§ Mr. Speaker
Before I call the Lord President of the Council to move his Motion, I should like to say something about the three Amendments which have been tabled by the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton). I am prepared, if the right hon. Gentleman wishes to move it, to select the Amendment to leave out lines 13 to 36 and insert:—
§ Mr. Speaker
I am grateful for the right hon. Gentleman's intervention. I have not selected the second of his Amendments at line 87. That is a different matter which is not appropriate for general debate, although there must be considerable latitude in the debate. The third Amendment, at line 110, to leave out ' one hour ' and insert ' three hours ', is very relevant to the general debate. However, I am prepared to call the first Amendment if he chooses to move it.
§ 3.48 p.m.
§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Robert Carr)
I beg to move, That the
208 following provisions shall apply to the further Proceedings on the European Communities Bill (in this Order referred to as 'the Bill')—
Completion of Committee Stage 5 1.—(1) The remaining Proceedings in Committee on the Bill shall be completed in twelve allotted days, and those Proceedings shall be taken in the order stated and (if not previously brought to a conclusion) be brought to a conclusion at the times shown in the following table:— TABLE 10 Allotted day Proceedings Time for conclusion of proceedings First day Clause 2—Amendments before subsection (2) 11.00 p.m. Second day Clause 2—Amendments before subsection (3) 11.00 p.m. Third day Clause 2—Amendments before subsection (4) 11.00 p.m. 15 Fourth day Clause 2—Amendments before subsection (5) 7.30 p.m. Fourth and Fifth days Clause 2—remaining proceedings 7.30 p.m.on Fifth day Fifth and Sixth days Clause 3 6.00 p.m.on Sixth day Sixth day Schedule 1 7.30 p.m. Schedule 2 11.00 p.m. Seventh day Clause 5, Schedule 3 Part 1 and Schedule 4 to end of paragraph 2 11.00 p.m. Eighth day Clause 6 11.00 p.m. 25 Ninth day Clause 7 and Schedule 3 Part II 7.30 p.m. Clause 4 and remaining proceedings on Schedule 3 11.00 p.m. Tenth day Remaining proceedings on Schedule 4 6.00 p.m. Clause 8 9.30 p.m. 30 Tenth and Eleventh days Clause 9 6.00 p.m.on Eleventh day Eleventh day Clause 10 9.30 p.m. Eleventh and Twelfth days Clause 11 6.00 p.m.on Twelfth day 35 Twelfth day Clause 12 and remaining proceedings in Committee 11.00 p.m. (2) Standing Order No. 43 (Business Committee) shall not apply to this Order so far as it relates to Proceedings in Committee on the Bill. Proceedings on going into Committee 2. When the Order of the Day is read for the House to resolve itself into Committee on the Bill, Mr Speaker shall leave the chair without putting any question, notwithstanding that notice of an Instruction has been given. Conclusion of Proceedings in Committee 45 3. On the conclusion of the Proceedings in Committee on the Bill the Chairman shall 45 report the Bill to the House without putting any Question. Dilatory Motions 4. No dilatory Motion with respect to, or in the course of, Proceedings on the Bill shall be made on an allotted day except by a Member of the Government, and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith. 50 Extra time on allotted days 5.— On an allotted day paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 3 (Exempted business) shall apply to the Proceedings on the Bill for one hour after Ten o'clock. 55 (2) Any period during which Proceedings on the Bill may be proceeded with after Ten o'clock under paragraph (7) of Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) shall be in addition to the period under this paragraph. 60 (3) If an allotted day is one to which a Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 stands over from an earlier day, a period of time equal to the duration of the proceedings upon that Motion shall be added to the period during which proceedings on the Bill may be proceeded with after Ten o'clock under this paragraph, and the bringing to a conclusion of any proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order, are to be brought to a conclusion on that day shall also be postponed for a period equal to the duration of the proceedings on the Motion.
|Standing Order No. 13|
|65||6. Standing Order No. 13 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and nomination of Select Committees at commencement of public business) shall not apply on an allotted day.|
|70||7. Any private business which has been set down for consideration at Seven o'clock on an allotted day shall, instead of being considered as provided by the Standing Orders, be considered at the conclusion of the Proceedings on the Bill on that day, and paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 3 (Exempted business) shall apply to the private business for a period of three hours from the conclusion of the Proceedings on the Bill or, if those Proceedings are concluded before Ten o'clock, for a period equal to the 75 time elapsing between Seven o'clock and the completion of those Proceedings.|
|75||Conclusion of Proceedings|
|80||8.—(1) For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any Proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion at a time appointed by this Order and which have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman or Mr Speaker shall forthwith proceed to 80 put the following Questions (but no others), that is to say—|
|a) the Question or Questions already proposed from the Chair, or necessary to bring to a decision a Question so proposed (including, in the case of a new Clause or new Schedule which has been read a Second time, the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill);|
|85||(b) the Question on any amendment or Motion standing on the Order Paper in the name of any Member, if that amendment or Motion is moved by a Member of the Government;|
|90||(c) any other Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded; and on a Motion so moved for a new Clause or a new Schedule, the Chairman or Mr Speaker shall put only the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill.|
|(2) Proceedings under sub-paragraph (1) of this paragraph shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House.|
|95||(3) If, at Seven o'clock on an allotted day, any Proceedings on the Bill which, under 95 this Order, are to be brought to a conclusion before that time have not been concluded, any Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) which, apart from this Order, would stand over to that time shall stand over until those Proceedings have been concluded.|
|100||(4) If a Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 stands over to Seven o'clock on an allotted day, or to any later time under sub-paragraph (3) above, the bringing to a conclusion of any Proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order, are to be brought to a conclusion on that day at any hour falling after the beginning of the Proceedings on that Motion shall be postponed for a period equal to the duration of the Proceedings on that Motion.|
|110||9.—(1) The Proceedings on any Motion moved in the House by a Member of the Government for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order (including any Motion for allocating time to Proceedings on the Bill subsequent to the Proceedings in Committee) shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion one hour after they have been commenced, and the last foregoing paragraph shall apply as if the Proceedings were Proceedings on the Bill on an allotted day.|
|115||(2) If any such Motion moved by a Member of the Government is under consideration at Seven o'clock on a day on which any private business has been set down for consideration at Seven o'clock, the private business shall stand over and be considered when the Proceedings on the Motion have been concluded, and paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 3 (Exempted business) shall apply to the private business so standing over for a period equal to the time for which it so stands over.|
|(3) If on an allotted day on which any Proceedings on the Bill are to be brought to a conclusion the House is adjourned, or the sitting is suspended, before those proceedings are concluded, no notice shall be required of a Motion moved at the next sitting by a Member of the Government for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order.|
|10. Nothing in this Order shall—|
|125||(a) prevent any Proceedings to which the Order applies from being taken or completed earlier than is required by the Order; or|
|(b) prevent any business (whether on the Bill or not) from being proceeded with on any day after the completion of all such Proceedings on the Bill as are to be taken on that day.|
|11. In this Order allotted day means any day (other than a Friday or the day on which this Order is agreed to) on which the Bill is put down as the first Government Order of the Day.|
§ In commending this Motion to the House, I want at the outset to put two basic propositions. The first is that the Government have a duty to make sure that all aspects of a Bill are adequately discussed and that we do not spend so much time on the early parts that in the end it becomes impossible to give proper attention to the later Clauses. The more important the Bill the more important it seems for the Government of the day to see that this task of comprehensive consideration is properly carried out and that the total time of debate is rationally allocated between the various parts of the Bill.
§ The second proposition is that, subject to this need for adequate consideration of all parts of a Bill, the Government have a duty, not just a right, to get their business carried through with reasonable despatch. This proposition is particularly true when the Government are putting into effect a policy which has been specifically endorsed by a large majority of the House—
§ Mr. Carr
A majority drawn from all parts of the House, not simply from one party. These are general propositions, but they apply with particular cogency to this Bill.
I stress that because I want to make clear that I do not base the need for this timetable Motion on any complaint of filibustering. It is true that the House spent a day on a Motion of censure on the Chairman of Ways and Means on 1st March and a further day on a Motion of censure on the Government on 6th March before we got down to the Bill at all; and then that 11 hours were spent on points of order alone during the first two days of the Committee stage, which I suspect must be some sort of record. But, as I say, this is not my case for the Motion. My case is far stronger and far more fundamental.
The general question whether Britain should join the European Communities has been exhaustively debated in Parliament and outside Parliament for more 212 than a decade. It is a very big question, arousing controversy which cuts across all normal party divisions. Yet, in spite of this, three successive Governments of both main parties have committed themselves firmly to the conclusion that it is in the national interest for Britain to be a member, and this basic judgment has been supported by an overwhelming parliamentary majority in this Parliament and in previous Parliaments.
The House will hardly need reminding that, in this Parliament alone, in general debates on Community matters leading up to the Bill during this Session and last we have spent two days on an Adjournment Motion in January, 1971; four days last July taking note of the White Paper setting out the conclusions of the negotiations; six days on the October debate, which led to the decisive approval by the House of the basic terms of entry which had been negotiated—and, therefore, of the principle embodied in the Bill—and a further day in January of this year on an Opposition Motion concerning the signing of the treaty itself.
With the further 12 days which the Motion proposes for the remainder of the Committee stage, the Bill will have occupied the Floor of the House for no fewer than 26 days, including 22 in Committee; three days, exceptionally, on Second Reading; and nearly a full day on the Ways and Means and Money Resolutions. The total effect of all this is that during this Session and last the issue of our membership of the Community has occupied the House for over 220 hours of debate on the Floor, of which almost exactly half has been spent on the Bill alone; and now, under the Motion, another 90 hours will be provided for the Committee stage.
Hon. Members will no doubt say, and with justice, that this legislation is of quite special parliamentary and national importance. Of course it is. This I fully accept. I am only reminding the House, as general background to the Motion, that in terms of time for debate the Bill has already received, and under the Motion will continue to receive, opportunities for debate on the Floor which 213 are without parallel in the history of postwar legislation. It may be a Bill without parallel, but opportunity for debate has also been absolutely without parallel.
But what I am also reminding the House is that when a Bill of such self-evidently historic importance is before the House, and also when it is abundantly plain that after a decade of debate it is the clear will of the majority here that this great matter should be brought to a conclusion, it is the duty of any Government to ensure that Parliament is enabled to come to a legislative decision and that the wishes of the majority, who also have their rights, are not thwarted.
In this context, I am sure that the leaders of the opposition to the Bill on both sides will admit that their object is not to amend the Bill but to defeat it lock, stock and barrel, and not even just to defeat this Bill but to defeat any other Bill whose purpose might be to legislate for British membership of the European Communities. An hon. Members says that it depends on the terms of entry, and I accept that for some hon. Members that is true, but for many hon. Members, including those who are playing a most leading part in the opposition to the Bill. I do not believe that it is true, because they have been absolutely consistent for many years, during the decade of debate of which I have been talking, or most of it, in making it clear that they are opposed in principle to Britain's membership of the European Communities. That is their position.
This is a perfectly honourable and proper object—
§ Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)
The right hon. Gentleman started by saying that he was not accusing any hon. Member of attempting to filibuster. It therefore seems to me that his accusation that members of the Opposition Front Bench have conducted their opposition because they are in some way motivated in a sense hostile to the Bill is completely irrelevant. Even if one accepts the view of the Chairman of Ways and Means that this is a nuts and bolts Bill—which many of us certainly think is an inadequate way of describing it—it is very important now that the nuts and bolts are seen to be screwed in properly for the whole machine to be able to work. Many who accept the view that 214 in principle it is desirable to join the Community believe that the job must be done other than by way of the extremely truncated discussion that the right hon. Gentleman is proposing.
§ Mr. Carr
How the hon. Member can possibly describe what we have had and what lies in store for us as extremely truncated discussion passes the understanding and imagination of a majority of hon. Members and, I am sure, of the general public outside.
But there is no inconsistency in what I said. I am accusing the opponents of the Bill not of filibustering but of trying to defeat the Bill by every means of freedom of debate and delay permitted within our rules of order. That is a perfectly honourable thing to do, but it is something which invites consequences which they accept and which the majority of the House accept. It is perfectly within our rules of order to try to prevent the Government, and the all-party majority which on this issue supports the Government, from having their way, and trying to defeat the Bill, but inevitably the will of the majority here must prevail.
§ Sir Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)
On the other side of the coin, have not the Government made it perfectly clear that they will not alter one jot or comma of the Bill, but are determined to push it through without any amendment for the avoidance of difficulties on Report, and has not that been a principal factor which has necessitated even more detailed consideration of the Bill?
§ Mr. Carr
The right hon. and learned Gentleman is entitled to that view—I do not share it—but I am sure that my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General will have dealt faithfully and on then-merits with the Amendments put forward, and will continue to do so. I repeat that the object of the opponents of the Bill is perfectly honourable but has its inevitable consequences.
It is clear in the House and, I am sure, in the country as a whole that if we are to bring this matter to a conclusion according to the will of the majority of hon. Members, and do so in a way—I emphasise this—which will fulfil this Government's or any Government's duty 215 to make sure that the whole of the Bill is properly considered, we must have a plan of debate; that is to say, a timetable for the remainder of our discussion.
I wish, of course, that the timetable could have been agreed voluntarily. In this respect I share the view expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party and some of his hon. Friends in their Early Day Motion No. 242. I have certainly tried to achieve a voluntarily agreed timetable, and I do not think anyone can deny that the total time and the suggested allocation of that time put forward as a basis for voluntary agreement were anything but wholly exceptional in their generosity. But it quickly became obvious that the official Opposition were neither able nor willing to agree on any form of voluntary timetable, however generous.
I do not complain about that—they are perfectly within their rights in every way to take that view—but since they did take that view I submit that it made the introduction of this timetable Motion an unavoidable necessity, because had we gone on delaying this action we should have been allowing the House to drift gradually day by day into a situation where it would eventually have been faced with the need for a timetable which, at that later stage, could not have allowed time for adequate consideration of all the Bill's provisions. But by bringing the Motion forward now we still have time available to make sure that each and every Clause and Schedule is individually given a reasonable time for debate. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] I hear protests from hon. Members, but I beg them to look at the time given, not just in total but to each and every Clause and Schedule. By the time we finish there will have been a debate that is full and adequate by any parliamentary standards with or without timetable Motions.
So far the Committee has spent eight days on Clause 1, and already it has spent two days on the first subsection of Clause 2. The time of eight days was occupied without any timetable Motion, and included two days on points of order.
§ Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)
The right hon. Gentleman has twice repeated the charge about points of order. He knows that he is misleading the House.
216 The points of order session arose only because of the tricky way in which the Government drafted their Bill. The Committee had to spend a whole night making sure that at least a limited amount of the substance of the treaty could be discussed in Committee.
§ Mr. Carr
If the hon. Gentleman takes that view, he should be careful whom he accuses of misleading the House. [Interruption.] All I said—and the reason why I am making this point will almost immediately become clear—was that Clause 1, without any timetable imposition, took eight days, of which two were on points of order, leaving six days for the natural disposal of the debate on the Clause. I make that point because I want to make it clear that the timetable Motion includes a further 4½ days' debate on the crucial Clause 2 alone. Everybody agrees that it, along with Clause 1, is the guts of the Bill. Including the two days' debate we have already had, it will have been debated for 6½ days under the timetable Motion compared with the six days that Clause 1 had without any restraint. I believe that is not ungenerous or inadequate by any standards. It fully recognises the importance of Clause 2 as the central Clause providing for the reception and implementation of Community law and our basic Community obligations.
Within the 6½ days, three will be spent on subsection (1), which provides for directly applicable law of the Communities to- have effect here. There will be a further full day each on subsection (2), which gives powers of subordinate legislation, and subsection (3), which contains the basic financial provisions.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
Is my right hon. Friend seriously contending that one day's debate is proportionate to the importance of the transfer of the power to tax from this House to an authority outside the realm?
§ Mr. Carr
What I am maintaining is that the time which we have allocated to this debate, against the background of all the many other debates that we have had on the fundamental principles involved in acceding to the Communities, is ample for all sections of the House to make their views known, to press them hard, and to make the country aware of them. No one will be able 217 to say when we have finished the debate on the Bill that by any past standards of comparison Parliament has done anything but give it very full and adequate attention
§ Sir Robin Turton
If my right hon. Friend thinks that that is a valid point, why did he not use the accepted parliamentary procedure under Standing Order No. 43 and submit his proposals first to a business Committee?
§ Mr. Carr
I must tell my right hon. Friend—and perhaps this is the moment when I can express at least a preliminary view on the Amendment in his name and that of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith)—that we felt, rightly or wrongly, as a matter of judgment that it was important to ensure that each and every Clause and Schedule had a time of its own for debate. I have made that one of the main points of my speech today, as I did in my announcement last Thursday. We wanted to make absolutely sure that we did not get into the kind of situation which has often arisen in the past under timetable Motions. We wanted to avoid what would have been the justifiable complaint, which would be very serious on a Bill of this vital and unique kind, that so much time was taken up on the generality of Clause 2 that some subsections had no specific time of their own. That is why we have framed the Motion as we have. The Amendment treats the matter differently. I have given the reason why I prefer the procedure in the Government's timetable Motion rather than just allocating a total amount of time to Clause 2 and leaving it at that.
But let us listen to what is said during the debate—[An HON. MEMBER: "Answer the question."] I have answered the question to the best of my ability. Let us listen to what my right hon. Friend, my right hon. and learned Friend and other Members on both sides may say. If there is a general wish that, instead of ensuring that each bit of Clause 2 should have a specified time for itself, the whole of the Clause should be lumped into the time available for debate, my right hon. and learned Friend 218 the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will consider the matter and will give his judgment and that of the Government when he winds up the debate. We have allocated the time as we have, rather than leaving it to a business Committee as is normal, only in order to make certain that each and every important bit of the Bill has its own time for debate.
§ Mr. Nigel Spearing (Acton)
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree, however, that in allowing only one day for the rest of the consideration of Clause 2(1) the Government are cutting out debate on a vast range of regulations which have been put as Amendments to line 26 of the Bill, and that it would be much better, if he wishes to prove what he is saying, to introduce the guillotine after the completion of the consideration of Clause 2?
§ Mr. Neil Marten (Banbury)
Will my right hon. Friend also bear in mind that the Amendments to Clause 2(1) to which the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Spearing) has just referred are being used in a way to discuss the details of the Treaty of Accession? Is he aware that his predecessor in office refused to have a debate —it should have been a five-day debate —on the details of the treaty, which is why the Government have been getting themselves into a mess over the Bill?
§ Mr. Carr
I accept that that is the genuine feeling and belief of my hon. Friend. But I still say that the time allocated by the Motion, together with the time we have had before, has allowed hon. Members on both sides to put very fully their points of view, their deeply-held objections in principle and in detail, so that neither the Government nor the country can be in any doubt about the considerations at issue when we come to a decision.
§ Mr. Edmund Dell (Birkenhead)
The right hon. Gentleman continually emphasises the time available for debate. Surely the important point is whether the Government will accept Amendments which are in no way inconsistant with the purpose of the Bill but are designed simply to protect Parliament's position? If the Government's timetable Motion is passed, will they propose Amendments to the Bill which are designed to protect the position of Parliament?
§ Mr. Carr
My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy and the Solicitor-General will, I am sure, continue to consider Amendments on their merits. An enormous amount of thought went into the preparation of the Bill. We are prepared, as we have always been prepared, to listen to the arguments and take a view upon them. In doing that we are not behaving any differently from other Governments.
§ Sir Elwyn Jones
The right hon. Gentleman has not had the good fortune to follow much of the discussion on the Bill. I do not say that by way of criticism. Is he aware that the only suggestion that has so far been made from the Government Front Bench on the important matter raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Dell) is that questions should be referred to an ad hoc committee? That is the only gesture that has been made by the Government, and I submit that there is a good deal of force in my right hon. Friend's intervention.
§ Mr. Carr
I must leave it principally to my right hon. and learned Friend to deal with this in winding up. As I understand it, the whole point of my right hon. and learned Friend's suggestion about an ad hoc committee, which has not found favour with the Opposition—and that is for them to judge—was that it was right to discuss in that way matters of procedure as to how the House should deal with certain things. That is different from saying what is and what should be in the Bill.
§ Mr. Alex Eadie (Midlothian) rose—
§ Mr. Eadie
I am obliged. The right hon. Gentleman was making the point about Clause 2 and the availability of time. Would he concede that we have not dealt with Amendments dealing with the Scottish position regarding entry? It would be monstrous if the House were not to debate the Scottish position; for example, the Treaty of Union. The people of Scotland will take a very dim view of this Mother of Parliaments which they have joined giving them no opportunity to discuss their relationship in the Common Market.
§ Mr. Carr
I accept that I have not been able to listen to all or even the major part of the debate on this Bill, but I shall find it most surprising if hon. Members from Scotland are so unusually quiet and reticent that they fail, or have already failed, in the discussion on the Bill to put fully the Scottish point of view. The selection of Amendments will be under the guidance of the Chair.
When we have dealt with Clause 2 a further one and a half days will be spent on the other general provisions in Part I of the Bill and its related Schedules. The remaining six days proposed in the Motion are devoted to the provisions in the Bill on particular subjects and on detailed matters.
We have allotted one full day to the customs and tariff provisions, and another full day to the agricultural provisions, which will be in addition to the debates extending over a number of hours which have already taken place on agriculture under Clause 2(1). A further half day is allotted to each of the remaining Clauses of the Bill dealing with sugar, films, company law, restrictive practices, certain Community offences and the provision of information. There is a good deal of time available for discussion under the Motion.
This Motion is in accordance with the Government's clear duty in the House, namely, to get their business through, business which in this respect has support from all sides of the House, and at the same time to get it through in a way which makes sure that every part of the Bill has time for debate.
§ Mr. Laurie Pavitt (Willesden, West)
The whole House is grateful to the right hon. Gentleman who has given way so frequently. It would appear that all new Clauses are to be dealt with on the 12th day. My interest is in the Health Service, and I can see a large number of Health Service matters coming in on the 12th day. Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the wide disparity of subjects which will come before us on the 12th day will permit us to discuss them all adequately?
§ Mr. Carr
It will allow some things to come up which will not have been dealt with before. This is subject to the ruling of the Chair, but I imagine that some new Clauses will fall to be grouped 221 with earlier Amendments. That is how we can deal with this matter. Overall the opportunities are great.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis(West Ham, North) rose—
§ Mr. Carr
—for these views to be expressed. The House as a whole will accept that Parliament has its duty to the country as a whole to end any remaining uncertainty in this matter with reasonable but proper dispatch.
