§ It is hereby declared that nothing in the Treaties or in this Act shall detract from the ultimate sovereignty or supremacy of Parliament or shall prejudice the power and right of Parliament to repeal this Act or to alter any of its provisions or effects; and any determination of the European Court or of any of the Communities or their institutions which is inconsistent herewith shall be null and void.—[Sir Elwyn Jones.]
§ Brought up and read the First time.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ Sir Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)
I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.
We meet to discuss this important and fundamental Clause against what seems to be an extraordinary challenge not only to our parliamentary sovereignty but even to our national sovereignty by the President of France, who seems to think that it is he who should settle our exchange rate and not the Government of this country. No doubt we shall be returning to this interesting theme at some suitable moment in time.
At first blush in considering this Clause, which I have the privilege to move, it may seem to be astonishing in this year of grace 1972 that it should be necessary to make such a declaration as is contained in the Clause when the British doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty is the political and legal concept at the very heart of our system of parliamentary democracy. It is an article of faith sustained by the sacrifices of the Civil War and the overthrow of two tyrannical Stuart Sovereigns, matured by centuries of commitment adhered to in the House of Commons by generations 557 of our predecessors. We, as the Members of Parliament sent here by our constituents, are its guardians and its trustees.
The question which, I submit, arises in this debate on this new Clause is: is this Bill the requiem of the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty? We ask—and it is our duty to ask at the very end of the Committee stage of the Bill—whether the Government accept that if this Bill becomes law our courts will still be free and able to accept the present doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty, whether our judges will still be entitled to regard it as their duty to give unquestioning obedience to the will of Parliament as expressed in an Act of Parliament and a later Act of Parliament which may amend or repeal an earlier Act. Will the judges, I ask, still be able to sustain the position that the latest expression of Parliament's will is in law supreme? Or will our judges be expected to apply the new principle of primacy of Community law which, speaking in one voice, as distinct from what they say in another, Ministers have so desperately sought to entrench in this Bill?
They are irreconcilable conceptions, the sovereignty of Parliament and the primacy of Community law. Irreconcilable, too, are Ministers' statements in regard to them. On the one hand, on more than one occasion the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has sought to assure us that, of course, nothing in this Bill abridges the ultimate sovereignty of Parliament. That is the very language we have embodied in the new Clause, and presumably the right hon. and learned Gentleman, in that voice, will be ready to accept it.
The Government's White Paper of 1971 said:There is no question of any erosion of national sovereignty.If they believe that, then, presumably, the Government will support the new Clause. If they do, we shall be reassured. It will be taken as a mark of their good faith, and some indication that they mean what, in that voice, they have said. It will put the position beyond doubt. We think it right, as lawyers say, ex abundante cautela, for the purpose of establishing it as a matter beyond doubt, and for the avoidance of doubt, that it 558 should be stated expressly in this Bill. It will be a kind of constitutional fail-safe provision if that is done.
It is necessary to do it for three reasons: first, because of the contradictory ministerial statements on this fundamental matter, which have left it in a state of uncertainty; second, because the European Court decisions have rejected the conception of parliamentary sovereignty in the field of Community law; third, because if the Bill becomes law as it stands it will leave the law of this land in a state of uncertainty as to which of the irreconcilable conceptions which I have mentioned our courts will be expected to apply.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has told us that there is no need to worry about the future; we can easily undo what we have so painfully done. He has not put it quite like that, but that is the effect. With great respect to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, I prefer the authority of the Master of the Rolls, Lord Denning, whose name is to be conjured with in this honourable House. He considered this matter in June of last year in the case of Blackburn v. Attorney-General. The Master of the Rolls said:It does appear that if this country should go into the Common Market and sign the Treaty of Rome, it means that we will have taken a step which is irreversible. The sovereignty of these islands will thenceforward be limited. It will not be ours alone but will be shared with others.The Master of the Rolls returned to this point later in the judgment—and I make no apology for citing the judgment in the Court of Appeal at a little length—when he said:We have all been brought up to believe that, in legal theory, one Parliament cannot bind another and that no Act is irreversible.That is the line that has been taken by some Ministers:But legal theory does not always march alongside political reality. Take the Statute of Westminster 1931, which takes away the power of Parliament to legislate for the Dominions. Can anyone imagine that Parliament could or would reverse that Statute? Take the Acts which have granted independence to Dominions and territories overseas. Can anyone imagine that Parliament could or would reverse those laws and take away their independence? Most clearly not. Freedom once given cannot be taken away. Legal theory must give way to practical politics.559 The Master of the Rolls then cited Lord Sankey in a 1935 case:…the Imperial Parliament could, as a matter of abstract law, repeal or disregard section 4 of the Statute of Westminster. But that is theory and has no relation to realities.Lord Denning went on to say:What are the realities here? If Her Majesty's Ministers sign this treaty and Parliament enacts provisions to implement it, I do not envisage that Parliament would afterwards go back on it and try to withdraw from it. But, if Parliament should do so, then I say we will consider that event when it happens. We will then say whether Parliament can lawfully do it or not.Lord Denning cited an article by Professor H. W. R. Wade, which said:sovereignty is a political fact for which no purely legal authority can be constituted…".The Master of the Rolls concluded:That is true. We must wait to see what happens before we pronounce on sovereignty in the Common Market.That is the state of total uncertainty about the matter. That is the alarming conclusion to which one comes from that statement of the Master of the Rolls. In his view, Parliament is embarked upon irreversible action, not something that can be changed overnight, and that is the grim significance of our debate today and of our discussions throughout the passage of the European Communities Bill.
It therefore seems that if in due course a judicial decision comes to be made by the courts on an Act of Parliament which purports, for instance, to repeal the Bill after it has become an Act, unless we do something about it in the Bill the matter will be left in a state of total uncertainty. The terms of the Bill are, therefore, crucial, and in our view, which I suspect will be shared on both sides of the Committee, inclusion of the new Clause will be clear guidance to our courts that, whatever future course political events may take, our judges will still be able to say if the matter is put to the test in court that the latest expression of Parliament's will is in law supreme. In that sense, fiat justitia, ruat coelum. If the new Clause is passed, the judges will know where they stand; so will Parliament; so will the people of this country.
The new Clause is also necessary because the Community treaties give little indication of the Community's actual legal nature. The Luxembourg Court has filled 560 in and supplied the details. The court's case law has expressed it. There is an interesting article on this theme by Mr. David Hall, a solicitor, who was until recently a member of the Commission's legal service, in a Community hand-out, "European Community, No. 6" of June, 1972. He expressed it in this way:It is the case law which, for instance, confirms that the Community legal order has priority over national law with which it conflicts—even over subsequent national legislation.There is no doubt how the European Court regards the matter. It takes the view that Community regulations must be uniformly applied, and may not be modified or capable of modification by member States. Several cases have been cited in Committee to illustrate this matter. I have come across another one, which, so far as I recollect, has not yet been mentioned. It is on the somewhat unedifying subject of turkey tails, which in my part of the country used irreverently to be called parsons' noses. It is the case of Hauptzollamt Hamburg-Oberelbe v. Firma Paul C. Bollman.
By Regulation 22 the Community had imposed a common customs tariff on certain goods. Mr. Bollman was a German importer of turkey tails from the United States. Regulation 22 did not, however, contain sufficient elucidation whether turkey tails were to be regarded as "backs", "edible offal" or "other parts of domestic poultry". Each classification allowed a different levy to be imposed.
Mr. Bollman claimed that the turkey tails were "edible offal" but the German Government and the European Commission claimed that they were "backs". The German Government also considered that they had a national power of interpretation because the Community regulations were not clear.
The European Court clearly indicated that the German Government did not have any power at all to deal with this matter:Regulation 22 is directly applicable in all the member States. In the absence of provisions to the contrary, the member States are prohibited from adopting measures for the implementation of the regulation intended to modify its scope or add to its provisions…they no longer have the power to make legislative provisions in this field.The member States were not empowered by Regulation 22 and their 561 national authorities were therefore unable—to make binding rules of interpretation for the application of these definitions.The court finally decided that edible offal should be interpreted to include "turkey tails".
As I have said, this is not a very exciting or important illustration, but it is the way of the law that great principles are often decided upon trivial issues of fact and on cases of no great importance. It would clearly seem from that decision that the power of the Community regulation is indeed very sweeping, and, according to the European Court in the Bollman case, the Community regulation would override any present, or, what is perhaps more significant and important, any future national legislation which was in conflict with it.
This, then, is the state of the matter. Our own courts are left in a state where they may not find it right, least of all necessary, to apply the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty.
One of our most eminent judges has expressed the view which I have adopted on this matter. In my submission, it is absolutely imperative that there should now go out as the clearest possible statement of the constitutional position that nothing in the treaties or in this Act shall detract from the ultimate sovereignty or supremacy of this Parliament. If this is rejected by the Government, it will put in doubt the whole of their good faith in this matter. If it is accepted it will at least be some comfort.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael English (Nottingham, West)
I support my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones) in his request for certainty, and indeed that is all the Clause asks for. The situation that will face a judge if a subsequent Parliament attempts to repeal this legislation will be quite intolerable. The judge will be told in this legislation that he is to interpret Community law and is to regard it as superior to English law—or, for that matter, Scots or Northern Irish law. Yet it will be possible for a Parliament to wish to repeal this legislation. It will be possible for the simple reason that the legislation will have been passed without 562 the consent of the people of this country. Therefore, since it is quite likely at some future date that a future Government might wish to repeal it, this is a possibility we must consider.
It may be that the supporters of this Measure believe that eventually the people of Britain will settle down as happy members of a prosperous European Community. In that case the matter will never arise. But it is possible, to put it no higher, that the alternative may occur. The people of this country may object to being taxed and to having laws passed for them by a private body which is not elected by anybody. Unless those institutions are altered, they may wish to repeal this legislation.
The situation of a judge in such circumstances would be intolerable unless this Clause were incorporated in the Bill. The judge will be told that Community law is superior to British law. He has then to say to himself that it is clear that under Community law the Treaty of Rome and its attendant treaties are well nigh irrevocable. They are not strictly irrevocable. They could be revoked, but only by the unanimous consent of all the 10 parties to the treaty. That unanimous consent is unlikely to be given. Barring that unlikely situation, the treaties are irrevocable. They have no term, no time limit and, by the ordinary rules of international law, cannot be revoked except in the circumstance which I mentioned.
It is clear from the decisions of the Court of the European Community that Community law is to be regarded as superior to the law of the subordinate States of the Communities. It is also clear that no one of those States can unilaterally revoke its adherence to the Communities once it is given. Yet what will be the situation facing a judge in this situation? He will be told that the repealing legislation has been enacted by the direct will of the people since it is they who elected the Government which produced the legislation, that both Houses of Parliament have passed the Bill, that it has received the Royal Assent and has become an Act. The ancient traditions of English law say that that is superior to anything.
In those circumstances a judge will be in exactly the situation of the judiciary 563 in the reign of Henry VIII. The argument was then not whether people were Catholics or Protestants, but it was about the Act of Supremacy. It was about the simple issue of whether any other system of law should prevail in England than the English system of law.
Henry VIII had no objection to people believing in the doctrines of the Catholic Church on matters that one may describe as purely religious. He did not object to people going into Catholic churches and adhering to their religion by the ceremonials appropriate to that church. That was not the issue. Indeed, he did that himself. The simple issue was whether there was another system of law superior to English law also operating in England which was allied with another legislature, the Papacy, and with another court, the Court of the Papacy.
In that case, although for centuries there had been two systems of law operating in this country. Parliament decided unilaterally that one of them should cease to be obeyed in this country. The decision has always been held to be correct in English law. It is equally clear that at the time it was quite improper and illegal in canon law. It was a decision that was ultimately imposed by force and, in the minds of many highly rational and sensitive men, it was difficult for them to reconcile with their consciences.
The most notable example has a great connection with Westminster Hall and relates to the case of Sir Thomas More, or St. Thomas More as he now is to the Catholic Church. He was tried, and in due course executed, simply for facing that difficulty. He felt that he could not in his conscience say that he would pay allegiance to a king and a legislature as supreme when he had been brought up to believe, and had operated as Lord Chancellor of England in the belief, that that was not the situation. Eventually it became the law not by strictly legal means but by force, and the head of Thomas More fell as a result.
§ Mr. J. Selwyn Gummer (Lewisham, West)
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that Sir Thomas More was a martyr to his belief in the supremacy of canon law in England rather than to his belief that the faith of the Roman Catholic Church was 564 correct and that what he was required to subscribe to was incorrect? If he is suggesting that, he is producing an historical theory unknown to any specialist in this subject.
§ Mr. English
The hon. Gentleman will realise that he is making a distinction without a difference. Sir Thomas More was presented with two alternative sets of beliefs. If taken as a set of religious beliefs, they also incorporated a complete legal system which is operaable in every State throughout Christendom. Those who accepted the beliefs of the Catholic Church had to accept that. Alternatively, one could take the view which was prevalent earlier in the Middle Ages, that the Papacy was of less importance than the Church as a whole in some abstract sense.
However, I do not think we need get too involved in the intricacies of mediaeval theology. We may put our judges not in a theologically difficult situation but in a situation of rather difficult law. They will eventually be brought up in the systems of Community Law, two separate situations will apply and they will be left to make the decision. I suggest, therefore, that with this Clause my right hon. and learned Friend is putting certainty into the Bill where at the moment there is a simple gap.
If the Government did not wish to accept the Clause the alternative would be to say that in future this Parliament was limiting itself, and to say so in explicit terms. But surely this Parliament should decide specifically on that issue. I should prefer to add "the people" as well, but apparently they are not to be allowed to have their say. In any event, we should not produce a Statute which omits one essential fact, which is what is to happen if a subsequent Parliament wishes to repeal or—it may be—even only to amend it. Are we really to leave that to the discretion of a few individual judges appointed and deliberately given a position of independence because they are not supposed to be representatives of the country in the way that the Legislature is? It is not a decision which should be left vaguely open to them. It should be made here and now by the House of Commons.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
In my view, the hon. Mem- 565 ber for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) has correctly reminded the Committee that the principle of the supremacy of Parliament goes back even further in our history, and has claimed even more sacrifices, than the revolutions and conflicts of the seventeenth and later centuries.
I shall support the Second Reading of the Clause because I believe that the intentions behind it and the assertion which it means to embody are vital and ought to be upheld. Yet the Clause carries within it a fatal paradox, though that paradox in turn proves how wrong and unjustified is the action of the House of Commons in passing the Bill before us—assuming that it does so.
There is an omission in the drafting of the Clause. It does not say whether it is to apply to itself. It does not include the words "including this part of the Act" or the words "excluding this part of the Act." It is of the very nature of parliamentary supremacy that either of those provisions—whichever way the right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones) had attempted to draft the Clause—would ultimately be futile. The assertion of the supremacy of Parliament is the assertion that any Act of Parliament, small or great, or any part of any Act, including this part, is at the mercy of the decision of a subsequent Parliament so long as Parliament remains supreme.
In this respect we differ from nations which have written constitutions. If we were debating this matter within the terms of a written constitution, we could frame a Clause as a part of the constitution and entrench it so that special procedures had to be gone through and special safeguards observed if ever in future it was to be altered or abrogated. That would be the position in the United States. Congress is not supreme in the sense in which Parliament is supreme. Congress is subordinate to the constitution of the United States, the constitution is not subordinate to Congress. In this country the living reality is Parliament itself. In a sense, our constitution is an abstraction: it is what is said about, and what attempts to describe, the living reality of Parliament.
However, the existence of this contradiction at the heart of the Clause reveals its significance in a political sense. In this country the guarantee of the 566 supremacy of Parliament and of our legislative independence as a nation does not lie in words on paper. It does not lie in vellum and parchments. It lies in a political will and the continued exercise of that will, the political will of those of whom the House of Commons is the expression. The people themselves, their political will and their determination to exert it, are the ultimate guarantee, and the only ultimate guarantee, of the sovereignty of this House and of the legislative and political independence of the nation.
That fact, which I do not believe can be contested, is the reason why to pass this Bill lies outside that unwritten contract which all Members of this House have with those who sent them here. We have not been charged by that political will, on which alone rests the independence and sovereignty of Parliament and of this country, with the duty or the permission to share it or to abrogate it.
The longer we have debated these proposals, the clearer that has become. Even here, no one in the Committee can say that as the House of Commons over these many sittings has learned to know the European Communities Bill better, it has come to like it better. There has been no gradual reconcilement on the part of Members of this House to what is here being done. Indeed, though this must be subjective, I venture to assert the contrary. As we have had an opportunity, however limited, to familiarise ourselves with the implications and the consequences of what the Bill makes possible, the reluctance with which a narrowly divided Committee is doing what it is doing has become more, not less, perceptible. The relief with which hon. Members think they are about to part with the Committee stage is not untinged with the feeling that it is a business in which on either side of the Committee and on either side of the debate they are sad to have imbrued their hands.
§ Mr. Powell
In their own consciences my hon. Friends must speak for themselves. But if it be open to dispute what these digital majorities betoken—under all the influences of power and patronage, which we well know operate in this 567 House, and amid all the cross-currents which we understand and are familiar with—whatever be the judgment of the atmosphere here, there can be no doubt about the sense out of doors. The most determined attempts which have been made month after month by all forms of persuasion to shake the political disinclination of the great body of the people towards what is being done by this Bill have proved unsuccessful.
Whether it has been presented on the one hand as a fait accompli, as something which is over and done, something which is all over bar the shouting, which people must make shift to get used to, or whether it has been presented in the most glowing colours as new opportunity, as accretion of sovereignty or power, the great mass of the people, whose sovereign expression in this House is at stake, have remained unmoved. The only practical effect of this long Committee stage has been to expose to those outside even more clearly what is at stake. Their reaction to that clearer understanding, to which perhaps our debates have contributed, is such that it is a usurpation for a House of Commons, well knowing the state of opinion in the country, to seek by the Bill to surrender or diminish the sovereignty of Parliament, and the ultimate authority of our courts, including the High Court of Parliament over the subject in all matters and causes.
