit, even under the second Mansholt plan.
That is not the whole story. Nor will our real unemployed benefit under this plan, because the unemployment problem in Britain is one of declining traditional industries and not of an inefficient and over-populated agriculture which needs excision and trimming. There will, therefore, be little scope for any more money under the second Mansholt plan going to the regions of this country.
Indeed, the total Community budget in 1980 will be as high under the second Mansholt plan as it will be if no reforms take place. Thus, there can be no saving to the British taxpayer, the British consumer or the British balance of payments under any plan for reform being proposed as part of the CAP.
I am still dealing with Part 14 of FEOGA because it goes to the root of the CAP. In fact, the CAP is based on a complete misconception. I do not want to go into the immorality of it, which I might do later. The misconception is that price policies by themselves can achieve structural reorganisation in agriculture; that by paying farmers more money, though not too much more, one will make them more efficient, so enabling one to reduce one's price support and thereby drive some farmers out.
This is a rather complicated tortuous line of argument; it is also erroneous. Any country which subsidises its agriculture by means of direct prices and at the same time hopes, somehow, to alter its agricultural structure—this has been abundantly true in the United States, with its Commodity Credit Corporation subsidising farmers to take land out of production; paying them to be idle, which is what we may yet come to in Europe—cannot succeed, because price policies fail.
1628 They lead to greater self-sufficiency, higher productivity and greater agricultural production, thereby leading to increased costs, because of paying out more money to farmers, increased costs of promoting structural reform, increased costs by buying up surpluses—as a result of the interventionist measures which the Community can take—and increased costs of exporting tremendous surpluses to the rest of the world.
Community prices are so far above world prices that they are almost a joke, but they will not be a joke to us because we will have to subsidise the vast costs of the Community budget in this matter.
Even the sum of 4,500 million dollars by 1980 to subsidise Community farmers will not be enough. They will still be complaining in 1980, just as they have been complaining for the last six or seven years, about receiving inadequate incomes to keep pace with rising costs. We have had riots and pressure and after years of stagnation in prices we have had in the last two years price rises for all major agricultural commodities.
Although we may tut-tut from our position at present on the sidelines, there is no question that, if and when we join the Community, our farmers will add their weight, not on the side of sanity and with a view to bringing down the dreadfully high prices which are extremely costly as well as being immoral; they will join with their partners and co-operate with other farmers in Europe to ensure that these farm prices are further increased.
§ Mr. Marten
I follow the point the hon. Gentleman is making. I was in Brussels the day after the price review a year ago when one farmer was shot, a policeman was stabbed in the throat, and 140 farmers were in hospital as a result of the price review. Much equipment was brought to Brussels to demolish lamp posts, shop windows, and so on. If we do not like my right hon. Friend's price review in our part of world, the local farmers will get their tractors and drive them round and round Banbury Cross, so snarling up the traffic. How can they effectively take their tractors over to Brussels? It would be very expensive for the National Farmers' Union to organise such a protest.
§ Mr. Deakins
I am tempted to quote Laurence Sterne—They order, said I, these matters better in France.I think that they order these things much better in Whitehall Place and that our own farmers could teach the farmers on the Continent a lesson in moderation, although that moderation has led to their being a very successful—I am not seeking to denigrate what they have done—pressure group on the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
I was speaking about the impossibility of using price policies with farmers to get structural reorganisation. Even if the structural policies which are hinted at in Volume 14 are put into effect, they will have no effect whatsoever long term unless they result, not only in farmers leaving the land and in amalgamations, as we have an amalgamation policy in Britain, but also in the taking out of production of agricultural land.
The whole trend in the developed countries as to agricultural productivity is that, whatever price pressures are brought to bear on producers—whether they are paid more money or less money, whether they are amalgamated or left as they are—they will not, with all the marvellous methods of productivity which are available to farmers and which have been extensively used in Britain since the last war, go out of their way to leave agriculture. They will produce more and more unless some restriction is put on them.
The use of standard quantities in Britain in our price reviews over a number of years and the standard quantity concept, as indeed the flexible guarantee arrangements on pigs, have had a marginal effect on limiting increased production. There is no doubt that there must be a structual policy—there is no sign of this in Western Europe—to take land out of agricultural production. The Vedel Plan in France a couple of years ago made some drastic suggestions along these lines to the French Government and the French Assembly, but I do not think that that has got off the ground because of the strong resistance which has been encountered from French farmers.
My final point on Volume 14 is to point out that it deals in brief, as the other volumes deal in detail, with the system of applying export refunds. This has been 1630 criticised on a number of grounds. I did so myself a couple of months ago—for instance, on the grounds of expense. We shall be subsidising high-cost production in Western Europe, which high-cost production must inevitably produce a surplus. When self-sufficiency is aimed at in agricultural production, the result is always more than self-sufficiency. One is faced with the cost of disposing of the surplus and with putting the surplus on to world agricultural markets at a dumped price.
The whole point of the export refund is to ensure that the products are sold overseas at world prices—in other words, at well below their cost of production. Indeed, had any of these products been sold in Britain up to now, I am sure that the National Farmers' Unions would quickly and successfully have been able to invoke the anti-dumping legislation against the Community. It does not look as though we shall have a chance to take advantage of that when we join the Community.
Nevertheless, it is a fact that the costs of this operation are outweighed only by the sheer immorality and bloody mindedness of the common agricultural policy which can regard the rest of the world as a sort of dustbin for its own surpluses.
There are further far-reaching effects, some of which have taken place; so I am not merely theorising here. A few years ago there was something miscalled the "chicken war" in Europe. Indeed, the chicken war took place, not only in Europe but as far a field as Hong Kong. It was not in fact a chicken war. It was basically a broiler war.
The Americans have developed, as indeed the Western Europeans have followed on by developing, a market for a lightweight chicken called a broiler. The animal is cheap to produce and probably produces the cheapest meat per pound of any animal on two or four legs. The United States, by advertising and salesmanship, had built up a market in the Community before the common agricultural policy had started.
What was the aim of the common agricultural policy? To achieve self-sufficiency in broiler production, for example. Therefore, the Commission encouraged the broiler industries of the Six, which naturally took advantage of 1631 the aids which were available to them. The result was that Community broiler production soared. As there was a system of levies to protect the Community market against cheaper, more efficiently produced broilers from overseas, basically directed against the United States of America, this led to a sharp falling off in United States broiler exports to Western Europe.
Worse than that, as a result of the over-production in Western Europe, broilers which had previously not been produced but which were now being produced under this dreadful common agricultural policy were dumped on to world markets in competition with American broilers which would automatically have gone to Western Europe had it not been for the common agricultural policy.
This caused much anguish to the United States. There was a war. Eventually, the Community had to climb down. As the price of the Six being allowed to keep its common agricultural policy on broilers, the United States was allowed, without breaking the rules of GATT, to impose certain additional tariffs and duties on a number of manufactured products from the Six exported to the United States. What an absurd commentary that episode is on the agricultural policy of the Community.
Although I quote the one example of broilers, there have been many other examples of unfair dumped subsidised competition from high cost Community agricultural products in world trade. This has been one of the facts that has led the United States, among other things, to insist that there should be a freeing of world agricultural trade with fair markets for low-cost exporters. This is something that the Community has not agreed. It is one of the difficulties facing the world if we want, as I am sure that all members of the Committee want, to liberalise international trade on a world basis.
I turn now to Part 15 of these volumes, which also has a bearing on the common agricultural policy. I shall not seek to detain the Committee long on these, because they bear only marginally on the major issues of the common agricultural policy that I have been discussing. I point out merely on Volume 15, which is the subject of one of our Amendments on the regulations dealing 1632 with agricultural statistics, that the Community is at a disadvantage compared with Britain in the matter of agricultural statistics.