The forward planning, development programmes and investment plans of many individuals and companies, large and small, wait upon this legislation. As the Prime Minister said on 17th February, the last thing the people of this country and the business community want is any continuation of this uncertainty. The time has come when the national interest demands that we bring this decision to a head and to a finality, provided that we do it in a way which allows proper debate for every part of it.
§ Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)
My right hon. Friend is making a mockery of the whole matter. The fact, as he well knows, is that throughout the years and despite the enormous amount of money that has been spent by the Government on propaganda to get this Measure through and to get the British people behind it, they have significantly failed. Will he do nothing to bow to British public opinion?
§ Mr. Carr
The measure of British public opinion is never easy and exact. I noticed that the last public opinion poll, for what it is worth, shows that there are now more in favour of entry than against. My hon. Friend and others may 222 not agree, but the basic point we have always taken is that under our constitution the decisions are taken here in this House. On the majorities for this proposition in this House, in the last House of Commons and the House of Commons before that, there can be no doubt about the decision. The majorities were substantial. Every hon. Member knows that if there had been a free vote on both sides on this important Measure the majorities in favour would have been even more substantial.
§ Mr. Michael English(Nottingham. West)rose—
§ Mr. English
The right hon. Gentleman is extremely courteous. Could he explain this? The Bill deals not only with the European Communities; it goes further. It says that this country could enter into as close a union as the constitution of the United States implies by one single Resolution of the House of Commons in future because it precludes us from deciding all future issues by Act of Parliament such as this. Surely that is going beyond what is necessary?
§ Mr. Carr
With respect, the hon. Gentleman is no doubt in order in relation to a matter of substance in the Bill, but I am arguing that the time provided for Parliament to discuss even these vital matters is of an adequate and full amount and that by going on and on no more clarification will be added.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Minister has said that the timetable Motion will allow adequate time for discussion. It has been admitted by Ministers that there are hundreds of orders, rules and regulations which have been agreed to in Brussels since last November of which hon. Members have no copies. How can we come to a decision at 10 o'clock tonight if the Government will not and cannot lay on the Table all the rules and regulations which it is necessary for us to see to enable us to decide whether or not to agree to the Motion? If the Government do not lay on the Table all the 223 relevant documents to enable hon. Members to come to a decision they will be making a farce of democracy.
§ Mr. Speaker
I have to rule on whether what is happening during the debate is within the rules of order. The Leader of the House has said nothing that is out of order.
§ Mr. Carr
I have just referred to the need for certainty from the point of view of the national interests—the interests not only of the people to whom I have referred whose decisions are pending but the interests of the whole population which are bound up in these decisions. Equally, we have a clear obligation to our friends abroad, especially to our friends in the countries which will be directly affected by our membership of the Communities. Not least we need to be in a position to play our part in the discussions of the future of the Community which are to be held at the summit conference in October.
So I believe the Motion now before the House will assist the House to conclude its consideration of the remainder of the Committee stage in a way which is appropriate to the great issues before us and which will when our successors look back on it justify their historic respect.
I know it is argued that on great issues of this kind it is somehow improper or even unconstitutional that debate should ever be curtailed in any way. But f maintain that the more important the Measure, and more vital it is not only that we reach a conclusion, but that we do so only after orderly and thorough debate. I further maintain that the overall time for debate provided by the Motion is fully adequate and that it is rationally allocated between the various parts of the Bill.
I ask, therefore, in conclusion, for the Motion to be judged on two very simple criteria. The first is that without a timetable Motion there would be no real practical likelihood of Parliament being enabled to come to a conclusion on this legislation, vital to the future of this country, within a reasonable time. The second is that, bearing in mind the time which the House has already devoted to these matters, the proposed allocation of further time to the Committee stage of the Bill is fully adequate.
224 I therefore make no apology for the Motion. I believe the House and, indeed, the entire country recognise the need for Parliament to complete its consideration of this Bill, so that our thoughts and energies can then be freed to look towards the future and to ensuring that this Parliament and its successors play their full and influential part in the destinies of the European Community.
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)
Before my right hon. Friend sits down may I ask him a question? My right hon. Friend has made the first statement in the House by a Minister of the Crown on the Communities since it happened, and I therefore ask whether he or his right hon. Friend when he comes to wind up might not think it right, even at the risk of stretching a point, to deplore the attempt of a Community functionary, Dr. Mansholt, to interfere in our British politics on this matter?
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
The strongest argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, which he put at the beginning of his speech and to which he returned implicitly at the end, is the argument that this House, in effect, reached its decision on these momentous questions before this Bill was ever presented to the House of Commons. That case has been frequently put from the Government side. It has been put by the Prime Minister, and it was in a sense referred to by the Leader of the House. That argument refers to the idea that it is the majority of 28th October which is the effective majority on this question, and that the matter was settled before the Bill ever came to the House. Since that is the strongest argument which the Leader of the House has put I propose to return to it at the end of my remarks.
We are bound to accept some of the things which the right hon. Gentleman said. I accept that there has been no filibustering. He has no complaints about the way in which the House of Commons has conducted these matters. It would have been most improper if he made complaints. None the less it is good to have it on the record so that no suggestion 225 shall be made in any quarter—not even by the Liberal Party—that we have been guilty of improper conduct. I will come to the Liberal Party in a moment—
§ Mr. Foot
When there is a timetable Motion the Liberal Party is here. There are more Liberals here to force through the timetable Motion than there have been during the whole of our proceedings on the Bill—but I will come to the champions of free speech in a moment.
I will first say a few words about the posititon of the right hon. Gentleman, which is to present awkward questions in the most persuasive manner, which he does extremely skilfully. He puts the opinion of the Administration in a way which appeals to the compassionate public at large, and his attitude might be properly described as Heathism with a human face.
The right hon. Gentleman was concerned about ensuring that we had an orderly debate, and he thought that the debate had not proceeded in precisely the way that would be necessary to give the most effective scrutiny. He was shedding tears over the way in which the House was perhaps misusing its opportunity to debate these matters. We will accept a great deal from him, but we will not accept those tears from him or from any other right hon. and hon. crocodiles on the Treasury Bench. We do not accept that claim because we know perfectly well that the Government have not introduced the guillotine Motion for that reason.
I do not propose to deal in great detail with the statistical argument of the Leader of the House because the statistics do not apply, as has been said many times by the right hon. Gentleman himself and the Prime Minister. Everyone in Parliament and in the country is agreed that this is a unique Bill, whether or not we approve of it, which affects the whole constitutitonal position of the House of Commons and the country. So all statistical comparisons with other Bills do not have any application. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will see at once 226 why that is the case, although he did not exactly underline it in his remarks.
Even taking the Clause that the Committee is discussing now, Clause 2 is not any ordinary Clause. There are about 50 or 60 Bills, hundreds of treaties and thousands of regulations incorporated in this Clause alone. In the whole history of parliamentary draftsmanship never have so many Bills, treaties and regulations been compressed into one single subsection. That is the position. The statistics do not count against that fact.
All the matters dealt with by the Treaty of Accession, in some respects all those dealt with in the Treaty of Rome and all those dealt with by the Iron and Steel Community are bound up in one way even in the subsection where the guillotine is to come down. I know that the Solicitor-General has a special interest in the subsection and that he does not like the criticism of it that has been made. I almost thought last week that the reason for the guillotine was the pique of the Solicitor-General at a defect being discovered in his brilliant subsection. This is the subsection which was to comprise the whole operation and the hon., and learned Gentleman lavished all his skill upon it. He took in it not merely a legal pride but an almost aesthetic pride. Last week it was discovered, with no reply from him, that there was a fatal defect in his beautiful subsection. It was almost like telling Leonardo that he had painted his Mona Lisa with an incurable squint. The Solicitor-General has not smiled since. We know how unnerving his smile will be when it does come.
This House cannot be governed by the chagrin of the Solicitor-General. We have to proceed and look at the matter. It is the fact that this subsection, which was supposed to be such a brilliantly conceived provision to achieve all the Government's purposes, has been discovered to be one which states a fact which is not true. It states that we are trying to carry out what we are required to carry out under the Treaty of Rome. In fact, that is not the case.
My right hon. and hon. Friends who are arguing about what we have been debating in these matters ought to understand the position. It has arisen partly because of the ruling of the Chair which ruled out discussions about the Treaty of 227 Accession. We thought that that was improper, and we protested against it. We said that there should be an arrangement whereby the House of Commons, without difficulties or qualifications, should be able to debate each article of the Treaty of Accession. That has never occurred. We have never had such a situation. Some parts of the arrangement were agreed after this House had cast its vote on 28th October. That again is part of the argument.
We have never been able to discuss the Treaty of Accession itself and the other treaties comprised in Clause 1 in detail, partly because of the way that the Bill was devised by the Government. We still do not know whether they did it on purpose. But chiefly because of the Chair's ruling, although the Liberal Party has not appreciated it, the position all through these debates, ever since the ruling from the Chair, has been that we are not discussing what is required for Britain to go into the Common Market. That has been ruled out of order by the Chair. We are not discussing what is required for accession to the Treaty of Accession. That has been ruled out of order by the Chair. Throughout we have been discussing the way that the Government want this House of Commons and the country to make its allegiance to the Common Market. That is what we have been discussing throughout all our proceedings.
Some of us thought that that in itself was gravely limiting to proper debate in the House of Commons. That is why we moved the Motion of censure on the Chair. However, we have to abide by the Ruling, and it is necessary for the country to understand what it has meant, especially because of the misapprehensions and misunderstandings in so many places.
This morning, for example, the editor of The Guardian had a leading article on this subject of such inspissated ignorance and fatuity that I can only imagine that he received guidance from the Leader of the Liberal Party. It asks why the House of Commons does not get down to the business of trying to see how it can make this Bill a better Bill, and why this House does not get down to the business of trying to move some Amendments to provide for some parliamentary control. That is the purport of The Guardian's leader. But that is what we 228 have been doing all along. Almost without exception, every Amendment has been directed to exactly that purpose. The Guardian has not discovered it.
Let us consider, for example, what happened to the Amendments that we debated when we were last in Committee. That was on Thursday night. In parliamentary terms it was at night, but in the Liberal Party's terms it was at some hour of the day at which members of the Liberal Party do not accord us their assistance—
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe(Devon, North) :Quite right.
§ Mr. Foot
Let us consider what we were discussing on that occasion. It was not a lengthy debate. There was no filibustering. We considered it an important debate, but the Liberals did not participate. It was a debate about the corn laws and about who should have the power to fix the price of cereals, which affects the price of food in this country. What we said in our Amendment was not that decisions must be removed from Brussels back to this House. We were debarred from saying that in any event. What we said was that when decisions are made by those bodies in one form or another, they must be referred to this House not necessarily for us to revoke them but so that they might be discussed in the same way as the Government have provided that certain other Community decisions may be discussed. We wanted to ensure that on questions like the corn laws and the price of food this House should retain some remnant of control.
Liberal Members were so fascinated by this discussion that none of them turned up to hear it. They did not think that any such issue was involved. Perhaps it was at that moment that, instead of having discussions in this House about the price of food, Liberal Members were engaged in discussions with the Patronage Secretary about the price of their allegiance. Perhaps that is what they were discussing.
It is a pitiful end. If ever a great political party ended with a whimper, it is the Liberal Party, whose members will not even join in insisting that we have an Amendment providing that matters of this nature shall still be kept within some remote control by this House.
229 The Liberal Party's negotiations with the Tory Chief Whip are probably the reason for this Motion. If it had not been for the bargain between the Liberals and the Patronage Secretary, we should not have had the guillotine Motion at all. I wonder whether the Liberals secured anything in return, apart from possible future peerages. Did they secure anything about the Bill? Did they secure anything apart from peerages—and when it comes to peerages I hope the Leader of the Opposition will make the title sufficiently comprehensive. What about Lord Thorpe of Barnstaple, Brussels, Bexley and Broadstairs?
I wonder whether the Leader of the Liberal Party secured any bargains about Amendments to this Bill. That is what I am concerned about. Did he secure an undertaking—if so, we should be very glad to hear about it—that in the future, as against what they have agreed in the past, the Government will agree to accept certain Amendments when they see the force of such Amendments?
§ Mr. Foot
The right hon. Gentleman says "Yes ". I hope so. We shall wait to see. But if we have such an arrangement we shall also have a Report stage on the Bill, shall we not? So I hope that the last service of the Liberal Party to freedom is that they have insisted on a Report stage to this Bill. We shall be very interested to hear the terms of the bargain, and we shall await with great interest the future of the Liberal Party, because I would have thought that, whatever their views on this Bill—and I do not mind the right hon. Gentleman sustaining his consistency in that direction —he could have sustained his consistency in standing up for the rights of people who may disagree with him on these questions, and what we are going to be denied by this guillotine is the effective power to debate.
One of the reasons why I say that is that I do not believe that a system of declaratory statements in the House of Commons is an effective way of governing this country. It has never been the principle on which this country has been governed. What has happened with this Bill—and it has been an extremely interesting education in the way the House of Commons works, as many hon. 230 Members who have studied the affairs of the House of Commons will recognise—is what happens on many Bills: in the course of the Committee stages of many Bills that go through this House we discover that the matters that become of greatest interest and moment are not those which were foreseen before the Bill was introduced.
§ Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)
Is the hon. Gentleman referring to the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever), which made it entirely clear that the whole bogus stance of the Opposition about sovereignty is utterly unwarranted and unfounded?
§ Mr. Foot
I was not at that moment discussing the question of sovereignty, as I think the hon. Gentleman, if he had applied his mind to what I was saying, would have realised. We shall have further chances to discuss that question and we shall have an Amendment down which the Government will be perfectly free to accept, although I must warn them that it will carry with it the added advantage that they will have to have a Report stage. But we shall certainly have an Amendment, and if the Government wish to accept the point about sovereignty they can then write it into the Bill. We shall have an Amendment of that nature, I can guarantee it.
However, I was discussing what happens on the Committee stage of a Bill, and this is a question not of the sovereignty of the House of Commons but of the way the House of Commons works. I said that there had been countless examples in the history of Parliament, and anyone who has been here 20 or 30 years could state dozens, of a Bill being introduced for Second Reading and when it comes to the Committee stage the discussion moves to a quite different track from that forecast. Why is this? The reason is that the collective wisdom of the House of Commons—whether shown in party argument and debate, and there is nothing wrong with this, or in any other way—is a different kind of wisdom from that which exists in the Government, in the Cabinet or in the Civil Service. Therefore, a Bill which has been through the Civil Service and 231 through the Cabinet legislative committees and has been accepted by the Cabinet goes through the House of Commons in Second Reading and by the time it gets to the Committee stage is subjected to the individual scrutiny of the Members of the House of Commons, and that changes the way in which the Bill is regarded.
This Bill is a classic example, because I doubt whether there is a single hon. Member of this House who, looking to these debates on the Committee stage, foresaw that the paramount discussions would be precisely on this question of how we were to secure true parliamentary control. Many people foresaw—and I certainly did because I thought the Chairman's ruling would go the other way—that the primary debates on this Bill would be about the actual details of the Treaty of Accession and all the rest. I still think that we should have had those debates but what has happened is that owing to the peculiar way the House of Commons works—and in my opinion it is extremely beneficial for the people of this country—we have asserted the right of the House of Commons to debate in detail these questions of parliamentary control and to see how such matters affect the lives of the people of this country. That is what we are discussing, and the House of Commons, during this Committee stage which has been so much derided by some people in some parts of the country, has asserted its right to do this.
It may be, of course—and this is one of the reasons why some of us are so bitterly opposed to the form in which this Bill has been presented to us that this is one of the last occasions on which some of these major matters are going to be debated in this way in the House of Commons, because under these arrangements, either in Clause 1, in the treaties, or in Clause 2, in the regulations provided for the self-executing Clauses so-called, the House of Commons would be denied the process of examination of a Committee stage. That is to be wiped away. That is one of the reasons why we are so strongly opposed to it. The whole legislative authority and character of the House of Commons are going to be transformed. That is what is happening. That is why we say that far from 232 the debates so far being a reason for abbreviating the discussions, they are a reason for extending it.
Anyone who has listened to the debates and anyone who rejects the foolish ideas of people outside who talk about filibustering and using boring words and so on—and, by the way, what are we supposed to use if not words? Are we supposed to use semaphore or algebra, or something like that? We have used words to try to defend freedom. That is what the great words of the English language are for. We have used our opportunities in the House of Commons to try to say to everybody outside, to everybody who may be interested, that there are questions involved which are much bigger perhaps than even the questions involved in the major debates of October and other dates. So I hope that no one will say that this debate about this guillotine is a statistical argument, that it may be proved one way or the other by people adding up the number of hours that have been accorded to this Bill compared with others. I hope that it will be recognised at last by many of those who perhaps have not troubled to attend our debates, that we have been discussing what many of us regard as an extremely serious question and have been discussing it not on the basis of what was passed in this House on 28th October but on the basis of the Bill on which on its Second Reading, the Government had a majority of only eight.
As my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) has said, we did not know a lot of the Measures then. He also interrupted perfectly properly earlier in our proceedings today to say to Mr. Speaker that we ought to have these documents in the House. Of course we ought. We are going to do again what we have done in many of the other votes about this business. When we cast the vote on 28th October even many of the details were not known; when the votes were cast in January, before the Treaty of Accession, many of the details were not known; on 17th February many of the details were not known; and again today when we are discussing the proposed guillotine by the Government, when the time is being abbreviated, we still have not seen many of the items which are going to be incorporated into the law of 233 this land. Parliament will not be able to see them until, perhaps, January, 1973. when we shall be in the Common Market. That is a novel procedure in the history of Parliament, and it is one in which we should have had the protection of the Speaker, particularly as we have not had any protection from the Government.
I come to the main question—government by declaration. The Government say that the matter was settled on 28th October, that a vote was cast then which is decisive. They almost say that it is an affront if we do not accept it. Dr. Mansolt, who wrote a letter on this subject, has been quoted, but I do not think he is fully acquainted with our proceedings in the House. I do not know whether the Government support this idea. It is a novel principle that general declarations by votes in this House are what matter. I say that that is a violation of our parliamentary liberties and traditions.
The reason why I say that is that it implies what I have said; namely, a disruption of the legislative process. It denies to the legislative process the powers that it has had in the past. It demeans the whole legislative process of the House. It says that once there is a general statement nothing much matters afterwards. Once there is a general statement, whatever the vote may be on the Second Reading of the Bill, whatever the vote may be on individual items, however fierce may be the opposition of the House of Commons, however divided the House may be, and however the country feels about it, that is enough. That is how this country will be governed maybe if we go into the Common Market.
I hope that there will not be any complaints from future Members of Parliament who vote for this Measure and for this guillotine. I hope that they will not complain when somebody says "I am sorry, but we cannot have a law to deal with this matter because that was settled in the European Communities Bill. An amendment was moved which would have made it a matter to be enacted, and an Amendment was moved which said that the Government should be allowed to do this sort of thing only if it was the subject of an affirmative Resolution of the House of Commons, but that was 234 swept aside. The House of Commons turned it down."
§ Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)
Surely the hon. Gentleman has argued that if his party comes to power and he objects to this kind of procedure he will change it? One of the essential arguments has been that what Parliament desires it can will, and that is why it is not necessary for procedural matters always to be written into legislation.
§ Mr. Foot
If the defence of the Liberal Party is that it will vote one way now and vote the other way as soon as it gets the chance to do so with the Labour Party in power, that is the most athletic somersault that has ever been turned in the history of the House of Commons. The great defence of the Liberal Party for what it is going to vote for tonight is that it will be able to vote the opposite way later.
What we shall be voting for under the Bill if it is allowed to go through is a procedure whereby we shall gravely undermine the normal legislative procedures of the House. We shall gravely undermine even the control of affirmative Resolutions. We shall gravely undermine the control by the House over any Executive, whether in Brussels or in London.
Some people say that we do not need to worry all that much, that things are not as serious as all that, because the Common Market institutions are breaking down anyhow, so there is no need to be so alarmed. They say that we shall not undergo these ordeals, that the Market is moribund. I think that that is the latest word. They say that as we are joining a moribund institution we do not need to have any fears that, from Brussels or from the Council of Ministers, we shall be faced with these terrible edicts. Very well. If all that we are asking for is a shield against arrows that are never to be shot, why not have the shield? It would be an added protection. The argument against what we are asking for is feeble. If we agree to the propositions in the Bill, we shall undermine the authority of the House of Commons.
There is a further reason why it is improper for this Government in particular to introduce a guillotine. There is a further limitation on the manner and 235 method which are open to the Government for securing the consent of Parliament to the Bill. No one can say that he has the full-hearted consent of Parliament and at the same time introduce a guillotine. No one can say that unless he emasculates the English language, just as the Government propose to emasculate the British Constitution.
Nobody can say that he has full-hearted consent for a Measure, that he has the full-hearted consent of a majority in Parliament, if he has to impose a guillotine. Nobody says that the Government have the full-hearted consent of Parliament for the Housing Finance Bill, to which they have applied the guillotine. The guillotine is the last resort of a Government who know that they cannot get the full-hearted consent of Parliament but are determined to have their way in any case.
When the Prime Minister originally used that phrase, it was designed to comfort the people of this country into assuming that there would be some special measure of tolerance, that some special measure of acceptance and a wider unity had to be obtained for a Measure of this constitutional importance. No such claim can be made once the Government have forced through a guillotine Motion.
What the Government and the Prime Minister, in particular, are doing is to show full-hearted contempt for the democratic processes of this country; full-hearted contempt for the normal legislative processes of this House of Commons. The stain will remain indelible on the right hon. Gentleman for ever. It is a pity that he did not have the courage to come to the House today to defend his Bill.
§ 4.58 p.m.
§ Sir Robin Turton (Thirsk and Mahon)
Right hon. and hon. Members know that I have fairly strong views on our system of ordering business. I believe that, if possible, everything should be done by agreement through the usual channels. I always have argued that the great defect in our system is that, unlike other assemblies, we do not have a steering committee so that there can be a full but concentrated examination of Bills as they pass through the House.