That act of usurpation could hardly have been attempted at a more unfortunate time; for this is a time when the rule of law—the acceptance by the country of law made in this House—is being questioned as perhaps it has not been questioned for decades, if not generations, past. There is an Act on the Statute Book of the last Session, the Industrial Relations Act. Whatever our differing opinions of that Act may be, I say without fear of contradiction that if it does not prove acceptable, credible and tolerable to those in their hundreds of thousands, their millions, who are to be bound by it, it cannot in the long run remain upon the Statute Book. I say that as one who, apart from certain aspects of the Act, hopes that its provisions will prove to be acceptable, intelligible and workable; but that does not alter what I think is an axiom, that the validity of what we 568 do here depends in the last resort on the political will and consent of the people. If that is not forthcoming, if it is denied or withdrawn, then we cannot protest: "But it is an Act; we have passed it." If the people do not share our view, they have the right, and they must have the power—through our successors or through us—to dispose otherwise.
If that be true, as I think it must be, of a relatively subordinate piece of legislation—though I do not underestimate its importance—how much more must it be true of a Bill like this, which is the sole parliamentary expression of a deliberate and, in intention, permanent cession and abridging of the sovereignty of Parliament and the independence of the country? Over that matter the ultimate decision lies, and must lie, with the people at large.
So the question arises, since that is the reality, the true and the sole entrenched protection of our independence and sovereignty: can they and will they?
All belief in democracy, above all in parliamentary democracy, is an act of faith, as the maintenance of all free institutions is an act of faith. It depends on the faith that the political will of the people is capable of self-expression and of impressing itself upon those free institutions and ultimately moulding them to its will. If that be not so, then democracy and Parliament and all their theory are empty husks. So it is a question of faith whether the people will defend, are determined to defend, have the desire and purpose to defend, or, if it is lost, to restore and regain, the supremacy of Parliament and the political independence of this country.
What is certain is that if they will, they can. We know already that when this Parliament has run its course, one of the two great parties in the state will be continuing in the face of the electorate, and indeed of Europe and the world, the same opposition, and on the same grounds, to this proposal and to this legislation. Yet it is in a deeper sense than this that the electorate, the people of this country, will still have, if they care to exert it, the choice and the power. On a question such as this, public opinion exerts itself not through the exclusive channel of a single political party—it exercises its effect upon all parties. If that will, to 569 which I have referred, is present over the coming months, even though the Bill should be forced through, even though the treaty should be ratified, it will still lie with the opinion of the people—through their sovereign power over us here, through our duty to render an account to them—to regain if it has been lost, and to restore if it has been diminished, their sovereignty, of which we are only the explicit expression.
When I vote for the Clause I shall be giving my personal vote for the maintenance of that sovereignty and independence. I do so recognising that the question will be decided not in the Lobby when we come to vote, not even by the House of Commons at all. It is a question which will be decided by the people.
§ Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)
The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) has a great capacity for speaking with power and logic. However, the logic leads to the wrong apocalyptic conclusions in the end.
I shall start by quoting twice, once from the right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones) and once from the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West. The difficulty is that many of the things which they said are fundamentally and basically true, but many of the conclusions which they drew from their axiomatics were wrong.
First, the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that legal theory does not always march beside political theory. That is well reflected in the new Clause. Secondly, the right hon. Gentleman said that our sovereignty—I paraphrase him slightly—does not ultimately rest upon vellum or parchment but political will. That is true as well. The new Clause is not talking about terms; it is talking about principles. There is no question about that. I will return to that matter. If the official Opposition from the Labour Party is "Not on Tory terms", I should point out that this is not about Tory terms; this is about the principles of the institutions and whether one accepts the idea or not.
What is meant by the "ultimate sovereignty" of Parliament? The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South- 570 West said that the ultimate sovereignty of Parliament rests upon the will, the consent, of the people. That we accept. The problem always is: how do we arrive at such consent? That is a perennial problem.
When we here talk about the sovereignty of Parliament, we are presumably talking not about the sovereignty of the Front Benches, but about that of the back benches—the sovereignty of the capacity of the individual back bench Member of Parliament to influence the executive. After all, the executive is the replacement of the various kings who were quoted earlier in historical references. The executive now is the Treasury Bench. It has the power.
The new Clause presumably means what is says, and it says,nothing in the Treaties or in this Act shall detract from the ultimate sovereignty or supremacy of Parliament".We are talking about the ultimate sovereignty not of the Treasury Bench but of Parliament.
What is the reality? The reality, which the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West was reaching over and to, is that, again to use his expression, both the great parties in this country believe in strong government. That is a fact. They believe in a strong executive. That is a fact as well.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale) indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Johnston
The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), who, after all, is poacher turned gamekeeper, may interrupt on that point, but it is a fact. It will not detract from what I am saying.
If I talk about electoral reform to a Conservative or a Socialist, he will decry it. Why? He will not decry the argument simply because there might be a notional increase in Liberal support. He will say, "If you have a change in the electoral system it may lead to a more fluid situation. It may lead to that most dreadful of things, coalitions. It will result in a flexible situation." A flexible situation in a democracy means less power for the Executive. That is why the two great parties are opposed to any such change.
§ Mr. Foot
What I was dissenting from in the hon. Gentleman's argument was that I believe that one of the major matters about which we have been arguing in these debates is whether we shall yield a whole series of powers from the legislature to the executive and to executives outside this country. That has been a major matter of dispute. In that dispute the Labour Party has been defending the rights of the legislature while the Liberal Party has been consorting and colluding with the Government in surrendering powers to the Executive.
§ Mr. Johnston
I will not go into the question of consorting with the Chancellor of the Duchy at the moment. I will return to this point in a few minutes. This is certainly a profound argument and I want to deal with it.
If all the sound and fury which at the moment is being directed theoretically, despite what the hon. Gentleman has just said, on behalf of the back bencher against the Front Benches and against these notionally oppressive Community institutions, were directed rather at examining our own systems of arriving at decisions, I should respect those objections much more.
How does a back bench Member of Parliament affect the executive? How does he influence it? Everybody agrees that he can be a very good long-stop social worker, but his problem—
§ Mr. Johnston
I accept that. The point is that his capacity to influence the policy of the executive is very limited in the House of Commons. [Hon. Members: "Oh."] I repeat, it is very limited in the House of Commons. There is no use balking that fact. I willingly concede that it will be even more difficult when we enter the Common Market. However, we should direct ourminds to looking at ways in which we can improve this participation and influence rather than at knocking down notional bogies.
When I asked the Chancellor of the Duchy at Question Time on Monday whether it should be possible or desirable for Members of Parliament to go to Brussels frequently to talk to the Commission, he got up and, with a bland smile, urbanely said: 572I am all in favour of hon. and right hon. Members…going to Brussels as frequently as possible."—[Official Report, 3rd July, 1972; Vol. 840, c. 9.]That is fine and dandy. But Members of Parliament cannot afford to go regularly. Unless we do something practical to change that, they will not go. We should bear that in mind. There is the question of Select Committees and many other things.
I want to move on to other arguments apart from a change in the electoral system. Whenever I hear people shouting about referenda for the Common Market, I am reminded of people—for example, the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East(Mr. Benn)—whose sudden conversion to this idea has not been paralleled with any interest in general in electoral reform from what I can see. This does not impress me at all. Equally as important as electoral reform is how the ancient nations of Wales and Scotland should, could or may express their corporate will and protect their communal interests within an enlarged Community. We have heard nothing of this, even from the mover of the new Clause, the right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South who is himself a Welshman. We heard nothing about effective decentralisation.
I want to make four brief points. First, I will return to the intervention made by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale. A new Clause which questions the whole concept of supranationalism questions the Community per se. [Interruption.] I repeat, any new Clause which questions the idea of supranationalism, as this does, questions the idea of the Community. Therefore, it is not logical for the Leader of the Opposition to go to Vienna and to say, "We are not against the idea; it is these incompetent, inefficient, dreadful Tory terms we are against". That attitude of mind is one thing and one can argue about it, but it is very different from the attitude of mind in the new Clause.
§ Mr. Peter Shore (Stepney)
Whatever the hon. Gentleman may say about the attitude of the Opposition on this matter, I must remind him that the words in the new Clause are taken from the repeated affirmations of the Government. I very much doubt whether ultimate sovereignty will be unaffected by the proposition of 573 entry, but it does not lie with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to say that, because he has assured the House in the White Paper and elsewhere, that that is precisely his belief. What does the hon. Gentleman say to that?
§ Mr. Johnston
I say that if we enter the Community we are agreeing to share sovereignty and that changes its nature. Whether it increases or decreases our degree of influence is another argument, but its nature undoubtedly changes.
The old well-worn argument which presumably will be used by the Government against the new Clause is that of the veto in the Luxembourg Agreement.
§ Mr. Johnston
There is not one. All right. Nevertheless, at the end of the day we come back to the political realities about which the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West and, indeed, the right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South spoke. The political realities are that if a situation arose in which something was totally unacceptable in this country, it would be rejected.
That is the political reality, but if one goes into the Community arguing, as the new Clause does, that national institutions must in all circumstances have preference and triumph over supranational institutions, that is contrary to the European idea. If someone does that, he should not have applied to go in in the first place.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
Will the hon. Gentleman go further and agree that anybody who supported any of the applications made by this country did so in the obvious knowledge that there must be some sacrifice of the ultimate sovereignty of this House?
§ Mr. Donald Stewart (Western Isles)
I apologise for interrupting the hon. Gentleman so soon after he has given way, but he said that anything that would not be accepted would simply be rejected. How far did Scotland get in this Parliament with any of the breaches of the Treaty of Union against which she protested? The hon. Gentleman knows that none of the breaches was ever repaired.
§ Mr. Johnston
The answer to the first question is that neither I nor the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster would regard entry into Europe as a sacrifice, but rather as an accretion. The answer to the second question is contained in the speech of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West. We are talking about political reality, and if feeling in Scotland had supported what was written on the vellum of the Treaty of Union then something would have been done about it.
The third point is about sovereignty, and this again bears on what was said by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale. It is all very well talking about de jure power. There is also de facto power, and both major protagonists recognised this essentially in what they said. Let us consider, for example, three countries—Finland, Rhodesia and Mexico. All those countries, de jure, have sovereignty. What is the sovereignty of Finland? How is it influenced by Russia? What is the sovereignty of Rhodesia? How is it influenced by South Africa? What is the sovereignty of Mexico? How is it influenced by the United States of America? We must take cognisance of the fact that whatever one may have written on this piece of vellum—and it is a good expression used by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West—external influences are affected by the power which surrounds them.
If we do not enter the EEC, oddly and paradoxically enough we shall be engaged upon a de facto limitation of our sovereignty—I say that quite consciously—because we should find ourselves wedged between Europe and the United States of America.
§ Mr. Johnston
That is the hon. Gentleman's view, but my view is that power has everything to do with sovereignty. Power is what sovereignty is about. There is no point in claiming theoretical sovereignty unless one has power to ensure that it is exercised.
§ Mr. Cunningham
If the hon. Gentleman goes on talking nonsense, he must expect to be interrupted. Of course power and sovereignty belong together, but there is a conceptual distinction. The new 575 Clause is about legalities and sovereignty, not about power, and it is important to maintain that distinction.
§ Mr. Johnston
It is all very well for the hon. Gentleman, who started in a clear and didactical way to suggest that I was talking nonsense, to conceptualise distinctions; one can always do that. But the basic answer is that if we do not enter the EEC, in the end we shall engage in a reduction of our sovereignty.
§ [Miss HARVIE ANDERSON in the Chair]
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ I said that the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, for all the pertinence of many of the things that he says and the framework of logic which he builds around them, is arguing an apocalyptical view of life, that it is a choice between his way and the other way which leads almost immediately to Armageddon. I sometimes wonder why there is all this worry anyway because, on balance, I should have thought that the chance of out-and-out conflict between members within the Community was minimal. We depend very much upon each other. During the years that the Community has been in existence there have been arguments—there always will be—but there is no point in entering the Community if one goes in thinking that one will get one's own way all the time.
§ Mr. Johnston
Pompidou may be a bright star on the political horizon now, but in 15 years it may be somebody else. It may be a latter-day British Premier.
§ Mr. Michael Foot
Whether Pompidou stays or not, he has said that the only terms upon which we can enter the Common Market are that we agree that there shall be a monetary union, with control over our exchange rates, and even if Pompidou goes that provision will stay.
§ Mr. Johnston
With respect, that is yet another example of a situation that has arisen, recently, in this case about exchange rates. This question will be discussed heatedly for three, four or perhaps six months. If someone bases his attitude and outlook upon a whole policy 576 which is to stretch forward for 15, 20 or 30 years on such an issue, in my view that is a most unwise way for him to proceed.
If we are becoming paranoiac about sovereignty, going into the Community is not a good venture to embark upon, but if we approach this as a joint venture for mutual benefit then it will be constructive and to our advantage. The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West is right in saying that the political will of a nation affects what it can do. I believe that our political will in Europe must be to work for co-operation and not to work for some kind of Little Englanderism.
Mr. Selwyn Gumme
r: Already in this debate we have heard three kinds of arguments for adding this particular and specific restriction to the Bill.
I suggest that the Committee should address itself to the argument of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), who used a mystical argument. He suggested that there was a will of the people, and that the interpretation of that political will allowed him to believe that on this issue, it being so great an issue, the House of Commons has no right to restrict or to share its sovereignty. I believe that my right hon. Friend was asking us not just to accept the concept of a will but to concept his interpretation of it.
That is an argument which my right hon. Friend has previously invited the House, and people outside it, to accept. When he has done it in other areas of policy, members of the Opposition have attacked him violently and have said that he has no right to abrogate to himself the ability to discern and to articulate the will of the people of Britain. They are right to attack him on that ground, and we are also right to disagree with him on the same basis. My right hon. Friend claims that he, and he alone, can feel what the people of Britain think on these basic issues—[Interruption.] Perhaps Labour Members will allow the discussion to proceed.
It will be seen that the danger of the argument based on the will of the people is that the interpretation of that will is the key factor. We can all say that the people want this or that the people want that, but we in this country have a method 577 of determining the will of the people—[Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."]—and it is called democracy. It is done by the election of a Government, and the decision of the people has been to elect a Government and a Parliament which decided in this House by an overwhelming majority that they supported our entry into the European Economic Community.
The fact is that if people believe in parliamentary sovereignty—those who have tabled the Clause do so believe—it is curious for them to howl when it is suggested that the first element in parliamentary sovereignty is that Parliament may make up its mind. That is what we are proceeding to do now. As we are making up our mind, it is right, first of all, to refuse to accept that kind of dangerous, mystical argument.
But then we are presented with the historical argument. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) is not here at the moment, because I believe that in seeking to lam Sir Thomas More with having laid his head on the block in defence of the principle of the superiority of Roman canon law over English law he was, if historically inaccurate, trying to make a comparison which is most important. But what is important about this incident is that when Henry VIII said "The law of England shall be supreme" the law of England was supreme. But it was supreme not because he won the legal argument, not because he chopped off Anne Boleyn's head, but because he was powerful enough to make it supreme.
Therefore, the lesson of history is not that there is some kind of comparative situation which can be imported into the present situation and from which we can learn detailed applications, but that sovereignty is, as the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston) pointed out, so closely connected with power as to be not usefully distinguishable; and that, much as one may say that we have sovereignty over this country, it is a question of limited sovereignty inside or outside the Common Market.
It is here that we come to the practical argument—
§ Mr. Raphael Tuck (Watford)
The hon. Gentleman said that the people had 578 been consulted, but perhaps he can tell the Committee two things. First, have the people been consulted at all as to this great step which the Government are contemplating taking? Second, if they have been consulted, have they ever come to a decision on whether this Parliament can fetter its successors?
§ Mr. Gummer
If the hon. Member had been present throughout the Committee debates he would realise that that argument has been thoroughly thrashed out, and that what we are now discussing is the question of parliamentary democracy. Parliamentary democracy involves the concept that the people's representatives in this House of Parliament shall decide, and that if the people dislike what their representatives have decided they shall kick them out on their ears, or on any other part of the anatomy which the hon. Gentleman likes to pick. At the next General Election the hon. Gentleman will see that the people of Britain will, if he is right, kick me out, or if I am right, they will kick him out.
But it was on the practical argument that the hon. Gentleman interrupted me. The practical argument, he says, is that it may be well to say that the mystical argument is wrong and that the historical argument is inappropriate but, practically speaking, once we have passed this Bill we cannot change it. The argument is that this is a Bill so important that we really must treat it as being in a category wholly dissimilar from any category we have ever thought of before.
First of all, there is a practical fact which we ought not to forget, and it was pointed out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West. He said that at the next General Election one great political party will say to the electorate "We do not accept this Bill. We will at best modify it fundamentally"; and if the members of that political party really want to lose that election by 200 seats they will say "We will remove it entirely."
§ Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)
But perhaps my hon. Friend will agree that they are in fact saying that if elected they will wait a year, then hold a referendum, and then decide what they will do.
§ Mr. Gummer
Whichever technique they decide to adopt, all techniques are based on the belief—the clear, unadulterated belief—that if members of that party wish they can amend, change, throw out or utterly dispense with this Measure. That is what they believe. They are totally of that opinion. If that is so, the most that can be said for the Clause is that it is not necessary.