The farming industry in Britain, whatever it may have thought over the generations of the man from Whitehall, since the 1930s has co-operated very well with Government Departments, particularly with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in supplying that essential statistical information on which an agricultural policy for Britain can be firmly and statistically based.
To that effect we have two separate types of statistics in this country. The first deals with farm income and accounts, which help the Government each year before the Price Review to decide how far farmers have benefited or otherwise from the weather conditions and from the Price Review determinations of the previous year. The second type is a separate set of statistics designed to take the temperature of the industry, to measure the volume of agricultural production by reference to breeding stock, acreage of land under cultivation, and so on, at various times of the year, but basically once a year in our general census. This is an example to any country in the world which wants a coherent and logical agricultural policy.
What has the Community done? It starts with a great disadvantage because in not one country in the Six is there the same degree and depth of agricultural statistics on farm income and accounts or agricultural potential available to the national government as in Britain. We should therefore labour under this disadvantage in trying to organise a statistical structure in the Community. I do not want to allude to Volume 15 in any more detail than is necessary for the purposes of my argument, but it shows that the Community is trying, in one fell swoop, by means of statistical returns to cover not only farm income and accounts, which are complicated in themselves, but also to measure the degree of agricultural potential of each farm in terms of size, type, area, production and so on.
I refer the Committee very briefly to Regulation 79/65 which would be quite 1633 monstrous if it was applied in this country. It may be said that since we have a better system of statistics than any country of the Six, and possibly any country of the Ten, we ought at least to have negotiated a derogation from this provision so that while the Community is dragging itself up by its bootlaces to the very high standards achieved by farmers and the Ministry of Agriculture in this country, we should be allowed to retain our system unharmed and untouched. But there is no such assurance, and I hope one of the useful purposes of this debate will be to elicit some sort of undertaking from the Minister that our farmers will not be subjected to the sort of form filling which is required under the terms of Volume 15 when both for our purposes and for those of the Community we have a much better system.
If the Community is not willing to give way on this point it will show that its mania and passion for conformity at all costs have gone beyond being a laughing or a joking matter. If it insists that we must adopt a common policy because it is a common policy we must remember that in all sense, reason and justice we can show quite conclusively that if anyone is to adopt anyone else's policy, they ought to adopt our system on farm income and accounts and agricultural potential statistics.
I turn to Part 16, which is also the subject of separate Amendments, dealing with levies and restitution payments in agriculture. I do not wish to weary the Committee by going into detail, because I think I have made the main points which are relevant for consideration of this Amendment. I would merely point to Regulations 1041/67, 204/69, 441/69, 449/69 and 1157/69 which deal with export refunds and the detailed application of the rules laid down in the general Community regulation covering this vital aspect of the common agricultural policy.
I have mentioned the great disadvantages, not to say the high cost and ultimate immorality in terms of international trade disruption of the system of export refunds. It is apparent that the price of entry into the Common Market is that we should have to agree to do something which we have always resisted, namely to adopt any form of dumping practice to get rid of surplus products. 1634 We have resisted it when other countries have done it and it is now a pity that we will have to be part of a common policy in which this is a major element and without which the CAP cannot continue in its present form.
Therefore, the purpose of the Amendment is to ensure that another look is taken at the whole business of export refunds and at the general policy of levies and restitution payments on imports into the Community which were alluded to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney.
I turn to the last Amendment which deals with Part 17 of these 41 volumes on agriculture and related matters. This deals with the advisory or consultative committees. Before I go on to the main subject in this volume I should like to refer to one very important matter with which it deals which has not been raised in any of our agricultural debates, namely competition in agriculture.
I would draw the Committee's attention to Regulation 25/62 which says that in agriculture there should be a common policy on competition. Those hon. Members who regard themselves as having expertise and knowledge of agriculture in this country will be well aware that we do not by and large apply either our monopolies legislation or, to a lesser extent, our restrictive practices legislation to our agricultural policy. We accept that if agriculture is to make itself more efficient and more productive there must be combinations of groups of producers, co-operative ventures in marketing and so on which might well infringe the provisions of the restrictive practices legislation, but which are nevertheless, in the interests of agriculture, exempted from the provisions of that legislation.
There have been one or two amending Acts dealing, for example, with co-operative associations and forestry associations which have made the position on agriculture perfectly clear as it is affected by restrictive practices and monopoly practices legislation.
But in Regulation 25/62 the Community is trying to have its cake and eat it. It is enjoined to ensure a growing standard of living for all those in agriculture and on the other hand to make sure that all barriers to free competition are removed. So there is a hotch-potch 1635 in Regulation 25/62 which is an absolute nonsense. It says there must be competition in agriculture in accordance with Article 85 and subsequent Articles to the Treaty of Rome. But it also says there must not be too much competition because that would infringe Articles 1 and 2 and Article 39 which commit the Community to ensuring a rising standard for agricultural producers. The Community is trying to do two contradictory things at the same time and it is not succeeding in either of them. There is now a regulation of the Statute Book of the Community which will become a regulation on the Statute Book of this country from 1st January next which is an absolute nonsense and which ought to be opposed by the Committee.
That brings me finally to regulations in the last volume which deal with advisory committees. My hon. Friend the Member for Durham (Mr. Mark Hughes) spoke in some detail, about the functions, composition and scope of the committees. But they have virtually no powers. I should like to read a short extract from Decision 2026/62 dealing with the setting up of an advisory committee on cereals. This is the pattern of 15 or 16 advisory committees for various agricultural commodities. Article 8 of the Decision says:The basis of the Committee's discussions shall be the requests for opinions passed to it by the Commission. They shall not be followed by a vote.The agricultural advisory committees are hardly worth the paper on which they are written about in the volumes, for all the good they will do for consumers and agricultural workers, or farming interests generally. They are not watchdogs of agriculture but lap-dogs of the Commission. I am sure they will be rejected, not only by the farming community but by consumers, as giving any effective voice to the bodies which should be advising the Commission on the detailed implementation of agricultural policies. I would rather we did not have any representatives on them than that we went through a charade of representation which meant nothing and was merely a window-dressing operation.
I apologise for having detained the Committee for so long, but this is the first oportunity we have had to debate these matters, and therefore I hope I 1636 shall be forgiven for the length of time I have taken.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
The Committee will not only forgive the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Deakins) but will be indebted to him for a most interesting speech in this short debate upon certain aspects of the common agricultural policy.
Like the hon. Gentleman, I welcome the opportunity for a short debate, but I do not wholly agree that we have not had such debates before. Over the years a considerable amount of time in the House and in Committee has been spent on aspects of the policy. But that has not been the case lately, and there are many aspects of the policy still unknown to farmers in this country and largely undiscussed in the House.
I have never disguised that I am a critic of many aspects of the common agricultural policy. Several of its defects have been most effectively stressed this evening, and I do not intend to go over that ground again, but there are one or two points that I should like to make.
First, I should like to reiterate some things which have been said about statistics and agricultural services generally. We have over the years built up a satisfactory and fairly complete series of agricultural statistics, which many farmers now begin to understand. They complain about the forms, but at any rate they are moderately familiar with them. It would be an irritation, and possibly a pointer to an undue amount of bureaucracy within the Community, if we were forced for no particular reason to add to our existing statistics another mass which the Commission may require or to change our methods.
I think that the Conservative Government's first view of bureaucracy was on the whole rather better than their present view, which appears to be to say that they will cut down the number of civil servants but then to cut down slightly the number of most of the useful ones while greatly increasing the numbers of the useless.
There are other argicultural services of value in this country, and I should like an assurance that they will not be interfered with. There is a very effective network of services to farmers in my 1637 part of the world, interlocked with the agricultural colleges, universities and the Scottish Department of Agriculture. I trust that that is going on. I hope and believe that it will continue.