I speak here as Chairman of the Select Committee on Procedure. We have only 236 recently gone into the whole question of time-tabling. I know, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that you are aware of this because, in your capacity as Chairman of Ways and Means, you gave evidence before us. Speaking on behalf of the Chairman's Panel, you thought thatBusiness Committees should be composed of the Panel alone; representations about the details of timetabling any Bill would be made to it by the front-bench Members concerned on each side.Alternatively, you believedthat the suggestion made by the Leader of the House, that the Committees should be composed entirely of such front-bench Members, would be acceptable to the Panel.In our consideration of this matter we made recommendations about how Bills that were to be timetabled should be dealt with. We recommended, and our recommendation was adopted, that all such cases should be governed by the Business Committee under Standing Order 43, which states:There shall be a committee, to be called the Business Committee, consisting of the Chairman of Ways and Means, who shall be chairman of the committee, and not more than eight other members to be nominated by Mr. Speaker in respect of each bill to which this order applies.I regret that the new Leader of the House has completely neglected the Report of the Select Committee on Procedure, has overlooked that Standing Order and is dictating the selection of time for Amendments without giving consideration to other hon. Members and without considering you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in your capacity as Chairman of Ways and Means. I regard that as an abuse of the procedures of the House.
This is a Bill like no other we have seen. It is not only a constitutional Measure but one with great constitutional implications which we must ferret out in Committee. Not since the Government of Ireland Bill have any Government used the timetable procedure on a constitutional Measure. My right hon. Friend is, therefore, breaking a precedent of 52 years.
Never before in my 42 years in this House have I witnessed a Government impose the guillotine except on the ground of filibustering, but my right hon. Friend has made it clear that there has been none of that in this case. There has been intricate discussion, which regrettably has gone on far into the night, 237 but this is the most complicated Bill we have ever had. As I said on Thursday, this is a glaring breach of parliamentary tradition.
I hope that my right hon. Friend, who in my view will one day become a great Leader of the House, will not ruin his career at the beginning by breaking all the precedents of his predecessors. It is not too late for him, if he insists on having a timetable, to send the matter to the Business Committee, as ordered under our Standing Orders, which were agreed by the present Government. That would allow the Business Committee to give proper consideration to the amount of time that should be apportioned to the different parts of the Bill.
We in the Select Committee suggested that the Chairman of Ways and Means should be in the Chair because he has power to select Amendments and therefore knows, looking at the Order Paper, much better than the Government, and even better than hon. Members, how the time should be apportioned day by day.
This is not only an unprecedented Bill but an unusual one in that the first two Clauses and the first two Schedules contain far more parliamentary material than the remaining 10 Clauses and other Schedules. This is a difficulty into which my right hon. Friend has got himself over the timetable. He should have learned a lesson from the last timetable Motion, which was most unsatisfactory.
Treating subsections as Clauses will get him nowhere on this occasion because not only is the earlier part of the Bill more important than the latter but in several Clauses, and especially in Clause 2, the earlier part is more important than the latter.
I appreciate that we do not know how you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in your other capacity, will exercise your power of selection and how many other Amendments will yet be tabled. In the meantime, however, let us consider the position. On the first day you have selected four groups of Amendments. We have been getting through at best three Amendments per day. It therefore looks as if one group of Amendments will be excluded. The Government must have realised this.
To Clause 2(2) there are 18 Amendments on the Notice Paper, but only one day is provided for their consideration. I 238 remind hon. Members that this subsection was considered by the Government to contain such great parliamentary implications that they suggested that, rather than discuss it in Committee, a special ad hoc committee should be set up to devise the necessary procedural Amendments under it. It is clear that the 18 Amendments will, under the guillotine, be smashed into one parliamentary day. I say "smashed" because it is clear that the Government intend a great many of them not to he discussed, and this in a part of the Bill which concentrates on the power of Parliament to deal with directives.
Whatever view one takes of the Bill and whether one is for or against Britain entering the Common Market, we must protect our parliamentary procedures. Bearing this in mind, and facing the difficulty in relation to our Standing Orders to which I referred, I have proposed in my Amendment a timetable showing how the 12 days which I gather the Government, on the orders of the Six, propose to allow us—my right hon. Friend said that he was faced with having to consider what people abroad were saying—might be used.
I did that with a view to making sure that important Amendments relating to subsection (2) and the following provisions would be considered. The only way is to compartmentalise Clause 2, so to speak, but even then there would not be sufficient time, and that is why I would give that Clause an extra half day. Instead of four and a half days, I would give it the extra half day, making five in all, though that would rob later Clauses of half a day.
It is our duty to see that Parliament scrutinises the Clause 2 directives, including the provisions relating to taxation and evidential matters. Others have a strong bearing on the Northern Ireland Parliament, and they must, therefore, be properly discussed. I again press my right hon. Friend to consider my timetable and whether it would not be better than the one he has proposed. I readily admit that I would not have it by choice. I would far rather have the matter left to the experts in the Business Committee under Standing Order 43, with the Chairman of Ways and Means presiding.
I come to the two other matters that I have put down on the Order Paper 239 which require consideration. One of them is the Amendment in my name to line 87. Here what the Government are proposing is that where you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, had selected an Amendment for Division, and were waiting for the Division, under the Motion your announcement that the Committee would have an opportunity to have a Division will be frustrated by line 87, because if the Amendment is not iv the name of the Government it cannot be taken for a Division when the guillotine falls. Clearly, without any Amendment when you are dealing with the Clause 2(1) compartment, Mr. Deputy Speaker, this is bound to happen. The Government, therefore, in this instance are acting in defiance of the undertakings which we have been given by the Chairman and which were accepted by the Government on the previous proceedings, before they were guillotined. Whatever else my right hon. Friend does, and whether he likes his allocation of time better than mine, I beg him at least to watch this. We have argued the case and have said "We shall have a Division on it ", but here the Government are saying "We shall jolly well see that you do not get a Division on it ", and they put in line 87.
My last point is about supplemental orders. If Members of the Liberal Party as the price for their vote, have been promised a Report stage which we do not know, but it was hinted at by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot)—clearly the Government must have a provision for supplemental orders. We all agree that the debate on supplemental orders has to be limited in time. One finds in paragraph 9 of the order that it is limited to one hour. Dealing with the question of supplemental orders, Erskine May, at page 448, states under the heading "Provisions for subsequent Supplementary Orders ":Two hours is the time generally specified, and allowance is made for any interruption of the debate…under Standing Order No. 9.That is the normal limit. Why has my right hon. Friend altered that? This is the custom of the House. If we are to have a Report stage and consideration of Lords Amendments, it is vital to have a proper discussion.
240 We looked at these two hour debates on the Select Committee on Procedure and we heard a good deal of evidence on the subject. We concluded that the limit of two hours was unsatisfactory and that one ought always to have three hours for these procedural debates. That will be found in our report. But apart from that—although the Government accepted our report, I do not expect them to bother about it now—I expect them at least to go back to what "Erskine May" says is the normal procedure of the House—two hours. I beg my right hon. Friend to consider that point.
I was rather alarmed by my right hon. Friend's speech. He seemed to imply that those of us who are against entering—I have never disguised my hostility to entering—should take no part in improving the Bill but merely wait to vote against Third Reading. I have never thought that that was my function. I believe that it would be a mistake for us to enter, but I have a duty, as a parliamentarian, to see that, if we are to enter, Parliament and the scrutiny of Parliament must be adequately protected. I have been alarmed when Amendments have been put forward by those who, unlike myself, are anxious to enter and the stubborn way in which the Government refuse to accept or consider any amendment. This is robbing Parliament of its main functions.
I regret this guillotine Motion. I regret very much that it is in defiance of all reports of the completely impartial Select Committee on Procedure and in defiance of the Standing Order. If it is passed unamended, the House will regret it in the future.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)
The right hon. Gentleman the Father of the House, with all his authority and profound knowledge and experience, has dealt with the major procedural aspects of this particular timetable Motion. The right hon. Gentleman the new leader of the House would be well advised to take careful note of what his right hon. Friend has just said, and of how his own attitudes and behaviour, at the beginning of his career as Leader of the House of Commons, are in clear conflict with the recommendations made by the Select Committee on Procedure, of which the 241 right hon. Gentleman the Father of the House has been such an influential member for so many years.
Equally, it is a matter of regret that the Solicitor-General was not present to listen to the right hon. Gentleman's speech. The Solicitor-General, not just as a matter of courtesy, had a professional duty to be in his place when the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of the Select Committee on Procedure was called. Those of us who are the humbler Members of the House and of the relevant Committee have become accustomed to the tearaway arrogance of the Solicitor-General and to how, instead of replying to a debate, he substitutes general reassurances that everything is all right and that there is nothing to be worried about. But although he treates us in that way, he ought not to have been absent when the right hon. Gentleman was making his profoundly important intervention.
The case made by the Leader of the House is a very poor one. Its poverty does not arise from either any of the right hon. Gentleman's shortcomings or from the fact that he has not been Leader of the House for very long. The poverty of his case for the Government arises from far more serious reasons which have to do with the background of this legislation and the political strategy that the Government have decided upon.
In the short time I wish to take up in the debate, I want to concentrate on this very general genesis of the legislation and the political attitudes of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House was also concentrating on this aspect of the matter. He clearly wants to establish a case in the country which will stand politically, when many of the electorate, in times to come, will ask him and his colleagues in the Government how they could be responsible for this kind of procedure when matters of this kind were debated.
I started my speech with an attack on the Solicitor-General because I hold him very largely responsible for the advice given to the Government on the kind of trickery in which the Government are deliberately engaging in trying to push through this legislation. I use my words carefully and deliberately. First, it has never been explained by the Government at what stage and why they abandoned 242 their original intention to have two Bills regarding entry to the Common Market. They ought at least to explain that tonight, when they are trying to obtain a vote in favour of a guillotine Motion. The Leader of the House was a member of the Cabinet throughout that period and he must know the facts.
Until the Division of 28th October, to which he several times so boastfully referred, it was received opinion from the Government by all leading political journalists that there would be two pieces of legislation. My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) referred to the inability of the Committee charged with discussing the Bill to discuss the very substance as it should be discussed because we were not allowed to debate the Treaty of Accession. Up to 28th October, the Government had allowed it to be public knowledge that there were to be two Bills, one separate Bill dealing with the Treaty of Accession. That is the way in which they captured some opinion both in the House and the country among those who were worried about the kind of procedure to be adopted. The Government know that the evidence for this is available.
But on 29th October, the Friday morning after the Division in the House at ten o'clock, a report appeared in all the leading political newspapers, notably by Mr. David Wood in The Times, to say that it was now being said by senior Ministers in Cabinet quarters that there was to be only one Bill and that, on the advice of the Solicitor-General, the idea of two Bills had been abandoned because it would take too much time and only one piece of legislation would be introduced. But the Government did not dare to let that information become known before the Division on 28th October. That is why I advisedly used the word "trickery ". When people ask later how this manoeuvre was carried out —and this is probably one of the last occasions when we shall be able to put on record an account of the chicanery deliberately practised by the Government to mislead the country and the House—the Solicitor-General will bear equal responsibility with the Leader of the House.
I come to a consideration which should attract the attention of our colleagues on the Liberal Benches and which is not so much a detailed argument about whether 243 there should be one more hour here or there. It is imperative as the Government have decided to abandon the idea of two pieces of legislation that the House of Commons should be its own master in determining how much time is to be devoted to debating the Bill. Should it not be equally argued that the Government should have said that they might take the whole year for the Bill to be debated in Parliament, as this was a subject of such momentous importance, introducing such tremendous changes in our constitutional procedures and in the country's future? The Government would have been able to tell the people, "We have spent the whole of that parliamentary year on the Bill, but what is wrong with that?" What would be dishonourable about a position of that kind, deliberately leaving it to the House of Commons to decide the amount of time required?
What we have had from the Solicitor-General has been arrogance and a denial that there is a problem, the brushing aside of any example of other assemblies that hon. Members may have given. If quotations from the Bundestag have been given, they have been laughed aside as not being matters for us.
The Solicitor-General has consistently argued that there is no problem, that we have been creating these worries in our own minds because we are opposed to the Bill. That has been his only argument. The Government have prayed in aid the views of my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever) and I hope that my right hon. Friend will return to future debates to explain his position further, as I am confident he will. The Government have no business to rest their case, as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is so fond of doing, on the more lighthearted remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Cheetham. They have a case to answer in their own right, and it is time that they did so.
We now have another piece of evidence which was not available to us in Committee when the Solicitor-General was brushing aside our objections and saying that there was no problem, possibly giving the impression that all the statesmen of the Six shared that view. However, that is not so. Between the debates 244 in Committee and today the Federal Chancellor has made an official visit to this country. He was interviewed on television only last week. The question was put to him by Mr. Robert Mackenzie, who picked his questions well and who had clearly read our debates carefully. He asked Herr Brandt:Do you not think that the transfer of parliamentary and legislative rights poses a very serious problem which has been preoccupying the minds of Members of the House of Commons over the last few weeks?Herr Brandt replied:There is a problemThat is not what the Solicitor-General told the House. He is constitutionally charged with the duty of guarding and preserving the rights of the British people. However, he has constantly said that there was no problem, but here was the Head of a Government of the Six saying immediately that there was a problem.
The indictment of the Government and the way in which they have treated this matter is their complete refusal to accept any Amendment or to make any provision that might recognise that there is a serious problem, to make a positive response to the many considerations urged upon them by Members from both sides of the House, by Members recognised on all sides as being in service, experience and devotion to the cause of Parliament the leading people in the United Kingdom. They have all been treated as though they were making a mountain out of nothing. That has been the Government's attitude and the timetable Motion is all of a piece with that attitude.
That is my only observation in this debate. Many points have already been established to show how contradictory to our constitutional traditions is the time-table Motion. Many of my hon. Friends and many hon. Members opposite will add substantially to the case. I wanted only to put on record the way in which the Government have treated Parliament and the nation in their handling of the Bill; first, by abandoning a second Bill, which would have allowed debate of the Treaty of Accession in the House and in Committee; secondly, by refusing further consultation of the British people in a general election, or by some other method; thirdly, by introducing a Bill which makes it virtually impossible 245
to discuss all the essential and substantive parts of the legislation.
Today they are crowning it all in this dismal way by imposing this guillotine Motion. It is a day when Members of all parties should stand up to be counted in defence of our parliamentary principles and normal procedure. They will be counted later when the people come to the realisation that not only have their rights been written away, but they have been written away by the arrogant approach of a Government without the constitutional responsibility to introduce legislation to allow the fullest debate on these momentous proposals, or to leave the House itself to decide how much time responsible and elected Members are entitled to have to debate these proposals.
The opposition to the time-table Motion will show the nation that there are serious debates to come, not only in the House, but throughout the country. When my party puts these unacceptable terms to the electorate at the next General Election, whenever that may be, all those who curtail debate by voting for the Motion will have to answer in each of the 630 constituencies throughout the United Kingdom.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)
I have listened to those debates that have taken place since I had my liberty to partake in them, and I think that the standard of the speeches has been of a high quality although also of a large quantity. On one occasion I left the House at half past seven, having sat through the entire debate, and we were still on the fifth speech of that debate. I think we could carry on these important debates in a somewhat quicker fashion, and I welcome the introduction of the timetable.
The Opposition have put forward a case and the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) has said consistently throughout the debates that this is such an important Bill that raises such constitutional and other issues that it must be debated at inordinate length upon the Floor of the House.
I do not deny the importance of the decision to join the European Communities. It is one of the most momentous and exciting decisions the country has ever taken. It is tremendously important.
However, I question whether these great constitutional implications can be read into the Bill. First, it is said to take away our legal sovereignty. Secondly, it is said to remove control from this Parliament over much of the detailed legislation of the future.
Let me take those two arguments. I deal first with sovereignty. After many days, the right hon. Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever), who I am delighted to see in the Chamber, came down like an Assyrian upon the fold of hon. Gentlemen and scattered them with one good speech which put the true position, which is that if Parliament takes the decision to join the Community at this stage and to enact the Bill, it can at a later stage take a different position and enact a different Bill. That is the legal position.
In my humble opinion, the right hon. Gentleman was absolutely right. So right was he that the fanatical anti-European, the right hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore), when I interrupted him and asked him what he thought about it, said that the right hon. Gentleman's argument was "unchallengeable but meaningless ". Therefore, we must first establish that even the opponents of the Bill have realised that the argument that legal sovereignty remains with this House and is unchallengable. [An HON. MEMBER: "But meaningless."] I will come to the second word, meaningless, in due course if hon. Members will allow me.
There is no question that sovereignty remains. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) bounced into these debates, made a passionate plea for a referendum, bounced out again and has not been seen since. I suppose that is because there has been a referendum in France and we have seen the way the French Government tried to drag into the issue of the enlargement of the Community, whether they can go on governing for another four years and whether they like their economic and industrial policies. That made a nonsense of the simple question whether Britain and the other applicants should join. They turned it into a political vote of confidence in themselves with a result that is not for me to comment upon. That would be the only way in which we could destroy 247 our sovereignty, as the right hon. Gentleman said in another good speech.
§ Mr. Harold Lever (Manchester, Cheetham)
I do not wish to bite the hand that pats me so approvingly, but there are two aspects of the matter on which it is possible to hold different views. I do not unsay what the hon. Gentleman said that I said on sovereignty, but would he deal with an important point that this side of the House and some hon. Members opposite are troubled, and reasonably troubled, about—the way in which their sovereignty will in future be exercised. Adopting the point made by the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton), is not a guillotine entirely untimely until the House has had an ad hoc Committee, not after but before the Bill is passed, to consider whether Clause 2 and other Clauses are drafted so that the sovereignty of Parliament, which I submit cannot be removed, is exercisable in a normal and satisfactory way in accordance with our traditions?
§ Mr. Ridley
I will be trying to answer the right hon. Gentleman's point, but if the hon. Gentleman wants to intervene at this stage—
§ Mr. Eric Deakins (Walthamstow, West)
The hon. Gentleman is saying that the referendum in France and one here would undermine parliamentary sovereignty. Would he apply that description to the bona fide referenda which have taken place in Denmark, Norway and Eire?
§ Mr. Ridley
I made a speech on the referendum in the debate that day and I explained how in my opinion no party can suffer a defeat on one of its main policies in a referendum and then continue to govern.
I am not here to do what I am told. I am here because I was elected on a certain basis which I put forward, and if that basis is denied to me it does not mean to say I quietly change my mind like some hon. Members opposite have done on this issue. I continue to believe in what I fought the General Election upon. It does not make sense to combine the sovereignty of Parliament with the 248 idea of a referendum. I do not want to re-open that matter.
I now come to the question of parliamentary control and the implication in all that has been said critical of the Bill and the timetable Motion that there is in the Bill new powers which no Bill has ever contained before to force upon the country decisions which, although we have a say, indeed a veto, in their formulation, will be taken outside the country by some other agency and will automatically be made law here. That is the argument.
There is nothing at all new about this situation. I quote in aid NATO, the International Monetary Fund and the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade. In particular, I should like to quote the EFTA Convention. We were and still are members of EFTA. Parliament passed a Bill that we should join EFTA and in so doing we conceded the power to others to make regulations binding upon this country. I quote Article 32(4) of the EFTA Convention:In exercising its responsibility under paragraph 1 of this Article, the Council may take decisions which shall be binding on all Member States and may make recommendations to Member States.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
Does my hon. Friend realise that in the treaties he has enumerated from one of which he has read, there is provided in each case a period for denunciation which varies from six to 12 months? Is that a sufficient difference between them and the European Communities Treaties? On the subject of sovereignty and the right to resile, would my hon. Friend bear in mind—I have not heard him mention it yet—that the Brussels Court, the European Court, has held in two cases that any Act of Parliament passed in the Member States after entry which is inconsistent with the treaty obligations is an invalid Act of Parliament.
§ Mr. Ridley
Most of what my hon. Friend says is true. I will come to that. I will state a few examples of EFTA Regulations which have been binding on us. First, we were not allowed to subsidise industries under Article 13. When the previous Government subsidised the aluminium smelters they protested. There was a considerable rumpus in EFTA because we had gone against our Treaty 249 obligations on that occasion. When they brought in the import surcharge they were breaking Article 3 of the EFTA Convention and again there was a major shindig. In that case they were forced to withdraw, but in the former case they were not. So surely this convention is deficient.
What is the point of signing a convention and then saying: "We feel free to break it. We do not mind if we flaunt it. If we get into trouble they cannot really do anything to coerce us." This seems the worst kind of attitude to any international treaty.
If we are to sign international or other such treaties we must have good faith and stick to them. There is no point in signing a treaty if we reserve the right to break its rules. That is what the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) was saying. He said that despite the fact that against his will this country is joining the Common Market, Parliament must be given a chance to break the rules and to forbid the directives. [HONn. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, that is what the hon. Gentleman said.
§ Mr. Harold Leverrose—
§ Mr. Ridley
I will give way to the right hon. Gentleman in a moment. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale put forward the mild proposition that the price of corn should be fixed and that this House should have the opportunity to discuss it. He then went on to ask, "What opportunity will there be for this House to control it?". There is all the difference in the world between discussing something which you have to accept and controlling it. If it is a binding article of a treaty, whether of Stockholm or of Rome, we must accept it. We cannot then defeat it. If it is not binding, there is not much virtue in it.
§ Mr. Harold Lever
Is not the hon. Gentleman missing the whole point? What I and most right hon. and hon. Members on this side of the House want, should we go in, is not the power to break a treaty once it has been signed, but the right to control Ministers before they accede to a treaty thereby making it the law of this land. We do not want Parliament to he faced with a fait accompli, but to be able to bring its influence and judgment to bear upon the 250 Minister before he accedes to a treaty which then becomes law.
§ Mr. Ridley
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. He and I seem to be very much in accord. I hope that I am not being embarrassing in suggesting that. It seems that this House should be concentrating not on trying to get power to negate or vote down agreements, directives and regulations which have been voluntarily entered into by the British representative on the Council of Ministers, but to make quite clear to the Minister who is going to Brussels, either to accept or vote against any regulation or directive, what this House will and will not accept. That seems entirely laudable and I will support any right hon. or hon. Gentleman who advances successful ways of doing that.
The Opposition are trying to suggest that the powers in the Bill, whereby directives and regulations which have been made and accepted by the British Government shall be binding upon this country, should in some way be denied, thwarted or controlled. That seems to me to destroy the case of the opponents of the timetable, because the Bill is in no way different from the EFTA Convention.
This is not a new constitutional situation; this is not a loss of legal sovereignty. This is a most important Bill on a most important subject. I believe that we are tackling it altogether too negatively with too much opposition to what is proposed and too little constructive forethought about how we should adjust our parliamentary institutions to meet the new situation. I believe in the co-operative effort which the Bill enables us to make in Europe. If we are to get on with that co-operative effort we should accept the Motion and think about the future instead of the past.