That, indeed, was the tenor of the speech of the right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones). It was a moderate and reasonable speech, in which he said to the Government "You know, this is an extra help. There are some people who are worried about the precise interpretation"—but not, of course, the Labour Party. There may be a certain judge, but not the Labour Party. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) is perfectly clear, and has said so repeatedly, that he has no intention of forgetting to fight when we have the Third Reading: he will fight, fight and fight again against the proposal. He believes that if he wins he will not win just a paper victory; that it will not be only on paper that he can withdraw the Bill, but that he can withdraw it in fact. We are therefore restricted in the number of people who are worried and concerned to members of the legal profession as interpreted and presented by the right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South.
But what was Lord Denning's argument? It was an argument not on legal fact but. as he distinguished, on legal fact in the context of political situation. He suggested that it is inconceivable that a Government having given freedom to countries which were once our own could then withdraw that freedom. It may be inconceivable to Lord Denning but hon. Members can think of a number of situations in which that action could be possible. Let us say, for example, that we had given total independence to Gibraltar, and the people of Gibraltar then said, "We do not want to be totally independent. We think that we are safer if you legislate for us." Does any right hon. or hon. Member believe that we could not then withdraw the Gibraltar Independence Bill and replace it by a Gibraltar Non-Independence Bill? That would be quite possible and it is a serious point—but extremely unlikely.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ If we come into the realms of likelihoods and unlikelihoods, if what the right hon. and learned Gentleman is saying is that it is unlikely that anyone would want to go to the trouble or, indeed, to the lack of trouble—whichever point at which it was done—of reversing the Bill, we are on a totally different argument. We are not then saying that it is impossible or that it might be impossible but that it might be very inconvenient. If that is the argument, that the special nature of the Bill is such that it is such a wide ranging Bill that it is the kind of Bill which is difficult to repeal, that is an argument which restricts the sovereignty of the House of Commons enormously because it says that the only sorts of Bills that the House of Commons ought to pass are Bills which are very easy to repeal, and that the more difficult a Bill is to repeat, the more unlikely it is that the House of Commons should be asked to pass it.
§ Mr. Gummer
The right hon. Gentleman says that that is silly. If it is silly, the right hon. Gentleman should never have proposed that the major argument against the Bill—I think that we all agreed about this at the end of our last discussion of this matter—is not that it is in essence irrepealable but that it would be extremely difficult to repeal. If one carries that argument to its logical conclusion we would never have agreed to the NATO treaty and we would never have joined NATO. Although that was a 20-year agreement, it was one under which, without Parliament agreeing, our forces could go to the aid of any member State attacked, without even an affirmative Resolution, no matter whether we agreed to that. That would be very difficult to reverse.
It is here that we ought to look at sovereignty a little more closely. Why is it so difficult to reverse the NATO treaty? It is because this country has so much sovereignty that it cannot, on its own, defend itself. When we are arguing about sovereignty in this ancient House of Commons we are arguing about it in a unique situation because for about 30 years Britain alone has not been able to defend herself. If, therefore, we say that our sovereignty is the ultimate 581 sovereignty of Parliament, as the tanks roll in—as they would if it were not for alliance and the automatic nature of the NATO agreement—that is an ultimate sovereignty which is a misuse of the word "ultimate". It is at the very least a conditional, constrained and corralled sovereignty. We ought to decide whether by "sovereignty" we mean the high-flown mystical belief that the House of Commons can will and, having willed, do anything it wants to do. I believe that we all know that that sort of sovereignty has not existed since the days of the Empire.
§ Mr. Gummer
Even if it has never been ours, sovereignty has always been in some senses not ultimate. If we are merely arguing that the House of Commons can agree to anything whether or not it can do it, we could do that whether or not we pass the Bill or whether we meet only on alternate Fridays. We could always pass anything if that was all it meant. But if by "sovereignty"' we mean that the House of Commons has the ability to do certain things it wishes to do and that no law or no outside authority can arbitrarily fetter it in what it can physically do, that sort of sovereignty is the kind about which we ought to be talking.
§ Mr. Powell
I think that my hon. Friend is confusing sovereignty with omnipotence. Every country, sovereign or not, is limited in what it can do. But sovereignty is concerned with whether there is another human political authority which can, not by force but legally, override the resolutions of a national authority. This is what is meant by countries which aspire to be free. The emerging countries of Africa know that their power is limited in an infinite number of ways. But they are determined to be sovereign and they will defend their sovereignty.
§ Mr. Gummer
My right hon. Friend makes that right distinction between omnipotence and sovereignty. But once one makes that distinction one brings in the element that if sovereignty is to mean anything, and the ability to carry out that which one sovereignly wills, one must agree that for all practical purposes no hon. Member of the House of Commons 582 actually believes that if after the next General Election a Government were elected who wanted us to get out of the Common Market and who passed that in the House of Commons we would not get out of the Common Market. It is just not true. Not only is it not true, but I should be prepared, as would right hon. and hon. Members who believe in our entry to the EEC, to take the names of those right hon. and hon. Members of the Opposition who will be prepared to go round the country saying "After the Bill is passed, fight it no longer because it is now impossible to reverse."
§ Mr. Gummer
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman wishes to say that he will go round the country saying that.
§ Mr. Cunningham
Will the hon. Gentleman imagine that the time is not after the next General Election but 30 years from now? Does he think that it is inconceivable that the courts in this country would hold that time had so worked that Parliament had lost, overtime, the right to take this country out of the Market? Does the hon. Gentleman regard it as totally inconceivable that a court would so hold?
§ Mr. Gummer
Turning to the effect of the Clause and the way in which it is worded, I suggest that there are two reasons, apart from it being unnecessary, why the House of Commons should refuse to accept it. The first is that it is not what it purports to be. It is not the innocent addition, the clarificatory phrase, the carefully worded protection which the right hon. and learned Member proposed it as. It uses a number of words which have begun to be used as cult words by those who wish us not to enter the EEC, and it does so with a very precise purpose. The right hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) has shown that purpose in many of his speeches to the House of Commons. But the purpose is to state at every possible opportunity that he and many others who think like him believe that Britain should continue in no way to change the nature of her sovereignty or the method of using it, whether by giving it away, sharing it. pooling it. adding to it or changing it. But the right 583 hon. Member for Stepney does not speak for his whole party.
§ Mr. Gummer
The right hon. Gentleman has to say that, but that is not what he has said in his speeches in the country. It is certainly not what he said in his speeches before the last General Election. Nor is it what he would say if he really believed in the sovereignty of Parliament, because the sovereignty of this Parliament is unlike that of any other Parliament in the world, in that we can decide. Some other Parliaments believe in delegation and not in representation. That is a point of difference which is very much held by the right hon. Gentleman in his speeches.
We must also consider whether this fairly represents the Opposition's view. In discussing the Clause it is essential to be clear about what right hon. and hon. Members opposite believed when they were discussing the background to the whole matter of our joining the Community. I am sure that it will not have escaped the Committee's attention that the joint statement about the future of Europe issued in 1969 by the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, now the Leader of the Opposition, and the Prime Minister of Italy, made it clear what the future was meant to be. They said:…the development of a European identity is intended to lead to the creation of a united Europe…
§ Mr. Gummer
It was written by the present Leader of the Opposition, so no doubt he will explain what it meant. The one thing that it cannot mean is that the United Kingdom will not share its sovereignty with any other country on any grounds. Those words can mean many things, but they cannot mean that. That was true of the whole range of statements made by right hon. and hon. Members that were in charge of the country's affairs.
If that is true, it explains why right hon. and hon. Members who support this Clause, and, indeed, many of the other 584 changes which have been proposed to the Bill, were not in any way involved with the discussions for our entry into the Community. It would have been embarrassing if they had been.
The last point is that the Clause is subject to enormous objection because of its wording—It is hereby declared that nothing in the Treaties or in this Act shall detract from the ultimate sovereignty or supremacy of Parliament.I believe that in a very profound sense that would write down the whole nature of the Bill, diminish its whole concept, and diminish the concept of our entry into the Community.
Before right hon. and hon. Members say that that is an embarrassing statement to make, let me make it clear that Governments of both major parties have stated their belief that our entry into the Community, far from detracting from our sovereignty, enhances that sovereignty and makes it more meaningful.
It is for that reason that I believe that we should enter the Community. I believe that even to suggest in this unnecessary Clause that this is the possibility is wrong. Not only is it wrong, but it diminishes the greatest enterprise Britain has entered upon to a miserable legalistic, unacceptable, unadventurous activity.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
The hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Selwyn Gummer) said that, if the electorate does not like what Parliament does, it can throw out that Parliament and elect another to do something different. That is exactly the point of the Clause. It is for this very reason a crucial Clause, because it puts to the test the sincerity of those, who apparently include the hon. Gentleman, who say that there is no fundamental surrender of sovereignty in the Bill because Parliament could always in the last resort repeal the Bill itself.
There has been a great deal of dispute about whether the act of joining the EEC is irreversible. The facts, in non-legal language, arising from all our debates are fairly simple. Because by the most valuable of all the principles of the British constitution any decision of a previous Parliament can be reversed by a new Parliament, by our constitution the decision is not irrevocable. But by the Treaty 585 of Rome and in the eyes of the EEC and the EEC court it is irreversible.
That means two things. The first is that the Treaty of Rome and the British constitution are flatly incompatible. That is one of the best of all reasons, as if there were not many others, for not signing the Treaty of Rome and not passing the Bill. It means also—this is what the hon. Gentleman and others blithely ignore—that if Parliament repeals the Bill when enacted Britain would be in breach of the Treaty. That fact cannot be just brushed aside by those who say that there is no loss of sovereignty because all Parliament has to do is to repeal the Bill when enacted, which would be as easy as passing it.
We should not sign a treaty which we have the intention of breaking at a later date. Despite that, those authorities are perfectly right who say that by our own constitution if the Bill is passed it can be repealed. My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever), earlier in our debates, rested the whole of his case for the Bill and signing the Treaty on the ground that there was no loss of sovereignty because the Bill could always be repealed. This seemed to me to be a frivolous argument for a Member of this Parliament to advance who, after all, like all the rest of us, has been entrusted with all the powers and liberties of this Parliament for which former generations have fought so hard and so long.
To argue that we lose no freedom and no sovereignty by handing over our independence to the EEC because we do so voluntarily and could always take them back again is rather like arguing that a man who serves a gaol sentence loses no liberty or independence because he voluntarily committed the crime and will no doubt be released one day in the future. This is not a serious argument.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Cheetham and those who agree with him and who rest their whole case on the argument that nothing can deprive Parliament of the right to repeal the Bill when enacted can show their sincerity by supporting the Clause. If my right hon. Friend the Member for Cheetham took this constitutional issue rather more seriously, he would be here with us today 586 to speak in support of and to vote for the Clause.
It is no good arguing, as the hon. Member for Lewisham, West argued, that there is no need for the Clause and that Parliament's right to repeal the Bill when enacted is beyond doubt. There is doubt and this issue is not beyond doubt. The question whether entry into the EEC is legally irrevocable has been debated up and down the country, from learned legal articles in The Times to many less learned articles and speeches in other and less learned publications, not to forget the Master of the Rolls, who is always in our thoughts at present.
There are many other parts of the Bill—I will not enumerate them now—which have been included for the removal of doubt, though it could be argued that Clause 2(1) made those Clauses not strictly necessary. For the removal of doubt, therefore, on the most vital of all issues raised by the Bill, let all those who genuinely believe that there is no fundamental breach of parliamentary sovereignty accept the Clause. If they do not they are destroying their own argument and the inference in that case for those who sincerely believe in parliamentary Government would be perfectly plain—the Bill itself should be rejected.
It is now more certain than ever, and here I agree with the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), that if the Bill is passed in its present form it will be repealed by some future Parliament. In spite of all the vast flow of propaganda we have had in weeks and months past, the opinion polls now show an even larger majority of people than ever before stubbornly opposed to entry on these outrageous terms. When they read the remarks of President Pompidou dictating what this country's future currency policy is to be, that majority will grow.
A Government can no more mutilate our whole constitution in the teeth of the opposition of the majority of the electorate than it can enforce the law on industrial relations in the teeth of the dissent of the working population. One would have thought that the Prime Minister would have discovered by now that other people can be as obstinate as he is. Since, therefore, the electorate will decide this issue let us remove all doubt 587 about their right to do so. We would achieve that by inserting the crucial new Clause into the Bill.
§ Mr. Michael Grylls (Chertsey)
I hope we shall be able easily to follow on from the argument with my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Selwyn Gummer) to show that the new Clause is unnecessary. We have seen once again as we have experienced continually throughout the Committee proceedings, the short-sighted and nationalistic approach of the Opposition to the prospect of wider European unity and co-operation. That is something that the Opposition can only laugh at, but statesmen throughout the world have striven for centuries to achieve it. It does not seem to me to be something to scorn.
On this the last day of the Committee proceedings I make an appeal to the Opposition, and particularly to the Opposition Front Bench. Is it too much to ask them to raise their eyes a little from the simple, lush pastures of Ebbw Vale, Stepney and West Ham and to look at the wider world that we have an opportunity of gaining? It is both tragic and pathetic that when the whole of British industry and commerce is preparing to take up the challenge of going into Europe, all the Opposition can do is to fight the Bill in principle, as they have done throughout the Committee stage.
§ Mr. Harry Ewing (Stirling and FalkirkBurghs)
What evidence does the hon. Member have that the whole of British industry is gearing itself to take up the challenge?
§ Mr. Grylls
That intervention seems to indicate that the hon. Gentleman is not very knowledgeable about what is going on in British industry. One has only to be in contact with the greater part of British industry and commerce to know exactly that this is what it is doing.
§ Mr. Grylls
Industry is enthusiastically waiting for 1st January, 1973, but the sad thing is that in Britain today the only people who are still the King Canutes of the political world, the 588 Labour Party, are maintaining their dedicated opposition to our joining the Community. They alone are trying to turn their back on the movement towards European unity and a stronger Western Europe. They alone are turning their back on Europe for party political reasons.
Dr. Kuipers, President of the Economic and Social Committee of the European Communities, said in London yesterday that the purpose of the Communityis simply to achieve by joint action more than we could have done alone; and to solve economic and social problems which in some cases we could hardly have attempted to tackle independently.
§ Mr. Jay rose—
§ Mr. Grylls
I will give way in one moment. We have heard a lot of talk in recent speeches about sovereignty, and that is what the new Clause is about. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) quite correctly said that if Parliament has the political will to do something it can do it, so why are people worried about sovereignty? If the House has sovereignty, which I believe it has, surely it is our duty to do something that we believe is in the best interests of all our constituents and of the country as a whole.
It has been clear from the debate, however, that the Opposition have not been attacking only the detail of the terms, but are continuing to attack the principle of British entry. If the new Clause is accepted it will be diametrically in opposition to the principle and method used to run the Community. When the fragile fabric of Labour's policy is stripped away it shows their root and branch opposition to joining the Community, and this applies particularly to the right hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore).
§ Mr. Grylls
I am sorry that I gave way. I was conscious that I had forgotten to give way a few moments ago, but I thought the right hon. Gentleman had a constructive point to make. If he had 589 listened to what I was saying he would have realised that I was talking about sovereignty, and if he examines the Clause he will see that the subject is touched upon there also.
The Labour Party knew perfectly well what they were about when they were in Government. We seem to have to remind the Opposition on almost every occasion what was in the 1967 White Paper. The whole tenor of the White Paper showed that the Labour Government knew perfectly well what they would have to accept. A speech made by a Labour Party spokesman a month before the last election put the matter very clearly. He said they were ready and committed to accepting the Treaty of Rome. That statement was made by the right hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. George Thomson)—[Interruption.]—The Opposition may laugh at that, but that is what a lot of people in this country thought would be the view of a Labour Government, if elected. It was just as well that the Labour Government were not elected, because the electorate would have been hoodwinked once again.
There has been a clear majority in Parliament in favour of entry. Those hon. Members in favour firmly believe that the enlargement of the Community is in the interests of all our people, and that the political advantages are very strong. As has been accepted by almost every speaker who has opposed the Clause, we have the sovereignty to repeal the Bill if we want to and the provisions of the Clause are therefore not needed. The second half of the new Clause is unsuitable because it is destructive and would make it impossible for us to join the European Economic Community. I hope, therefore, that the Committee will reject it. It is destructive in its object. It is proof only that the Opposition are dedicated to carrying through their opposition in principle to entry into the EEC.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Elystan Morgan (Cardigan)
Those who move Amendments to the Bill are sometimes accused of attempting to wreck the whole concept of the Bill itself. But I do not think that anyone could level such a charge at this new Clause, for it would do no more than spell out in this most important of all 590 Measures a guarantee which has already been given by Ministers. It does no more than seek an assurance on a matter of crucial importance to the British nation as now constituted and for the generations yet to be born.
The Clause deals with revocability. There is nothing in the Bill as it now stands about that matter. There is nothing either in the Treaty of Rome or in the treaties creating the European Coal and Steel Community and Euratom.
There is so much at stake—great and priceless freedoms which have been won at considerable cost and sacrifice over the centuries. Already, in the context of the Bill, we have had many grim instances of unexpected perils. We have already found it to be a more tyrannical machine than was ever envisaged. Already, as regards a major part of the Bill, we have had the shock of finding that the House had lost a power which it had for all time hitherto managed to exercise in relation to every piece of legislation, namely, the power to make amendments to each and every part thereof.
Mistakes may again be made by Ministers. In the near future, perhaps, the Government will discover that, unbeknown to them, the Bill cannot for some reason or other be repealed. If that unhappy day comes, I can think of no one more appropriate to make such an announcement to the House than the Solicitor-General, who will make it with all the conviction and all the holiness at his command.
Even if Ministers are at present happy in their own minds that there is not the slightest danger in relation to that most important of all aspects of the Bill, we on this side can only recall that, within the last two years, the doctrine of ministerial omniscience has suffered some cruel buffetings. Ministers of the Crown have a duty towards the British people; they are their servants, not their masters. We are talking here about the right of future Parliaments. This Parliament has come to its decision, albeit by a slender majority, but if there be any doubt as to the right of future Parliaments, the matter should be so settled as to ensure absolutely that the interests of the British people are protected. That is what the Clause is about.