My objection to the common agricultural policy that I want to mention particularly tonight is that it depends upon high prices for food. Not only does my old Liberal blood resent that phrase, but, although I do not think my farmers will suffer from the common agricultural policy, I am not at all sure that high prices in Europe go to the right people. It would not be in order to go into that matter in detail, but although certain farmers gain I am not sure that the high agricultural prices achieve their purpose or get us the type of agricultural production which is most necessary. My farmers will undoubtedly gain, not so much from the high price of meat on the Continent as from the fact that that will drag up prices here. They may lose somewhat from higher prices for feeding stuffs, but on balance I do not believe the bulk of my farmers have much to fear.
But the Mansholt Plan depends on ultimately getting even more people off the land. There is probably in Europe still a surplus of labour in agriculture. It would be disastrous to get people out of Orkney and Shetland, because depopulation is already a serious problem for us. But it is probably true that whether we like it or not—and I do not—more people will leave crofting and small farming. That will happen whether we accept the CAP or not. Therefore, we are not exactly in a situation that applies in most of the country. In Britain as a whole probably agriculture is almost reaching a shortage of labour. There is not now much surplus labour to be squeezed out. If farms get any bigger there will be serious agricultural and social effects.
In my part of the country it is likely that a certain number more of small crofters and farmers will find that the very smallholding does not yield a living whatever policy we pursue. Under the Mansholt Plan there should be funds available to find alternative employment for such people, but those funds, or most of them, are not available for a general regional policy as the plan stands. They 1638 are available only for improving social conditions or providing employment for people who can be identified as coming off the land. I want to be certain that our Government will ensure that that is reasonably interpreted in the circumstances of the North of Scotland, Wales and certain parts of England, and that the funds which should be available through the Mansholt Plan, bearing in mind that it is directed to getting people off the land in certain places, will be available in parts of the country where it is necessary to increase the population, to increase the returns from farming and to find other employment for those who may have to leave it.
I got two young farmers from Orkney to go over to Europe in the summer to see what they thought of the farming policies in different countries, and particularly in North Germany, which is probably nearest to the sort of area I represent. When they returned they said that nearly all the North German farmers they saw said that they had been better off purely as farmers before the common agricultural policy came into effect. But they also said that on the whole they were satisfied with being inside the Common Market. Why is this? It is because their own Government had taken fairly drastic and timely steps in the change over. I do not see sufficient signs of that happening here.
I take as an example bull beef production. This is the main supply of the German market. We do not produce it. We must either campaign to sell our variety of beef on the Continent or go in for new methods of production. Without that kind of change we shall undoubtedly not gain from CAP.
I would also mention the question of co-operatives which are important in the area which I represent if we are to enter the Common Market. So far many of the price reviews, which have largely looked at agricultural areas of a different type from those which I represent, have not always suited us ideally. However, broadly speaking, but with many reservations, the system of production grants and the general financial policies for agriculture since the war have proved more satisfactory than many other policies pursued in this country. I hope that as there 1639 is widespread criticism of the CAP from many points of view—I have mentioned only one—the Government will take the opportunity of pressing heavily on the Commission that there must be adjustments
I am not deluded into thinking that we shall change entirely. Obviously we shall not change it fundamentally in the foreseeable future. But if the Commission, as it constantly states, is deeply concerned about regional development, costs in agriculture, certain aspects of the levy system, dumping on world markets, assisting under-developed countries, and so on, it should be susceptible to reasonable arguments about particular aspects of the policy. I believe that many reasonable arguments have been put forward this evening.
The points which I wish to stress are: first, the agricultural services and statistics which are directly relevant to what we are discussing; secondly the slightly wider aspect of the implementation of the Mansholt Plan; and, thirdly, the necessity to adjust the common agricultural policy, not to make a complete and sudden break with the agricultural system which has grown up in this country, which people understand, and which on the whole has served them not too badly.
§ [Miss HARVIE ANDERSON in the Chair]
§ Mr. Gwynoro Jones (Carmarthen)
This is the first opportunity which I have had to speak on the Bill since the Second Reading debate. Representing a major agricultural constituency—certainly the second or third largest in the whole of Britain—I am sorry that so many farming interests on the other side of the Committee are notably absent in a debate on agriculture and the implications of the various regulations of the EEC on the farming community. In addition, it is a matter of regret that more time will not be given in Committee to discussing the hundreds of regulations which will affect agriculture in this country.
The common agricultural policy is the classic harmonisation policy of the Common Market. This is the one example to which the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Commission can point as a shining light to the whole of the Six, the Ten and, indeed, the 1640 world. The Chancellor of the Duchy can tell us if he thinks that this is the policy which has proved its worth. This is the ultimate goal of the Common Market—the harmonisation of various policies—transport, social services, agriculture, and so on. This is the one shining light which I, hope the right hon. and learned Gentleman will be able to convince us is worth pursuing.
It gives me a curious pleasure to take part in the Committee proceedings. Miss Harvie Anderson, on the Act of Union between England and the Six. Acts of Union are not new. We have had Acts of Union before with Scotland and Wales. I am sure that English Members of Parliament will take a great pride and interest in their Act of Union with the various countries of the Common Market.
Looking at the regulations on the agricultural structure—parts 14, 15 and 17 which refer to the consultation and various advisory committees—we are witnessing the Government's agreement to various regulations of the Community, setting up various advisory committees and the creation of a new farm structure. The result is that they have agreed to the demise of a far better system which exists at present. We have a far better system of agricultural statistics and of consultation between the farmers' unions and the local farmers at county, regional and, indeed, national level in the United Kingdom, than the Government are accepting by these regulations.
I should like to concentrate on the question of the degree of consultation which will be available for farmers in parts of Britain like mine. The county advisory executive committees are to be disbanded. Unless anything unforeseen happens in the next few months, it is the Government's aim to do away with these statutory committees which, under the 1947 Act, compel the Minister to seek the advice of farmers, farm workers' representatives and the unions in every county. We are agreeing and succumbing in Part 17 of the secondary legislation to consult committees based, not on a county. We are agreeing and succumbing level, but on a Commission level. They are worthless compared with the present situation and will increase the remoteness between farmers, farm workers, the unions and consumers in the regions.
1641 Let me outline the system of consultation which exists between the county advisory executive committees, the Minister and the unions. It operates at various levels. We discussed this question at length during the Committee stage of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. My county executive committee of both farmers unions are convinced of the worthwhile nature of these executive committees. There is contact between the Minister and the farming organisations. The chairmen of the committees are asked from time to time to discuss various matters with the Minister. There is a direct link. In addition, there are liaison officers operating in areas such as West Wales. They are the Minister's personal representatives, and both unions in my county readily agree about the valuable work which they do.
The Commission will be under no compulsion to seek advice, as the Minister is at present compelled to seek advice from the county advisory executive committees. There will be no compulsion on the Commission to ascertain the views of the advisory committees on milk products, on the dairy industry, or on any other agricultural products.
There is nothing being offered by the Government or the Commission for the regions of this country or for areas like West Wales. This is one of the reasons for the opposition to the EEC in the remoter parts of Britain. There is no doubt that there will be a far greater remoteness between our farmers' unions, the farmers, the Ministry and the Commission. Thus we are setting aside a system which is far better established.
Turning to agricultural statistics, in Committee on the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, the Minister of State told us that we must do away with agricultural statistics. He said that they had served their purpose, that the time had come, after 25 years since the 1947 Act, when we must do away with the collection of valuable statistics on a nation-wide basis, farm by farm, unit by unit, that the day had gone when we should bother with such a system. Reluctantly, we accepted his advice in the Committee and agreed to do away with agricultural statistics.