§ 5.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)
This is a contemptible and despicable Motion. I think the French word by which it would be described is méprisable. My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) recalled the Prime Minister's election speech in which he pledged that the Conservative Party would not enter the Common 251 Market except on the basis of the full-hearted consent of the British Parliament and people. Whatever else the Prime Minister may or may not have said about the Common Market in the General Election campaign, he certainly did not say that he would seek to achieve the full-hearted consent of Parliament and people with the aid of an axe.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale made a superb speech. By comparison, the speech of the Leader of the House was deeply apologetic. The right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton), from all his experience as Father of the House, was alarmed by his right hon. Friend's speech.
Never was a Motion of this kind put forward with less justification. The Leader of the House admitted that the Bill is unparalleled. He was wise to say so. Unlike his hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), he readily conceded that there had been no filibustering by opponents of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman was also wise to say that. My recollection is that one of the longest speeches in Committee so far has come from my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever). So far as I am aware, he is no opponent of the Bill. The Solicitor-General and his ministerial colleagues have detained the Committee with tediously long speeches.
For their part, the Bill's opponents have been nothing if not expeditious in discussing Clauses 1 and 2. I go further than the Leader of the House. In my view, our debates on Clauses 1 and 2 have been much too brief. We have given inadequate, not inordinate, attention to these Clauses.
It has always been the Government's intention to make use of the guillotine. The right hon. Gentleman's precedessor made it clear at the outset that this was in the Government's mind. It was made plain to me in answer to an Oral Question, even at the time when the Bill was published, that use of the guillotine was already under consideration.
I have argued that, if anything, there has so far been too little discussion on Clauses 1 and 2. I am reminded of our debates on Wednesday of last week. We 252 were then discussing the common agriculture policy of the European Economic Community. We waited all day for an intervention from the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, who was eventually brought into the debate, clearly against his will, after midnight. He has yet to say anything purposeful about the implications of accepting the agricultural provisions of the Bill.
Clause 2 has been described as odious by my right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore). Whatever view may be taken about the Clause, it cannot be denied that it is of deep constitutional significance. I have never seen the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster look more serene than he looked this afternoon. It may be recalled that, as Parliamentary Private Secretary, I used to assist my right hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) when he was Leader of the House. In the last Parliament, the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon)—now the Chancellor of the Duchy—was the personification of uncontrollable anger when my right hon. Friend introduced the most modest of timetable Motions. The right hon. and learned Gentleman used to throw missiles across the table. He came near to causing physical harm to some of my right hon. and hon. Friends. It may be that my right hon. Friend the Member for Cheetham escaped injury.
§ Mr. Harold Lever
My hon. Friend will realise my anxiety to transport the right hon. and learned Gentleman as soon as possible to a European Parliament so that the rest of us might be safer.
§ Mr. Morris
My right hon. Friend has made many humourous interventions. I shall not follow him in that point. I am mindful of the fact that many right hon. and hon. Members wish to participate in the debate.
There has been much dissimulation from the Government. Two weeks ago I asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he wasprepared now to seek ratification with the EEC of the Lancaster House agreement with the Commonwealth sugar producers.The Minister said:The Lancaster House agreement was accepted by the EEC. It was also accepted by all the Commonwealth sugar-producing countries."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th April, 1972. Vol. 835, c. 217.]253 I hope that the Chancellor of the Duchy will tell us when the Lancaster House agreement was accepted by the European Economic Community. As far as we know, that agreement has never been accepted by the EEC. Indeed, many of us fear that it will never be accepted. We have deep anxiety for the future of many of the poorer countries of the Commonwealth.
The Motion proposes that on the twelfth day we shall takeClause 12 and remaining proceedings in Committee,"—presumably including all the new Clauses. There will be scant time to debate the new Clauses submitted from both sides of the House. This shows high contempt for the House of Commons—in the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale, full-hearted contempt for the House. Hon. Members on both sides have played a distinguished role in our debates in Committee so far. I hope that every hon. Member will look again at the terms and implications of the Motion. I should like to think that we shall be surprised, after the Division tonight, to find that there is a majority of the House of Commons that is not prepared to be steam-rollered in this way by any Government of whatever kind.
§ 5.53 p.m.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
All debates on guillotine Motions now start on the basis of the established fact that guillotines in the post-war era have become a familiar fact of parliamentary life. Familiarity has had the same effect as it has, in other contexts, in the permissive society, that practices that were formerly looked on askance or frowned upon are greeted now with acquiescence, if not with positive complaisance. It has certainly been so with the guillotine. It is for that reason that our debates on guillotine Motions in recent years have taken on a certain ritual aspect, particularly with right hon. Gentlemen on the two Front Benches, who could well exchange briefs and speeches according to which Front Bench they happen to be sitting on at that time.
It is, after all, not unnatural, because the use of the guillotine is infectious, and its use by one Government is an incentive to the next and a justification for its use by the next when they come to 254 defend it. The old rule still applies: those who use the guillotine fall by the guillotine. It was so in the case of Danton and Robespierre and it is so in the case of our legislative processes.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I shall not follow the right hon. Gentleman in that train of thought. The right hon. Gentleman has an engaging characteristic of developing as the main themes of our discourse those that the rest of us throw in as ancillary and collateral matters. I must resist the temptation, at any rate for the moment.
The consequence has been that in these debates the fervour of denunciation is hushed, not only by the consciousness of past misdeeds, but by the full expectation and intention of future indulgence in them. Therefore, sincerity becomes suspect, or at any rate the fires of controversy are considerably damped. That is a fair picture of these matters as I have seen them develop over a quarter of a century or so.
It has been clear to Governments ever since the Attlee Government that for a heavy legislative programme it may well be necesary to resort to the guillotine procedure. I therefore doubt if any hon. Member, however much he may dislike the guillotine in principle or in practice, would advance the proposition that it should be totally forsworn and abandoned as an instrument of government. It is not open to any hon. Member to denounce the guillotine bell, book and candle, or to say that the principle of it is so odious that its use can never be justified. I myself would certainly not take that position, even if it were intellectually tenable, which I think that it is not. I have voted for far too many guillotine Motions to be able to do so.
The position today is this. The ordinary guillotine debate turns on matters of degree and the logistics of the parliamentary timetable, the balancing of the hours taken against the assessment of the hours that would be reasonable, and so on. I believe that the present case is the exception to the norm and is not to be judged by that sort of mathematical assessment. It is exceptional because the Bill is 255 unique. In answer to myself last Thursday my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House said thatthe total amount of time…will be exceptional not only by all past standards but for any Bill of any comparable nature…".— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th April, 1972; Vol. 835, c. 1782.]There is no Bill of any comparable nature, because this Bill is unique. Therefore, there is no substance in claims of generosity based on past provisions for comparable Bills, because no such comparability exists.
The fallacy was illustrated a few days ago when one of the national newspapers made the suggestion—perhaps echoing the view of the Government; I know not—that a comparison could be made with the Selective Employment Payments Bill, because it contained the same number of Clauses. That is a very superficial basis of comparison. It would be just as realistic to say, for example, that, because one set of traffic signals was adequate for two miles of rural road, therefore the same provision was adequate for two miles of road in the centre of London. This matter cannot be measured by the yard, nor by simple arithmetic. It is the contents of the Clauses, not their number, which matter, and the character of the Bill, not its length.
The character of this Bill is constitutional. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton) has said, there is no precedent for the guillotining of a constitutional Bill. It would certainly seem a pity to establish a precedent with a Bill of this uniquely important character.
The number of Clauses is few, but their content is massive, particularly the content of Clauses 1 and 2. Forced into the straitjacket of those two Clauses are provisions which would normally fill not merely many Clauses but many Bills, provisions which have the effect of subordinating our parliamentary sovereignty and by-passing our parliamentary processes over a vast range of our economic and social life. Such a Bill needs extensive discussion, and Parliament would be failing in its duty if it failed to give it that extensive discussion.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House referred more than once this afternoon to the Government's duty, but it is 256 not only the Government who have a duty in this matter. Parliament has a duty, the fundamental duty of probing the Bill.
The discussion so far has been lengthy not only because of the importance of the Bill but because of its complexity. Time has been spent not just on challenge, as my right hon. Friend seemed to think, but on examination, inquiry, probing and testing, all the things which it is the duty of Parliament to do. This was made very clear in one of those excellent articles by Mr. T. J. O. Hickey, in The Times. He wrote on 30th March:Clause 1 provides a definition of the term 'Community treaty '. It may occasion surprise that even the House of Commons, even in critical mood, can spend 36 hours without concluding an argument about the meaning of so ordinary an expression. But it has causeHe goes on to give the reasons in detail, and then says:A copious source of domestic law is thus created proof against any further attentions from Parliament. Some members of Parliament understandably want first to be given a clear and definite statement of the ambit of these novel law-making procedures, and second to introduce greater parliamentary control over its further extension than is provided in the Bill. In the second they have so far failed, in the first they have only partially succeeded.The two objectives to which he there refers are clearly legitimate and, most would say, essential objects of parliamentary interest and activity. The time taken, he says, was not enough. The shorter the time on the Bill, the less the chance of Parliament doing its duty.
The discussion is to be curtailed for no good reason, not even for any plausible reason. Certainly, no case for curtailing the examination of the Bill can be based, as the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) made clear, on the result of a declaratory Motion passed three months before the Bill even saw the light of day. Such a suggestion is both barren of logic and devoid of constitutional principle. Parliament does not work by declaratory Motions enacting nothing and effecting nothing. Parliament works by the mechanism of its own legislative mills, which, like the mills of God, grind slowly but grind exceeding small or rather, they do so when they are allowed to. When they are not allowed to, there is a clear danger that the end product of those curtailed legislative processes will be ill-formed, indigestible and unworthy of parliamentary genesis.
257 The guillotine is justified, no doubt, where obstructionist tactics impose delay. In virtually every guillotine motion that I have known that has been the prime reason advanced for its imposition. That is not the case here. No responsible person has alleged it, and my right hon. Friend this afternoon has expressly disclaimed it. He said last Thursday that the time taken on the Bill has been extremely long. He chose the words carefully, no doubt, and avoided the use of the phrase "excessively long ". The test is not whether proceedings are long in the abstract but whether they are long in proportion to the content and effect of the Bill. Discussions can be long, and yet merely reflect the punctilious discharge by Parliament of its duty.
The quality of the debate, as testified by my right hon. Friend and others, has been high. We have had no charges of obstruction or delay, and certainly I have no complaint against the conduct of the debate in the speeches of my right hon. and learned and hon. and learned Friends who are charged with the conduct of the Bill.
§ Sir David Renton (Huntingdonshire)
As my right hon. and learned Friend is mentioning the part he has played in the debate, and I suppose he thinks it is true of others too, will he say whether his purpose has been to improve the Bill or prevent its being passed into law?
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
That is a very easy question. My right hon. and learned Friend must polish up the technique of cross-examination if he is going to undertake that task with me. My object throughout, as those who have been diligent in their attendance in the Committee can confirm and testify, has been what the object of every parliamentarian should be, to probe the Bill, to test it, to challenge it where necessary and to elucidate it. All this we have been doing through long and laborious nights. I hope that our example will infect my right hon. and learned Friend, and that in the future we shall have the benefit of his unquestioned talents in performing those salutary and necessary processes in the Committee.
I repeat that the quality of the debate has been high, and the purpose has been a proper parliamentary purpose. What 258 then has gone wrong? I believe that nothing has gone wrong with the partipants in the drama. It is the play that is at fault, the Bill itself. Its content and complexity compel lengthy discussion, and the more discussion has proceeded, the more unsatisfactory the Bill has been found to be.
I must remind hon. Members in general, in so far as they need it, and my right hon. and learned Friend in particular, that that sort of examination and probing is the prime duty of Parliament as it has been handed down over the generations. If I were of a cynical turn of mind, which the House well knows I am not, I might be inclined to think that the main fault of these proceedings in the eyes of the Government has been not their length but their effect and their tenor, because the longer the discussion, the clearer it has become that the proponents of the Bill cannot effectively make their case.
We have seen a persistent dichotomy, a contrast, in that the voting has perpetually negatived the result of the argument. My right hon. and learned and hon. and learned Friends have had the worst of the argument. That is no reflection on the skill of their advocacy. They both have very high forensic and parliamentary quality. They have failed because the content of their case has decreed that they must fail.
They have had little dialectical support from the pro-Marketeer private Members, who have been conspicuous neither in contribution to the debate nor even in attendance. They have occasionally flitted in and out of the Chamber like Burke's transient and embarrassed phantoms, reappearing in response to the harsh and strident summons of the Division bell, and then disappearing as quickly as possible, as if afraid that if they stayed to listen to the argument, they would weaken in their resolve—to harken only to the Whip and have no other gods before it. I regret this Motion. The case for it is not made out. If it is rejected the worst that can happen is that we shall go on considering the Bill as it should be considered into perhaps August and September and who will begrudge that? We are always told that nothing happens in the Common Market during August and September, that it is a close season.
259 Surely all these passionate advocates of entry, this majority of 112 we hear about would think it a very small price to pay to sit here through August in order to debate this uniquely important Bill. We may not want to. I do not pretend that the prospect gives me unqualified joy, but I am fully prepared to do so and Parliament should do so. The central consideration is surely this: Parliament should and must do its full duty, and on this uniquely important Bill curtailed and abbreviated discussion is not compatible with that duty.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)
In listening to the more flowery phrases of the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith), as, indeed, when listening to the more passionate phrases of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) this afternoon, I was reminded of the occasion when Mr. Harold Macmillan introduced a guillotine Motion when he was Minister of Housing and Local Government on 22nd February, 1954. He described what happens better than I have heard described at any time while I have been in the House as follows:What happens is this. The right hon. and hon. Members who find themselves for the moment in Opposition are filled with an extraordinary devotion to the principles of constitutional Government, to the free rights of Members, to the long historic struggle of Parliament against the Executive, to the cause for which Hampden died in field and Sidney on the scaffold. But when, with the all-healing flow of time, these same Members find themselves upon the Government benches they become comparatively immune to these high-flown sentiments. They are influenced by the urgent necessity which every Government feel to carry through their Parliamentary business with some relation to the calendar and to the march of events."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd February, 1954, Vol. 524, c. 42.]What the right hon. and learned Gentleman said earlier about himself having voted for a guillotine in the past brings in a new theme which is that while one may be in favour of guillotines in principle on some occasions, one is always against this particular guillotine at any moment.
§ Mr. Norman Buchan(Renfrew, West) rose—
§ Mr. Steel
Perhaps I may finish my opening sentences. The hon. Member for 260 Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Alfred Morris) referred to the time when he was PPS to the Leader of the House who introduced what he called a "modest guillotine ". He did not enlarge upon what is the difference between an ordinary guillotine and a modest guillotine. We have all at some time or other been in favour of guillotine Motions and when it comes to a particular one we say that we are against it.
§ Mr. Buchan
The initial quotation was made with reference to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot). Presumably it had some significance in relation to what my hon. Friend said. May I ask the hon. Gentleman, first, whether he heard it and, secondly, whether he understood it?
§ Mr. Steel
What I want to deal with is what should be our ordinary procedure in handling highly contentious Bills of this kind. I refer particularly to the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton) because he has been Chairman of the Select Committee on Procedure. He will know that in the Session 1966–67 when he and I were members of the Select Committee we recommended in the first report:Your Committee believe that the House should come to accept timetabling for Bills as a more regular practice.That ought to be the case and that is the view I and my colleagues have always taken on the timetabling of this and other Bills.
The then Leader of the House in the Labour Government, when he came before the Committee to give evidence—Members can read this in the minutes of evidence for 20th July, 1966—actually went further and outlined what he thought would be a reasonable scheme. I do not propose to weary the House with quoting the whole of it. His conclusion was that he always had the impression that despite the current objections that might exist between Government and Opposition, timetabling of Bills would work and it ought to be introduced.
261 The right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton last took part in a guillotine debate on the occasion of the Industrial Relations Bill (Allocation of Time) Motion. He said then:I beg right hon. and hon. Members opposite to be their age and to get down to this inescapable parliamentary fact. We have important matters to discuss. The best way of doing so is to find a timetable that is reasonable."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th January, 1971, Vol. 810, c. 96.]That was his view then, that was our view then, and it remains our view now. When the right hon. Gentleman raises objections to the fact that the Leader of the House has not chosen to send this to the Business Committee I would point out that this was done on the Industrial Relations Bill and we on this bench voted against the guillotine then precisely because what we forecast would happen did happen—large chunks of the Bill were not discussed at all.
The advantage of this Motion is that while some hon. Members may agree and some degree about the generosity of the timing there is no doubt that every portion of the Bill will be discussed—
§ Mr. Steel
I have said that some may disagree about the generosity. What will happen with this Motion is quite different from what happened on the Industrial Relations Bill because there is no question of part of the Bill going through totally undiscussed, Clause after Clause. That happened then.
The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale made great play in his speech about the habit of myself and my colleagues of retiring after midnight. [HON. MEMBERS: "Before."] What he does not seem to be aware of is the evidence which his own Chief Whip has given to the current Select Committee on Procedure. In the report just published the Opposition Chief Whip, giving evidence on 9th February, said:I think it is about time the Members of the House considered the staff, the Speaker, the policemen, the catering staff and the one hundred and one other people who are all busy in the House—not busy in fact but most of them sitting around waiting for the odd one or two Members who like to be in the House after 12 o'clock at night. I think there is a case to be made for the abolition of this…262 That is precisely the view we have always taken and I am glad to see that part of the Opposition support this view.
The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale also made great play of the fact that negotiations and discussions had taken place between ourselves and the Patronage Secretary. This is a surprise to him. It is something new that an Opposition Whip might at some time discuss timetabling with the Government Whip. He seems never to have heard of the "usual channels ". We never hear about what goes on. Why ought there to be any difference, or impropriety, in discussions between the Whip of a minority party and the Patronage Secretary as against the Whip of the major Opposition party? I may not be a usual channel—I am a rather unusual channel—but it is clear that the principle of the discussion was exactly the same. The same offer of discussion was made to the Opposition Chief Whip as was made to me. He chose to turn it down. That is a matter for the Opposition but they cannot complain that certain parts of the timetable are ungenerous after refusing to take any part in the discussion which led to its drafting.
We did, and we gained some concessions to our point of view. I will deal with one such point, raised by the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie), about the legal effect of part of the Bill on Scotland. That was a point on which we said that the Government had given inadequate time and we had the discussion extended from half a day to a full day. Hon. Members may say that this is still inadequate but at least we took part in the discussions, at least we were willing to discuss.
In the debate on the Industrial Relations Bill, referring to the Select Committee on Procedure, I said—as a result of the guillotine on the Bill—that we might implement the recommendations of the Select Committee and agree to a proper timetable for contentious Bills on the Floor of the House before we began the Committee stage. My right hon. and hon. Friends reiterated that view in Motion No. 242, to which the Leader of the House referred, in which we regretted the use of the closure Motion to terminate debates on the Bill and called for urgent discussions between the parties to agree a fair timetable to allow full and thorough 263 discussion of each stage of the Bill. That was our view then, it remains our view now and it will be our view as expressed in the Lobby tonight.
§ Mr. Maclennan
The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) supports the guillotine Motion by reference to contentious Bills. Does he not consider that the European Communities Bill is a unique Bill which should not be categorised with the other Bills with which he has sought to draw a parallel? Does not he also accept that his posture gives support to the general view that prevails both in the House and outside that the Liberal Party does not wish to participate closely in discussion of the issues attached to the Bill but rather to make postures and generalised declarations?
§ Mr. Steel
I would only say to the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) that our posture is a good deal more wholesome than his when he tries to have the argument both ways, first voting against his colleagues and the next minute trying to work his passage back, but that is a matter for him. We have at least been consistent throughout in our views upon the Bill. We may be, in the eyes of hon. Members, consistently wrong, but at least we stick to our views.
§ Mr. Steel
Absence is the point I am coming to. One would think on listening to the speeches made against the guillotine Motion today that there had been fierce, vigorous, consistent, wholehearted opposition to the Bill throughout. Yet, apart from the opening speeches, throughout the debate today no more than a dozen Labour Members have been present, except for a few who came in a moment ago.
Let us consider some of the Divisions on the Bill. Last Tuesday there was a Division at twenty-five minutes to midnight on a closure Motion. There were five Liberals in the "No" Lobby together with others and the Government's majority was 41. Let it not be said that the Opposition have been hounding the Government closely night in, night out. Again, last Thursday, on 264 the only Amendment so far debated which we have supported against the Government there was a majority of 26. The instructions given by the Opposition Chief Whip to his party members in a two-line Whip have apparently been m the form: "He that hath no stomach for this fight, let him depart ". They have taken him at his word and departed.
§ Mr. Michael Foot
The statement that that is the implication of what was said or what was said in any form is absolutely false.
§ Mr. Steel
Whether it was said or not, hon. Members have acted in that way and it is wrong to give the impression, based on the Second Reading vote, that this has been a closely-fought Bill throughout, because it has not been.
I grant that the Bill has been closely fought by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale and about a dozen other Opposition hon. Members who feel strongly on the issue, and indeed by a group of hon. Members on the Government side, but it has certainly not been fought by the great mass of 200 or 300 hon. Members. Hon. Members stress the Vote of February of this year on Second Reading, but surely that is a matter which should be glossed over by members of the Labour Party, because the Vote in October was a far more realistic impression of the true opinion on a free vote of the Labour Party both in the House and in the country than the vote on Second Reading. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."]
We have to decide whether the Motion before us allows time for reasonable debate. What are the alternatives? One alternative is to go on having endless debate night in and night out, recess in and recess out, until some late day. That would not be regarded outside the House as a satisfactory way of continuing the debate. Apart from hon. Members who are particularly enthusiastic on the subject, all-night sittings or near all-night sittings are not to be desired.
The second alternative is to have an imposed "chopper ". Again that is not desirable. Therefore, the right course is to have an agreed voluntary timetable, as was recommended by the Select Committee in the time of the Labour Government. The fact that the Labour Party has chosen not to participate in a voluntary timetable is entirely a matter for that 265 party, but it cannot complain that it did not get the opportunity to be consulted.
The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale asked what the Liberal Party gets out of this and suggested that a few peerages might be in order. If that was meant as a gibe we are sufficiently thick-skinned to ignore it, but if the hon. Member meant it as a serious innuendo it is strange coming from him since the hon. Member's brother was recommended by the Leader of the Liberal Party for a peerage, another brother was recommended for a peerage by the Labour Government and a third brother was recommended for a knighthood. He is the only one left as plain Mr. Foot. Hence, no doubt, his passionate interest in the subject.