591 Even if the Clause were to be accepted and passed, one could only describe it, in the terms used by mediaeval lawyers, as a tabula in naufragio, a plank in a shipwreck, for whatever happens, if the Bill is passed in its present form, the right of Parliament to legislate for the life of the British nation—that is what sovereignty is about—will be infringed.
This is what sovereignty is about. It is no narrow issue of nationalism, it is not about dreams of empire, not about the power to send a gunboat to any part of the world to exercise one's tyrranical will and dominion over other peoples. Sovereignty means that there is no barrier between the British Parliament and the British people, that nothing intervenes in that intimate relationship between Parliament and people, whether Britain be a powerful or a weak nation. That is the sovereignty about which we are talking. But whatever happens, whether the Clause is accepted or not, that sovereignty as we understand it will already have suffered its severest frustration in modern history.
I say that for three reasons. First, if the Bill becomes law, Parliament may, technically, have the power to regain the sovereignty which it had before passing it; but, even if it has, it could exercise that power only at the expense of being liable to be sued for breach of contract by other European nations for a sum in damages probably totalling many tens of thousands of millions of £s. There can be no question about that. If the Clause were inserted in the Bill, it might well affect our liability on that count.
§ Sir John Foster (Northwich)
The new Clause merely says, does it not, that the right of the United Kingdom through Parliament to breach its treaty obligations is hereby confirmed?
§ Mr. Morgan
It is not a case of breaching obligations, as the hon. and learned Gentleman puts it. It is a case of withdrawing lawfully. It is a statement before we have entered the European Economic Community that we are entering on those terms. In short, we spell into the contract now in its formative stage something which will guarantee our own position if we wish to withdraw later.
I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for drawing attention to that 592 point, for the very absence of such a Clause may well mean that we are wholly unprotected in relation to that very real peril. We may be sued—we shall undoubtedly be sued—if we withdraw unilaterally, for tens of thousands of millions of £s, a ransom which will lie for many generations upon the head of every man, woman and child in this country a tax which will effectively be upon every building, every items of property and every rood of land.
The freedom which we exercise, having entered the European Economic Community, is the miserable and agonising freedom of bartering a massive surrender of sovereignty for a monumental insolvency in place of it.
Second, I am sure that all hon. Members will agree that it is difficult at any one time for anyone to know just how much sovereignty we have, in fact, surrendered. It is inherent in membership of the EEC that its provisions have absolute paramountcy over our own institutions. That is true not only of specific Acts which have been passed but of constitutions as well. The Germans found to their cost earlier this year that even guaranteed human rights which were entrenched in their constitution were not inviolate from the effect of that principle. Indeed, in so far as they conflicted with the provisions of the EEC and its satellite bodies, they were ipso faco abbrogated by the pact of membership of the European Economic Community. What I put to the Committee is this: when we have a written constitution, we know what we are surrendering; when we do not have a written constitution, we do not know the exact limit and extent of our surrender. The same is true also with regard to the commercial and other aspects generally.
We have been dealing with this Bill in Committee for 21 days. No one in the Committee can say with certainty how such treaties, directives, declarations, exchanges of letters and thousands of instruments which are already in existence and the shades of many more which will come into existence will affect some of the most important matters touching the lives of each and every citizen in this country. No one knows to what extent it will still be possible through industrial development certificates to channel the resources of our economy to the areas in greatest 593 need of them; whether regional employment premium will be payable; whether agricultural marketing boards can function as anything other than completely truncated and emasculated institutions; whether agricultural grants and subsidies can be paid. I could give dozens of other examples.
The Government's attitude has been one of cynicism and complete lack of candour. They seem to feel that it is better for us to surmount the obstacles when we come to them. If anybody wishes—and this point was commented upon by the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston)—to destroy the Welsh economy and thereby bring about further disintegration of the national community of Wales, all he has to do is to do nothing. All he has to do is to disentitle Wales from the operation of bold and dynamic regional policies, which are a condition precedent to the welfare of the Welsh people.
The third reason which I advance in this connection is that there is no certainty whatsoever in the Bill as drafted about what will happen in relation to Acts which are wholly or in part inconsistent with the Treaty of Rome or the other main treaties or any of the ancillary provisions. Has the classic parliamentary principle that where two Acts of Parliament are in conflict the provisions of the latter prevail been abandoned? Has it been destroyed by Clause 2(4), which reads:…any such provision (of any such extent) as might be made by Act of Parliament, and any enactment passed or to be passed, other than one contained in this Part of this Act, shall be construed and have effect subject to the foregoing provisions of this section.…If that means that all future legislation will be bound by the provisions of this Bill which relate to what already exists by way of finding legal provisions in the EEC and those that will be created in future, what is to be the position of a judge in a British court? Will he say that he looks to the totality of the Act, considers its purpose and then looks at the particular provision as against the background of that, as British judges have interpreted statutes up to now; or is he to say that he will be bound by European law? If he is to be bound by European law, the question must be asked: is this the function 594 of a British judge? Is this within the terms of the oath which he took when he was created a judge under Section 2 of the Promissory Oaths Act, 1868, which every judge must take? Under that he swears loyalty to the Sovereign, not to any officer of the EEC.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
My hon. Friend has read the terms of Clause 2(4), which says that Parliament is telling the judge that for this limited purpose only he should have regard to the rulings of the European institutions.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Morgan
This is our case. The provision is not limited; it is open ended in so many respects. The judge will find himself applying European law as European law. We say that the oath which he has taken—"to do right by all manner of persons according to the laws and usages of this Realm"—is wholly inappropriate for the task he will be seeking to discharge.
Two ways out have been suggested by Professor Wade in an article in The Times published on 18th April this year. One is to pass an annual Act as the first statute for each year, declaring that for the ensuing 12 months all other statutes will be completely bound by the provisions of the EEC and by what will then be the European Communities Act, 1973. The other alternative is to write into each and every piece of legislation the subservient nature of that legislation to the European system. If either of those things is done, it will bring home to the British people in a way not brought home to them up to now the absolute dominion of Europe over their lives and conditions.
We were sent here by people who believed that we would act honestly, fairly and assiduously in the protection of their rights and privileges. Even after making every allowance for all our fallibilities and imperfections they still believed that we were in a position to discharge that solemn trust uninhibited, unhampered and unfettered by any outside body. The moment of truth is not very far away. Many people in Britain will soon realise that the measure of loss of rights, and the ability of Parliament to better their lives is very much greater than has been described up to now by the bitterest opponents of the Common Market.
595 The British people are losing to Europe, on account of the selfishness, irresponsibility and unwisdom of Ministers, rights, privileges and advantages which could never have been wrested from them in war. The House of Commons is facing the loss of rights and privileges which could never have been taken from it by a tyrant. When an arrogant Stuart monarch burst into the House of Commons on 4th January, 1642, and demanded of the Speaker of the House of Commons the surrender of five very gallant men. Speaker Lenthall turned to him and said:I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as this House of Commons shall direct me.After 1st January, 1973, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and his colleagues will have neither eyes to see nor tongues to speak save directed to them by their masters on the other side of the Channel to whom they will have surrendered the fundamental interests of the British people.
§ Sir Anthony Meyer (Flint, West)
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardigan (Mr. Elystan Morgan) and many of his hon. Friends talk about the importance of Parliament in defending the freedom of the British people, and yet he and his hon. Friends keep saying that Parliament has no right to take a decision on behalf of the British people. Therefore, the quotation with which the hon. Member concluded his speech fell a little oddly. I am a great admirer of the talents of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardigan, but my admiration was not increased by the speech he made tonight. He started by saying that this new Clause is not intended to wreck the principle of the Bill but merely to support it with certain assurances. It will be my purpose to argue that this Clause would wreck the principle of the Bill and is so intended.
In the latter part of his speech the hon. Gentleman talked a lot about the importance of defending and assuring the rights and liberties of our people. It seemed to me that that part of his speech, and the rest of his speech, was shot through with this negative, fearful attitude which is so prevalent on the other side of the Committee, and which 596 assumes that there is a body of liberties which must be defended lest they be eroded—[Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."]—but surely, this is the most timid, the most fearful, the most backward looking attitude to adopt. Surely our object should be to enlarge, to widen, to give deeper significance to these freedoms, and this can only be achieved in an expanding, dynamic economy.
I do not want to deal at any great length with the legal issue of sovereignty. I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Selwyn Gummer) dealt with this, in one of the best speeches I have heard during these debates. Of course, there is always room for argument on the legal aspect, and I listened with fascinated interest, as, I am sure, all hon. Members did, to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). I did not agree with anything that he had to say on the subject of sovereignty, but I did think he had a valid point when he talked about the need for law to be acceptable if law is to be obeyed. However, he was leaving out of account, it seemed to me—and here, I think in some respects I shall carry hon. Members opposite with me—the duty of Government to give a lead.
Were I to quote as an instance of where, I believe, it was the duty of the Government to give a lead, against a background of public hostility, I would quote the Race Relations Act, manifestly a highly unpopular one, not, I think, supported by my right hon. Friend, but I believe most Members opposite would accept that the Government had a clear obligation to give a lead and to influence public opinion. Clearly, I am not going to carry hon. Gentlemen opposite with me when I say that in the matter of the Industrial Relations Act the Government likewise had a duty to give a lead, and to maintain that lead, however temporarily unpopular with hon. Members opposite it may be.
To return to the new Clause, whatever one's views on sovereignty—and, as I have said, I think there is room for legitimate difference on the legal interpretation of sovereignty—this Clause must be superfluous. No Parliament can in fact legally bind its successor. What it can do, and what this Parliament may do in 597 the decision it is about to take, is to make it difficult for its immediate successor, more difficult for the successor after that, and very difficult indeed for later successors, to undo what it does, but this has absolutely nothing to do with legal concepts of sovereignty, or with one Parliament attempting to bind its successor. It has a great deal to do with the growth of interdependence of bonds which grow up in the political, economic and military spheres.
This is where I think my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West was so right to bring in NATO, because Britain's ability to defend herself alone—I do not think there is any room for argument on this—is now non-existent.
§ Sir A. Meyer
I do not suppose she would disagree.
This is partly due to our membership of the North Atlantic Alliance, but it is due inflintely more to what has followed from our membership of the North Atlantic Alliance. It has very little to do with the North Atlantic Treaty being valid for only 20 years unless prolonged. It has a great deal to do with the fact that because we are members of the alliance we have so organised our defence that it is totally interdependent on the defence capacities and contributions of our NATO allies, and British policy has been conducted, since the formation of the North Atlantic Alliance, in the confident expectation that we shall have the support of our allies in the event of a war, and, therefore, we have not attempted to construct for ourselves a military machine which, alone, is capable of defending this island. It is capable of certain operations which may be necessary in various parts of the world, but it is not so designed as to ensure the defence of this island by our own capacities.
In exactly the same way, what will follow upon the decision which we shall take to enter the European Economic Community is that our economy will evolve in the same kind of way our Armed Forces have evolved, so that it will be totally enmeshed with that of the European Economic Community countries. It is in this way that our sovereignty will be limited, but this has absolutely 598 nothing whatever to do with concepts of one Parliament binding its successor.
The reason why I say that this Clause is not merely superfluous but highly objectionable has nothing to do with its stating something with which I disagree. It is impossible to disagree with what the Clause actually says; it is incontestable. I very strongly object to putting this Clause into the Bill because the effect of the Clause, and, without any doubt at all, the intention of those who are proposing the Clause, is to raise doubts in the minds of our future partners in the European Community of British good faith, to raise doubts as to the permanence of our intention, once the decision has been taken, and once the debates are concluded, to remain wholehearted contributors to the European Community.
§ Mr. Denzil Davies (Llanelly)
If the Clause raises doubts, the doubts were raised by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. It is he who has used these words time and time again, and used them here.
§ Sir A. Meyer
I am not sure whether that is just a debating point. I am trying to address my mind to a rather serious point.
Such success as the European Community has had, and it has been a very considerable success, has been due in very large measure to the confidence factor. It has been due, rather surprisingly, to the very rigidity of the Treaty of Rome. It has been due to the fact that entrepreneurs in the Community countries have been able to feel certain that the obligations imposed on member Governments by the Treaty would be respected even if they were temporarily embarrassing or inconvenient for those member Governments. It has been due to the confident expectation that nothing could occur within the European Community similar to that which occurred within EFTA in October, 1964, when the Labour Government imposed the 15 per cent. surcharge on imports, including imports from EFTA countries, in contravention of the EFTA Convention. Such an act would not have been possible within the European Community. Because it was known by business men within the European Community that 599 there could be no such backsliding, they embarked on the programmes of expansion and the limited programme of cross-frontier integration which have been the major factors in economic growth within the Community.
§ [Sir ALFRED BROUGHTONin the Chair.]
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ That has not been a totally uninterrupted process. There has been the long period of French non-co-operation. The attitude of the French Government, from the moment of General de Gaulle's veto in 1963, has gravely prejudiced the chances of the Community achieving all it hoped to achieve. None the less, the survival and continued development of the Community in these circumstances is nothing short of a miracle.
§ Persistent nationalist feelings and persistent distrust have been evidenced in most of the speeches we have heard from the Opposition benches this afternoon. That distrust is exemplified not by the Clause but by the proposal to insert it into the Bill. To insert the Clause would be like adding a new phrase at the end of the marriage service saying that nothing in the proceedings so far shall in any way limit the right of bride or bridegroom to go off on their own whenever they feel like it.
§ Either we are embarking on a great new project of ever closer integration, or we are not. If we are, it is no good our going in saying that we reserve the right to come out whenever we feel like it. That right is there, it exists, but to put it into the Bill is to display from the outset our intention not to take seriously our obligations. It is part of the general refusal of the Labour Party to accept change and to move forward which has been so well exemplified in speech after speech.
§ The right hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) and the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) are like the counsellors of King Canute, not like King Canute himself. Maybe King Canute did not accept advice, but King Harold did. The reason why the Leader of the Opposition is no longer a credible figure, either in this country or abroad, is that he has accepted a change of policy which goes far beyond 600 the denunciation of the Tory terms—a change of policy which is illustrated by the new Clause. I cannot see how any right hon. or hon. Gentleman opposite who believes that it is to the benefit of the country to become a member of the Community can possibly bring himself to vote for the new Clause.
§ Mr. Donald Stewart (Western Isles)
I am surprised to hear the hon. Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) denounce what he sees as nationalism in those who have put forward the new Clause. I find it curious that Tories who conduct their meetings in front of a table draped with the Union flag should be opposed to any manifestation of nationalism. I intend to devote my few remarks to this question from the point of view of a Scottish Nationalist.
The hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Selwyn Gummer) argued strongly that Parliament should make the decision whether or not we should enter the EEC. Many quotations were bandied about by the hon. Gentleman and other opponents of the Clause. The only quotation which has been omitted is of what the Prime Minister said in May, 1970, about our entering with the full hearted consent of Parliament and people. He made that distinction. He did not refer only to the full hearted consent of Parliament. That betrayal, despite all the casuistry, cannot be explained away.
Detraction from sovereignty is the nub of the legislation. A Scot who has studied the history of his own nation knows what it means to Scotland to have surrendered sovereignty in 1707. I make no apology for going back to that date. The hon. Member for Flint, West, talking in the EEC jargon of forward-looking dynamic politics, backed up what he said by a reference to King Canute.
When this great debate started the Government Front Bench spokesman denied vehemently that there would be any derogation of sovereignty. As we have gone along, they have admitted that there will be. No country in the world is entirely sovereign, but surely 75 per cent. sovereignty is better than 25 per cent. sovereignty. The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) made the good point that as the debate has been going on the people have become more and more aware of 601 what is involved. As each wrapping is taken from the mummy, the people are beginning to see the dust on the dry bones in the bottom of the casket. The Government cannot go into Europe with the full hearted support of the people; they cannot go in with the full hearted consent of the Scottish people or of hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies because the majority of them, of all parties, have voted against entry.
The arguments in favour are similar to the arguments put forward in the Scottish Government in 1707, the arguments of people who have lost faith in their own nation and their own destiny. In the view of those whom I represent in Scotland, the United Kingdom is going the way of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Presently, Wales and Scotland will be self-governing countries again. Because of the opposition of the Scottish people and of Members of Parliament representing Scottish constituencies, the party I represent has served notice in Brussels that we will not be bound by any of the agreements made by this Government.
The hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston), if I may paraphrase his words, said that if we dislike any of the legislation coming from the Common Market we can simply reject it. Seven years after the Treaty of Union a tax was placed on salt, which was expressly forbidden by the Treaty. The Scottish people protested, but they were quite unable to do anything about it. That will be the position when this country goes into the Common Market.
§ Mr. Russell Johnston
I did not say that if we disliked any legislation from Brussels we could automatically reject it. I do not think that we can necessarily do so. If we enter an agreement to accept certain regulations, we must adhere to the agreement. What I said was that the Clause indicated a fundamental objection to the institutions, and that is a different matter.
§ Mr. Stewart
I ask the hon. Member's pardon if I have done him an injustice or misunderstood him. Scottish interests have never been represented in the House of Commons in a way which satisfies the people or the country. I forecast with confidence that, if we enter the EEC, in 602 a few years' time I shall be joined on these benches not only by Scottish and Welsh Nationalists, but by English Nationalists determined to take this country out of the EEC.
The Prime Minister recently said that on accession to the Community we should have a day of music and drama. I believe that a national day of humiliation and prayer would be more appropriate. If we are to have drama, I feel that when the curtain is rung down the stage instructions will be quite clear: exit Britannia. That is the future that is ahead for all of us. There is no mandate to take this country into the EEC because the people are still opposed to entry. Therefore, I support the new Clause.