Yet, in Part 15 of the secondary legislation and in what we are seeking to delete from the various regulations, a new 1642 system of agricultural statistics is instituted which is a far more ineffective system than our own. It is not as effective a mode of collecting statistics as that which we have. Where is the famous cry of the Minister of Agriculture that "we should get off the backs of the farmers", that they have had enough of the Ministry leaning on them? But, under this regulation, of course, various farmers in my constituency and county will get an annual form to fill in. After looking at the length and complexity of the form, I hope that I am not holding a surgery during that week. The immense amount of detail, the minutiae, which will be asked of the ordinary hill farmer, for instance, will require the assistance to him not only of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster but of some eminent accountant.
§ Mr. Jones
If my hon. Friend is suggesting that the farmers of Carmarthenshire would sooner not fill in the form at all, then that might well help.
The agricultural statistics system to be imposed on the farmers is far less effective than that which we have. A proportion of the farmers will get this mammoth form and it will be a far more burdensome task to fill in than the ordinary annual June returns.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
I think that perhaps my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynoro Jones)misunderstood the serious interjection of my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins). The point is that at the moment my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen, if he could secure the agreement of the Committee and the Minister, could have any forms in any language, including Welsh. If we go into the Common Market, and, as is likely to be the case, French becomes the accepted language and it is laid down in Brussels and not here that all such forms shall be in French, then of course my hon. Friend will not be able to have such authentic forms in the Welsh language.
§ Mr. Cledwyn Hughes (Anglesey)
Does not my hon. Friend agree that to the Carmarthen farmer it is not the language of the form that counts so much as the amount he gets in subsidy?
§ Mr. Jones
My right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Mr. Cledwyn Hughes) is always correct in these matters. But I have not yet considered the point whether Carmarthen farmers will still receive the amount of subsidy they are now getting. That is a matter for debate.
We are doing away with a system which is more effective than that to be imposed upon us by these regulations.
§ Mr. Rippon indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Jones
The right hon. and learned Gentleman shakes his head, but perhaps he can tell me what form of consultation there will be on a county basis as it exists at present. What form of consultation will there be with Ministry of Agriculture liaison officials, such as there is now? What form of regional consultation will there be such as there is now? The right hon. and learned Gentleman says there that will be a regional committee on statistics, and I concede that.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Rippon
Everything will be exactly the same as before. Consultation will go on exactly the same as before, The National Farmers' Union was consulted about all of these matters and is perfectly content.
§ Mr. Jones
The right hon. and learned Gentleman must not make such statements when the Government are disbanding the county advisory committee structure. In its place there will be an advisory system in the regulations, not on a British level but at Community level. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has the audacity to tell us that that will be the same as having an advisory committee in Carmarthenshire. It is palpable nonsense.
§ Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrew, West)
We ought to clear this up. Matters will not go on in the same way. Through the Bill, presumably as a preliminary to enforcing this new consultative committee structure, we are losing the county advisory executive committees, and the district wage committees in Scotland. 1644 Already we begin to see the lack of grass roots involvement.
§ Mr. Rippon
I thought that we were discussing the Amendments to this Bill and the effect of the Bill. The Bill does not change any of those matters.
§ Mr. Jones
I leave my hon. Friend to pursue this matter because I want to turn to two other points involving secondary legislation which we seek to delete. The first point deals with the agricultural structure. The point was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins) that there were different problems between the farming needs of the Community and those of this country. The second Mansholt plan will be completely inadequate and contrary to the needs of the farming fraternity in my county.
In the Common Market there they are suffering from an over-abundance of farmers whereas in my part of the world the problem is completely different. People are leaving the land too quickly. Under these regulations funds are to be made available to assist people to leave the land under these regulations but Welsh farmers in the rural and hill farming areas require assistance which will enable them to continue farming. The problem of North Carmarthenshire is the need for some assistance to help farmers remain on the land.
Since my voice is beginning to depart from me I will draw my remarks to a conclusion by saying that the concern felt by the acceptance of these regulations dealing with agriculture by the Chancellor is symptomatic of the concern felt in areas other than my own about accepting a system which will reduce direct contact between farmers and the Ministry or its advisory committees and possibly will cause it ultimately to disappear. The remoteness, the lack of consultation, which will emanate from acceptance of these proposals is typical of the matters about which there is concern in my area on joining the Common Market, because West Wales would be on the periphery of the Market.
§ Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)
I am prompted to make a short contribution to the Committee's study of these Amendments by what was said by the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynoro 1645 Jones) because I think both sides of the Committee respect the concern he has shown for his farmers and the way he has shown their concern about the new agricultural structure, faced, as they will be, with the new administrative details when we go into the Common Market. I am also prompted to make this intervention by something which the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) said, that there must be some reasonable adjustments when we go in. I accept that. I remember following the right hon. Gentleman after he had spoken during the debate on 28th October when he was expressing concern about the fishermen and their problems. We all recognise that they had anxiety and that it is still there. But I want to confine myself to the problems which all of our farmers in this country will face when we go through the period of change.
It would be wrong for anyone in the Committee to assume that there is no problem when making a change, but I would say to the Committee that it is wrong to assume that change is necessarily for the worse, and that it is wrong to assume that, even in the period of some adjustment, as our farmers have to begin to work to a new system and structure, that will necessarily be bad for the farmers.
In some areas of farming the change will be more than just a change in administrative techniques or statistics or structure. The Committee and the country have always recognised that. In my own part of the country, in Kent, the horticulturists, in particular, over many years as they have faced the problem posed by Britain's possible entry, have been particularly concerned about the much greater competition there would be. I do not want to develop the argument about the problems facing horticulturists, the fruit growers, in too great depth because I have already spoken of them in the House on a number of occasions and they have been well discussed, and I do not think that they are covered by the Amendments we are considering.
However, I want to make the point that horticulturists, large ones and small ones, managers and organisers of the co-operatives in Kent—and very effective they are—are not dismayed at the prospect of Britain's entering the Common Market. Instead they are facing up to 1646 the problem of change. They recognise that things will be different, and even difficult. Most of the farmers I know are already aware of the farming situation in the Common Market when they first saw that situation they were dismayed, but they have come to terms with it and have begun to take steps already, before we are in the Common Market, to enable them to match the competition and to overcome their first dismay and concern.
§ Mr. Peter Rost (Derbyshire, South-East)
Does not my hon. Friend also agree that there will be fresh opportunities not just for matching competition but for increasing exports? Market gardeners in South Derbyshire are now producing some of the best brussels sprouts in the country, for which there is a big market in Europe.
§ Mr. Crouch
Yes, indeed there is. There are certain vegetables and fruits produced in this country which come on to the market later than they do in Southern Europe. At first sight this would appear to be a disadvantage as it is always thought to be better to produce a product as early as possible so as to get a higher price for it. But it is sometimes an advantage to produce strawberries at a time when they are out of season in France. A farmer constituent of mine was faced with the requirement of exporting 30 tons of strawberries to France last summer at short notice. As he was near Dover that was not difficult to achieve.
A horticulturist may be faced with a massive problem of the early production of fruit and some vegetables in the Common Market which may come into this country and rob him of his security of the home market. Faced with this problem horticulturists are taking such steps as they can to protect their home market by more effective husbandry and planting, greater development of their orchards and greater development of and improved efficiency in their marketing methods. This is where the co-operatives are outstanding and second to none in Europe. I speak with some knowledge here. I am advised by horticulturists who frequently go to Europe to see what the competition, the marketing and the co-operatives are like.
1647 The two-way traffic in fruit and vegetables and agricultural exports and imports was mentioned in an intervention. This one accepts but that two-way traffic is being watched carefully by the horticulturists over here, and they are protecting themselves against this sudden increase in imports, particularly of apples and pears. All the orchards I have seen in Kent in the last two years have been greatly developed. The fruit farmers are taking advantage of the steps taken by the Government to encourage them to grub and replant—rather like the re-tooling of a factory—to prepare for more efficient farming. Many of the apple trees being planted in Kent are not the traditional English Cox's Orange Pippins but the traditional French and Italian apples, the Golden Delicious. That is a proper and sensible approach.
