HC Deb 11 December 1972 vol 848 cc30-1
38. Mr. Russell Johnston

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals he now intends to make to the Governments of member countries concerning methods of election to European Community institutions; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Anthony Royle

Under Article 138 of the Treaty of Rome, it is for the Parliament itself in the first instance to draw up proposals for direct elections to the European Parliament. Before I take a view, I should like to have the benefit of advice from Members of the House when they have participated in the Parliament.

Mr. Johnston

Would the Minister agree with the views of Chancellor Willy Brandt as reported in the Press today that it is desirable that this country should participate to the full in the European Parliament and that for any part of this Parliament not to do so would retard the democratisation of Europe?

Mr. Royle

We very much hope that we shall play our full part in the European Parliament and that we shall take our place in the deliberations of that Assembly. As for the legal situation on the point raised by the hon. Gentleman, I must point out that Article 138 of the EEC Treaty and Article 139 of the Act of Accession provide that delegates should be designated by Parliaments and not by Governments of member States.

Mr. Callaghan

Whatever the merits of methods of election to a European Parliament, is not the reality of the situation that it would be far better for the Government in their relations with Europe to concentrate on having a meeting of a group of sovereign nations, each of which might discuss these problems, instead of running away with so-called democratic ideas which merely fudge the issue? Will not progress which is likely to be made in Europe be based on the combination of sovereign Governments and not on the election of a European Parliament?

Mr. Royle

We believe that the European Parliament has a very important role to play—

Mrs. Renée Short


Mr. Royle

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear on 23rd October, we think it right that action on this front should be taken after enlargement of the Community.

Mr. Rost

If the official Opposition are not prepared to accept their responsibilities and send a delegation to the European Parliament, may the Liberals be invited to make up the number?

Mr. Royle

That is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House.

Forward to