§ Mr. Tom King (Bridgwater)
It is perhaps not inappropriate that I have been called to speak after the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Donald Stewart) since I represent a constituency in which the last emergents of an independent English nationalism unfortunately met a sad end—namely, at the Battle of Sedge-moor.
The hon. Gentleman expressed with considerable individual passion his belief about opposition to the Bill in Scotland. If my own contribution is lacking some of the passion and vigour of some of the contributions we have heard today, notably from my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Selwyn Gummer), it is perhaps due to the fact that the clock has a familiar look about it since it is exactly12 hours since I last rose to my feet in this Chamber. My speech on this occasion will be a little longer, since this morning I spoke for only two minutes.
The feeling that I have been here before is not connected in any way with my earlier contribution today. I have a feeling that the issues which are being discussed in the context of the new Clause are the same central issues around which debate has raged in this Chamber throughout the Committee stage of the Bill. One of the weaknesses of the Clause is that it tries to stand on two feet at the same time.
§ Mr. King
It may be a good idea, as my right hon. Friend the Member for 603 Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) says, but if neither leg is very sound it is an extremely dangerous posture.
The first of the two principles is the basic question of sovereignty. Every hon. Member has tried to master the conceptual difference between the two elements in the Clause—ultimate sovereignty and total supremacy. They are two different things which have been frequently confused in the contributions from the Opposition benches today The question of ultimate sovereignty is not in doubt. The question of total supremacy is something which must be affected by our accession to Europe.
The Opposition appear to be impaled on twin hooks of their own making. They insist that the problem of the Bill is that it is irreversible but they also insist on their intention to repeal it. Their second hook is that they challenge the sovereignty of Parliament to take the decision towards which Parliament is proceeding while at the same time claiming to be the great defenders of the sovereignty of Parliament. This argument has been destroyed very effectively by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, who made the situation clear in a spell-binding contribution. The conclusion of his argument seemed to have the opposite result to that which he appeared to deduce from it. If I quote him correctly, he said in regard to the will of the people, that if the people will, they can. Is that not the ultimate judgment on the question of irreversibility in terms of any treaty of accession?
§ Mr. Donald Stewart
Surely that situation can arise only if people break their pledged bond. Is the hon. Gentleman advocating that?
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. King
The hon. Gentleman misunderstands my argument. The argument relates to the people and to the question of who is sovereign. My right hon. Friend made the point that the sovereign will of the people is expressed through Parliament, that ultimately the will of the people will be reflected in Parliament and that what they wish to achieve they will achieve. This argument, which was forcibly made by my right hon. Friend, effectively demolished the argument of irreversibility.
604 The second half of the Clause—the second rather weak leg on which it stands—was described by the right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones) in terms of Regulation 22. He referred to the restraints on individual Governments in making separate interpretations of Community regulations.
The new Clause would fly in the face of that idea. How could it be otherwise? How can we possibly expect to move into a community, accepting common arrangements, common tariffs, common undertakings and obligations, and then to reserve for ourselves the independent and separate right to vary them as we wish? Not only do I insist that this must be an obligation recognised by us if we accede to the Community but I believe that it is an obligation which we must require and which it is essential for us to see is observed by the other countries as well. We must see that they also respect the obligation and are prevented from unilateral variation of Community regulations.
§ Mr. Raymond Fletcher (Ilkeston)
If what the hon. Gentleman says is true about the spirit and letter of the Treaty of Rome, why did every one of the original six signatories insist on annexes preserving some of those rights—in many cases even wider rights than those on which we insist in new Clause 11?
§ Mr. King
It would be quite wrong to introduce that point as an argument against the general principle that individual Governments do not have a general power—I am not here referring to separate reservations which may be entered—to made individual and separate amendments to Community regulations to suit their own situations. If we enter a community and accept certain obligations, we expect those obligations to be accepted by the other countries as well.
This regulation is as much a safeguard for us as it is an obligation upon us. That is the point which is so often missed in all these debates and in the circular argument which has gone round and round the question of our entry into the Community. We are accepting obligations. In return we are receiving obligations and benefits from others and the 605 acceptance by the other members of the responsibilities they owe to us.
It is because we must approach this matter in a constructive spirit that I endorse entirely the analogy adduced by one of my hon. Friends of the marriage service. If we entered the caveat that the marriage service did not remove from the parties the right to divorce, what a prospect that would be for the marriage. It is because we approach this matter in the knowledge that we do not lose the ultimate safeguard that we require, because we retain not total supremacy but ultimate sovereignty, that the Clause is superfluous to the Bill.
§ Mr. Raphael Tuck
The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) highlighted the fact that the validity of a law depends upon the consent of those who receive that law. In other words the political will of the people expressed through Parliament determines the supremacy of Parliament. On that the ultimate supremacy of Parliament depends. Given that political will, the sovereignty of Parliament is the keystone of our political arch. Our whole constitution is an historical growth based upon the sovereignty of Parliament. Parliament cannot bind its successor. One Parliament is able to repeal or alter Acts of a former Parliament.
If this new Clause is negatived, in my opinion a future Parliament will be unable to repeal or to alter the Bill when it becomes an Act. If that is so, Parliament is fettered and powerless and will become a mere debating society shorn of all its former powers. If my mathematics are correct, the salaries alone of hon. Members of Parliament total £2,835,000 a year. That is a lot of money for the Community to have to pay for a debating society. If the Clause is defeated, therefore, we might as well dissolve Parliament permanently. Its continued existence would be a mere sham.
I urge the Government seriously to consider this grave step. They have said time and time again that the sovereignty of Parliament will not be impaired. I call upon right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the Government side to honour that pledge and to show their sincerity by accepting the Clause.
606 The Clause is a protection. It might be termed an escape clause. How the 13 Confederate States of the United States would have loved an escape clause letting them out. How Scotland would have loved an escape clause letting her out of the treaty of 1707. How Ireland would have welcomed an escape clause allowing her to get out of the treaty of 1801.
§ Mr. Ridley
In relation to Scotland, how does it come about that only very occasionally does a Scottish Nationalist succeed in being elected to this Chamber if all the Scots are longing to get out of the treaty?
§ Mr. Tuck
I do not quite understand that intervention. Time and time again Scotland has declared that she would like to get out. That does not mean that she will do it by force. The Scottish Nationalists form an extreme sector of that community. However, we know that Scotland as a whole would like to be free from the shackles which the treaty of 1707 placed upon her.
If the Government do not accept this Clause their bland assurances have a hollow ring and, in my view, will show them to be wholly insincere.
§ Sir J. Foster
The hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Raphael Tuck) has cut across the arguments on both sides of the Committee that Parliament has sovereignty. The argument from the Opposition benches is that the Clause would merely bring into the Bill a pledge already given by my right hon. and hon. Friends.
We ought to look at what the Clause really says. One may take a legalistic view about the word "ultimate" by contrasting it with what would be penultimate sovereignty, temporary sovereignty and so on. However, in political terms we are entering the European Community and this Clause would say that we reserve the right to break our treaty obligations. That is an unattractive Clause to have in the Bill, in any event.
The reason behind it is obvious. The opponents of entry into the Community cannot accept that Parliament has endorsed the principle of entering the Community by a very respectable majority—
§ Sir J. Foster
I said that Parliament had supported the principle of entry. It is for internal political reasons that the strugle to get the Bill through has resulted in majorities not reflecting the principle supported by a large majority.
The Clause is intended to serve notice on our partners in the European Community and to other opponents in this country that we reserve the right to break our treaty obligations.
I happen to belong to the school of thought which believes that Parliament has the right to do that. However, I ought to bring to the notice of the Committee that there is a respectable school of lawyers who say that a judge will not enforce an Act of Parliament which does it. I do not belong to that school, but it exists, and Mr. Gough has written a very interesting book about it.
If a law were passed saying that no coloured person might marry a white person in this country, that would be a breach of our obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights. It would be most unattractive legislation. But the ultimate sovereignty school, to which I belong, would say that Parliament had the right to enact it. The courts have avoided this kind of clash by having a very strict rule of construction which says that unless it is clear that Parliament intended to breach our treaty obligations, our courts will not enforce a Statute which does that.
So far no legislation has been passed saying that notwithstanding our treaty with Ruritania we hereby abrogate it and say the opposite. However, there are threats from right hon. and hon. Members opposite to do that. That is why they want to embody in a Clause a right which undoubtedly exists in the last resort.
The great objection to the Clause is the political one that there should not be a Clause in a Bill saying that we reserve the right to break it. That is a breach of honour. It is a breach of one's word and of one's obligation. I am surprised that right hon. and hon. Members opposite put forward this view without any shade. They say that if the people want to break their word they should 608 have the right to do so. But if the British people are honourable, in my view they will want to abide by their given word—
§ Sir J. Foster
The word given by the Executive and supported by Parliament duly elected. I do not shrink from that.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) destroyed the argument for the new Clause. He kept on talking about the will of the people being the expression of sovereignty, yet he supports a provision which refers to the sovereignty of Parliament.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Foot
Perhaps we might have accepted the interpretation of the matter by the hon. and learned Member for Northwich (Sir J. Foster) if it had not been so constantly said by Ministers "Of course, it is open to Parliament to break its word if it wants to." That has been the principal defence which the Government have offered when we have made the charge that effective power is being transferred away from the House of Commons.
§ Sir J. Foster
It is legally true that Parliament has the right to break its word, but it is the last thing it should do. If a civilised country has entered into a treaty it should not break it although it has the legal right to do so. Therefore, the whole struggle of opponents of entry is to prevent the United Kingdom entering the Common Market in the first place.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West spoke in metaphysical terms about the right of the people. He was supporting the revolutionary theory that they would first work through both parties. I remember he was saying eloquently that the people would work through both parties and the will of the people would make itself felt. But in a civilised democracy, which we have, the will of the people is expressed through a General Election.
§ Sir J. Foster
That is what my right hon. Friend was talking about but he avoided saying it all the way through.
§ Mr. Powell
I am sure that my hon. and learned Friend wishes to be fair. I prefaced my remarks by reference to the point of time by which this Parliament would have to come to an end.
§ Sir J. Foster
I maintain that the record will show that my right hon. Friend did not say that the will of the people would be manifest through a General Election. He spoke of the will of the people acting on both parties or all parties and of that will coming through. That seemed to negate the whole point of the Clause, which refers to the purely legalistic view that Parliament can, if it so decides, determine that the United Kingdom shall break its treaties.
Incidentally, it is possible for Parliament to bind its successors. It is not difficult to draft a Bill to do so. Of course it would be contrary to the spirit of the constitution and it is rather an irrelevancy at this stage. One need only draft a Bill with the last Clause saying, "No Bill altering this Act or this Section shall be introduced into Parliament until there is a petition signed by 40 million people over the age of 21."Parliament can do that; it is sovereign. If a Bill were subsequently introduced which did not comply with that requirement, it would be ruled out of order. So it is not at all difficult to draft a Bill to that effect. Of course the commonsense answer is that it is politically impossible and contrary to the spirit of the constitution.
This is not only a legalistic debate regarding the legalistic concept of the sovereignty of Parliament. There are many different ways of looking at what "sovereignty" means. Some people say that every treaty limits our sovereignty. I say that sovereignty remains but that treaties limit our actions. When we say that we will not indulge in the slave trade, that is not limiting our sovereignty; it is saying that slavery is something we will not have.
We are entering the Common Market as a form of partnership. We are agreeing with all the other countries that we will not act on our own and that we will follow Community law. We have agreed to do so. I do not regard that as a limitation of sovereignty. I do not quarrel with the argument that one can have a system of semantics which does so. The matter is put into proper perspective if 610 one regards the treaty as an agreement between one or more States to carry out certain actions and to refrain from certain actions. No sovereignty is limited by that concept. We have the sovereignty to do it and the sovereignty to break our word.
However, it is important that the opponents of entry should realise that they are pressing for the right to break their word and for that to be spelt out in this legislation. Some people do not shrink from that. They justify it by saying "We feel that the majority of the people are against it, and that justifies us." I can understand that argument but I do not agree with it. I hope I do not sound priggish when I say that that attitude is immoral and unethical.
§ Mr. Shore
If the hon. and learned Gentleman takes the view, which most of us do, that we should not give our word lightly as a country and bind ourselves with other countries in matters which affect their welfare as well as our own, that is a solemn matter. Because it is so solemn, surely the obligation falls upon the proposers of our joining the treaty to ensure that they have the broad consent of both main parties in the land and all the people. That is the whole point. They do not have that consent.
§ Sir J. Foster
I can see that argument but it does not affect the Clause. I disagree with that argument because at the General Election it was indicated that the Conservative Party would press on with the policy of the previous Government in joining the European Community.
§ Sir J. Foster
Yes, negotiate, and after negotiation one agrees. Obviously there is no point in simply negotiating. Having negotiated and rightly gone into Europe because there was sufficient support, one cannot under the British constitution keep going back for referenda and General Elections. The Executive has been elected through Parliament to enter into the treaties.
§ Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)
The hon. and learned Gentleman is now saying that "negotiating" in the Conservatime election manifesto meant going ahead and entering. But the Prime Minister, who spoke for the Conservative 611 Party at the time of the General Election, carefully avoided going that far. The words he added were, "no more, no less", which is something quite different from what the hon. and learned Gentleman is now saying.
§ Sir J. Foster
I do not agree. I interpret the words as entitling my right hon. Friend after he had negotiated to accede to the treaty.
The whole of the General Election was founded on the principle by both parties that we should go into the Common Market. It was not envisaged that the Labour Party would turn itself round and say "We do not agree with these terms." That would negate the whole idea of the Common Market because one cannot enter the Common Market on any terms without the 1967 White Paper principles. One cannot go into the Common Market without giving supremacy to Community law and without saying that one's partners and oneself will come to the decisions. The Left wing of the Labour Party has been opposed to entry from the start, but it is impossible for the great centre and the other wing of the Labour Party consistently now to say "We do not want to have Community law as the governing law. We do not want to follow the decisions of the Community Court." ft is impossible logically to enter the Community on those terms.
Let us assume that all the Conservative terms are wrong. Whatever terms the Labour Party agreed, however, it would have to agree that it could not say, "We are going into the Community but we will reserve the right to pay no attention to anything the Community does." That is the political difficulty the Labour Party is in.
We have great speeches about this realm of England and all the traditions of thousands of years. That is a lot of emotional language which is designed to oppose the concept of entry into what I call this partnership with foreign countries. I welcome it. I can understand people saying "No, we want to keep England apart from the European Community", but their case was given away by the majority of the Labour Party.
For these reasons, the new Clause should be rejected. The main reason is a political public relations exercise. One 612 does not write into legislation to carry out a treaty "And I reserve the right to abolish it." If we put into every treaty into which we have entered—for example, for the abolition of slavery, the Declaration of Human Rights and double taxation—a Clause stating "And nothing in this treaty shall affect the right of Parliament to undo or to abrogate it" and if we specifically added "And we reserve the right to disregard any Community law which interferes with this Clause", we would find ourselves in the position referred to by the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Elystan Morgan) who was afraid that the United Kingdom would be sued for thousands of millions of pounds. I do not think that is a possible danger. The hon. Gentleman was dramatising that the United Kingdom would be responsible for breaking a treaty and would incur a good deal of odium. Having solemnly entered into a treaty, at whatever stage we may decide to give notice, we would incur a great deal of odium and the odium would be all the stronger if, from the moment it was enacted, the United Kingdom reserved its right to abolish it. Our potential partners in the EEC would point to the Clause and say "We do not think the Clause shows great sincerity, because you are still thinking of leaving the Common Market."
For those reasons, I believe that the Clause should be totally rejected.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon
I support the new Clause. I do not think it will do much harm, and it might conceivably do a great deal of good.
I agree with the hon. and learned Member for Northwich (Sir J. Foster) that the arguments for and against the Clause depend not on the psychology of the situation but on its legality. The hon. and learned Gentleman said there is a respectable body of legal opinion which suggests that Parliament can act in such a way that it can fetter its successors and limit their power to withdraw from the treaty. I beg to differ from such legal opinion, if it exists. It is clear that if Parliament passes an Act which allows us to accede to and to undertake the obligations of the Treaty of Rome, at some future date it can, if it wishes, pass an Act saying that we can withdraw.
I do not think that the Master of the Rolls, in the case quoted by my right hon. 613 and learned Friend the Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones), went as far as he suggested. It is clear from the passages in the judgment to which my right hon. and learned Friend referred that the Master of the Rolls was saying that it may be true that the power to bind successors would exist and that going into the Common Market might be an irreversible step. But he went on to say:I will assume that Mr. Blackburn"—the applicant in the case—is right in what he says on these matters. Nevertheless, I do not think that these courts can entertain these actions.The Master of the Rolls was saying that he was prepared to agree with the arguments put forward by the applicant for the purpose of that action but that he was not recording a legal opinion that the step would be irreversible. I do not think it is.
It is also clear that an equally distinguished judge, Lord Justice Salmon, who added a concurring judgment, was not making any such pronouncement, even in the form of an obiter dictum, because he said:Nor have the courts any power to interfere with the treaty-making power of the Sovereign. As to Parliament, in the present state of the law, it can enact, amend and repeal any legislation it pleases.I think that power exists, despite the provisions of Clause 2(4).
If in due course Parliament decides that it is right for the British people to withdraw, I entirely agree with the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) that if the people will, the people can, and the people can will through Parliament.
The question then arises: should we say it in the Bill? Should we make this provision plain so that people can be reassured on this matter? There is a good deal to be said for reassuring that quite large section of the British people who have reservations about going into Europe that, if the going gets as rough as my hon. Friends have been telling them for so long, they can at that stage withdraw. This would seem to give them reassurance on going in. It is not undermining their faith; it is not a suggestion that they are not wholehearted in their 614 belief in Europe. Many of them are not wholehearted in their belief in Europe.