§ Mr. Crouch
I absolutely agree with the hon. Lady when she says that Golden Delicious are not as good as Cox's Orange Pippins.
The First Deputy Chairman
Order. I hope the hon. Gentleman will not be provoked into straying still further from the Amendments under discussion.
§ Mr. Crouch
No, I will not, Miss Harvie Anderson. I am speaking of the change of attitude of fruit growers who are prepared to produce a product they may not like so much but which they believe they can sell to consumers in this country who might develop a continental taste and to consumers on the Continent.
Arable farmers and beef producers in Kent have literally said, "Roll on the Common Market". They have been looking forward to this change. I will not say more on that topic, because I should be straying from the terms of the Amendment if I were to talk at length about the enthusiasm of some farmers for entry into the Common Market.
On the question of structure, the agricultural statistics and financing will be administered from Brussels. It is to be 1648 hoped, as the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland said, that there will be some reasonable adjustment in due course. A group of farmers told me when I was discussing these problems with them some months ago that they did not mind the structure, but hoped that the bureacrats in Brussels would play cricket in the same way as the bureaucrats in Whitehall play cricket and stick to the regulations and not try to bend them in any way.
This is an important matter. Just as the farmer prepares himself for change and is prepared to meet the competition and to say, in the overall interests of the country, "I might suffer some change and even some greater competition, particularly in horticulture, but nevertheless I believe that it is in our overall interests to go into the Common Market", at the same time he wants to feel that the regulations are observed equally in all the Common Market countries and are applied with equal correctness whether the bureaucrat is in Brussels or in Whitehall.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mrs. Renée Short
The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) has blown the gaff. He frankly said that once we go into the Common Market and have grubbed up our orchards, the poor British consumer will not even be able to buy good English apples.
§ Mr. Crouch
What I was saying was that we had grubbed up our orchards to plant new and more effective apples, and I do not necessarily mean Golden Delicious but new stock.
§ Mrs. Short
I take the point very well, but it does not change what I said, namely, that our farmers will have their eyes on what could be sold in the Common Market rather than on what the British consumer prefers. It is a great pity, because British apples are probably the best in the world. I have never eaten such good ones anywhere else.
§ Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)
Would my hon. Friend ask the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) to define the difference between an acceptable apple and an unacceptable apple?
§ Mrs. Short rose——
The First Deputy Chairman
I hope that this particular topic will not be pursued too far in this way.
§ Mrs. Short
I will not mention apples again.
The intervention of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynoro Jones) was typical of the woolly line pursued by Marketeers on both sides. Whenever those who are opposed to entry criticise the effect on the British way of life, or on our farmers, or on our methods of agriculture, one may be certain that somebody will pop up to say that nothing will change. Indeed, that is what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said. He takes this rosy view of the Bill. In future we shall have to call him Rosy Rippon.
My hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen said that there are few farming Members here tonight. When we are discussing the CAP and the regulations pertaining to it, one would expect them to be here in great force. I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Agriculture is not here. He should have been present to listen to the whole of this debate, for he might have learned a thing or two. I should like to think that he might sidle into the Chamber before I sit down, because I have a letter which I have received from a lady in Norfolk who wrote to the Minister of Agriculture complaining about one or two things. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will come back so that he can hear a few home truths. He is one of the most ill-informed of the Front Bench opposite, and that is saying something. His comment about there being no railwayman earning less than £20 a week created an enormous storm in the country and brought me hundreds of letters from railwaymen and their wives. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman comes back, because I want passionately to tell him one or two things.
The scintillating and far-ranging speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins) was by far the best-informed of the whole of today's debate. No one in this Committee knows more about the common agricultural 1650 policy and its odious regulations than my hon. Friend. He knocks the Treasury Bench into a cocked hat. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite know nothing about it.
My hon. Friend said that the common agricultural policy supported the prices of most European farm products at levels well above world and British prices and that this held consumers in all the countries of the Common Market—and us if we are misguided enough to support entry in the final analysis—to ransom and made the housewife pay very high prices.
The common agricultural policy is part of the Treaty of Rome that the ordinary people of this country really understand best. This is what puts the backs up of the British housewife and her husband most against entry into the Common Market. Earlier this evening, also in a moment of candour and frankness, we had the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) telling us how his wife came to him for more housekeeping money because she could not keep pace with rising prices here in Tory Britain. I thought that that was marvellous. I do not know what she and the rest of us will do when we go into the Common Market.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster tells us that the gap between our prices and those of the Common Market is contracting all the time and that when we go in we shall hardly feel it; it will be absolutely painless. No one believes that. Certainly the housewife does not. She knows that, as our prices increase. Common Market prices are increasing all the time. Although we know that our food prices have risen by 16 per cent. since June, 1970, when right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite were returned to office, that is not the end of it. It will not be the end of Common Market price increases, either. This is a major snag for the British people. The common agricultural policy soaks the consumer in order to pay high prices to large, efficient farmers.
The other fact which has penetrated the minds of most people in this country is that although Common Market farmers are alleged to be so efficient, basically they are extremely inefficient. There have been, and I have no doubt there will be again, recurring crises of 1651 over-production when enormous mountains of food have been produced, when farmers have been paid very high prices for producing it, and when eventually the food has had to be destroyed, fed back to animals, or dumped at cheap prices across Eastern European frontiers. This is a matter that the British people resent very much. It is an open-ended commitment to buy at the highest possible prices whatever the farmers grow.
From time to time we have had estimates of what our contribution into the fund will be and what the common agricultural policy will cost us. However, we know that, as we are net importers of food from many different parts of the world, we shall be the country which pays the highest cost for entry into the Common Market. It means that Britain will pay very much more into the common fund in Brussels, in order to support prices, than she will get back. We shall therefore be net losers in this whole operation.
We have had forecasts of £105 million in 1973, rising to £200 million by 1978, but that is not all. We know that we have to hand over 90 per cent. of all Customs duties and levies on food imported from countries outside the Common Market. That will hit hard, in all sorts of ways, our traditional suppliers in the Commonwealth. In addition, we have to pay in 1 per cent. of the VAT that we impose. Britain will get the raw end of the deal, and certainly in the early years we shall carry a heavy load on our balance of payments.
We have heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, West, about the disadvantages of the harmonisation policies. Although it is part of the basic policy ultimately to harmonise everything within the Common Market, the harmonisation of the CAP has led to anything but harmony. The farmers of France, Germany and Italy seldom find it possible to agree. One is distressed at this bureaucratic vision of the future of the Common Market and the appalling burdens which this country and the British housewife will have to bear.
There are clear disadvantages from accepting the CAP. We shall have to pay high prices for our food, and there 1652 remains the problem of over-production in the Common Market, the effect that all this will have on our balance of payments, and the two-way effect that it will have on trade with our traditional suppliers of food. To those of us on this side of the Committee who are opposed to entry this is extremely distasteful. We view with considerable mistrust and distaste this vision of the Common Market countries, united together in some sort of continuing disharmony, as they are at present, erecting a tariff barrier wall around themselves and then operating a high cost, high price agricultural policy, shut off from the rest of the world.
That goes very much against the grain for those of us on this side of the Committee who want to see tariff barriers removed and reasonable prices being operated, bearing in mind that in many parts of the under-developed world—which I hope we shall be able to discuss later—millions of people are dying at an early age as a result of malnutrition and acute poverty.
The problems of farm produce in the countries of the Six have a far-reaching effect on livestock, poultry, beef and the prices obtained for those foodstuffs. The basic problem is that of the price of grain. However much some hon. Members are aware of it, I do not think that everyone outside is fully aware of what the effect of high grain prices is likely to be on pork, poultry, milk, and beef products. What does the right hon. and learned Gentleman intend to do to influence the CAP if and when we are members of the Common Market?