I assure the hon. Member that there is something that we get out of this. If the House will forgive me, it involves my telling a short story of the time when I was fighting the by-election at Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles.
§ Mr. Steel
Most hon. Members will know that there is one characteristic of a by-election campaign which distinguishes it from a General Election campaign. It is that one is honoured by the presence in one's constituency of a large number of hon. Members, some of them of quite senior status. During my by-election in 1965 I had visitations from virtually the entire Conservative Shadow Cabinet of the day.
I remember going to a village meeting in a small village in Roxburghshire. When I arrived at this small farming community, there, outside the school hall where the meeting was taking place, was a chauffeur-driven Jaguar. I knew that none of my farmworkers had a Jaguar and I was immediately suspicious. When I went into address the two dozen people present there in the second row, wearing Wellington boots and darkened glasses, was the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Lord Lambton), who is now Under-Secretary of State for Defence for 266 the Royal Air Force. After I had spoken he attacked me on the question of the Common Market. He said that the Common Market would ruin my conconstituents—no doubt his view has changed slightly since then. What the Liberal Party gets out of it is the satisfaction of seeing carried through into legislation something for which the party has fought in the teeth of opposition from both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party for many, many years.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Alan Haselhurst (Middleton and Prestwich)
There are times when the House has unexpectedly to turn to great issues, but today is not one of those times. Almost everyone knew that a timetable Motion would come. It is welcomed by a great many Opposition hon. Members not because they have contempt for the processes of this House but because even on such an issue as this enough is enough. It was predictable that some well-polished and well-prepared phrases of protest would emanate from right hon. and hon. Members opposite because we have heard them before on many occasions. This debate, like so much of the proceedings in Committee and earlier, is an excuse to use again many familiar arguments.
The Bill is an important one and it should have an exceptional amount of time for discussion. That it is getting it in ample measure has been fairly demonstrated by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. The time-table ensures that time will be allocated sensibly over the whole of the Committee stage. It is also clear that a time-table will guard against the danger of a filibuster should any hon. Member attempt to mount one. I am not saying, and nor did my right hon. Friend, that there has been any attempt at a filibuster so far, but it would be very difficult not to read into the remarks of certain opponents of the Bill that it is a device to which they might resort in due course.
There is one other important factor about this important Bill. I believe it is essential for the Government to get their Bill without undue delay. I think the Government are entitled to ask this in view of the vote in principle on 28th October. I do not accept the view of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. 267 Michael Foot) that the vote on Second Reading was the more important of the two. On the second occasion many right hon. and hon. Members did not vote according to their conscience and their sense of principle. The first occasion on the principle of entry was the real test of opinion.
§ Mr. Brynmor John (Pontypridd)
Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that on the first occasion we were not voting on the Bill?
§ Mr. Haselhurst
I will come to that point in a moment. I accept that there have been newer measures since that time. But I do not accept the suggestion that the Second Reading vote is a better test than that of 28th October.
§ Mr. Marten
Does not my hon. Friend recognise that in the case of the vote on 28th October the Labour Party had a three-line Whip which some right hon. and hon. Members opposite defied but that on Second Reading on 17th February, with another three-line Whip, their Europeanism or their love of the Common Market was not strong enough? That vote on Second Reading stands, and the situation must be judged on the basis of that vote.
§ Mr. Haselhurst
My hon. Friend is looking at the situation in an individualistic way and seeking to draw comfort from that vote, particularly when the majority in favour of the principle would have been even greater in the absence of a three-line Whip on the previous occasion.
If some right hon. and hon. Members consider it too much that I say that the Government should be entitled to get their Bill, at least it is fair that the business on this Measure should be brought to finality fairly soon—
§ Mr. Haselhurst
My first reason for saying that is that there are people in business and industry who are not conversant with our processes in this House and who are holding back until the final stages of those processes have been completed—
§ Mr. Haselhurst
There are those in business and industry who are prepared to take literally some of the more eccentric comments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). However, bearing in mind the important position of industry in the context of British entry into the Common Market, surely even sincere opponents of the Bill should concede that Parliament's final decision on the matter should be sooner rather than later. Do they really believe that the decision, which is likely in the end to be in favour of entry, is best put off until the very last moment, until 31st December, with the result that industry is not as prepared as it should be for British entry? Alternatively, if the decision at the end of the day was in a negative sense, would not some companies, in an attempt to anticipate the national interest and to act as they saw it in the national interest in advance of Parliament's decision, have committed themselves to certain expenditures which would then be unnecessary? If that consequence came about, do the Bill's opponents believe that it would be in the national interest which some of them defend so zealously?
There are other people outside this House who have to make plans on the eventuality of our going into the Common Market. I believe it is reasonable that they should have time to prepare for Britain's entry. If we are to go into the Common Market, we should be allowed to go in with the best possible chance of success. That ought to be conceded by the opponents of the Bill. It is a vital issue, but let it at least be decided finally—
§ Mr. John Smith (Lanarkshire, North)
The hon. Gentleman appears to be arguing that a decision should be reached finally on this matter fairly soon. Would it not be possible for that result to be arrived at and also to have full discussion if the Government gave up some of their other Bills and allowed full discussion of this Measure? Is not the real reason for this guillotine not a desire to enter Europe but a desire to do that and to have all their other Measures as well —in other words, to have their cake and eat it?
§ Mr. Haselhurst
I understand why the hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North (Mr. John Smith) is not so sympathetic to some of the other Measures being brought forward by the Government. Just as he is against them, I am entitled to be in favour of them. I do not see why the price of entry into the Common Market or just a decision on this Bill should be that all the Government's other legislation should be sacrificed.
I turn now to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson) that somehow implicit in this Motion is a defiance of the public will. We must be very careful how any of us attempt to say what public opinion is at any time on any one issue.
Most people believe that this matter has been settled. With whatever degree of resignation or regret, they believe the matter to have been settled. When questioned, many of them believe that the decision has been taken in the national interest at least, if not according to their personal preferences. I was made aware today that there is a residual campaign against entry into the Common Market. On the front page of one of my local newspapers, the Prestwich and White field Guide, an advertisement appeared inviting the people of Prestwich, who I am assured by some are to a large extent against the idea of entry, to make arrangements to write to me setting out their protests or to make an appointment to see me today. Precisely two people have chosen to do that. I think that is indicative of the state of public opinion today.
Most people wonder what we are doing in this House when we take hours and hours to discuss a principle and a decision which, I believe, they think has been taken. The idea that right hon. and hon. Members opposite can represent themselves as champions of the people does not wash—
§ Mr. Buchan
May I put one practical point to the hon. Gentleman in order to show how wrong he is? Last week, in the short space of a virtual Second Reading debate we destroyed 25 years of bipartisan legislation on agriculture in five or six hours. That is a very serious practical issue. We have accepted thousands of regulations and scrapped others 270 which have taken us years to build up. Does not this require serious analysis?
§ Mr. Haselhurst
There may be two views of that. However, I was remarking on what I considered to be public opinion on these matters and I was trying to answer the point which had been made by the hon. Member for Penistone.
Another argument that we have heard today is the constitutional one. It is said that the nature of the Bill is such that the guillotine should not he used on it since we are involved in a non-reversible piece of legislation. I have never believed this legislation to be non-reversible. I hope I shall never come to a situation where I feel that entry has proved so disastrous for the country that I shall want to urge Britain to leave the Common Market. However, in such an unlikely eventuality I believe that would be possible. Indeed, many right hon. and hon. Members opposite are suggesting up and down the country that this could be a plank of their policy at the next General Election.
I do not believe that the guillotine can be ruled out because of the peculiar constitutional importance of this Measure—
§ Mr. Ridley
My hon. Friend will remember that the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) stated the Labour Party's position to be that if he and his right hon. and hon. Friends won the ensuing General Election they would wait a year, then hold a referendum and then decide whether to join the Community. If that is their policy, they too must believe that it is possible to reverse the decision on the Bill.
§ Mr. Haselhurst
My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) pointed out that this could be a never-ending procedure, but clearly the minds of all right hon. and hon. Members of the Opposition are not closed as to future options.
There are a great number of fears about the future of Britain as a member of the Common Market. We have heard expressions of doom and woe in this House and, rather more wildly, words such as "betrayal" and "treason" have not been uncommon. I am tempted to ask when I hear all these doom-laden expressions haw it is that other countries 271 have taken the step against which we are being warned in such dire terms, albeit from different starting points. Nevertheless, all member countries will be arriving at more or less the same position vis-a-vis the European Economic Community and, with no disrespect to this Parliament and its unique history, I ask how other legislatures which have had all these fears and alarms have still taken the decisive step. Some have had much greater fears about linking up together in the European Economic Community than we in this country might be expected to have, but the fact is that those countries took that decision and in the 14 years in which they have had time to regret it they have not done so.
Of course I recognise that apprehensions will exist because we are talking about the future, but I believe that those apprehensions are matched, and even outmatched, by the hopes which attach to British entry. We should be looking to the future, directing Britain on a new course. We have been pondering this not just for 10 years since the beginning of Britain's negotiations but for the 17 years since the Treaty of Messina, if not the 27 years since Sir Winston Churchill first began to talk in terms of European unity. Some of the details are newer but surely 200 hours of debate is sufficient time to deal with these details if minds are concentrated, as perhaps a guillotine Motion will ensure they are concentrated.
Some opponents of the Bill, however, are not interested in a reasonable allocation of time. Their purpose is not to examine the Bill but to kill it. The steps we are being asked to take and to hurry to take are important and historic. That I accept. Further to that, I believe that Europe will be a better place and Britain a greater country if we can make decisive progress.
§ 6.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald King Murray (Edinburgh, Leith)
I shall not follow the hon. Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Mr. Haselhurst) in detail but will make just two comments on what he has said. I think he has not been conspicuous by his presence during the Committee stage of the Bill. I do not think he has been present at any of the stages. Secondly, so far as I recollect his remarks, the implication of his speech is that we ought 272 to weigh in the same balance the convenience of the business community and the beliefs of Parliament and the people. I reject that entirely and completely.
§ Mr. Sydney Chapman (Birmingham, Handsworth)
To set the record straight, may I point out that my hon. Friend has been here very regularly, not only during the committee stage but also during the preliminary debates.
§ Mr. Murray
I did not mean to bring the record into question; I was merely giving my impression of the hon. Member's presence.
There is a certain sardonic irony in the fact that this Bill is to impose on the people of this country the self-executing law of the Community by guillotine. That is what is happening. This is ironical and the points of criticism I wish to stress, because many things have been said very forcibly with which I entirely agree, is that the guillotine Motion has been brought now at this point.
I think that anybody reviewing the Bill fairly would reach the view that in it there are only two vital clauses—Clause 1 and Clause 2—and so far as Clause 2 is concerned it can be cut down even more finely because there is only one vital subsection, subsection (1). Therefore, it is astonishing to me—and the Government might perhaps have been reasonable and fair-minded about this—that they have had the temerity to seek to impose a guillotine while we are only beginning the discussion of subsection (1) of Clause 2, trying to probe its depth and discover what is concealed therein. This is something for which the Government will never be forgiven; people will never forget it or forgive them.
That is the gravamen of what I want to say. I want to criticise particularly the introduction of the guillotine at this point. In the debates that have taken place on Clause 1 nobody has suggested that there has been filibustering or that we did not probe in depth. As far as the rules of order allowed, we went into the meaning of the provisions of Clause 1 and the discussion came to a natural terminus. No one has complained that we took too long over it. I think there was every indication that the discussion on Clause 2(1) could have come equally to a natural terminus.
273 It would have been quite understandable if we had taken longer on Clause 2 (1). We would have been entitled to do that because the Government put most stress on it, as did the Chairman in discussing the question of order. Therefore I think we were entitled to take the view that at least as much time would be given to the discussion of subsection (1) of Clause 2 as was given to the discussion of Clause 1. I challenge the Government to look through the records of the debates on this matter. There is no reason at all to believe that excessive time would have been taken in discussing Clause 2(1). Once we have passed that, it can be said with some reason that we shall be on to the "nuts and bolts —"some of them very important, of course, because they connect up the girders—but nobody can doubt that the heart of the Bill will have gone by when we have passed Clause 2(1).
Look for a moment at the last four Clauses of the Bill. They deal with cinematograph films, Companies, Restrictive trade practices Community offences, perjury and false statements. Can anybody seriously imagine that one-third of the time devoted to the Bill, or anything like it, should be devoted to minor matters of that kind? There is every reason why we should spend at least as much time on Clause 2(1) as we spent on Clause 1 and no reason to suppose that if we continued without the guillotine the Bill would do otherwise than run a normal course. Admittedly it would take time and might encroach into the period of the Summer Recess, but on a Bill of this importance and magniture there would be nothing wrong in that.
Mention has been made of the texts of the treaties, and that is a point which has to be underlined. Throughout the discussions we have had to use stratagem and guile to discuss the texts of the treaties. Can it seriously be said that this House has to give up part of its sovereignty—and I will return to that in a moment—by virtue of texts on which discussion has been precluded? We have not been able to discuss the texts in detail or to go through the texts of the self-enforcing Community law which is being applied to this country in the articles of the Treaty of Rome, the Treaty of Accession or the various regulations. In these circumstances, how can it be said that we are taking too long over Clause 1 and Clause 2?
274 There have been repeated debates about the question of sovereignty and the possible sacrifice of this on going into the Community. The hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) made a bold point of that this afternoon, but it must be said that sovereignty as we understand it in this House is a very different matter from the rather abstract and legal concept of the sovereignty of Parliament.
A distinction was made by the hon. Gentleman between that and the unchallengeable concept of sovereignty put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever), and he said it was meaningless. I think the same distinction can be drawn between the formal legality of the doctrine of sovereignty and the substantial sovereignty which this House enjoys. Indeed, the courts have adjudicated on this point—perhaps the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury is not aware of this—and have held, for instance, that when this country bestows independence upon a former colonial territory there is no way legally by which that independence can be withdrawn because although this Parliament can pass an Act withdrawing the independence Act, it has no substance. The sovereignty has been given and its substance cannot be withdrawn.
Therefore, I say to the hon. Gentleman and to my right hon. Friend the Member for Cheetham that there is as much substantiality in the legal sovereignty that remains to Parliament as there would be in the idea that this Parliament could, for example, repeal the Indian Independence Act, 1947. It is not real. It is unchallengable that Parliament could theoretically do it, but the idea has no reality, and if we are to protect the future of the citizens of this country and the liberties of Parliament we must concern ourselves with realities and not with formalities.
Because of the nature of the Bill, and because of the rules of order which have necessarily flowed from it, we have not been allowed to look at the texts of the Treaty of Rome, of the Treaty of Accession or of the regulations. It is therefore true to say that Parliament and the people are being taken blindfold into the Community—blindfold because we are not allowed to read the texts which will 275 govern their lives in the future. It is also true to say that the people and this Parliament are being led into the Community bound by the rules of order which flow from the Bill, the form of which was of the Government's choosing. Because certain rules of order have followed from the form of the Bill, we are bound by them.
Can it be said that we are taking too much time in discussing matters of that sort? Not so, because throughout the Committee stage—and those who attended regularly will appreciate the point—we have probed and sought to change and amend the Bill. There has not been any arid discussion day after day about the way in which the Bill has been introduced. What we have been seeking to do is to discover the significance of each part of the package, to unravel the package and to discover the implications in law of the provisions of the Bill.
It follows from what I have been saying that, in a sense, the sovereignty of Parliament is not allowed to be an issue in this debate. The sovereignty of Parliament is not, as it were, being voted out of existence. It is being ruled out of order, and it will have gone without our hardly having noticed it. That is one of the things that must be stressed in this debate. Let us not have a guillotine if it means that we cannot discuss the implications for this country of losing our substantial sovereignty. I am referring not to the arid, formal sovereignty with which people are confusing the issue but to the substantial sovereignty of this Parliament and the people of this country.
We are going into the Community at the insistence of the Government blindfold, bound and also gagged, because the guillotine will gag us. We shall not be able to discuss the details of this miserable Bill which we must discuss because, in a few inept words, the Government have introduced a Measure which has widespread and far-reaching implications, and we are entitled, surely, to discuss how far the limits go and what are the implications.
In conclusion, I ought to say something more in sorrow than in anger about our Liberal friends, the Members of the 276 Parliamentary Liberal Party. The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) this afternoon, in a speech which I think he will live to regret, implied that Governments support guillotines and Oppositions oppose them. I must tell the hon. Gentleman that his party has no prospect of ever forming the Government of this country. Why, therefore, is he supporting this guillotine Motion?
The Parliamentary Liberal Party is a small body, a diminishing body. The decision by its Members today—but there is still time for them to change their minds, and I hope that they will listen to the debate and do so—to support the guillotine Motion is the last act of self-execution of the Liberal Party.
Three of the Liberals out of the six in the House represent Scottish constituencies. Hon. Members on both sides of the House know the broad views of the mass of the Scottish people about the Bill and its terms of entry. The Liberal Members for Scotland will find that their days are numbered and that we shall not see them again in the House.
§ Mr. Raymond Fletcher (Ilkeston)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I remind the House that a large demonstration of people is now assembling at the public entrance? May I ask whether you and your colleagues are being kept fully informed of the arrangements that are being made, and I trust pursued, to keep the demonstration orderly, in spite of the fact that it is a demonstration against the Government and the Bill?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker(Mr. E. L. Mallalieu)
I have not been given any instructions about keeping order outside the Chamber.
§ 6.56 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton. South-West)
The hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Ronald King Murray) has brought the House back to what is the central as well as the practical issue in this debate, which turns not upon, the nature of timetable Motion but upon the nature of this Bill.
I think there is general agreement that over the years, whether we like it or not, the use of the timetable Motion has become more and more a part of our 277 accepted procedure and has been used to get through the House contentious Measures—highly contentious Measures was the phrase used by the hon. and learned Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) —of bitter party division, where one side of the House is determined to mark its opposition in the most unsparing way which the procedures of the House permit and usually, at the same time, declares its intention of appealing to the electorate as soon as possible to give it the opportunity, by changing the composition of the House. to reverse the decision which the House is taking.
I think it is the general belief that in those circumstances the Government have, by convention, the right so to limit the remaining time that is devoted to those Measures that they can secure their business, subject only to the normal electoral sanction of ultimate approval or disapproval.
There is an entire contrast between that use of the Guillotine procedure and its application to this Bill. Indeed, that contrast was acknowledged by my right hon. Friend in introducing the guillotine Motion, when he admitted the unique character of the Bill. The contrast is sometimes denoted by the use of the word "constitutional ". I am not sure that that is a very helpful word, because of the great elasticity of its meaning; but this is a Bill which, in three respects, has no parallel in centuries of the life of Parliament.
It is a Bill which transfers out of this country the right to legislate directly for this country. It is a Bill which transfers out of this country the right to tax the citizens of this country directly. It is a Bill which establishes a superior jurisdiction to the courts of this country over the citizens of this country. With great respect to my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), there is no parallel whatsoever for any of those characteristics in the instances which he quoted, as in fact there is no parallel at all. Indeed, I think it is agreed by the Government, as it was by their predecessors in office, that by their very nature these proposals are unprecedented. It is the application of the guillotine to a Bill which in that sense is unique that the House is considering this evening.
278 We are assisted in considering it by the great frankness of my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council in avowing that obstruction had not characterised the proceedings on the Bill. I have said several times, in public and in relation to this Bill, that mere obstruction is never of practical effect—that no parliamentary or political result can be produced by mere obstruction—but it is not even alleged that obstruction has characterised the proceedings on this Bill.
Nevertheless, having admitted the nature of the Bill and of the proceedings on it. my right hon. Friend in proposing the Motion was constrained to admit that there was "no real practical likelihood ", without an artificial limitation on the time which the House spent on it, of getting the Measure through—in other words, of getting it through as well as the bulk of the other Measures which the Government have put before the House this Session.
I do not know whether my right hon. Friend realises that he thereby made a devastating case against his own Motion. He converted the Motion into one of censure on the Government for introducing a Bill, which on his own view has been fairly, temperately and rationally discussed and yet would require the greater part of the Session to consider, into a Session filled with many other important as well as contentious Measures. That is not the fault of the House, but of my right hon. Friends who have chosen to make it so. Nor is it any ground for the House to desert its duty, or to agree to be deprived of the opportunity to do its duty.
The fact that the Bill has been drafted as a short one does not alter these facts. It is no help to the Lord President. Indeed, the very brevity of the Bill—the manner in which it has been drafted and conceived—has necessitated minute attention to its provisions because only in that way can the real issues which are involved be revealed and debated. The Committee was surprised, for instance, when addressing itself to Clause 1, to discover how many major issues which demanded discussion were implicit in what, in form, was simply a definition Clause.
Now, with this timetable Motion, my right hon. Friend has found himself 279 having to assent perforce to an impossible proposition. I put it to him that his timetable would limit to one day the opportunity of the House to consider not only the principle but the methods whereby the right of taxation over the citizens of this country would be exercised from outside this country. The same can be said about the expenditure of the yield of taxation as part of the budget of a body not answerable to this House. My right hon. Friend cannot sincerely suppose that it is adequate—that it is other than derisory—for such a period of time to be allowed to the House to discuss, at the only opportunity for discussing it in parliamentary form, the renunciation of the heart of its own sovereignty. My right hon. Friend has conceded in essence the case against his Motion.
There is another way in which the Bill is unique, in a way which makes the application of a timetable Motion to it intolerable. It is the degree of consent, both inside and outside the House, which, by general agreement, is indispensable to validate a Measure of this kind.
There were moments when it seemed that my right hon. Friend thought he was introducing a timetable Motion on the Resolution of the House passed on 28th October. His repeated reference to a decision taken by a majority of 112 seemed to suggest that he thought that there was some connection between the debate which terminated on 28th October and the debate which he is proposing to truncate and regulate.
On the contrary this timetable Motion refers to proceedings on a Bill, on a Bill which received its Second Reading on 17th February by only eight votes. We are imposing the guillotine on a Bill which barely passed its Second Reading.
The proceedings on the Bill are as vital for hon. Members who voted one way as for those who voted the other way on 28th October. There has been some reference to the two days which we spent discussing, from various points of view, the ruling of the Chair. Those were valuable days; and one fact which they established beyond peradventure is material to this debate. It is that every debate and every Amendment throughout the proceedings in Committee on the 280 Bill, with the exception of the Motion "That the Clause stand part of the Bill were consistent with the Treaty. They are, therefore, wholly acceptable in principle, if desirable in themselves, to hon. Members who are in favour of British membership of the Community and even who are in favour of British membership within the terms of the Treaty signed at Brussels.
