HC Deb 02 March 1972 vol 832 cc736-7
Q3. Dr. Gilbert

asked the Prime Minister what proposals for increasing the powers of the European Parliament he discussed in his recent conversations with President Pompidou.

The Prime Minister

I am glad to say that the meeting between Monsieur Pompidou and myself, originally planned for 19th and 20th February, will now take place at Chequers on 18th and 19th March.

Dr. Gilbert

Instead of discussing the power of the European Parliament, might it not be a good idea if the Prime Minister paid a little attention to the power of this Parliament? Does he realise that the difficulties in which we found ourselves last night were due to attempts by the Government to bully and cheat their European Communities legislation through this House and that Her Majesty's Opposition have no intention of being done out of their rights in this matter?

The Prime Minister

Two things have become apparent during the last few days. The first is that those who pursued a policy of trying to negotiate this country's entry into the Community apparently either did not realise what accepting Community law meant or are deceiving themselves and the House in saying now that they object to it. The second thing which has emerged clearly is that those who were shouting most for the protection of the rights of Parliament, and particularly of the House of Commons, were the first to abuse those rights and obstruct the will of the majority.

Mr. Rost

Could President Pompidou be persuaded to invite the Leader of the Opposition to do a Eurovision broadcast, not simply to give the people in this country a rest but to explain to the French people the attitude of the party opposite to the Common Market?

The Prime Minister

I think that the activities of the Leader of the Opposition must be left to the Leader of the Opposition. All I can say is that many European Socialists who have been endeavouring to persuade him what it is all about have confessed to me that they have failed.

Mr. Raphael Tuck

Does the Prime Minister realise that the European Parliament has the virility of a eunuch? Why did he not try, before signing the Treaty of Accession, to have that Parliament made responsible and powerful?

The Prime Minister

Representatives of both parties in this House have always said that when we become a member of the European Community one thing which we want to see happen is the development of the European Parliament. We also believe that one of the major contributions which we can make to Europe is in helping in that process. What worries me at the moment is that after the last few days many of our European friends are beginning to have doubts about it.