What will the right hon. and learned Gentleman do, for example, about introducing international commodity agreements? Does he think that he can persuade the countries of the EEC to deal with this problem of grain prices in respect of commodities that are traded internationally such as cereals, sugar, dairy products and meat? These commodities are traded between countries and across frontiers, but the present situation in the Community leads to extraordinarily high prices throughout the Common Market.
§ Mr. Rippon
The hon. Lady is making an interesting point which illustrates what 1653 we are doing. For example, in connection with the New Zealand protocol, the hon. Lady will find it stated in Article 4:The Community shall continue its efforts to promote the conclusion of an international agreement on milk products so that as soon as possible conditions on the world market may be improved".This is one of the main reasons why we can hope to benefit from working together inside the Community.
§ Mrs. Short
It all depends on how energetically we press our case and how many members of the Community accept it. I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman's intervention is an earnest of his determination to pursue this matter, if and when we join.
If we accept that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will do his best to see that international agreements are reached, we must go on to consider another important problem concerning the consumer, and particularly the house wife, in Britain. In other words, what effective control over the retail price of food will we have, particularly when our food prices are likely to be affected by the CAP?
I know I speak for all housewives—[Interruption.]— except those on the benches opposite who interrupt from a seated position; perhaps they are not housewives—when I say that the women of Britain want to know what Her Majesty's Government intend to do to control food prices.
This has an enormous effect on the whole problem of the cost of living, on industrial production and on the standard of living of the working population of Britain. This is bound to be a crucial issue when the people look at the way in which prices have increased since the Tories took office. Rising prices are bound to determine the attitude which the trade unions take to the whole question of wage claims.
It is no use hon. Gentlemen opposite attempting to separate these two matters, because they are inextricably linked. I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will show determination in keeping food prices down and will not allow them to spiral as a result of the CAP in a supine, meek way.
§ Mr. Crouch rose——
§ Mrs. Short
If I give way to the hon. Gentleman, his remarks will only lengthen my contribution, which I am sure will not please you, Miss Harvie Anderson. In any event, I have already given way to the hon. Gentleman once.
We must next consider the effect of common agricultural prices on our international food trade. We are continually told that the Common Market will be good for us and bring us prosperity. Promises of that sort will not persuade us to overlook the shortcomings of the CAP.
It is in this context that we must consider the part of the Commonwealth which will be adversely affected by our entry as a result of the CAP and the regulations emanating from it which will prevent us from trading, as we have in the past, with the countries of the Commonwealth, remembering that those countries have provided us with infinitely more trade than will the countries of the Common Market. In 1971 we did more trade with the Commonwealth than with the Common Market. I seek to persuade the Government, even at this late hour when the die may be cast, to consider this issue carefully again and to withdraw the Bill.
Not long ago Dr. Mansholt was in Inverness. His presence there attracted the attention of some of my right hon. and hon. Friends who are known to be ardent Marketeers. Dr. Mansholt addressed a meeting of the Highlands and Islands Development Board, which had called for safeguards for Highland hill farmers if and when we join the Common Market. One of the pieces of information that Dr. Mansholt imparted to the meeting was that United Kingdom farm prices would rise by 25 per cent. to 30 per cent., presumably when we enter the Common Market.
If farm prices rise to that extent, the money must come from somewhere. One assumes that it will come from the consumer. This is a bleak prospect and belies what the right hon. and learned Gentleman and some of his colleagues have been telling us for a long time, in Parliament and outside, namely, that 1655 food prices will rise by only a small amount.
Only in February the Common Market Commission agreed to considerable price increases for Common Market producers. There is a proposal to increase farm prices by an average of 8 per cent. throughout the Community. These increases would be carried out during 1972 and 1973 and there would be smaller increases in the following farm year. Beef prices are rising by 13.2 per cent. to be spread over the next two farm years. There is to be an increase of 8 per cent. in the target price for milk during the coming season, a 20.4 per cent. increase in the guaranteed price of skimmed milk powder, and an increase of between 7 per cent. and 9 per cent. in prices for cheese. There are no proposals to increase the price of butter. As the price of butter is very high, housewives in Common Market countries will be thankful that the price is to rise no further at the moment.
For both hard and soft wheat, the price of which affects the price of poultry, pork and beef, there is a recommended 4 per cent. increase in the coming year, followed by a further 1 per cent. increase in 1973–74. Maize prices are to rise by 7.5 per cent. over the two years, barley by 6 per cent. and rye by 6.3 per cent. All this is a grim outlook for the consumer.
§ Mr. Crouch rose——
§ Mrs. Short
Oh, dear. Miss Harvie Anderson is fixing me with a baleful glare, so I must not give way to the hon. Gentleman, who has tried to intervene on three occasions, and I have given way to him once.
§ Mrs. Short
As the hon. Gentleman is an apple expert, perhaps I will give way to him when I finish making this point. It is suggested that sugar prices should be increased by between 2.6 per cent. and 3 per cent. in the coming year, olive oil by 6 per cent. and peeled rice by 3.5 per cent. All these prices will be going up, and the increases will ultimately affect the end product to the housewife who buys meat, cheese, and all the other goods in the shops in the 1656 Common Market countries. If we are to be expected to meet all those increases and then continuing price increases after we enter, it is a very bleak prospect for the British housewife.
§ Mrs. Short
If the hon. Gentleman does not want me to give way, I will not.
I am sorry the Minister of Agriculture has not appeared. We are debating a matter of great concern to many women. Only today I received a letter from a lady living in Harleston, in Norfolk. I have no idea which constituency that is in, but no doubt the hon. Member for the constituency will make himself known in due course, if he reads HANSARD, and I shall be very glad to pass the letter on for him to deal with.
The lady has written twice to the Minister of Agriculture, and has received letters from his secretary always insisting that prices have not gone up and will not go up in the future. She says that she sent him a list of the food items in this country and pointed out that many thousands of prices had gone up during the past year. She objects very much to the fact that ministerial replies do not state straightforward cash increases but give percentage increases in prices. She says that people find them very difficult to follow, so perhaps the Minister will be good enough in future to quote the actual price increases.
The writer mentions a certain number of items which it is worth presenting to the Committee, because there are Conservative Members who will protest that food prices have not gone up. She quotes prices in the old currency and the new currency and points out that if we go into the Common Market those very high prices will go up still further as a result of the common agricultural policy.
The price of a tin of milk when we had the old currency was 11d. It went up to 5p, then 7½p, and is now l0p, or 2s. in the old currency. She quotes the price of Cadbury's drinking chocolate was 1657 3s. 6d. in the old currency. It went up to 19½ p, then 21p, and is now 24p, or 4s. 10d. in the old currency, which is an appalling increase. A tin of corned beef, 4s. 6d. in the old currency, is now 35p, or 7s.She says that butter, margarine, cheese and meat prices have all gone up.
She had a running argument with the Minister about the price of lard. She said that it was 1s. a pound in the old currency and then went up to 7p and then l0p. The Minister said in reply that the price of lard had hardly increased at all, and asked her to check the prices again. Here is the pay-off. She writes:I am a pensioner, and I have to shop around, and I make it my business to note prices.She is one the submerged group of people who live in poverty under the present Government, and who have to suffer the increased prices we are now experiencing. What on earth will they do when we are in the Common Market, if we do go in, and we have to suffer the phenomenal price increases due to the CAP? She goes on to say that she thinks that the Minister of Agriculture is a sick joke. She says that he should get round the shops and see for himself. This is a very apt and a very terrible comment on this whole odious parcel of the common agricultural policy which the Government intend us to accept and to conform to.