It does not need a Clause in the Bill to tell Europe that. Europe has seen what has been going on in the political discussion on the Common Market over the last two years. It has observed the Labour Party's position on the matter. It has seen and heard a number of assertions that there will be an attempt to renegotiate the terms agreed by the Government. It does not need a Clause in the Bill to lead to a certain amount of uncertainty in Europe about what the future might hold.
The new Clause will not cast doubt upon the sincerity of Britain; it will reassure the people of this country that the sovereignty of Parliament is not being diminished by the Bill. It is not. The words "ultimate sovereignty" appear in the Clause. The hon. and learned Member for Northwich suggested that there might be a difference between "ultimate" and "penultimate" and so on. I believe that sovereignty is sovereignty.
§ Mr. Lyon
If Parliament says to some other institution "For the purpose of this area of our law-making power we will cede these powers to you to the point where we say we will take them back so that in the meantime you will be able to make laws which will be binding upon us", that is not to diminish the power of Parliament, because Parliament has given the power to that body and in due course it can take back that power if it so wishes.
Sovereignty is not simply legalism. Sovereignty is where the political power is. In the judgment to which my right hon. and learned Friend referred, the Master of the Rolls said that in 1931, in the Statute of Westminster, Parliament gave the dominions their complete independence from this country and that no one could suggest that Parliament could or would take back that power. I suggest that Parliament can but that it would not. It would not, because the plain realities of political power are that we could not enforce it.
I do not like to touch on the controversial issue between the parties concerning Rhodesia, about which I have strong feelings, but we know the limits 615 of our legislative power compared with the rôle of political power in such a situation. Clearly we would not say to Canada "We gave you independence in 1931, but we are going to take it away now" because we have not the power to enforce it. However, that does not curtail the sovereignty of this Parliament to deal with the matter if it wished. That, therefore, is the situation. Sovereignty rests with us up to the moment when physical power has taken away that sovereignty.
I am an unabashed federalist. For the purpose of argument, I am prepared to concede to those of my hon. Friends who want to make a political point out of the issue that I believe that the Community should gradually grow into a federal union in which the power is shared by all the people of the Community and is expressed in their institutions.
§ Mr. Lyon
I am prepared to accept that. I wear it as a badge of honour and not as a charge. As far as I can see, the world would be vastly improved if all nation States gradually moved towards such institutions.
I look forward to the time—I do not see it in the reasonably near future—when we shall live under a system of international government that is binding upon all the people of the world. We have not got there yet, and I see the Community simply as a stepping stone to it. That being said, however, I maintain that within that kind of institution it is not impossible to allow for the sovereignty of Parliament of the member States, up to the point where the union is so close—where the concept of the people's community is so obviously expressed and the power and the forces of the community are under the dominance of the central federal institutions—that no one would then argue, any more than we would argue with Canada, that the sovereignty of the individual States could then be taken back.
That position was reached in the American Civil War when Lincoln denied the States which had joined the union the right to withdraw—because the union had merged together to such a point that it had become inconceivable that it should break up. That position 616 in relation to Europe, however, is so far ahead that we need not consider it. Up to the point where that position began to exist there would always be the right to withdraw. As I see it, that is both the legal position and the position in terms of physical power. I merely say that the Clause would be useful in our present fevered debate about the Community in order that our people can be reassured of the legal position.
If in five, 10, or 15 years' time it became plain that, contrary to my hopes and beliefs, and consistent with the hopes and beliefs of many of my hon. Friends, the Community was not felt to be in the best interests of the British people, we could withdraw. I am certain that such an assurance would to some extent still the passions that have been aroused on this issue. Nothing has caused so much upset among the ordinary people as the feeling that we are doing something irreversible, something that we shall not be able to change. I do not believe that is true. I believe it is reversible, and I believe that our people should be reassured that it is reversible.
For that reason I am prepared to vote for the Clause, because it says no more than I believe to be the exact position.
§ Mr. Ridley
The hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) made an entirely correct and rather courageous speech, with which I found little to differ. In passing, I would say that for hon. Members to believe that the word "federalist" is a term of abuse, denoting a kind of sexual perversion, is rather shocking. I should have thought that as a member of a party that used to proclaim its internationalism—the Socialist Party—the hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins) would find nothing obnoxious in the word "federal". I do not. There are many federations in the world, and if the European Community in the end proceeded to federalism I should not object. I should welcome it.
The hon. Member for Walthamstow, West was a little disingenuous in finding, as usual, an excuse to vote against the Government although he believes in the cause that the Bill seeks to enact. It is a pity that so many hon. Members on the Opposition side who are in favour of the Bill have found convenient excuses not to 617 let their thoughts and their votes go together. I do not think it is true to say that by adding the Clause to the Bill the British people would in some way be enlightened about the true nature of the legal position in terms of sovereignty. They are not likely eagerly to pick up the Bill on the day of Royal Assent to see whether this Clause is in it. The hon. Member for York can spread the gospel in the country as he has done in the House of Commons this afternoon. What he said is clearly true.
The new Clause seems to me to be objectionable. Half of what it says is a declaration that Parliament is sovereign. That subject has been talked about so much that there is no need to add any more to the universal acceptance by the Committee that Parliament is sovereign and cannot bind its successors—exceptto say that possibly now, after hundreds of years of sovereignty, with full knowledge of the doctrine that we cannot bind our successors, solemnly to write it into the Bill in a way casts doubt upon the position and certainly casts doubt about the certainty of our own powers, doing so at this stage in our development for reasons which I feel to be inadequate.
The sense of the new Clause is that we shall not obey the articles of the treaty. the Court of Justice and the edicts and directives from Brussels if we find them inconvenient. It is wrong to mix up the two concepts—that the sovereignty of Parliament continues and that we are not going to obey the treaty if we do not like it.
As my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northwich (Sir J. Foster) said, the Clause represents a declaration in advance that we shall breach the contract if we can. We shall be entering the Community on a contract, or a partnership. Some have referred to it as a marriage. All such things are forms of contract. In a contract it is possible to have a break clause, but if there are no break clauses we accept the full implications of the contract that we sign. I believe that acceptance of the Clause would create an appallingly bad impression. We should be saying that we reserved the right to break the contract in the future.
The right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) agreed that we must 618 not break treaties, but I remind him that he himself, as President of the Board of Trade, broke the EFTA Treaty on the first occasion by the imposition of the import surcharge and on the second occasion, unless he had left office by then, by building the aluminium smelters. At any rate, his Government did that in clear breach of the EFTA treaty.
It was not as if there were a saving clause in the EFTA treaty that said that it would not be binding on us to observe it; there was an express clause in that treaty which said that it was binding upon all signatories to keep the terms of the treaty. If the right hon. Gentleman is against breaking treaties, let him first agree that we should include in the Bill no saving clause which would enable us to break the treaty in the future and, secondly, that it is better to have instruments such as the Commission and the Court, which can enforce our keeping our word—because we have not proved all that able to keep it in the past.
§ Mr. Ridley
The right hon. Gentleman may not wish to fulfil the obligations under the Treaty of Rome; most of my hon. Friends and I do. Therefore, we would not like to see any waiver in the Bill. It has been assumed in the debate that if at a later stage we wish to opt out of membership of the Community, that if in 10, 20 or 30 years' time the British people make it manifestly clear that they do not wish to continue membership, the only way to deal with that situation will be to break our Treaty obligations. I do not believe that that will be the only way. I believe that it will be possible to go to the Commission and say that we wish to negotiate our way out, just as we negotiated our way in. I grant that it will be appallingly complicated. I grant that poor terms may be available to us because we shall be the supplicants in a contract from which we are seeking to disengage, but it does not follow that we shall have to break the Treaty.
Indeed, no Government in their senses would put through a Bill revoking the Bill now before the Committee and expect 619 that everything would be ended by so doing. They would have to negotiate. We might get poor terms. If the terms were onerous, we might have to withdraw illegally, just as we have from other treaties. We broke the treaty with Portugal over Goa. We broke the EFTA treaty. We cannot be smug about treaties which we have kept but, if in the negotiations we are provoked beyond what is reasonable we may do something unreasonable. That is why the American colonies left us. Countries have gone to war against us for their independence because they believed that the maintenance of the contract was onerous and not supportable, and the ultimate right of a sovereign power, as we shall remain, is to do that.
I think that the right hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) summed it up when, in answer to an interjection about a speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever) in an earlier, similar debate, he said that the concept of sovereignty remaining with this House was unanswerable but meaningless. I want to go back to those two words. It is now agreed that our sovereignty in a legal sense remains with us and cannot be taken away. The hon. Member for York agrees. I do not know anybody, not even the hon. Member for Stepney, who has not conceded that when power to take action is diminished by the Bill that is really what the Committee is saying and what we are meaning. The right hon. Member for Stepney believes that it will be meaningless for us to try to move against that situation in the future; that having conceded some powers they have gone. I do not quarrel with that, because I believe that these powers have gone and because we are building something else which is an alternative and which will be found acceptable to the people of this country.
The hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Donald Stewart) spoke about Scotland and the Act of 1707. But in that Act there did not remain a sovereign Scottish Parliament. It was abolished, and instead the Scots took 72 seats in the House of Commons, which they still have. They gave up their sovereignty but, contrary to what the hon. Gentleman said, they have never wanted to opt out 620 of the common market between England, Scotland and Wales. Of those 72 seats, I can think of only individual occasionson which one has been occupied by a Scottish Nationalist, let alone their voting overwhelmingly for the suggestion that Scotland should break away from the United Kingdom and its succour for that country.
The Scots gave up their power as described in the Clause. We do not do that, and our position becomes stronger if we join the Common Market but, as has been said by both the supporters and the opponents of the Bill, as the years go by we shall find ourselves, our economies, our political systems and our military systems—this was the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer)—so much more integrated and so much more involved that the question of the transfer of sovereignty will become meaningless.
§ [Sir ROBERT GRANT-FERRIS in the Chair]
§ Mr. Deakins
I shall try to be fairly brief, because I know that a number of other hon. Members wish to speak and we have several other new Clauses to consider by the time the whole Committee stage is guillotined at 11 o'clock.
At long last the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) has admitted that he is a federalist. I have been warning the Committee for some time that gradually more and more of the pro-Marketeers would emerge from their lairs and declare themselves publicly to be federalists. Whatever is said about the issues discussed at the last General Election, one thing that is clear is that the issue of federalism was not put before the British people. One hopes that at the next General Election those who are federalists will have the courage of their convictions and declare themselves so and justify themselves to the British people.
The argument in this debate has been a little confused between parliamentary sovereignty, parliamentary power and the will of the people. I wish to concentrate first on the power aspect and try to separate it from the issue of sovereignty.
There can be no denying that in the Bill there is a great loss of parliamentary power. There can also be no denying 621 that in the Bill there is a great increase in power of both the Executive in Brussels and, more important, the Executive in this country because it has power to decide what needs parliamentary scrutiny and what does not.
The Bill is promulgating a new constitional doctrine, a kind of divine right of the Executive. We are discussing, not the sovereignty of Parliament, but the sovereignty of the Executive, and that sovereignty is being embodied in the Bill, both in the content of it, and in the manner in which it is beng presented to the Committee. Never before has there been a perfect Bill of this importance unable to be amended. Never before, certainly not in the two years that I have been here, has a Committee of the House been treated with such arrogant contempt by those who have to answer the detailed questions put to them in debates.
The fact is that the Bill makes major changes in constitutional practices relating to taxation and the passage of laws, and it is a bad argument to say that these issues were clearly put before the people at the last General Election. The issues that were put before them then were those of rising prices, and so on. They were domestic issues, not issues related to the Common Market and what it involved for parliamentary power.
Parliamentary financial control is one of the roots of parliamentary sovereignty. It was affirmed in the Bill of Rights of 1689, which was a Bill of Rights for Parliament. If this Bill is passed, it will be a Bill of Rights for the Executive of this country, the first time that we have had one in the history of Britain.
The Bill also weakens the principle of ministerial responsibility to Parliament, since although Ministers will still be under an obligation to come to the House from time to time to justify their actions at Brussels, Strasbourg and elsewhere, they will no longer have to go through the procedure of having to come to the House first and justify themselves in the Committee stage of legislation going through the House.
If one turns from the issue of power—and no one can deny that we are losing power—to that of sovereignty, we are told that we shall still have parliamentary sovereignty. The Pro-Marketeers are trying to get it both ways. Until 622 today the argument from the Government Front Bench and from most pro-Marketeers has been that there is no loss of parliamentary sovereignty, but we are now told by a number of right hon. and hon. Members that we shall be losing parliamentary sovereignty. It seems to me that if they cannot make up their minds the issue of parliamentary sovereignty must be a matter of grave doubt, and therefore it is all the more important that the issue should be clarified both for our purposes and for the British people.
One is all the more worried about sovereignty because of the Government's failure to include in the Bill a right of veto under the Luxembourg Agreement. That is surely a necessary safeguard of parliamentary sovereignty, because it lies with any future Executive in this country to disregard the assurances given about our power of veto and to accept an agreement made in Brussels or elsewhere which Parliament would normally have expected our Government to veto.
Once we are in the Common Market there will be a great deal of horse trading in which Parliament will play no part but the Executive will play a great deal. There is the trading of parliamentary power against the alleged economic advantages, but eventually we shall trade the reality of parliamentary sovereignty, and not merely power, if that is considered by a future Executive to be necessary.
Why are the Government so reluctant to accept the Clause? It is true that we do not have a written constitution, but if we pass the Bill we shall have a precedent for making explicit that which is implicit in the unwritten constitution, that no Parliament can bind its successors. The Government will refuse to accept the Clause for the very obvious reason that they, like the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury are increasingly of a federalist turn of mind, and believe fervently that Parliament must be weakened in order that the progress to federalism can be smooth and easy.
The next step on that path after the passage of the Bill is the acceptance of full economic and monetary union. No one can deny that that would mean further removal of parliamentary financial and legislative power. Once we are 623 enmeshed in that economic and monetary union, not the most ardent pro-Marketeer can say that parliamentary sovereignty continues to exist, even in theory. But the final steps on the road to a completely federal State in Western Europe will be much easier for the Executive to take.
Our concern for parliamentary sovereignty and rights has been scorned throughout this Committee stage. We have been treated like little children. If we point to the flaws in the Treaty of Rome and the Treaty of Accession, the Government say, "Do not mind this—look at the practice of the Communities." If we point to the flaws in the practice of the Communities we are told, "Do not mind this—we shall be able to change it all when we go in." These are not only illogical replies but are at the very lowest level of political argument.
Throughout the Committee stage, as on so many other occasions, we have been treated with supreme contempt. It was Burke who said:…a great empire and little minds go ill together.We have lost our empire, but are still ruled, and I do not refer only to politicians, by men of little minds who are bewitched by this mirage of power and prosperity across the Channel. In my opinion, they are corrupted by their own mediocrity.
Open federalists should seek to justify what is in the Bill, and the exclusion of this Clause. If the Government are federalist, as one increasingly suspects, let them say so, and let them justify it to the Committee and to the country at large. They must not pretend that we are not taking a major step and have no need to worry. The Bill, frankly, attempts to escape responsibility for deciding where sovereignty will lie in the future. If it still lies in Parliament the Government should accept the Clause. If not, as we strongly suspect, they should make clear to the British people and Parliament what is being done in their name. But the fact is that it is being done without their knowledge, and certainly without their consent.
Ultimately, under constitutional practice and procedure, the rights and sovereignty of Parliament are the rights and sovereignty of the people. To 624 undermine the one is to undermine the other, and in doing so the Government are opening the way for people to have to take their own action to defend their own rights. If Parliament fails to speak, what are the people left with except to take action themselves? Parliamentary democracy and parliamentary sovereignty are inseparably linked: if we sacrifice the one, we sacrifice the other. That is why the Committee should support the new Clause.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ The Solicitor-General (Sir Geoffrey Howe)
No one would deny that this debate has been about important issues at the heart of the matter with which we have been concerned for so many days. Some arguments have been advanced which go well beyond the new Clause, and take us back to challenge once again in principle the whole concept of accession to the Communities, as the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston) pointed out. I do not propose to spend a great deal of time on that now. When such arguments are advanced, as they were, for example, by the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Donald Stewart), one can respect their full sincerity and sense of responsibility, though one can disagree with them, but I would remind him of what the Lord Advocate had to say, now many weeks ago, about the compatibility between accession to the Treaties and the Act of Union.
As a Welsh expatriate, like the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones), I share the concern that this Committee should be acting in these proceedings on behalf of the Welsh people as on behalf of the English and Scottish people, and I can respect equally the concern of the right hon. and learned Gentleman.
I cannot, I fear, respect the way in which the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Elystan Morgan) set about denouncing in principle, root and branch, in intemperate and emotional language, the transfer and transformation of the rights of the British people, and the way in which he asserted, in terms dramatic enough to command attention outside the Committee, that we were tearing away from the people rights never wrested from them by any tyrant. That argument 625 sits uneasily in the hon. Gentleman's mouth as a member of the previous Government. It sits uneasily in his mouth to say that we are doing something indefensible by transferring the rights of this Parliament, and that the powers of legislating for the British people will have passed away, in view of what the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition acknowledged quite frankly in May, 1967, about the extent of the transfer, as we have discussed so often, of treaty and law making powers from this country. I therefore spend no more time on that statement.
§ Mr. Elystan Morgan
Perhaps the learned Solicitor-General will accept from me that if I had been a member of a Labour Government, however strange that might seem, which had brought in a Bill of this nature, I would have tendered my resignation.
§ The Solicitor-General
I do not wish to speak intemperately, but that will not do, in fact, because, however and in whatever form or under whatever Government accession to the Communities was prepared, it would have had to make provision for transfer in the terms outlined by the Leader of the Opposition of a certain degree of legislative and other powers from this House of Commons, as the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) has always asserted. There is no point in trying to conceal that. Therefore, it is not strictly acceptable to me for the hon. Member for Cardigan to denounce that which was inescapable.