The discussion which this timetable is attempting to truncate is a discussion of which the greater part will be shared by hon. Members of opposite points of view. So there is no relevance whatever in referring to the so-called debate on principle in October of last year. These are debates on the enactment of a particular Bill, and debates in which either point of view can fairly be taken within the overall framework of the decision of the House last October. It is therefore futile for the Government to attempt to pray in aid the decision of last October in favour of the curtailment of this debate.
If my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House had had the opportunity, which it is not his fault he has not had, to listen day after day to these debates, he would have realised from the speeches that the Amendments and arguments put before the House appealed as strongly to known protagonists of British membership as to others. He would have noted the growing determination of the House that this thing, if it is to be done, should be done, as far as may be, consistently with the retention of the knowledge, control and authority of this House.
But there is an even deeper sense in which consent is necessary to make this great act of policy valid and in which the necessity of that consent is relevant to the proceedings on the Bill in Committee. It is not open to dispute that on the central issue of membership on the terms of the Treaty of Brussels, this House is deeply and bitterly divided. It is not open to dispute that upon that question the country itself is deeply and sharply divided. There is only one direction in which we can validly move, and that is, towards a reconciliation; and that in turn is a result which only the House of Commons has the power and means to bring about. It has the means through its command of time; for the House of Commons, by its use of time, 281 can force Governments to listen, to take account, and to strive for a reconciliation where reconciliation is necessary to render a national act valid. It is that supreme historic weapon of the House of Commons which the Motion is attempting to strike out of our hand. The Motion would deprive the House of Commons of the power to do what is necessary to be done in this crisis and what it alone can do.
We have had the advantage of receiving some admonition on our proceedings from the supreme Eurocrat himself. He has commended it to us by letters missive addressed to the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn), and most hon. Members will probably have noticed them. I only trouble the House with a brief quotation from the adjuration of Dr. Mansholt:The democratic parliamentary decision to enter into the Community has been taken by your House of Commons. The debate in your country after that vote should be over now.
§ Mr. Powell
I am sure we are most profoundly obliged to the President of the European Commission for his guidance. No doubt if Dr. Mansholt were a member of this House he would be voting for the Motion introduced by my right hon. Friend. But Dr. Mansholt is not a member of this House. Without a word of disrespect to the historical tradition of a European nation as gallant as our own and as tenacious of its identity as are we, I say to Dr. Mansholt that he has no notion of what this House of Commons is or means, that he has no notion of the place and function of Parliament in the present life as well as in the past history of this country.
Perhaps hon. Members, hearing those words from the supreme bureaucrat, addressed to us months before, in the worst event, this country is yet a member of the Community, before the Bill is passed, may savour what will be the relations, as the years go by, between the bureaucracy and that place which a German monarch used to call "That damned House of Commons ", how little understanding or patience there will be for an assembly emasculated in its powers by this very Bill, on the part of those who look to conducting the government of Western Europe.
282 That has not yet happened. We still have the ability in this House, in this Session, to secure that whatever is to be our relationship and co-operation with Europe, it shall be consistent with the rights and powers of this House—which is the same thing as to say, the rights and self-government of the people of this country. This debate is not a debate for or against membership of the Community. It is a debate for or against the continuance of a free House of Commons.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Raymond Fletcher (Ilkeston)
I am now able to do what I have often wanted to do, and that is to carry on where the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) left off. His reference to what a certain German statesman said about this House of Commons recalls to my mind what another German statesman said about the same place. Interviewed in his declining years by a journalist who was later to become the editor of the Daily Express, Bismarck himself said "The House of Commons is a damned dull, boring place except for that fascinating fellow Tim Healy ". Tim Healy was an Irish Member and had all the Irish ingenuity in bending the procedures and customs of the House his way. When a man of an authoritarian turn of mind looks at the House of Commons, albeit 70 or 80 years ago, and looks at it in that sense, it does not become the present Members of the House to look at it in an even more authoritarian way.
I repeat what the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West said: this debate is not about whether or not we shall go into the European Economic Community. It is about the way we shall join or not join that Community. It is about the whole future of this House. It is also a kind of court sitting in judgment on the 700 years of its past. It is all those things rolled together.
As to Dr. Mansholt, the very fact that he could write such a letter indicates how deep a gulf exists between an understanding of Parliament on the Continent and what this Parliament means in our political structure. For instance, in French law courts there is a living institution called the investigating magistrate. We have no corresponding official in our system. This magistrate delves deeply 283 into the facts of the case, sometimes for hours, weeks or months, and in one or two cases even for years, before the case is brought to trial in the sense that we understand that term. Dr. Mansholt was reflecting the kind of Parliaments that exist within that tradition, where discussions take place behind the scenes, where instruments are worked out in committees, most conspicuously in the German Parliament, less conspicuously in other Parliaments. On every occasion on which the assemblies are able to make a decision, the committee work has been done before the vote on principle.
This is an elementary piece of understanding about the difference between ourselves and our European friend—sand they are my friends as well as friends of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who want to go into the Community. It is a basic difference which is reflected in institutions, in law courts and even in the length of speeches. Anyone who has attended a meeting of the French National Assembly would require not only one guillotine to bring order into the proceedings but a whole forest of guillotines, because they tend to go at it in a way that would never be permitted in this House of Commons.
Why does this guillotine now have to be introduced? I echo what has already been said. The simple declaration of 28th October was as meaningful and as meaningless as a general declaration of hostility towards sin. The Committee stage of the Bill has been most instructive both for those who voted with the Government on 28th October and those who voted against. We have been taking ourselves on a voyage of discovery to the institutions of the EEC. What we have discovered has pleased many but displeased even more. The first thing that we discovered about the Bill, which I assume by now is part of the paper work of the Community, was that Clause 1, which seemed so harmless when we first read it, is actually a detonator linked to the gelignite in Clause 2.
We have also discovered the powers of taxation that we will transfer to Europe if we are foolish enough to accept the Bill. The powers of taxation granted to European institutions are much greater than most people were aware of, even 284 those who participated in the pro-Common Market campaign.
Many pro-Marketers who happen to be personal friends have come to me, and I can lump together their talk in one sentence: "They never told us this when we were with the Commission at Brussels." I laugh in my usual dignified if plebeian way and say "No, they bloody well wouldn't, would they? "
We have been discovering more and more obligations. We have been discovering the limited character of the rights we shall enjoy as probation members of the Community. Most important, we have discovered that since the Government have had to concentrate their mind to the sticking point, and instead of relying on rhetoric and marvellous phrases about the new Europe, the wonderful industrial opportunities it will offer to everybody from dustmen to industrial tycoons and the great gaseous explosion of enthusiasm for Europe which is not shared by many Europeans, as the French referendum made clear, they and their supporters have had to concentrate their minds on something like a Bill, and they find that a good deal of what they have been saying about Europe has been nullified.
We were assured in general declarations that New Zealand had nothing to worry about. We now discover when we examine the Bill and all the other documentation that lies behind it that New Zealand has a great deal to worry about. We were assured that the fishery question was as good as settled and that every fisherman in the British Isles, including the Orkneys, could now sleep calmly in his bed at night knowing that he had been taken care of by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. When we see the Bill and relate it to the Acts, the proceedings, the instruments, the directives and all the rest of it, we find that no such thing has happened and lots of fishermen will not be sleeping comfortably at night as the full implications of what we are discovering are discovered by them.
We were told that the Lancaster House agreement was not of major importance, that it could be reviewed, that there could be changes of mind in Europe and that we have safeguards. When we look at the Bill we see that it is a basic 285 document for a parliament. Parliament is not a debating society or a television studio, although many of its Members seem to be using it as a rehearsal room these days. It is not a place of entertainment for the gossip columnists who run so-called political commentaries in the Sunday newspapers. Parliament is a place where legislation is enacted and Bills are examined in minute detail.
When a Bill is examined in minute detail the characters of the right hon. and hon. Members who examine the Bill seem to take on a change for the better. Second Reading debates are debates in which rhetoric is not only fully in place but is sometimes highly desirable. Second Readings give us the power to use such histrionic abilities as we were born with and the power to philosophise and move away from the ground into the stratosphere.
When we concentrate on the Bill to which we have given a Second Reading, the collective attitude towards the Bill seems to disappear and we become individual hon. Members of this House. I begin to look at a bill through the eyes of an average citizen of my constituency. I look at a bill not as a member of the Labour Party, not as a parliamentary orator, but as the hon. Member for Ilkeston trying to find out exactly how the operations of the Bill will affect my constituents. The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) does precisely the same and so does the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). I will not list them all in my list of honour. The rest can take it for granted.
§ Mr. Dan Jones (Burnley)
I draw the attention of my hon. Friend to the position of the regions, how they will be affected and how they are worried by the recent report from Brussels.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. It enables me to make the final point which I must confess I had not actually thought of. I know it is customary to say that one is just coming to that point. My candour in these matters will one day kill me politically.
As my hon. Friend has just reminded the House, it was not until we began to examine the Bill, when comments were made on the Bill in the variety of regional accents which we have in this Chamber, 286 when we looked at it in the light of its effect on, for example, Durham, South Wales, Scotland or the West Midlands, when we looked at it, as it were, through the eyes of an East Anglian farmer—in short, until we looked at it in terms of the interest, the outlook and the aspirations not only of ourselves but of those who sent us here—that we began to find out what it was all about. At this moment of discovery—it is right we should make this form of discovery as it is the only way in which the House of Commons can work—at the moment of revelation when we find out what these twelve Clauses imply, the Government have decided to use the guillotine.
The guillotine is not a sharp instrument. The real guillotine, the one I occasionally would like to use on the Government Front Bench, is a blunt instrument which kills more by its weight than by its sharpness. The guillotine operates whether it is a sharp one or a blunt one. It is doing something I find repugnant not only as a Member of this House but as a Member who was sent here to put forward the views and to represent the interests of his constituents. I find it repugnant because at a certain point in our future proceedings, where my constituents' interests may be uppermost in my mind and smother the philosophic generalisation of which I am fond and much too prone, the guillotine will come down and the voice of my constituents will not be heard. Nor will the collective voices of those industrialists in my constituency who tell me they vote Tory but support me between elections on this issue.
I cannot understand any kind of argument that says it is necessary to bring in the guillotine at this time. The debates have been rather shorter than the subject matter would actually suggest. The debate on certain agricultural matters was very short indeed—[Interruption.] Agriculture is not a minute industry, as the hon. Gentleman angrily reminds me. I share his anger. I see no point or purpose in introducing the guillotine at this stage.
If we are expected to go into Europe to help democratise the institutions of the Community—most of our friends in Europe want us to go in in the belief that we can do that—the least satisfactory way of doing it is to emasculate ourselves before going in. If we turn this Parliament into a parody of a Parliament before 287 we go in, what insolent cheek it is to suggest that we are going into the Community to make it a more democratic and homogeneous Community run much better in the interests of the ordinary people of Europe. That is precisely what the Government are doing by treating the Bill in this way. The Bill itself was bad enough. The introduction of the guillotine at this stage—I was expecting it at a later stage—is a damnable infamy.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have here a letter from one of my constituents with whom I had made an appointment for quarter to seven this evening. I have not had the opportunity to take part in the debate because I have been trying to see my constituent. However, some-one—I do not know who—is preventing constituents coming here to lobby their Members of Parliament.
There is plenty of room in the Westminster Hall, St. Stephen's Hall and the Central Lobby. I spoke to one of the policemen on duty. He was extremely courteous and kind. He said that there were so many hundreds of people here that the Government were worried about a demonstration. With respect to the Government, I could not care less.
It is your duty, Mr. Deputy Speaker—I say that with respect—to see that Members of Parliament are not impeded in carrying out their duties to their constituents. It is also the duty of the police, by a Sessional Order, to see that Members of Parliament are not impeded in carrying out their duties to their constituents. Someone somewhere is impeding the hon. Member for West Ham, North in his attempt to meet his constituent. Therefore, I ask you to give the order to whoever has put on this ban to let these constituents in so that they can meet their Members of Parliament. If, God forbid, we go into the Common Market, they may never have the opportunity again.
§ Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have received a number of my constituents who have come to see me concerning this issue and have been able to get them into a position where they can hear the debate. I have also been waiting for other constituents 288 who wish to lobby me and I have been surprised to discover that they cannot enter the building. I am in the hopeless situation of having to write to some of my constituents saying, "I am sorry. Because you turned up at the agreed time someone prevented you coming in."
This is a serious issue and I should be grateful if either you or the Leader of the House could make a statement which will have the effect of rectifying the matter so that folk who have bothered to come to Westminster to lobby their Members of Parliament may be entitled to exercise that right. It is equally important that Members of Parliament should have the right to meet their constituents.
§ Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I had an appointment to meet a constituent at a specified time. I did not have the slightest difficulty in meeting him. The Lobby was not particularly crowded, the organisation was going well, and I got my constituent into the Gallery without any trouble. I suggest that the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) is grossly exaggerating the situation, as he did before, to attract attention to himself.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
I resent that suggestion. I have here the letter. The hon. Gentleman can see it if he wishes. He can also check that I have been out to the policeman and have been trying to see my constituent. This is a statement of fact. The hon. Gentleman can make whatever he likes out of it, but I have no doubt about the matter.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu)
Order. The Services Committee has recently looked into the matter and has not reported that anything was amiss with the arrangements.
§ Mr. Michael Foot
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is an extremely important matter when hon. Members find that that kind of thing is taking place on the occasion of a big lobby, such as there is today on the issue which we are now debating. On previous occasions when hon. Members have not been able to see their constituents, inquiries have been undertaken by the Chair or by the Leader of the 289 House to look into the difficulties and give a subsequent report to the House that those difficulties have been or would be overcome. I hope, therefore, you will enable the debate to proceed by having those inquiries made and an assurance given that, within a measurable time, a statement will be made from the Chair revealing that proper arrangements are being made. I am not making any criticism about the arrangements which are taking place. I am merely asking that we should have an assurance, after inquiries have been made, that proper arrangements are being made.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Sir David Renton (Huntingdonshire)
I hope that the hon. Member for Ilkeston (Mr. Raymond Fletcher), whose speech we greatly enjoyed, will have been carefully heard by his hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), especially those parts of his speech in which he referred to the valid use of rhetoric on Second Reading and more careful scrutiny in Committee. I will deal with other points raised by the hon. Gentleman as I go along.
As I have not made a speech on the Common Market for five years, and so that the House may more easily follow why I am in favour of the Motion I should briefly explain where I stand on this issue.
I have always been in favour of joining the Common Market if the terms were right. The financial and economic costs, which I have always thought were difficult to predict, according to the terms agreed are well within our competence to pay and well worth paying as the price of joining an economic grand alliance which will be the largest in the history of the world.
What caused me more concern in deciding whether we should join was the price to be paid by surrendering some of our parliamentary control over the making not only of decisions but of legislation. I therefore took a very critical look at the Bill when it was first published, and have done so many times since. Having done so, I find it consistent with the 290 terms agreed and with the previous Government's White Paper on the legal implications of joining the Common Market.
I agree that there were several different ways of legislating to implement the treaties, but the way that was chosen appeared to me consistent with what the previous Government might have done and what this Government agreed. Even so, as the hon. Member for Ilkeston said, the Bill has to be carefully scrutinised by Parliament.
Frankly, I was horrified when the first two days and nights of the Committee stage were taken up with points of order. The two or three valid points could have been made, it seemed to me, within an hour or so, but there was endless repetition. When that ploy ended, the debate became more rational.
It is true that there has been no filibustering, but every hon. Member knows quite well that it is easy to wreck a Bill and yet still stay well within the rules of order. It became obvious to me, as the Committee stage proceeded, that the anti-Marketers were more keen to wreck than to improve the Bill. Of course, some of them had played an active part in the last Parliament in wrecking the Bill to reform the House of Lords. I believe that they sincerely and hopefully thought that they could repeat that performance, relying upon the assumption that no Government would ever introduce a timetable Motion for a Bill of such constitutional importance as that Bill was, or as this Bill is.
But that is not a valid assumption to make. The moment one examines it, it is seen to be nonsensical. If accepted, it would mean that even a very small minority of Members could impose their will upon the House. There can be no rule that a timetable should never be used on an important constitutional Bill On the contrary, if a Bill is of great constitutional importance, the Government may have to ensure its passage by means of a timetable. I regard this Bill as an exemplar of that proposition. The Government signed a Treaty of Accession with other countries, after obtaining a majority of 112 in the House in favour of so doing. In signing that treaty, they committed us to join the European Communities by 1st April, 1973. Parliament, having willed the end, should not reject the means as expressed in the Bill. By 291 all means, let us try to improve the Bill, scrutinise it with care, point out its possible dangers to our parliamentary democracy, if they are real, but not reject it altogether.
If the Government were to allow the Bill to be wrecked at this stage, or at any time in the rest of its passage through the House, they would, in my opinion, be running away from their treaty obligations and surrendering to a minority opinion in the House, and they would forfeit their right to remain Her Majesty's Government.
I wish now to deal with one or two points made by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, who, I am glad to see, is in his place at this moment. The hon. Gentleman made a most eloquent speech. We enjoy his eloquence, even sometimes in its repetition. He referred, as certain of my right hon. Friends have done, to the possibility that the Government would try so to arrange matters in Committee that there would be no Report stage. I do not believe that the Government have any such intention in mind. However, for the sake of being sure about it, I express most forcefully the hope that they have no such intention in mind.
There are some matters of detail in which the Bill might be improved. I can readily think of several relatively minor drafting matters alone, and some quite substantial Amendments have been put down on which the Government might very well have second thoughts. Indeed, it is because this is so clearly so that I do not believe that the Government have that fixed intention in mind. I certainly hope that they have not.
I did not think that the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale was fair to the Liberal Party when he accused hon. Members on the Liberal bench of turning a somersault. It came rather ill from the hon. Gentleman. It was not merely a matter of the pot calling the kettle black. It was a matter of the spout of the pot calling the kettle red. It was utterly inappropriate.
The hon. Gentleman wants every treaty which is in issue in this matter—perhaps "in issue" is the wrong phrase—every treaty to which the Bill could have any conceivable reference, and every regulation. considered in detail before we pass the Bill. I hope that I have under- 292 stood him aright; perhaps he will correct me if I have not, but that is how I understood his argument.
That suggestion is based on a complete misunderstanding. Moreover, it would mean that we should have a never-ending pursuit of the details of those treaties and regulations. The scrutiny could not be completed this Session. It might go on for many months. I did not consider that the hon. Gentleman made anything like a valid point on that score. Certainly, when his Government published a White Paper showing the implications of our entering the Common Market, there was no reference whatever to any such process.
§ Mr. Michael Foot
The right hon. and learned Gentleman is wrong about that. In the White Paper on the legal implications of British entry, issued by the Labour Government, it was stated that there would be a substantial range of matters, or—I am not quite sure of he exact words—a substantial legislative process which would have to be gone through in order to reach a conclusion. Anyone reading that White Paper could not have foreseen a Bill of this abbreviated sort which did not specify the matters to be incorporated into the law of the land. That is the real issue.
§ Sir D. Renton
But the hon. Gentleman knows that these matters are easily ascertainable. It is an impractical notion that they should be appended to the Bill or made the subject of Schedules and be set out in detail. It would be a futile exercise anyway because, as regards the treaties and regulations already in existence, we should have no power under the Treaty of Accession, or any treaty of accession which might have been negotiated, to have them all revised. It would not, therefore, have been a sensible exercise for us to undertake.
In my view, the Government were wise to introduce the timetable Motion. It is likely to lead to better debate—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Oh."] —yes, it is, and, as has been said by the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel), it is likely to concentrate our minds more upon matters which are entirely relevant. I welcome it.
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Brynmor John (Pontypridd)
It would have been better if those who have 293 been protagonists of the Market case and the guillotine in today's debate had attended our proceedings rather more assiduously than has been apparent so far, for they would have been saved a number of errors if they had done so.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) has now left his place. He committed at least two gross errors in his speech. First, he deplored our being so negative about the whole matter, and he wished that we had concentrated instead upon those constructive suggestions regarding parliamentary control which he ascertained were proper for these debates. If he had spent a scintilla of his time here, he would have known that that is precisely what we have been doing all the time.
Second, the hon. Gentleman appeared to take great relish in the idea that no one who opposes the principle of entry ought to be on the Committee. I wonder how he reconciles that principle with what happened on the Steel Act or the Transport Act in 1967. There were a number of hon. Members opposite on the Committee who, I believe, were sincerely opposed to those Measures, but it did not prevent their spending a long time, quite properly, harrying and chivvying the Government. Yet to listen to the hon. Gentleman today, that was a novel and unacceptable idea.
Another hon. Member who, I feel, ought to have spent rather more time—indeed, any time—in our Committee debates is the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel). My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Ronald King Murray) said that he spoke of the Liberals more in sorrow than in anger. I speak more in anger than in sorrow, because I believe—
§ Mr. David Steelrose—
§ Mr. John
The hon. Member need not seek to intervene. I am at the beginning of my speech. I will give way when I am ready. I was at one point seriously concerned for the health of the Liberal Party. When the hon. Gentleman had the insolence to claim that European entry was the great shining principle upon which all Liberal Party doctrine had been based for many years, I won- 294 dered when a Liberal principle ceased to be a principle. The answer is, apparently, after 12 o'clock, because none of the Liberal Members has been here to defend that great principle after 12 o'clock.
A principle does not cease to be a principle because the hon. Gentleman is tired and wants to go to his bed. We have now heard the explanation that Liberal Members are being charitable to the staff of the House. However, the rules of the House have not been changed to permit of debates finishing earlier. I, for one, agree that the rules might profitably be changed. When the hon. Gentleman stood at the last General Election, he did not say to his constituents, "You must not expect me to be there after 12 o'clock—I shall be too tired." He stood as every other hon. Member stood. if he has this great shining principle before him, he should be prepared to stay for these debates. Instead, the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston) sometimes holds a watching brief for the Liberal Party but sometimes does not. When any conscious efforts to defend the faith are needed, they have to rush in the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles from wherever he happens to be at that moment for him to defend it.
§ Mr. David Steel
The hon. Gentleman is being both very amusing and very inaccurate. My hon. Friend the Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston) has been here throughout almost every debate. [An HON. MEMBER:" Where is he now?"] I am here now. If the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Ronald King Murray) was speaking more in sorrow than in anger, he is particularly well qualified to do so, because he was my Labour opponent at the by-election in 1965 when he lost his deposit as well as being anti-Common Market.