§ [Sir ROBERT GRANT- FERRIS in the Chair]
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Colonel Sir Tufton Beamish (Lewes) rose——
§ Mr. Rippon rose——
§ Mr. Rippon
I am grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend for permitting me to speak when he had been called, but perhaps it would be for the convenience of the Committee if I were to intervene now. We have had a very wide-ranging debate on the subject of agricultural policy—I almost said a free-ranging debate.
§ Mr. John Wells
We have not heard very much about practical horticulture. We have heard a great deal of far-ranging rubbish from the Opposition side, but we have heard no sound sense on horticulture.
§ Mr. Rippon
Not every conceivable aspect of agricultural policy has been covered, but my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) had some pertinent observations to make on the subject of horticulture and I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Mr. John Wells) will have taken notice of them.
Fascinating as some of the subjects have been, I must confine myself to the specific Amendments. A number of right hon. and hon. Members on the Opposition side of the Committee, and perhaps the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) also, will recognise that this was perhaps an opportunity to raise objections in principle to the common agricultural policy. Indeed, the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynoro Jones) was quite frank about the position when I said that perhaps some of his observations did not relate to the Amendment. He said that he would leave the Amendment to his hon. Friends on the Front Bench.
I think that hon. Members on both sides of the Committee understand that it is not possible in the course of considering these Amendments to challenge the CAP in principle, in the sense that it has been agreed from the outset that we would have to come to terms with it, subject to the transitional arrangements which we have discussed before from time to time. At the same time I entirely agree with the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) and with my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury that there must be, as time goes on, some reasonable adjustments in the policy. Certainly, as he said, there are difficulties in change, even change for the better and the transitional arrangements are designed to meet these problems. But in the years ahead we will be making our contribution to the evaluation of the developing agricultural policy of the Community just as we will make our contribution in other spheres.
§ Mr. Jay rose——
§ Mr. Rippon
Certainly there are matters of great interest such as the world commodity agreement to which the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East has referred, but these are not matters which can be dealt with in Amendments to the Bill. The Amendments seek——
§ Mr. Jay rose——
§ Mr. Rippon
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has been here very much during the debate, but I gladly give way to him.
§ Mr. Jay
Can I take up the point about the contribution we could make to the common agricultural policy? We are constantly told that by joining the EEC we should be able to exert an influence on its policy. But can the Chancellor of the Duchy give us an assurance on behalf of the Government that if we join we shall press for a change from the present high-price system to some sort of deficiency payment system, which would be so much more desirable from everyone's point of view?
§ Mr. Rippon
This is an evolving policy and the British Government, in the process of consultation with the NFU and others, will be making proposals from time to time. I do not think the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr.Jay) was here when his hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East discussed world commodity problems. I agreed at that time that that would certainly have to be looked at and pressed by future Governments. For the New Zealand Protocol No. 18, Article 4, we had specially built in this concept of how to work together for the provision of a world commodity agreement on dairy products.
From the outset of the negotiations we have accepted the principle of the common agricultural policy and agreed that we must come to terms with it, subject only to the transitional arrangements which were negotiated and made the subject of discussion in the House when we agreed, by that large majority, on the principle of entry on the terms negotiated and discussed in general on many other occasions. Many of the matters which have been raised are proper to the various agricultural debates which the House conducts from time to time.
This group of Amendments seeks to strike out of the Bill the provisions of nearly 50 instruments of Community secondary legislation mainly concerning agriculture. They are a somewhat haphazard selection, but I do not need to comment too much about that. For example, some of them refer to matters 1660 which are not involved with directly applicable Community law. They therefore raise no cause for concern and are not covered by Clause 2(1).
It will be no surprise to the Committee that the Amendments are unacceptable in so far as they reopen the issue of the principle of entry. The Amendments cover a heterogeneous area. As a number of hon. Members have pointed out, they cover advisory committees. Amendment No. 100 refers to the instrument setting up the advisory committee on Agricultural Structure. Amendment No. 105 deals with the instruments setting up 16 other advisory committees in the agricultural sector. We have also considered those dealing with agricultural statistics, the financing of the common agricultural policy, and so on. That is the common thread running through the Amendments. They deal with various aspects of the CAP. Some of them do not apply directly and do not involve any question under Clause 2(1).
Regulation 2062/69, referred to in Amendment No. 106, has been revoked and replaced. It is useful to have that on the record.
Amendment No. 104 lists a considerable number, but by no means all, of the regulations on Agricultural Finance. One of the basic regulations, No. 25 of 1962 is not mentioned in the Amendment. It is not clear on what principle the lists have been compiled. The Committee must understand that if the Amendments were accepted, they would cut a quite arbitrary swathe through the various agricultural regulations which are given effect by Clause 2(1).
It has now been repeated pretty frequently, to put it mildly, that there is a fundamental distinction between directly applicable Community law and the other obligations of Community membership which do not of themselves confer rights or obligations to which national courts must give effect. Clause 2(1) is therefore concerned exclusively with the directly applicable provisions of Community law.
Some of the Amendments refer to instruments which are not only clearly not intended under the treaties to confer rights or impose obligations on individuals within member States but do not impose express obligations on member States. For example, Amendments Nos. 1661 100 and 105 list various instruments which provide for advisory committees on a Community basis to assist the Commission in various agricultural responsibilities. As I said to the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Mark Hughes), there is no obligation for national industries to join in the operation of such committees. Thus, by accepting this regulation, we are not accepting any obligation under Clause 2(1). It is to the advantage of the industries to accept this opportunity, and they are doing so, but that is not a directly applicable Community law on which Clause 2(1) bites. Other matters of consultation are not affected. It may be that within the framework of our own domestic law we shall make changes in the process of consultation. But these are not matters for the Bill.
During the negotiations, all the Community's secondary legislation which will have any bearing after accession was examined in detail. There were talks, sometime sat ministerial level, on the matters of major importance about which I reported to the House regularly. But there were more than 200 meetings during the negotiations between experts from the Community and officials from the United Kingdom Departments concerned. As a result, we made a number of adaptations to meet the special United Kingdom requirements in horticulture as well as in agricultural generally. The National Farmers Union have been consulted over the secondary legislation of concern to them—for instance, the regulation about farm accounts referred to in Amendment No. 103.
There has been no question of our accepting Community legislation without full and proper consultation, not only with the House of Commons, but with the various interests concerned. But, the House having accepted in principle entry on the terms negotiated and having given the Bill a Second Reading, the legislation in this respect, as scrutinised and adopted, is part of the Community system to which we have agreed to adhere. It is not possible within the framework of this debate to discuss the merits of the various propositions which have been put forward. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and the Government as a whole fully accept the need for moving forward in the years ahead within the framework of the existing policy.
§ Mr. Mark Hughes
One of the points which I and other Members raised concerned the directives introduced since 21st to 24th March this year which the Government have accepted and about which, to the best of my knowledge, the House of Commons has received no information whatsoever. We have not granted the Government power to do this automatically. This is the sort of matter which disturbs us.
§ Mr. Rippon
We discussed this matter yesterday and I need not go over all the ground again. We are joining an evolving Community and from time to time action will be taken to go ahead. We are involved in those discussions, and so are other organisations. We move, for instance, from official translations to authentic texts.
Those matters do not arise on these Amendments. They may be regarded as probing Amendments, but the merits of individual instruments are not an issue at this stage of our discussions. Parliament has already affirmed the balance of advantage in favour of entry. There is a slight air of unreality about the Amendments and the Bill would look very odd if they are accepted. I am sure that they will not be accepted.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Mr. John Wells rose——
§ Mr. Buchan rose——
§ The Chairman
Order. I am sorry. I thought that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was giving way to the hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. John Wells). I did not mean to call the hon. Gentleman to address the Committee, but of course if he insists I must allow him to do so.