The right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South, with characteristic tranquility, uttered the same sentiment when he spoke of his harkening now to a requiem to parliamentary sovereignty. If it is indeed a requiem—and, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows, requiems can be cheerful as well as cheerless in certain circumstances—it is one which he helped to compose, and which, had he been in office, he would now have been helping to conduct. But the right hon. and learned Gentleman had other arguments of some substance to which I shall refer later.
The hon. Member for Cardigan advanced other arguments which generate, or can generate, fears which are wholly unworthy, and which actually serve to 626 demonstrate the reality rather than the fantasy of what we are about. He said that if we were to withdraw from the Treaty of Accession we would face incalculable claims for damages, and in answer to that statement one asks: who would enforce such claims for damages, and how? It is the absence of any realistic or compelling answer to that question that underlines the reality as opposed to the fantasy. If the hon. Gentleman is right in saying that, how could the mere enactment of a domestic provision along the lines of the new Clause affect those fearful organs that would pounce upon us from outside. It does not relate to what is going on.
§ The Solicitor-General
The right hon. Gentleman knows something about actions in breach of treaties. No one has ever sought to challenge that. That is why we are all regarding this as a massively important Measure and why it has been debated and discussed by successive Governments for so long.
Taking up another point made by the hon. Member for Cardigan when he embarked upon his description of Her Majesty's judges being dragged away from their oaths of loyalty to the Sovereign, again that will not do. The accession to the Communities, as the righthon. and noble Lord, Lord Gardiner pointed out in 1967, is in itself an exercise of parliamentary sovereignty. Parliament, with the Crown to which the judges have taken their oaths, is by this enactment making changes in our law allowing us to accede to the Treaties. The hon. Gentleman's argument was beside the point.
The right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South was right to focus upon the heart of the matter—although I do not agree altogether with his presentation of it—when he said that the hear of the matter was how to reconcile the irreconcilable, the supremacy of Community law with the sovereignty of Parliament. Those are certainly the two factors that this country has always had to balance in a way uniquely different from 627 other countries in approaching its membership of the Community. But they are not in the end irreconcilable. This is a task which would have had to be undertaken by any Government that succeeded in negotiating access to the Communities. The Clause will not help in the reconciliation.
§ The Solicitor-General
I shall answer that question. I am delighted to find the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson) uncharacteristically impatient to listen to what I shall say.
The Clause will not help because the first part of it contains, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) pointed out, a fatal paradox—I shall explain that again shortly—sufficient to make the first part of the Clause futile, as he said, and really a hollow sham. The second part of the Clause, as has been pointed out by a number of my hon. Friends, particularly my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northwich (Sir J. Foster) is itself quite irreconcilable with the Treaty obligations.
What is the position concerning the ultimate supremacy of Parliament? I suggest to the Committee—and this is consistent with what we have all been saying, from the Government side of the Committee, from the beginning of these debates—that the position is that the ultimate supremacy of Parliament will not be affected, and it will not be affected because it cannot be affected. If one returns to everything that has been said by successive Lord Chancellors about this, one finds that way back on 2nd August, 1962, my right hon. and noble Friend Lord Dilhorne said:Parliament could repeal the Act applying these Treaties; it cannot be prevented from doing so. But it must be recognised that, in International Law, such a step could be justified only in exceptional circumstances; and if it were taken without such justification, and without the approval of other member countries, it would be a breach of the international obligations assumed on entry into the Common Market."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 2nd August, 1962; Vol. 243, c. 421–2.]The same sort of impossibility, in theoretical terms, was echoed by the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, on 8th May, 1967, when he said: 628There is in theory no constitutional means available to us to make it certain that no future Parliament would enact legislation in conflict with Community law. It would, however, be unprofitable to speculate upon the academic possibility of a future Parliament enacting legislation expressly designed to have that effect."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 8th May, 1967; Vol. 282, c. 1203.]Finally in this line of distinguished occupants of the Woolsack, my right hon. and noble Friend Lord Hailsham said on 27th July last year:If we enter, we enter without thought of going back, as the others have entered and stay in without thought of going back. But we will remain as the others remain, sovereign. We are not in the habit of going back on our word. We do not treat treaties as scraps of paper; but we have always in practice had the power to do so, since power is a question of fact and power is the reality of sovereignty."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 27th July, 1971; Vol. 323, c. 203.]That is why whatever the Clause sought to say would make it, in the last resort, a hollow sham.
With respect to the arguments advanced by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northwich, I do not dismiss what he said absolutely, but on balance I should have thought that if the Clause were to say, "This Act cannot be repealed", that would, in the last resort, be an empty sham. I know that there are respectable arguments to the contrary—I do not wish to go into them now—but on balance that seems the better view.
Equally, if we were to say, "This Act can be repealed", it would be a pointless exercise because what the House of Commons says about the nature of its sovereignty can scarcely affect what is one of the ground rules of our constitutional system. An article by Professor H. W. R. Wade, cited in the judgment of Lord Denning which the right hon. and learned Gentleman quoted, says:If no statute can establish the rule that the courts obey Acts of Parliament, similarly no statute can alter or abolish that rule. The rule is above any beyond the reach of statute…because it is itself the source of the authority of statute. This puts it into a class by itself among rules of common law, and the apparent paradox that it is unalterable by Parliament turns out to be a truism.…Legislation owes its authority to the rule: the rule does not owe its authority to legislation.That is the underlying reality and why the first part of the Clause cannot affect the position. That is the reality of which Lord Denning, and Lord Sankey too. 629 spoke in the British Coal Corporation case.
I do no resile from the analysis of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West of the foundation upon which the will of the people is based in the last resort. It is that from which we derive our sovereignty and which gives us a due sense of responsibility. But that will is expressed through ourselves as their elected representatives. That is why our democracy is a representative rather than a direct democracy, And that will having been expressed in Acts of Parliament is then regarded by the courts as the structure upon which on constitution depends.
It is worth reminding the Committee that Lord Diplock, in his talk on 1st December last year to the Association of Teachers of Public Law said, representing the reality:If The Queen in Parliament were to make laws which were in conflict with this country's obligations under the Treaty of Rome, those laws, and not the conflicting provisions of the Treaty, would be given effect to as the domestic law of the United Kingdom.That is a proposition I asserted during the debate on Clause 3, and that is the sovereignty which is being exercised here and now, with the support of successive Parliaments, this Parliament supporting successive Governments on behalf of the people of this country, as we believe and as many hon. Members on both sides of the Committee believe, for their greater advantage.
My hon. Friend the Member for Chertsey (Mr. Grylls), my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Selwyn Gummer) and the hon. Member for Inverness have all asserted that that is the way in which we exercise our sovereignty. The same proposition was well put long ago by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. This is where we come back to 8th November, 1962, and I take the opportunity of paying tribute to the right hon. Gentleman's consistency on this matter. He said then:I hope that there is no doubt where we stand on this issue. Our position is that if we can get the terms, then we go in.The third thing which I must say—and it is perhaps a pity that I need say it, but our position has been misrepresented so much—is that our attitude is not based on national sovereignty. We are not clinging like woad-painted aboriginal Britons to outmoded concepts of national sovereignty.630 The right hon. Gentleman went back even further when he said:In our first debate in August, 1961, I said: 'The question is not whether sovereignty remains absolute or not, but in what way one is prepared to sacrifice sovereignty, to whom and for what purpose. That is the real issue before us. The question is whether any proposed surrender of sovereignty will advance or retard our progress to the kind of world we all want to see.' That has been our attitude right through."—[Official Report, 8th November, 1962, Vol. 666; c. 1271.]By joining the Communities on this basis and upon that judgment, which Parliament has made on so many occasions as to the balance of advantage and disadvantage, we must accept, as was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer), that the system of the Community provides for the supremacy of Community law, and inevitably for the uniformity of that system of Community law.
§ [Mr. JOHN BREWIS in the Chair]
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ It is to our advantage as much as to the advantage of other members of the Community that it should be uniformly applied. The workability of such a system depends upon the acceptance of decisions by the European Court of Justice and of decisions, within the scope of the Treaty and lawfully arrived at, of the institutions. Yet it is that which the second half of the Clause seeks to set aside.
§ It is for that reason that the second part of the Clause would be, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northwich pointed out, a breach of honour, a breach of obligation, inevitably arising from the Treaties—an attempt in one and the same Bill to set aside what follows, as the hon. Member for Cardigan pointed out, from Clause 2(4) and Clause 3(1), an inconsistent provision sitting alongside them; and it would be positively misleading to those on whose behalf we seek to enact the legislation.
§ How can we in this context seek to write in as it were a blanket exclusion Clause at the end of legislation designed to put us into the position to implement our obligations? It is not only in the context of the marriage contract that that kind of thing is unacceptable.
§ I do not under-estimate the importance of what the Committee, the House of Commons, and Parliament have been 631 about throughout all these long debates. I hope I shall be forgiven for saying that it was my duty to consider the way in which we set about implementing these obligations and putting ourselves into the position to do so; and I hope that I did so. I certainly did not do it without being aware of the responsibilities which rested upon me. I read the book containing the collected speeches of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, and with the help of many people studied most of the articles and propositions that have been advanced by hon. Members on both sides of the House of Commons in the course of the debates.
At the end of all that, I believe, and the Government believe, that in law and in policy the way in which the Bill seeks to fulfil these tasks is a correct and effective way of doing it. Certainly I assert, and I think that it is important to assert, that we are doing this—again I hope to be forgiven for quoting words used by the Leader of the Opposition when he was Prime Minister—
to create a new unity…a unity the greater and more real because it builds on, and does not reject, the rich diversity of those nation States whose national aspirations, culture and characteristics will become more vigorous and more fruitful by being welded together in a wider outward-looking unity inspired by a common purpose and a common resolve for peace."—[Official Report, 8th May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 1097.]
§ It is not an unworthy end. The Bill will not be assisted in fulfilling it by the addition of the Clause.
§ Mr. Ronald King Murray (Edinburgh, Leith)
This is obviously an occasion for declarations. The Solicitor-General has at least accepted that it is an occasion for him to make a declaration of his responsibility for the terms of the Bill. We respect him for that. Perhaps he will take the inclination for express declaration just one stage further and follow the logic of his own argument by accepting the Clause, not merely in principle but as a useful addition to the Bill.
It is not in dispute in the debate that the provisions of the Bill make substantial inroads into the sovereign power of Parliament, into its power of decision and its power of control. That is common ground, although I suspect it is a matter that has been giving the right hon. and 632 learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) some doubts.
The substance of sovereignty is, at this stage of the Committee proceedings, past praying for. The hope at this stage is that something of the essential form of sovereignty can yet be salvaged. So the Clause seeks to save the ultimate legal sovereignty of Parliament by express reservation of it. The argument is that express reservation is legally desirable, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones) put it, for the avoidance of doubt.
I could not hope to add to the eloquent and forceful case pressed by my right hon. and learned Friend as to why this declaration of sovereignty should be embodied in our internal law for the benefit of the citizens of the United Kingdom. I may perhaps add a footnote dealing with the reasons why this declaration is also desirable in terms of our external legal relations. Here I tend rather, to my surprise, to agree with the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) than with my hon. Friend the Member for Cardigan (Mr. Elystan Morgan), because I believe that my hon. Friend perhaps exaggerated the extent to which a change in the Community arrangements can be made without breach of the treaties if it is made in the right way.
Paragraph 22 of the 1967 White Paper dealt with the manner in which the writ of Community instruments would run in this land after entry. It proceeded:These instruments, like ordinary delegated legislation, would derive their force under the law of the United Kingdom from the original enactment passed by Parliament.The corollary is that, if Parliament could and did repeal the Bill, all Community law would cease to have legal effect in this country. I take it that the Solicitor-General has conceded that.
That might be constitutionally permissible but yet repugnant to the European Court. Hence the wording of the Clause. It is because of our anxiety that we should face this apparent conflict between the power of the European Court and the ultimate sovereignty of the House of Commons that the wording of the Clause stands as it does.
We on this side are not ashamed of the paradox that it presents because. 633 as the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) recognised, the paradox is a real one and not an abstract one. We on this side believe that we should face fairly and squarely the possibility of such conflict between sovereignty and the Community's writ—indeed, that we owe it to our future partners in Europe to declare ourselves openly and frankly on this matter.
How does the external legal position stand then? Article 240 of the Treaty of Rome states:The Treaty is concluded for an unlimited period.It is for ever. It is not like a partnership, despite what the hon. and learned Member for Northwich (Sir J. Foster) said, because the analogy on which the hon. and learned Member founded the analogy of partnership, will not suffice. Partnerships can be dissolved by unilateral act. Nobody is suggesting that that can be done in the case of the Community. The treaty, then, is for ever. It provides no machinery for secession. It provides no machinery for denunciation.
I say that there is nothing particularly unusual about international treaties which are intended to be binding nevertheless containing provisions under which those treaties can be dissolved, altered or denounced or by which members can withdraw from them. That does not prevent international treaties from being forged and being maintained honourably.
We are asking for no more and no less than that. There is no provision in the Treaty of Rome for unilateral withdrawal. Equally there is no formal sanction against such withdrawal. Again, I agree with the Solicitor-General's view and disagree with that of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardigan.
The treaties can be amended. They have been amended—Article 203 is a case in point—by agreement. No doubt withdrawal by a member State agreed to by its partners could be legally effected by amendment of the treaties. It would be subject to a single veto. Dissent by a single member State would make the withdrawal illegal at international law.
To avoid the stigma of a breach of international law of this kind, we would have to negotiate our way out; and this could prove at least as difficult—I should have thought very much more difficult— 634 than negotiating our way in. We might make the process easier—it certainly could not make it more difficult—by an express declaration of ultimate sovereignty in terms of the Clause. It would be the honest and straightforward way of dealing with our future European partners, particularly in view of what has been said from time to time by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster about the veto and about vital national interests.
The 1971 White Paper said:If unacceptable situations arise the very survival of the Community would demand that the institutions find an equitable solution.The corollary of that must be that the right is recognised for a member State to withdraw honourably and legally. That is all that the Clause asserts and it does it openly and honestly. No real criticism has been made the Clause concerning its drafting or its effects. The criticism is criticism of style and the suggestion, which I hope I have refuted, that it somehow impugns our honourable intentions of maintaining an agreement to which we are bound.
The Government and their supporters are on the horns of a dilemma. Either the Clause is unexceptionable in what it contains, in which case it should be accepted; or it is objectionable. But if it is objectionable the Government must reject the assurances of their Ministers to the same effect which have been made not once but repeatedly. The Ministers are tied by their own words. They must accept the Clause. The Solicitor-General did not depart from the pattern.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
Will the hon. and learned Member deal with this point? This is what troubles me about the new Clause. If there were to be a withdrawal from the Community by agreement, or if the Community were to be dissolved by mutual consent, clearly there could be no difficulty in the exercise of the sovereignty of Parliament to repeal the Act, irrespective of whether the new Clause says anything about it. If on the other hand there is no such agreement to our departure from the Community, would not the exercise by Parliament of its constitutional rights involve necessarily a breach of international obligation, and is not this a dilemma which is not resolved by putting into the Bill a declaratory new Clause 635 which could be fulfilled only in the relevant circumstances by breach of international obligations? That is an inescapable dilemma which I have indicated now for about 10 years. I do not feel very happy about the way in which the Clause seeks to resolve it.
§ Mr. Murray
I understand the right hon. and learned Gentleman's difficulty and we appreciate the consistency and clarity with which he has put his view. I do not pretend that the new Clause resolves the difficulty, but it is more honest and frank. It at least states the position, as we on this side regard it, clearly and honestly. It gives fair and reasonable notice to our future partners in Europe about where we stand on the matter.
§ Mr. English
Is not the answer to the question by the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker Smith), as I believe has happened with other treaties ratified by Measures of this character, that were the Clause to be accepted it would be possible for Her Majesty's Government when ratifying their accession to the Treaty of Rome to insert in the ratification provision a statement similar to that which would have been put into the Bill by the new Clause? Would not that have the effect in international law that we desire?
§ Mr. Murray
My hon. Friend has made a useful suggestion. The paradox facing the Government, however, is how it can be right for the words which are substantially those of the new Clause to be correct in the mouths of Ministers but wrong when added to the Bill.
To me the most compelling argument for the express reservation of sovereignty in the Bill is not so much legal or constitutional, but political. This country has no written constitution and no constitutional guarantees. The protection of the people against political oppression and against financial imposition—they are both vitally important in connection with the Common Market—is the sovereignty of Parliament, because it is the sovereignty of the people that is entrusted to the House of Commons. It is that sovereignty which protects the people of this land against tyrants at home and oppressors abroad. The House of Commons is an 636 instrument of the people's sovereignty; it is not the people's master. John Stuart Mill put the point a century ago in his essay on representative government.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom King
At the end of this long Committee stage, is not the hon. and learned Gentleman in confusion in what he says about the ability to protect the inhabitants of this land? Is he yet again failing to distinguish between omnipotence and sovereignty?
§ Mr. Murray
Perhaps if the hon. Member listens he will see what John Stuart Mill had to say on the subject. It is more relevant. He said:There is no difficulty in showing that the ideally best form of government is that in which the sovereignty, or supreme controlling power in the last resort, is vested in the entire aggregate of the community; every citizen not only having a voice in the exercise of that ultimate sovereignty, but being, a least occasionally, called on to take an actual part".When it is true to that ideal Parliament fulfils its trust to the people. The new Clause would allow the pledge of that trust to be redeemed, mortgaged as it is in the Bill in security for the onerous terms of entry which we owe to the Community.