§ Mr. John
All I can say of the Liberals is that the next Labour opponent of the hon. Member and of the Liberal Party in general may not be successful in that constituency, but it is a certainty that the hon. Gentleman will not be when his constituents learn of the "assiduous" nature of his attendance. The fact is—the hon. Gentleman cannot challenge it about it—that the Liberal Party has been conspicuous by its absence. Not so long
ago members of the Liberal Party were stumping around the country talking about participation, praising the concept of participation of the people and boasting that the Liberals were the only people who cared about persons rather than about the big battalions.
What do the Liberals do when one of the most vital issues concerned with participation is before the House, namely, the elucidation of facts and of information upon which people can participate, because without information participation is meaningless? The Liberals vote for a guillotine Motion which will curtail and foreshorten our discussion, and on the most momentous issue of our time they will cast their votes tonight with the Government.
I do not share the faint hopes which have been expressed that the Liberals will be presuaded to act in the great Liberal heritage. I believe that the Liberals will cast their votes for the curtailment of the discussion on this momentous issue, but they will do so with their usual sanctimonious air that what they are doing will confer a benefit on the rest of us. By this action of theirs more than any other in this Parliament we are reminded that the party of Gladstone, of Asquith, and of Lloyd George was also the party of Horatio Bottomley. This is the way in which the modern Liberal party is acting.
Three credible arguments can be advanced in aid of introducing a guillotine on any Measure. The first is that it is a very long and complex Bill. This is not such a Bill. This is a short Bill. I believe that it was foreshortened by the Government precisely with the view of curtailing discussion at its source. They thought the shorter the Bill the more concentrated would be the debate and the quicker they would get it through. Therefore, because of their own action in bringing forward a short Bill, they are precluded now from saying that they wish to use the guillotine procedure because of the length of the Bill.
The second argument which is tenable is that there has been a wasting of time. There has been some divergence amongst the Government supporters, whether they be on the Liberal benches or whether they be amongst those who support the 296 Government policy on the Government benches. Some say that the debate has been tedious and repetitive. However, that is not an allegation which is made by the Government Front Bench, nor by any hon. Member opposite who has attended these debates regularly.
These debates have been remarkable in that they have extracted information and facets of the Clauses which have surprised even such slow learners as right hon. and hon. Members on the Government Front Bench. They have on many occasions had to give information, an attitude which is at variance with the bland evasions which they have practised in more generalised debates.
The third argument is that the Bill has been discussed enough. The right hon. and learned Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) said that we cannot discuss all the rules and regulations and that, if we do, we are being very unrealistic. I believe that, if the price of taking Britain into the Common Market with the full-hearted consent of the people is that we have to discuss the detailed rules and regulations, that is a price well worth paying if we are to have respect for democracy in Britain.
I believe that it is precisely because so much evasion and obfuscation of the issues have been practised by the Government, and because there has been so much hiding of the mass of subordinate legislation which has been put in train by the Bill, that the malaise in democracy has been deepened in the last few months. I believe that democracy has been dealt a very particular and serious blow by the Government's Bill and by the Government's attitude.
My right hon. and hon. Friends, some of whom are passionately for the principle of entry, such as my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Dell), have felt deeply that the Bill can be improved. Who of us looking at the Bill will gainsay that argument? The fact is that the Government have been absolutely inflexible on this matter. They have tried to curtail discussion by reason of the fact that they have not been at all flexible about accepting Amendments.
It is no good hon. Members saying that ultimate sovereignty remains in Britain. Certainly ultimate sovereignty remains in Britain, but let us be clear about what ultimate sovereignty means. Ultimate 297 sovereignty merely means the right to withdraw from the Community or to break the Community. It means nothing more than that. There will be a vast area in the middle reaches of sovereignty where de facto we shall have handed over our sovereignty; because, when we say, "This is an issue of great importance to Britain ", many hon. Members opposite who favour the Market will say to us," This is not an issue worth breaking the Market over. Better give way. Better not press it to its ultimate conclusion ". Bit by bit, sovereignty will have been surrendered by Britain, although in strict legal theory the ultimate sovereignty will remain here.
§ Mr. Molloy
What my hon. Friend said a few moments ago was strictly relevant. The Government have not accused those of us who have opposed the Bill of tedious repetition. Perhaps the real explanation of the Motion is that the offence of those of us who are opposed to the Bill is that all our discussions up to date have opened the eyes of many people and have probably embarrassed the Government themselves. What the Government are saying, in effect, is that if we go on exposing the Bill in this manner there is a danger that the public will become aware; hence the guillotine— [Interruption.]
§ Mr. John
My hon. Friend, whose intervention has been so strikingly and warmly received, has exactly hit the point. The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles said that the advantage of a guillotine was that it concentrated the mind wonderfully. Nothing has concentrated the minds of the Government so wonderfully as the Committee stage of this Bill. In the general debates they have been able to get away with bland evasions. It is like trying to climb a wall of glass to try to get an answer out of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, but in Committee he has not found it so easy.
The right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) has started his career as Leader of the House badly. I am sorry that as one of his first acts he has introduced such a timetable Motion as we are considering. I am very touched that he should think that those of us who are participating actively in the debate might overlook a worth-while part 298 of the Bill in our endeavours to hammer away at others. He could well have left that to us, and he would have found that our study of the Bill did not leave undiscovered any worth-while matter that needed to be debated. The way in which the right hon. Gentleman started leads me to doubt very seriously whether he has the necessary qualities for the job of Leader of the House at this time. We are becoming very tired of his style of soapy humbug from the Front Bench, where he pretends to make great apologies for doing something authoritarian. He is being authoritarian now on a constitutional matter.
Power at present resides in this House. It is all very well for hon. Members who have power by reason of their being on the boards of companies, where they are used to taking in privacy decisions affecting thousands of people. They are cushioned against the effect of any decisions they take by their industrial and social power, but the only protection in the daily lives of millions of people against tyranny is the right of their elected Members in this House to scrutinise legislation and debate. It is that right which is being taken away from us, and that is why we must oppose the Motion.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)
The moment of the introduction of the guillotine should, if anything, concentrate people's minds and turn them towards some sort of reality. I remain an unrepentant anti-Marketeer and a Tory, but I propose to vote for the Motion.
I shall try to explain my argument for doing so, which I believe is the strongest that can be put forward. It is based on a realistic view of what is happening. My first reason is that there is in the House a majority in favour of the Bill. Secondly, we have a Bill which is unamendable— [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It is unamendable in the sense of the Chair's ruling, and from the point of view of those who support it. Thirdly, parliamentary time is not unlimited, and it is indivisible. It is of value to both the opponents and proponents of a Bill.
The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) spoke of my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General as a spoilt Leonardo. He referred to the cast or squint of the Mona Lisa, which was 299 not a very happy reference, though amusing.
I compliment my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House on his attitude to the Motion, which is really the proposal of Macbeth:If it were done … then 'twere well it were done quickly.If we are to have a timetable, there is an argument for having it at this stage so that there will be a debate well spread out.
The most important argument is that the Bill is difficult to amend from the point of view of the Chair, which led to two days' debate on proper points of order, because it seems to confuse the principle of the Crown in Council, the treaty-making rights of the Crown, and the question of the Crown in Parliament, which is the legislative function. Therefore, the Bill must be accepted as a whole, or it falls if any part is deleted.
§ Mr. Spearingrose
§ Mr. Fraser
The difficulty to which I referred has been debated throughout, and it is a matter on which neither the Government nor the Chair have been able to give way.
The idea that we should go on debating into August or September is hardly practical. What we want to do as the House of Commons is to deal with those matters we shall face in the Common Market which are not dealt with in any way by the Bill. That is why the time we can spend outside the Bill will be of greater value to the House and country than time spent in a long discussion of the Bill tied down to the precise legal arguments rather than the general principles and general facts emerging in Europe today, which are far more important to this country.
What we are dealing with is the conveyancing of authority from this House to a place elsewhere in Europe. When one is dealing with conveyancing in house purchase there is a growing danger, however friendly the lawyer, of being tied down in discussing the 300 minutiae of the deal, and forgetting all about the price. The House could have precisely that trouble. If we become too much tied down in the minutiae of the Bill, we shall be gazumped in Brussels.
Whether the Bill is a nuts and bolts Bill or a Measure of supreme political importance, if we had no timetable and went on debating it endlessly, we could go on becoming more and more deeply involved in details. Years could pass, and the people who would be advantaged by having the House stuck on the tramlines of legalistic arguments would be not the opponents of the Bill but the proponents and the Government themselves.
The fixed time of 12 days for debate, which is not ungenerous, will give further time, before the final decision is taken, for the discussion of the major issues which must be discussed. I should like to list a few which have not been properly discussed yet. First. there is the necessity for the House to have some form of pre-decision machinery for judging what our representatives in Brussels are to do. That is for the Government to propose. [An HON. MEMBER: "It has been discussed before."] I know that it has been discussed in the House, but the House must have a chance to discuss it with the people who must propose the machinery—that is, the Government themselves. It is no good saying we cannot bind our successors. It is farcical for my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to say that, as I believe he did in debate the other night.
Other subjects that have not yet been properly and fully discussed in the House include European defence and a common European currency. There is a whole variety of other details, including road transport matters, which we should be much better informed upon than we are now.
I am told that so confident are the proponents of the Common Market legislation on both sides of the House—this goes right across parties—that even at this hour preparations are being made for a Festival of Europe in London next January. Where the funds are to come from I do not know. I hope not from the public purse. [HON. MEMBERS: "They will."] In that case there ought 301 to be a collection for those who have been put out of jobs and the old-age pensioners. I hope that they will be represented properly. We ought to know far more about the price of entry. That is why I accept the Motion and will vote for it, because the time of the House could be better devoted to general debate than being tied down to the minutiae of the Bill.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)
I have sat through a good many guillotine debates and escaped from more as if they were the plague, principally because they are so incredibly ritualistic, terribly boring and predictably impregnated with synthetic fury, depending on which side of the House one is sitting. I thought I would like to say a word or two in this debate because it is different from any other guillotine debate to which I have ever listened or from which I have ever escaped.
It is unique in the sense that it is dealing with the most important legislation since Magna Carta. It can affect for good or ill, better or worse, the next thousand years of history. To treat legislation of that importance, carrying as it does such implications for generations yet unborn, as a mere Bill to be got through Parliament at all costs by an enforced timetable, to ensure that the Government get their legislation by July, as if it were equivalent to the take-over of the State pubs in Carlisle or Gretna, makes a mockery of our democratic procedures.
In political terms, I can describe myself as a Common Market agnostic. I confess quite readily never to have been able to do the sums. I do not think I am unique in that respect in this House, still less in the country. Out of our population of 50-odd million I guess that 50 million, leaving out the odd ones, do not know anything about it either. As so often in other more limited spheres, when Governments with the aid of their top civil servants, highly educated men and women—mostly men—have done their sums, they have inevitably got them wrong. I suspect that it is a reasonable proposition that they have got them wrong on this occasion too.
I confess that instinctively I feel it is right for us to seek to join a bigger 302 European Community. It is not for us to argue in this debate the merits of this proposition or the merits of any alternative national or state groupings. Suffice it to say that as of now all the major political parties in Britain are agreed on the principle of entry. The Labour Party is still officially committed in principle. That is Labour Party policy, is it not?
Ocassionally I have noticed that my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench and the back benches have been inclined to overlook or to forget that fact. As the oratory has cascaded from them they have now and then challenged the entire principle of entry and, to be fair, some of them, particularly those who came into the House in 1970, have been entirely consistent in that respect. My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) has been consistently opposed to entry throughout the debates over the years. All his speeches to which we have listened with rapt attention, however much we may disagree with him, have had the kind of repetitive theme that basically he is opposed in principle, fundamentally and 100 per cent. to entry, not on the official grounds as laid down by our conference last year that the terms are wrong, but on the ground that the principle is wrong.
That is an understandable proposition, but it is difficult to accept coming from someone who says we must abide by conference decisions. That is not the conference decision. The conference decision is to oppose the terms negotiated but not the principle. My right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) makes equally forcible speeches and in his way accuses those of us who disagree with him of being either dolts or incompetents or even worse.
He, too, was in the Government of 1967–70 which accepted the principle of entry and is still party to an official conference decision which believes that entry is desirable in principle. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has gone on record on several occasions in the last few months as saying that he still agrees in principle that we should go in. All he has said is that we will seek to renegotiate the terms when we win the next General Election, and if we cannot renegotiate them according to the 303 way we want he will say a friendly goodbye to the Six. All right. If that is the case, if he believes that and if my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn), the Chairman of the Labour Party, believes that when we win the next election we shall have a referendum to see whether the people agree, neither of them can say those things and at the same time say that the sacrifice of our sovereignty is permanent. They can say one or the other, but not both at the same time.
I take an exactly contrary position to the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) who spoke before me and left immediately. He is an anti-Marketer and a pro-guillotine man; I am a rather lukewarm pro-Marketer but very much anti-guillotine. I readily concede that I have not attended some of the debates, indeed most of the debates that have taken place on Clause 1. I very much want to take part in the debates on Clause 2 because it is the crux of the Bill.
I hope I can think of myself as a good House of Commons man. I have very deep regard for the powers and influence of this House in protecting the rights of the ordinary citizens. I believe, and I have a great concern for this, that those powers and influences will be greatly weakened with the current institutions as they are in Europe. I agree with an hon. Friend who said earlier that one of the reasons why our Socialist friends in Europe want us in is because of our unique experience of parliamentary democracy. We can take it with us. I fear the reverse might well happen. That is why we cannot have enough debate on these issues, particularly on Clause 2.
The right hon. Gentleman has been singularly unfortunate in his debut as Leader of the House, his first two major speeches having been on timetable Motions, one on the Housing Finance Bill—a controversial Bill imposing rent increases—and the other on the highly controversial European Communities Bill. He says that we have already had 220 hours of debate, that we shall get another 90 hours and that we have had a decade of debate. So what? A decade of debate to influence the possible 304 history of this country for a thousand years or more!
Even supposing that the Leader of the House regards 220 hours of debate as adequate and another 90 hours as a bonus, the timetable shows that we shall have only four and a half days on the most crucial Clause in the Bill. Yet we expect to be going away on a summer vacation in early August and coming back in mid-October. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will say that he will withdraw the guillotine Motion and that we will have another month in August for debating the Bill. If need be, I would not give a damn if I did not get any summer holiday. I would rather debate the Bill than go on holiday in August. So time ought not to be a considerable factor in our calculations. If we have the will, we can find the time.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale is the most polished and accomplished parliamentary debater I have known in this House since Aneurin Bevan. He, like myself, feels that the House will lose prestige both in Britain and in the world as a consequence of what we are now doing. If we had won the General Election in 1970 I do not know whether the Bill that we would have introduced would have been very different from this one. Nor do I know what would have been the attitude of some of my right hon. Friends who are now opposing entry in principle. I do not know how many of them would have resigned from the Government on that account or how many would have gone along with our proposed entry.
We must accept that if and when we join any bigger community, whether it be the EEC or an even wider community, there is bound to be a diminution or a pooling of national sovereignty. We have been doing this for many years, particularly since the end of the war, and we should not be shocked by that, but before we abrogate that sovereignty we must have the right to insist on adequate time for debating whether it is worth while and what price we are paying.
I have deliberately not taken part in the debate on Clause 1 because I want to make my contributions on Clause 2. At this crucial point the Government have sought to curtail discussion. We are intending to finish every evening at 11 305 o'clock. I think that is a major concession to the Members of the Liberal Party because their principles stop not at mid-night but at 11 o'clock when they want to be tucked into bed and to hell with the Common Market.
§ Mr. Russell Johnston
Is the hon. Member seriously telling the House that the lucidity and clarity of debate improves after midnight?
§ Mr. Hamilton
In so far as the Liberal Party is concerned, yes. I have a high regard for the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston); he is the least worst. His hon. Friend the Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) completely failed to seize the point that the most important weapon in the hands of an Opposition, and indeed the most important instrument of the democratic process, is the use or the abuse of time. If an Opposition, for whatever reason, are denied that weapon of time, that is a blow against democracy and democratic government.
The denial of time is a powerful weapon in the hands of the Executive. To use it on this Bill by introducing a guillotine Motion, when the whole country is divided and the House is divided across parties, offends the democratic principle and spirit. It is significant that the Prime Minister has not attended a single minute of this debate. He may have good reasons, but he is the Prime Minister and he has said that we could not go into Europe without the full-hearted consent of Parliament and people. My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale made the powerful point that the introduction of a guillotine Motion contradicts that proposition. There is no need to introduce a guillotine Motion if the full-hearted consent of Parliament has been obtained. It is a contradiction in terms.
The Leader of the House might learn a lesson from the unholy alliance between my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale and the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) in the last Parliament when by the use of their combined parliamentary expertise they succeeded in killing a Bill. The Government of the day had the grace, the wisdom, or both to withdraw that 306 Bill. They saw that they had not the whole-hearted consent of Parliament.
The Prime Minister is on record as saying that he would not—not that he could not—proceed with this Bill, with this obsession of his with Europe, unless and until he had that whole-hearted consent. The exercise on which we are engaged today is proof enough that he has not got it, and further proof is to be found in the country as a whole. It will be found, too, in various ways, in the next few days in by-elections and even in the local elections.
I have talked about the availability of time. There is no shortage of time if the Government want to give us more time. Either they can shorten the over-long summer vacation or they can drop other legislation which is by no means imperative and by no means universally acclaimed in the country, as today's local elections in Scotland will show and as those in England and Wales will again show on Thursday. The Government have two alternatives open to them. The fact that they have moved this Motion is explained by one reason only. It is that they do not want Clause 2 to be fully debated because there is so much to hide
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Selwyn Gummer (Lewisham, West)
I have always been a supporter of Britain's entry into the Community, and I have been present at almost every part of our debates since we went into Committee on this Bill. Therefore, I hope that I shall be excluded from the attacks which have been made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith).
I have noticed in our discussion that great emphasis has been laid on the phrase, "this unique Bill ". It is a Bill the like of which in precise comparison has not been before this House before. Whether that means automatically that the length of time that ought to be afforded to discussion should necessarily be so unique as to be endless is another matter. The uniqueness of the Bill may not mean that the amount of time which can best be afforded ought itself automatically to be the longest amount which may be provided in any circumstances.
For many hon. Members no length of time would be enough and no kind 307 of situation could ever be considered suitable for discussing this Bill. There are those for whom there must be the compulsion to try in every possible way, by deploying every argument, to see that the Bill does not reach the Statute Book and to ensure, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) put it, that this Bill shall not pass. From those there has been no sign of the kind of filibustering that we have experienced on some Bills in similar situations during the short time that I have been in this House.
It would be difficult to maintain that the strictures of my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) are wide of the mark. We have got ourselves into a position over this Bill that we got into over the Industrial Relations Bill, which was that much of the discussion that should have gone into making it a better Bill and into improving its Clauses in order to make it a more efficient and effective way of carrying out the will of this House did not occur.
When I have listened to our debates, it has been notable that the discussion at every point has been more concerned to bring us back to the basic objection to the Bill than to debate changes which might, within the framework of a necessary instrument, improve the way in which we could associate with the Community. I prove this point merely by reference to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever), who again and again had to bring his right hon. and hon. Friends on the Opposition Front Bench back to the fact that they were not opposing the principle of the Bill but were supposed to be opposing its terms and discussing the nature of the Amendments before the Committee.
The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) had to point out again and again that there was in his argument the possibility still of our entering the Common Market under different terms. In those circumstances, he must have been arguing not the nature of the improvements which could be made, but the opposition that he and others of his right hon. and hon. Friends held to the nature of the Bill itself.
Many of us have begun to be a little tired of the continuing pretence of 308 defence of the rights of this House by right hon. and hon. Members opposite, who say—and I quote the words used today by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, "We have used words to try to defend freedom." But while using those words he and his hon. and right hon. Friends have been using actions to dragoon men against freedom. We can hardly talk about using words to defend freedom in a situation in which the whole nature of parliamentary debate in this House, as we all know, has actually been destroyed by the actions of those who wish to stop people carrying out the necessary results of the decision taken by an enormous majority.
There are those who will say—and the hon. Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan) will no doubt be among them—that that did not count, that that majority was a majority in principle and that the real thing that counted was the majority on the Second Reading of the Bill. But they are the same people who say that the Bill itself is defective because it is so narrow, because it applies specifically only to those things which of necessity have to be done in order to carry out the principle decided in that historic vote.
Hon. Members cannot have it both ways. If the Bill merely carries out the principle which was decided by a majority of 112, then that Bill must be considered and thought of in the context of that historic decision. If, on the other hand, they wish to have a much more general discussion on a much wider Bill, that is perfectly reasonable. But how can this justify the argument that in some way this Bill can be opposed by those many Members who actually supported the principle itself?
It is time for this House to be honest with itself, and if it is honest with itself what it wants to do is discuss this Bill in such a way as to see that every part of it is properly considered as part of the Committee stage of a most important Bill before this House. Therefore, I welcome my right hon. Friend's proposal for a time-table, because I too sat through most of the debates on the Industrial Relations Bill and I too am one of those who believe that that Bill could have been improved considerably had those debates been really concerned with the Committee stage of the Bill instead of 309 returning continually to questions of principle. Our debate should be concerned with improving the nature of the Bill necessary for our entry into the European Economic Community.
I promised to be brief but I think it worth while reminding ourselves that there is a very important element of time which must be set against the very major points which were made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton). He rightly said that if it is a matter of time we must be very careful not to use this as an excuse to avoid the proper discussion of the nature of this Bill. But whether or not one is in favour of our entry, both sides agree that this decision will have far-reaching effects not only in this country and among our friends in Europe but also among our fellow members of the Commonwealth, and beyond.
In these circumstances, I believe that it is right for us to weigh very carefully the dangers of a continuing wonderment, bewilderment and concern as to whether in fact this decision is, has been or will be made. I believe that it would be a great disaster for Britain if we were to enter the Common Market as the only country within that association unprepared so to do.
If we spend our time before 1st January, 1973, being unwilling to prepare ourselves properly for entry, I believe that we shall get the worst of both worlds. It is for this reason that I believe we should support this generous timetable Motion in order that we can then move, Marketers and anti-Marketers alike, towards realising all that is best and mitigating all that is worst in order to get into the European Economic Community.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael English (Nottingham, West)
The Leader of the House put the best case he could for this guillotine Motion. I still do not quite understand his reasons for not having a Business Committee. If the Government wanted to have only 12 days of debate on the Committee stage of the Bill they could do so, but I should have thought that discussion in a Business Committee would be more likely to allocate that time in a more reasonable way than a mere Government fiat.