§ Mr. Wells
I shall be extremely brief and I am grateful for your indulgence, Sir Robert. My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said that there had been over 200 of these meetings between our officials and European officials. He said that some of the improvements made in their understandings had touched on horticulture. Can he name three horticultural improvements made through these 200 meetings?
§ Mr. Rippon
I cited as one example the protection of our horticultural industry during the transitional period against the lower prices for fruit and vegetables which obtain on the Continent.
§ Mr. Wells
That is acceptable as one improvement. Where are my other two? My right hon. and learned Friend may make play of this, implying that the world will be done for British horticulture, but it will not do. He is an honourable man and he knows the horticultural industry reasonably well. But he has done little for it and the sooner that is recognised truthfully the better.
I therefore ask my right hon. and learned Friend whether he is going to do anything more? Is he going to do anything more from the negotiating point of view before the House of Commons accepts this irrevocably? How are the Government to do anything to reduce the structural surpluses of apples and pears and other fruit in Europe? I believe that my right hon. and learned Friend has made a great play of words about this matter but that in truth very little has been done.
§ Mr. Rippon
I do not think that my hon. Friend can have listened to all the debate. It is impossible to go into the merits of all these matters. We can make no changes in the matters which have been negotiated. He is a little unfair about the advantages of protection to our horticultural industry through the transitional arrangements, which deal with some of the difficulties of change. He will also find that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury said, in the longer term, especially for Kent, good opportunities will be found for British horticulturists in the European market.
§ Mr. Buchan
I think that both the speech and, to an extent, the intervention just made by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster were quite disgraceful. We are dealing with what everyone recognises—indeed, he described it as such himself—as the heart and centre of Common Market policy. He has given it but a cursory glance and has ignored all the extremely important points put forward on both sides on the ground that it was impossible to follow them. We were looking for some kind of justification. I do not know on what the right hon. and learned Gentleman based his remarks, 1664 unless he was trying to interpret the Chairman's Ruling, but there was nothing out of order in any of the discussion and it follows logically that there would have been nothing out of order in properly replying. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has given a disgraceful performance which has been paralleled by the absence of the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
§ Mr. Buchan
It is astounding that the Minister should not have been present for the one opportunity we have of discussing the whole basis of the structure and financing of the common agricultural policy.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
The Minister cannot be here because he is dealing with his other job as Chairman of the Conservative Party, which is more important to him than the agricultural job.
§ Mr. Buchan
I do not know about that, but in the first place my hon. Friend has promoted the Minister. He is in fact a Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party.
§ Mr. Charles Morrison (Devizes)
In the interests of accuracy, I should point out that my right hon. Friend is at an agricultural dinner.
§ Mr. Buchan
I hope that the people of the country take note that during a debate on our entry to the Common Market the right hon. Gentleman goes to his dinner. This is the grossest dereliction of duty. Caligula's horse would have been a little better. But we are not altogether surprised. I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman is not here. Doubtless because of his new promotion, the Minister, even when dealing with our present policies, is losing his grip of the situation, as evidenced at Question Time recently. There were at least four occasions on which he was either in error or had not bothered to do his homework.
Two of these occasions involved the Common Market. One was to do with his answer on sugar. He had not apparently learned the basic facts, financially. The other was to do with milk when he clearly had not understood the tensions existing with the Milk Marketing Board. It is a disgrace that the Minister of 1665 Agriculture sees fit to spend his time at a dinner instead of coming here to defend his policy. He has left it to the Chancellor of the Duchy, who has treated the Committee with such contempt.
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman had good reason for absenting himself because he has left us with two texts on which to discuss Common Market policy. The first was made by him before he became Minister of Agriculture when he said:The time has come when we should have higher prices for food and no subsidies for either the agriculture or fishing industries. If we did that we would get competition working in both industries and the nation would get better value because the nation has been molly coddled for too long by receiving cheap food.That was the opinion of the man who was then appointed as Minister of Food and Agriculture. He does not regret the rise of food prices in the Common Market! His theoretical concept is based upon dear food. He should be here to defend his position because in the last two years he has been arguing that he is keeping food prices down when his policy has been to allow them to rise. It seems a bit much that he objects to subsidies for agriculture or fishing in Britain.
§ Sir T. Beamish
On a point of order, Sir Robert. I have been listening, as you know, to the whole of this debate. I had hoped to speak. The debate has ranged fairly wide. So far it appears that the hon. Gentleman has not addressed himself to any of the Amendments on the Order Paper, all of which are designed to prevent Community law applying in this country. His speech is of a general nature. It appears to be a Second Reading speech.
§ The Chairman
The discussion on these Amendments has been largely arranged to suit the wishes of the Opposition and others who oppose the Common Market. If they choose to use the time in a way which is perhaps a little wide of the issue, that is more for them than for me. I have on one occasion pointed out a discrepancy. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will address himself to the Amendment.
§ Mr. Buchan
With respect, Sir Robert, what I have to say is of immense relevance. When we are discussing the finances of this Bill and of the Common Market it is important to bear in mind 1666 the policy of the Minister of Agriculture. That is what I was trying to illustrate, and it is linked precisely with the Amendments we have down in relation to the Common Market financing structure.
That was the first text, the text of higher prices. The second text, in view of what we are faced with on entry into the Common Market, suggests that at any rate the Minister has a sense of humour. In debate on the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, he said:I want to relieve farmers wherever possible of the interference of bureaucracy…."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th January, 1972; Vol. 829, c. 55.]Those of us who have tried to work our way through the Common Market regulations, particularly those specified in this first group of Amendments relating to the regulations and directives, have some indication of the kind of statistics involved. I refer to the kind of form which will be before the farmers of this country, and I do so just to give an indication of what the Minister must mean by the lack of bureaucracy.
The form itself, which, we presume, will be imposed upon the agricultural industry of this country—we presume that because there is no suggestion of exemptions from the requirement to fill it in—runs to nine pages of statistics which the farmer involved must fill in, and they are followed by 30 pages of instructions. This is the lack of bureaucracy—page after page after page of a document so complicated that 30 pages of instructions are required to explain it. It is no wonder that Article 4 of Regulation No. 184/66, about these returns to be demanded of the farmers whom the Minister has said he wants to free from bureaucracy, says:The form of returns shall be considered as duly completed when its contents are in conformity with the facts.This is the kind of bureaucracy which we are now facing.
I want to deal with the basic problems facing us in relation to Common Market financing. In the first place, I think that it is manifest that there is no real support in any section of the British community for the common agricultural policy.
I want first of all to refer to the farmers' attitude. It is quite true that the farmers who, up to a year or two ago, were extremely worried and disturbed 1667 about our entry into the Common Market, are now co-operating with the Government on this. It would be quite wrong, however, to say that in all sections of the farming community of this country—and I am thinking particularly of the agricultural industry in my own area and the remoter areas of Scotland and also in the Welsh hills—there is by any means unanimity that these regulations we are discussing will assist them.
Secondly, I still have to say there is no whole-hearted declaration of support for the Common Market financing. That is a very different thing from groups of farmers saying, "We may do quite well out of this". That is different from saying that the basic financial principles make any kind of agricultural or financial sense. I have seen no one who has yet supported that.
When we find argument in support of the basic financial structure of the Common Market it takes the form, "We think this is a very bad system, but it is worth our accepting it because we will get
§ better value in other ways—through expansion and larger home market", and so on. Very rarely does one hear—I have yet to hear—a solid defence of the common agricultural policy itself. It is this, perhaps, which explains the absence of the Minister of Agriculture.
§ I will look briskly at what these proposals will replace. Our agricultural policy stems basically from Tom Williams's great Agriculture Bill of 1947, which embodied a method of agriculture that was suitable for a basically——
§ It being Ten o'clock The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.
§ Committee report Progress.