No doubt with that trust in mind the Prime Minister made entry subject to the full-hearted consent of Parliament and people. It follows from that, does it not, that express reservation of sovereignty in terms of the Clause is a direct moral obligation upon the Government in view of that express undertaking? But the Prime Minister has already defaulted on that promissory note. He said last year:I have always made it absolutely plain to the British people that consent to this course"—that is, consent to entry—would be given by Parliament…Parliament is the Parliament of all the people."—[Official Report, 28th October, 1971; Vol. 823, c. 2212.]He had already forgoten the people and he had moved on to Parliament becauseParliament is the Parliament of all the people".The next stage, following the inexorable logic of repeated marginal majorities in the Committee stage, would be to forget Parliament and to go for the full-hearted consent of the Government because it is the Government of all the 637 people. Perhaps the consent is more full-hearted in No. 10 Downing Street than elsewhere in the Government.
The Prime Minister has already broken the trust given by that undertaking, and he has forgotten the people. "Our sovereign, the people" are the words of the toast by which Charles James Fox lost his membership of the Privy Council in 1798. We on the Opposition side cannot accept that we can substitute for the consent of the people the full-hearted consent of one Prime Minister.
§ Mr. Douglas Dodds-Parker (Cheltenham)
I was quite willing to go straight to the vote but I saw an hon. Member on the Oppositionside rise to speak. If he wants to continue the debate I am prepared to respond, I hope in moderate terms, to some of the insults by the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Ronald King Murray). If anyone has broken a trust it is the Leader of the Opposition who has put in such little appearance in our debates in the recent months. [Hon. Members: "What about the Prime Minister?"] My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has other duties which are not like those of the Leader of the Opposition, who is going about spending most of his time writing memoirs about his so-called colleagues and avoiding his duties in the House. Whenever I have been a member of the Opposition, my leader has always been in attendance on important matters.
The hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins) spoke about arrogant contempt. He should have seen particularly the 1945 Parliament and the "We are the masters now" attitude. I saw a Socialist Law Officer of the Crown make that statement from the Front Bench. I recall the arrogant contempt with which the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), who is now the Shadow Leader of the House, used to deal with his right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) during the last Parliament. One had only to watch the hon. Gentleman when he was leader of the "no-go area" below the Gangway to understand what arrogance and contempt was. I am not surprised that he leads the Opposition now.
I do not wish to take up the time of the Committee—[Hon. Members: "Then 638 sit down."] I have been waiting here the whole afternoon—
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
So have I, which is more than many other hon. Members can say. I have waited hoping that I could speak before the winding-up speeches came, and I have some observations to deliver. The new Clause challenges the whole concept of the United Kingdom joining the Community. That is what is intended, as the hon. and learned Member for Leith made clear.
We are back to square one. I do not mind. I have no quarrel with those hon. Members on both sides who have objected, some over many years, to our joining the Community. They have argued again the issue of sovereignty, but that argument was destroyed by my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General in his speech a few minutes ago.
In 1945 Parliament transferred from the Government of this country to NATO decisions which have been of far more significance in the last 25 years, in my view, than the transfer of economic power now proposed can ever be. I often wonder whether right hon. and hon. Members opposite really believe that they can go it alone, or whether they have some other proposal for the way this country should face the future without entering into more co-operative ways of working. What has happened to the £ over recent years, and especially over the past few weeks, stresses again the need for a far more settled and ready way of working together within Western Europe if we are to protect our currency.
It is a pity that hon. Members on the Opposition side exaggerate. They do not strengthen their case. We recall what was said by those who supported entry in 1967 and 1970, above all by the right hon. Member for Stepney, who was then a Cabinet Minister. Time and again he has avoided answering the question: how could he make the statements which he now makes when he was at that time a member of the Government and supported the 1967 White Paper, making a number of speeches in support of his right hon. Friend who is now the Leader of the Opposition?
639 We have heard from the Opposition that they will not break treaties but will renegotiate them. I am not too unhappy about that, because I remember how they said they would renegotiate the Nassau agreement, and I am delighted to know that the Nassau agreement still remains.
The Opposition's speeches have presented a travesty of the future conditions in which hon. Members on both sides will work together with our European friends. I am one of those—we come from both sides—who have the privilege of attending several of the international assemblies, and I know what the reaction is to the sort of speeches which hon. Members opposite now make, especially among the Social Democrats who, since the end of the war, have been looking to the British Labour Party for a lead in building Europe and to this country for a lead in building institutions to maintain freedom under the law. The speeches we have heard today from the Opposition will be no help whatever.
As my right hon. and hon. Friends have said—some hon. Members opposite have made the same point—we may have a diminution of sovereignty but the correct way to look at it is that we are pooling sovereignty. That is the way it has often been expressed. We are going into a partnership in which this country, without arrogance and without contempt, may play a useful and constructive part.
§ Mr. Denzil Davies
I shall not detain the Committee, and I shall keep to the terms of the Clause, unlike the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Dodds-Parker).
When I played a small part in the preparation of the new Clause, I did not expect that it would cause such excitement among the poor Europeans. In my naive way, I thought that the Clause would do no more than incorporate into the Bill words which had been uttered time and again by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. I imagine that the right hon. and learned Gentleman must feel a little slighted to find that his hon. Friends do not want to see those hallowed words of his incorporated in legislation. One wonders why not. Why do not the poor Europeans want to take this final step of incorporating in the Bill assurances which the Government have given?
640 As I read it, the Clause is in no sense an attempt to torpedo the idea of our entry into the Common Market. On the contrary, it is an attempt, in the light of the assurances given, to resolve any future doubt which might arise in the mind of the judiciary when interpreting the Bill. We have heard a lot about sovereignty, and I do not want to go over that argument again, but I hope that the Committee realises that sovereignty is a legal concept, too, and the question is: how will the courts of this country interpret the Bill, and how will they interpret future Acts possibly designed to repeal or substantially modify it?
Although this Parliament may do what it likes, it is the courts of this country, and ultimately the European courts, which will decide whether later legislation is to take precedence over former. For this purpose, in order, so to speak, to make the matter clear to the judges—not only our own judges who are familiar with the doctrine that Parliament cannot fetter its future actions but the European judges, too—this Parliament should make clear that future legislation shall not be encumbered or restricted by the present Bill.
If the Government had introduce a different Bill, it might not have been necessary to insert these words. However, after long consideration and discussion in Committee, it is by no means clear to me, whatever the views of eminent lawyers may be, that a future Measure seeking substantially to modify this Bill would take precedence over it in our courts and the courts of Europe.
I was surprised to hear the Solicitor-General referring to the declaration by Lord Diplock, I think it was, in 1962. I cannot remember his words exactly, but I understand that Lord Diplock said something about future legislation overriding any obligations under the treaty and being enforceable in our courts.
§ The Solicitor-General
I want to be sure that there is no misunderstanding of fact. The quotations I made from 1962 came, one, from the Leader of the Opposition, and, two, from Lord Dilhorne. The quotation from Lord Diplock was December, 1971.
§ Mr. Davies
All right, December, 1971. But I understood the Solicitor-General 641 to say that Lord Diplock meant that if a future Act of Parliament contravened an obligation arising under the treaty, the courts of this country would give precedence to and would enforce the later Act of Parliament as opposed to the obligation under the treaty. That is how I understood what Lord Diplock had said in 1971, according to the Solicitor-General.
Later in his speech, the Solicitor-General said, "Of course, Community law is superior in these matters. Community law takes precedence in these cases". He has drafted a Bill—or the parliamentary draftsmen have drafted it—from that standpoint. Clause 2(4) makes clear that any future enactment shall take effect subject to this Bill. By Clause 3 we are told that the courts of this country must take into account the principles laid down by the European Court of Justice.
Thus, the Government have drafted a Bill which, on the face of it, is designed to limit the future ability of Parliament to repeal this legislation. To say that Lord Diplock said that it could not be done and then bring in a Bill which seeks to do it, whether it can do it or not, is a complete paradox in the Solicitor-General's argument.
This is the kind of confusion which will arise and which the Clause seeks to do away with. It tells the judges, "You are not sure whether a later Act takes priority over this Act. That doubt is resolved for you," because it tells the judges that in a matter of doubt the sovereignty of Parliament always overrides in the ultimate. The purpose of the Clause is to resolve the kind of doubt which arises from the legislation.
The Solicitor-General said that if we were to pass legislation which had the effect of taking us out of the Rome Treaty the payment of damages could not be enforced. The Clause is intended to enable us to withdraw legally from the Treaty of Rome, because any European judge, looking at a future Act, would have to interpret that Act on the basis of the sovereignty of Parliament. But if the Clause is not accepted, the European Court—and the final arbiter would be the European Court—would seek to say, "The earlier Act takes precedence over 642 the later Act," and then we shall be in the position of breaking our treaty obligations.
The Solicitor-General said that damages could not be enforced, but he did not deny that if we broke our treaty obligations damages could be asked from us or we would be liable to pay damages. I should not be so sure that some of those damages could not be enforced, because we are not living in a simple peasant society in which we have no trading relationships with Europe. What about the British subsidiaries in Europe? What about their assets? What about royalty agreements and payments of money arising under European agreements? Why could not the European Court sequestrate those assets in Europe in order to exact damages or raise tariff barriers against us in order to seek to obtain those damages from us because of our breach of obligations? We should not dismiss this matter as lightly as the Solicitor-General sought to dismiss it.
The fear of damages will prevent us from passing that kind of legislation. I do not know the history of the Concorde project, but it has been suggested in the newspapers that perhaps one reason why we did not feel impelled to break our obligation was that we might be sued by the French in the International Court of Justice. I do not know whether there is any truth in that. But Parliament, if it were to seek to repeal this legislation, would have to consider the effect, not only of damages being called from, but of damages being extracted from, our European trading organisations.
The Government do not want to include the Clause in the Bill. One is left with the suspicion, as happens so often in these debates, that they make statements at the Dispatch Box, but when it comes to the point and they are asked to incorporate the effect of those statements in legislation they will not do so. This calls their credibility into account.
At the election, the Prime Minister said that we would not enter the Community without the full-hearted consent of the British people. He has refused to honour that pledge. He said that we would only negotiate—no more, no less. He has refused to honour that pledge. Now the Solicitor-General has said time and again that there will be no derogation of 643 sovereignty. When we ask him to put that in the legislation, he is afraid to do so because it is another pledge which he knows he cannot honour.
§ Question put, That the Clause be read a Second time:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 265, Noes 278.647
|Division No. 267.]||AYES||[8.5 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Ewing, Henry||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Faulds, Andrew||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Allen, Scholefield||Fell, Anthony||McBride, Neil|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||McCartney, Hugh|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||McElhone, Frank|
|Ashley, Jack||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||McGuire, Michael|
|Ashton, Joe||Foley, Maurice||Mackenzie, Gregor|
|Atkinson, Norman||Foot, Michael||Mackie, John|
|Bagier, Gordon, A. T.||Ford, Ben||Mackintosh, John P.|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Forrester, John||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)|
|Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton)||Fraser, John (Norwood)||McNamara, J. Kevin|
|Baxter, William||Freeson, Reginald||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Garrett, W. E.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Gilbert, Dr. John||Marquand, David|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)||Marsden, F.|
|Biffen, John||Golding, John||Marshall, Dr. Edmund|
|Bishop, E. S.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||Marten, Neil|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Gourlay, Harry||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Body, Richard||Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Booth, Albert||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Mendelson, John|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Bradley, Tom||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Millan, Bruce|
|Brown, Robert C. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne, W.)||Hamling, William||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Hardy, Peter||Milne, Edward|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)|
|Buchan, Norman||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||Moate, Roger|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Hattersley, Roy||Molyneaux, James|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Heffer, Eric S.||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire,W.)||Hilton, W. S.||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Cant, R. B.||Hooson, Emlyn||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Horam, John||Moyle, Roland|
|Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Murray, Ronald King|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Huckfield, Leslie||Oakes, Gordon|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Ogden, Eric|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Cohen, Stanley||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)||O'Malley, Brian|
|Coleman, Donald||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Oram, Bert|
|Concannon, J. D.||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Orbach, Maurice|
|Conlan, Bernard||Irvine,Rt.Hn.SirArthur(Edge Hill)||Orme, Stanley|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Janner, Greville||Oswald, Thomas|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Cronin, John||Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Padley, Walter|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Paget, R. T.|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)||John, Brynmor||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||Perry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Davidson, Arthur||Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Pentland, Norman|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Judd, Frank||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Kaufman, Gerald||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.|
|Deakins, Eric||Kelley, Richard||Prescott, John|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Kerr, Russell||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Kilfedder, James||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Kinnock, Neil||Probert, Arthur|
|Doig, Peter||Lambie, David||Rankin, John|
|Dormand, J. D.||Lamborn, Harry||Reed, D. (Sedgefield)|
|Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Lamond, James||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Leadbitter, Ted||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Driberg, Tom||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Richard, Ivor|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Leonard, Dick||Roberts,Rt.Hn.Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Dunn, James A.||Lestor, Miss Joan||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold||Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Edelman, Maurice||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Roper, John|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Rose, Paul B.|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Lipton, Marcus||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)|
|Ellis, Tom||Lomas, Kenneth||Rowlands, Ted|
|English, Michael||Loughlin, Charles||Sandelson, Neville|
|Evans, Fred||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley||White, James (Glasgow, Pollock)|
|Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)||Swain, Thomas||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)||Thomas,Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff,W.)||Whitlock, William|
|Silverman, Julius||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Skinner, Dennis||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Small, William||Torney, Tom||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)||Tuck, Raphael||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Spearing, Nigel||Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Spriggs, Leslie||Urwin, T. W.||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Stallard, A. W.||Varley, Eric G.||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)||Woof, Robert|
|Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)||Wallace. George|
|Stoddart, David (Swindon)||Watkins, David||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John||Weitzman, David||Mr. Joseph Harper and and Mr. James Hamilton.|
|Strang, Gavin||Wellbeloved, James|
|Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Adley, Robert||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Eden, Sir John||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Kimball, Marcus|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)|
|Astor, John||Emery, Peter||King, Tom (Bridgwater)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Eyre, Reginald||Kinsey, J. R.|
|Awdry, Daniel||Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Kirk, Peter|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Fidler, Michael||Knight, Mrs. Jill|
|Balniel, Lord||Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Lambton, Lord|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Fisher, Nigel, (Surbiton)||Lamont, Norman|
|Batsford, Brian||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Lane, David|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Fookes, Miss Janet||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Foster, Sir John||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Benyon, W.||Fowler, Norman||Le Merchant, Spencer|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Fry, Peter||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||Lloyd,Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)|
|Blaker, Peter||Gardner, Edward||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Gibson-Watt, David||Longden, Gilbert|
|Boscawen, Robert||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Loveridge, John|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Glyn, Dr. Alan||Luce, R. N.|
|Bowden, Andrew||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Braine, Bernard||Goodhart, Philip||MacArthur, Ian|
|Bray, Ronald||Goodhew, Victor||McCrindle, R. A.|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Gorst, John||McLaren, Martin|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Gower, Raymond||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Gray, Hamish||McNair-Wilson, Michael|
|Bryan, Paul||Green, Alan||Maddan, Martin|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M)||Grieve, Percy||Madel, David|
|Burden, F. A.||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Grylls, Michael||Mather, Carol|
|Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray&Nairn)||Gummer, Selwyn||Maude, Angus|
|Carlisle, Mark||Gurden, Harold||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||Mawby, Ray|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Channon, Paul||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Hannam, John (Exeter)||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Churchill, W. S.||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Mitchell, Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire,W)|
|Clark, William (Surrey, E.)||Haselhurst, Alan||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Hastings, Stephen||Money, Ernle|
|Clegg, Walter||Havers, Michael||Monks, Mrs. Connie|
|Cockeram, Eric||Hawkins, Paul||Monro, Hector|
|Cooke, Robert||Heseltine, Michael||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Coombs, Derek||Higgins, Terence L.||More, Jasper|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hiley, Joseph||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)|
|Cordle, John||Hill, James (Southampton, Test)||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.|
|Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Holland, Philip||Morrison, Charles|
|Cormack, Patrick||Holt, Miss Mary||Mudd, David|
|Costain, A. P.||Hordern, Peter||Murton, Oscar|
|Critchley, Julian||Hornby, Richard||Neave, Airey|
|Crouch, David||Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Crowder, F. P.||Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Howell, David (Guildford)||Normanton, Tom|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Nott, John|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hunt, John||Onslow, Cranley|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid,Maj.-Gen. James||Iremonger, T. L.||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally|
|Dean, Paul||James, David||Osborn, John|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Jessel, Toby||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Dixon, Piers||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Pardoe, John|
|Drayson, G. B.||Jopling, Michael||Parkinson, Cecil|
|Peel, John||Shelton, William (Clapham)||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Percival, Ian||Simeons, Charles||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Peyton, Rt. Hn. John||Sinclair, Sir George||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Pike, Miss Mervyn||Skeet, T. H. H.||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Pink, R. Bonner||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)||Waddington, David|
|Pounder, Rafton||Soref, Harold||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Price, David (Eastleigh)||Speed, Keith||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)|
|Proudfoot, Wilfred||Spence, John||Wall, Patrick|
|Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis||Sproat, Iain||Walters, Dennis|
|Quennell, Miss J. M.||Stainton, Keith||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Raison, Timothy||Stanbrook, Ivor||Warren, Kenneth|
|Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Steel, David||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Redmond, Robert||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)||Stokes, John||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Rees, Peter (Dover)||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom||Wilkinson, John|
|Rees-Davies, W. R.||Tapsell, Peter||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Ridsdale, Julian||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Tebbit, Norman||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)||Temple, John M.||Worsley, Marcus|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)||Younger, Hn. George|
|Rost, Peter||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)|
|Royle, Anthony||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Scott, Nicholas||Tilney, John||Mr. Tim Fortescue and Mr. Marcus Fox|
|Sharples, Richard||Trafford Dr. Anthony|
|Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Trew, Peter|
§ Question accordingly negatived.