310 There were two points which the right hon. Gentleman did not mention at all. One is a pettiness of the Motion. I do not know why it is that when great Governments and Oppositions struggle together back benchers' time disappears, and one effect of the Motion, as of others in the past, is to cut out the useful Ten-Minute Rule Bills. I should like the Leader of the House, in that capacity, and not as a Government spokesman, to consider whether in future it would not be sensible to finish at ten minutes past eleven in order to enable somebody to have his Ten-Minute Rule Bill rather than lose Bills of that kind on days the Bill is argued.
But the major thing the Leader of the House left out was any mention of his Prime Minister. He never once mentioned the full-hearted consent of the British Parliament and people. I have no reason to suppose that he could possibly have defended that statement, and no doubt that is why he left it out. But I do not think that even the quite obvious dishonesty—call it what one will—of that statement in relation to these events is the most important thing about this Common Market Bill. The most important thing is surely the disastrous effect it has had and is having on democracy in this country. Why have we got a guillotine? It is simply because we do not have the full-hearted consent of Parliament, as one of my hon. Friends said. Why is that? I suggest that there are three reasons.
Even in the circumstances which we all understand, the Bill would have had more support and less opposition had it been phrased differently. We could perfectly well have legislation taking us into Europe without its being phrased as widely as this. We know that the legislation has to cover all the requirements of the present treaties and the Treaty of Accession which we have just signed. Let us assume that the Bill covered only that. Why, then, does it go a stage further and include any future treaty concluded between the 10 nations? They will not be subjected to the processes of this House and the sort of discussion we are having here. They will not even—I ask the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Selwyn Gummer) to remember this—be subject to a guillotine. There will not even be a limited period of time. Any treaty between the 10 nations will 311 be simply and solely approved by an Order in Council which will have to be put before the House of Commons but on which there will be one vote approving or disapproving, and no amendment.
I ask hon. Members to consider just what such orders could cover. There could be an agreement on currency, employment policies, or regional policies. It could go further and be a treaty covering all sorts of things not in the present treaty—like the former European Defence Community transferring the Armed Forces to a single control. As I suggested in an intervention, there could be a treaty, similar to the United States Constitution, creating a federal State.
Reading the Bill it seems to me that it could go even further. A completely unitary State of Western Europe could be created through one treaty signed by 10 nations and ratified by different processes, no doubt in France by a referendum. But in this country an Order in Council would be put before the House by the Government; it would be debated for a short period of time and by one vote—unlike our little arguments about sovereignty now—by that process, because of this Bill, we could concede the whole of our sovereignty and not merely part of it. There is no need for that, and yet it is in the Bill.
I ask the Solicitor-General to repeat again the rather inadequate reasons which he gave in Committee for extending the Bill to that degree, for extending it towards the future to things that we do not even know about, when he has no need to do that in order to go into the Common Market.
The second matter—and this is of great concern to us as democrats—is the way in which the Bill is going through the House, and the guillotine is an illustration of that. The hon. Member for Lewisham, West said that he preferred a timetable, and one can understand that. He was telling the House the truth when he said that he was one of the few pro-Marketers on his side of the House—indeed, he is almost the only one—to have attended these debates. The hon. Gentleman knows, as we all do, that if there is a timetable, any time that he takes up in speaking is time lost for those who want to speak against the Bill.
312 We can see why the hon. Gentleman is in favour of the Motion, but he went further and said that he was in favour of it because the House should concentrate not on time-wasting but on the details of the Bill. Have not we all wanted to do that? Every Motion on the Order Paper in my name strangely enough—because of the Chairman's ruling, as well as for other reasons—as well as others in the names of my hon. Friends, is so drafted that it would not stop us from going into Europe, but it would amend the Bill.
The weakness of the hon. Gentleman's argument is that we are not allowed to discuss the details of the Bill to any effect because the Government will not accept any Amendment, even if it is not directed against their belief that we should go into Europe. In those circumstances, what is the point of the hon. Gentleman's argument?
We tend to get into a hot-house atmosphere in the House. Outside the House the Bill has done great and deep damage, because in the country the elector has few rights except the notable right to speak his mind, and one other. At an election he can choose which party shall govern the State in all respects. On the last occasion he had no choice between the parties on this issue. He did not have to vote for or against the Common Market. Both major parties said that they wanted to apply for entry. Neither was committed. Only the Liberal Party was committed to go into Europe. Neither the Conservative Party nor the Labour Party was committed to entry, but both were committed to negotiate. Many people go into a shop saying that they want to buy something but retire when they find what the price is. I do not see anything difficult or dishonest in that.
The people did not have a choice. What normally happens in those circumstances is that they vote and one party become a majority party, and if the majority in the House wants to do something which the people of the country as a whole do not wish it to do, there is usually a minority within the party who agree with them. We do not necessarily vote these things down or vote them up on the Floor of the House. Instead, the minority in the party goes to its Front Bench and says "I am sorry, but you 313 do not have a majority in the House to carry out a policy that is against the wishes of the British people." In this case, the Government Front Bench would not listen. That is why certain hon. Gentlemen on the Government side have had to carry their fight to the Floor of the House. They have done that, because the normal processes within parties have failed to work.
The same is true on this side of the House, save that hon. Members on this side, I regret to say, cannot claim to represent the people of the country or their party. On this issue they ale representing nobody but themselves, because the country as a whole is against them.
I promised to be brief.
Over the weekend the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) caught the headlines with a reference to one of my right hon. Friends. However, in that speech he remarked that if the Government took Britain into the Common Market by means such as these, without allowing the matter to be considered at a General Election, by means of a referendum or adequate debate in Parliament, sooner or later something would happen—perhaps a decision would be taken in Brussels—that would set the British people against the whole affair, and there would be a backlash by the people against our being members of the EEC.
The right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) quoted from Macbeth, something which theatrical people say one should never do. After saying that he intended to vote for the guillotine Motion he quoted the line:If it were done … then 'twere well It were done quickly.He might have completed the passage, because later in the same soliloquy it says that:We do but teach bloody instructions which, being taught, return to plague the inventor.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Neil Marten (Banbury)
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) for making such a short speech, so giving me an opportunity to take part in the debate, although I am slightly embarrassed by the eloquence with which he concluded his 314 remarks. Being a semi-educated person, I will not follow him into the paths of "Macbeth ".
§ Mr. Marten
As it is the British Government who are trying to drag this country into the Common Market, I suggest that "guillotine" is not the right word to use in this context. That is a Continental method of
murder. I prefer to say that the Government are executing the Bill. In 1649, when King Charles I was executed, his body was laid to rest, and in the early hours of the morning Cromwell went disguised to look at the corpse. Looking down at the body he reflected, rather sadly, "A cruel necessity ". The execution of this Bill by the Government is cruel but is not a necessity.
It is generally agreed that there has been no filibustering. Having attended all the debates, and not having left the Chamber except to eat, I suggest that the Committee stage was one of the best and thrilling debates we have ever had. I am proud to have taken part in it and as the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) said, the whole fight has been based on an attempt to retain a measure of control by this Parliament.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke), although a pro-Marketer, reckoned that the Government were unnecessarily giving away too much power. As I have said previously, I was not elected to give away the powers which the people of Banbury entrusted to me. That is why I called for a referendum, which unfortunately the House rejected. It would be better if the Bill contained a provision stating that it would not become effective during the lifetime of this Parliament. The final act of disgrace will come if this guillotine Motion is passed, and I shall have no hand in its passing.
A sad aspect has been the nonattendance of the pro-Marketers. We have had excellent and serious debates on matters of constitutional importance. For example, last Wednesday night we got on to the subject of how to cure kippers. This may seem lighthearted, but it is a 315 fundamental illustration of the nonsense of the gentlemen in Brussels telling us how to cure our kippers.
After these excellent debates, attended by 20 or 25 hon. Members, mostly anti-Marketeers but with perhaps a couple of pro-Marketeers thrown in—these debates have seen the Government's arguments demolished—the Division bell then rings and 400 or more hon. Members who have not heard the discussion have trooped through the Chamber and into the Lobby to vote according to instructions. It is frustrating, to say the least, to those of us who are seriously trying to improve the Bill or get it thrown out.
The trouble, and basically why the Government have to bring in the Motion, is that we have had no debate on the Treaty of Accession, and on the Amendments to Clause 2 we are debating many of the points which we should have debated on the Treaty of Accession debate, which should have taken at least five days. Secondly, the Government refused what the House wanted, and that was the setting up of a Select Committee to go into the whole of this Common Market exercise. Much of the questioning that has occurred could have been done, and far better, by a Select Committee, because when a Minister is before a Select Committee he is cornered, but on the Front Bench he can evade answering some of the questions put to him. Thirdly, as we have said, the Government have agreed to no Amendments during the course of the Bill. Had they done so, the time spent on it would have been much less. So I shall not be supporting the Government in the Lobby tonight.
I am deeply concerned about the Motion, as hon. Members would expect. If historic and constitutional Bills are to be dealt with like this, we—and here I use the Prime Minister's words—by "we" I mean Parliament and peoples, need to take a fresh look at our proceedings in the House and to see how far our democratic system is meaningful on these major matters.
There are other reasons why the Government are bringing in the Motion at this particular point in time. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) said that they had no good, plausible 316 reason for bringing it in. But I will tell the House why they have done so. It is because next week, when the Irish have their referendum, they want the people to know that the Government feel that they have this legislation in the bag and. therefore, the question whether Britain joins is not relevant for them, for we shall join because we have been guillotined or executed into the Common Market. Then, in September, the Norwegians have their referendum, and in October the Danes, too. So that explains the timing of it.
I make one suggestion to the Government. The Summit Meeting is in October and there are many matters which have to be settled which are not yet settled, such as regional policy. We are always told that it is about to be settled, but we never get anything further about it. The agricultural policy, we all agree, needs reorganising. It is an absolute nonsense from beginning to end. But President Pompidou has said, "No, it will not be reorganised ". Before we go in, if we have to, we want answers to these questions.
There is also the whole question of the political development of the Community. When President Pompidou comes to Britain and sees the Prime Minister and a communiqué is issued, we have the feeling that it will all be a fairly loose con-federation a la Pompidou. Then Herr Brandt comes over and a communique is issued, and we feel after that that it will be a federation set up a la Brandt. We do not know what the Government think about this. It ought to be sorted out at the summit conference. There are many other smaller matters, such as the size of lorries and so on, which should be settled.
I should be grateful if I could have the attention of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster for my very simple proposal. If the Chancellor gets the guillotine tonight, and assuming that we finish the Committee stage some time in July and go on holiday, the pro-Marketeers taking their buckets and spades to Dunkirk or Ostend, or wherever they go, I ask the Government not to take the Report stage and Third Reading until after the summit conference in October, because if things are not satisfactory at that summit meeting we can 317 then table Amendments on Report and Third Reading.
If the Government are genuine in wanting to negotiate, they must have a card up their sleeve if they want to play. If they want to force an issue with the Common Market countries, they can surely say, "You had better give in on this and this, because we have not had our Report stage and Third Reading ". That is something they could use to prove they are not going to roll over like spaniels, as they have done so far in the negotiations, but stand up and talk for Britain. I hope they will accept that recommendation.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Deakins (Walthamstow, West)
I hope that the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) will forgive me if I do not comment on his remarks as time is pressing. It is obvious that the Government have introduced this guillotine Motion not for any reasons given by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, but because they have been embarrassed by the quality of debates in Committee. In particular, the close attention which has been given to the subject has exposed the deficiencies of the Bill, even from the point of view of those who want to see us in the Market. They have been embarrassed by the poverty of replies from the Front Bench and by the fact that Government spokesmen have spent most of their time brushing aside difficult questions and refusing to accept Amendments.
Why are they doing this? They are doing it because the Bill—they refuse to admit it—was put together in haste and is being carried through this House in muddle and ignorance. There is self-confessed ignorance on the. part of Government spokesmen about the implications of the treaty provisions of Clause 1. The Bill substitutes imprecision and vagueness for that clarity and certainty to which the legal system and the citizens of this country are accustomed and which they have a right to expect of legislation passed in this House.
The British people are slow to anger. They are roused only when they are directly affected, as they will be when they realise in future that they will have no redress in Parliament for the many grievances they will have. They will have 318 no vote against taxation imposed from outside.
I am confident that the British people will not sit back and be guillotined out of their rights. The Bill has no mandate and no agreement or authority from the British people. If this guillotine Motion is passed tonight it will have no moral authority from this Parliament.
The Bill will not settle the issue of British membership of the Common Market. It is for the British people to do that. The Common Market issue is not going to die tonight or when the Bill is passed. It will dominate the political life of this country for the next decade, if not for the lifetime of most of us in this House. This is so for the simple reason that the Common Market is expanding. The Common Market Commissioners and Council of Ministers want more powers and more responsibility. They are set on the path of supranationalism which must eventually lead to federalism. Ultimately, Parliament and the British people will have to choose between federalism or national sovereignty. The Bill is the first step on the road to federalism, but it can, must and will be reversed.
§ 9.4 p.m.
§ Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)
Thanks to the generosity of the right hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore), I have a brief time in which to speak. I must simplify the issue, condense my remarks and go as quickly as I can. This is a great, momentous issue and those against our entry want a longer time in which to talk. This seems a good reason. There are certainly some who want not so much to talk about the EEC but to bring down the Government. There are others on both sides who have not this purpose in mind. They are sincerely convinced for the highest motives that if we join the Community it will be damaging to the country. They take this view not because they hold the view that Britain will suffer economically, although they may think that, but because to many of them the issue that vitally concerns them is the effect that membership will have on the British way of life and the effect, adverse in their view, on this House of Commons which has stood this country in such good stead over the centuries. Those hon. Members have the 319 complete right to express their views at length if necessary. Indeed it is their inescapable duty. In carrying out this duty they are willing to spend long, weary days and nights in this Chamber.
But what of those who think they are mistaken, who believe, as I do, that we should enter the Community? Are we not ready to fight for what we believe? Is our determination and conviction no equal to that of our opponents?
I read in the papers today that it is hoped that there will be a week's recess at Whitsun and that the House will rise early in August presumably for the usual 10 weeks of the Summer Recess. I do not attach this to the Government, but that is what I have seen. We all want a recess. I certainly do. I want to do many things and have a breath of air. But this attitude at this time reminds me of those inevitable notices which go up at the beginning of a war, "Business as usual ". It represents all that is most slothful and irresponsible in this country. It is another manifestation of the "more pay, less work" attitude which so greatly harms us.
Business is not as usual at this time. This is a great issue. Is this not the moment for the House to give a lead? Can we not show that we are fit to lead and be in the position which we now hold? Can we not demonstrate, as has been done in our past history, that this House is the rock on which the country can safely rest?
I am well aware of the internal politics in these matters. There are those who wish to bring down the Government and are not interested in discussing the EEC. That has to be taken into account by any Government, and rightly so. I recognise that the Government must get their legislation. Without that, democracy would be a sham. If more time is needed, let us give more time. Let us give the Whitsun Recess and the Summer Recess. Let us give Saturdays. Let us set an example to the country which will not be forgotten.
In the light of his behaviour, I could not go into the same Lobby as the Leader of the Opposition. I could not stomach that. However, before making up my mind I want an assurance from my right hon. and learned Friend that this is not 320 a matter of "Business as usual ". I want a firm declaration that, if need be, Parliament will work on and on and on. If at the end when the legislation must be obtained, and the Opposition will not allow it, then the Government can bring in a timetable Motion. If the Government will reassure me that, if need be. that will be done, that the will is there to do it, I will support them.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Shore (Stepney)
We have heard a number of powerful and eloquent speeches during the course of the afternoon and evening arguing why the guillotine Motion should not be approved. Those speeches, which have come from both sides of the House, include the speech which we have just heard from the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Captain W. Elliot) and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins) who made, as he has throughout, a powerful contribution to these debates.
I have heard all but one or two speeches during the day and listened for some convincing reasons why the Motion should be imposed at this time. I also heard some rather bizarre reasons.
The right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) said that it was only by guillotining our discussions that we should ever be able to get on to discuss the matters raised by our entry to the Common Market. I thought that a somewhat odd point of view. Indeed, if the right hon. Gentleman had followed these matters in greater detail he would have found that some, on which he had touched, either had been dealt with already or will be dealt with, even under this truncated timetable, because they are covered by the Clauses of the Bill.
Another very odd reason was given by the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley). He could not see that there was any great matter at stake. He denied that there were any serious constitutional implications in the Bill. The fact that the hon. Gentleman could make such a speech is one more very powerful reason why the debate should not be guillotined and why all our debates are performing an essential but, unhappily, slow educational function, not only in the country, but clearly in the House also.
321 The Leader of the House made an unhappy speech. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman appears to be having to do a number of very unhappy and, I have no doubt, disagreeable things for him in the early days of fulfilling his office as Leader of the House. The right hon. Gentleman did not complain that we had been filibustering. Instead, and in the absence of evidence to that effect, the right hon. Gentleman had to fall back on a number of other reasons which I do not think that he himself found very convincing.
For example, the right hon. Gentleman had to make much of the fact that we have had debates at various stages of the Common Market discussions. Of course we have. We have had reports from the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he has returned from his frequent trips to Brussels and told us about how matters were progressing. We had the debates in July and October. However, the Leader of the House cannot fairly argue that that was any substitute for proper consideration of the Bill. for a very obvious reason.
Up till last October the material that was before the House was that which was contained in the 30 pages of the Government's White Paper. Only since then have there been published the Treaties of Accession—two volumes of them, not 30 pages, spelling matters out in some cases in very great detail. In addition, we have had the Bill and the 42 volumes of Community legislation which may have been available in odd bits, perhaps scattered about for the most diligent hon. Member to find, but not before the House in a serious and consolidated form. Also, as late as February we had the first 10 volumes of the ancillary and other Treaties of the Communities themselves.
What a contrast there is between the information that was available when the Government were being generous in debate and when they attached a wholly disproportionate value to the result of a single vote and the situation that has emerged in the last two or three months when for the first time, with the full knowledge of what is involved, with the total documentation not only of what the Community has done but of what the Government have agreed, and with the Bill before us as well, we have begun 322 the systematic investigation and interrogation of what is involved.
It is not a surprise that the majorities should have fallen. We all understand that there are difficulties for all hon. Members. The Leader of the House has no right to state as a reason for our not having a proper debate now that there were debates on the White Paper several months ago. That will not do. The right hon. Gentleman tells us in great detail that in his view—because that is the meaning of the Motion—all that is required to complete our consideration and to do our duty as Members of Parliament are 12 days.
I will tell the Leader of the House straight away why I believe that 12 days are wholly inadequate. The second six days of the 12 are about what we call the second part of the Bill, that part which could properly be described as the nuts and bolts, which deals basically with harmonisation, the approximation of Britain's laws with those of the Common Market. It might have been possible to argue that a timetable Motion was appropriate to that stage. I am not saying that I think that that is so, but it is just possible.
It would have been far more reasonable for the Government to have two Bills from the start. As my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson) said, that was not dismissed from their minds until very late. I understand that it was in the minds of earlier Governments that a major harmonisation Bill would be required. To describe it as a Bill of a thousand Clauses is perhaps an exaggeration, but that is the kind of thing that was considered.
I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has looked at the subject matter to be covered even in the second half of the Bill. It is a great range of matters. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman can be satisfied for a moment that they will receive adequate scrutiny. The laws being changed here are not the heart of the matter but they concern company law; the law affecting restrictive trade practices; what it means to become part of the common agricultural policy, with a total change in our farm structure; and the whole of our Customs strategy, all that is required of us to become part of a customs union. All that is in the second part. All that 323 which has been the subject of many Acts of Parliament is either to be repealed just like that or amended or have great chunks torn out and new pieces inserted without any proper discussion. In that second half alone, one day is the maximum that the House will be allowed to discuss the whole common agricultural policy as it will apply to Britain.
But there is a much greater offence. I have said something about the second part to illustrate the absurdity of trying to deal with it in six days. But the first part of the Bill amounts to a constitutional Bill in itself, which should have been separate. The fact that it consists of three Clauses does not mean a thing. Subsection (1) of Clause 2 is not so much a subsection as an abyss into which will be pitched rights, powers and liberties of the British Parliament and people. It opens up that abyss as from Day 1; on the day that it passes the almost inconceivable will have happened to the British people and this Parliament. No fewer than 1,200 laws made by others, by people who do not represent us, by people on the Continent of Europe, laws representing the legislative output of their past 12 years, are to be incorporated at a stroke into British law without any discussion, without any consideration in this House.
That is part of the offence, but only part. The second and greater part of the offence is that we have under this constitutional part of the Bill formally to subscribe to propositions that no Member of this House is entitled to subscribe to. We are asked to subscribe to the view that as from now Parliament will no longer be sovereign, that the laws of this country will be made by people outside this country, not elected in any way by the people of this country. We have to accept that we shall be taxed by others and that all matters affecting these new obligations imposed upon us which we might find objectionable will be adjudicated by a European court. I find that in itself deeply offensive and distasteful and certainly something that should not happen unless the people of this country explicitly consent. But I say with great conviction that even if we were all convinced that it was right for this country to join the Community on the terms negotiated I have no doubt whatever that we would wish to go over this Bill with the utmost 324 care, with the most sensitive scrutiny and seek to remove those features in it which are offensive to this Parliament and to the rights of our people.
This is where I return to the necessity for prolonged debate. What we have found in the journey of exploration to which my hon. Friend the Member for Ilkestone (Mr. Raymond Fletcher) referred earlier, what we have found in our journey of discovery round the first Clause and a half are extremely important things. We have for example discovered that there is not simply a transfer of power from this House to European agencies. We knew that was there all along. What we have found out is that in a number of really major matters power is being transferred which it is not necessary to transfer to achieve the objectives which the Government have in seeking to adhere to the European Community. I refer particularly to two matters raised earlier.
The first is the extent to which the rights and obligations which have already been ceded or will be ceded under the existing European treaties if we become a member can be added to and the manner in which they can be added to. What we discovered in Clause 1 was not just that major matters could as from the word "go" be decided in future under the treaties signed by the Community without this House having a right to pass an opinion on them. These are important matters and includes whatever new trade treaty is negotiated for New Zealand and probably for the sugar islands after the existing transitional period. These new treaties will be so-called Community treaties which this House will not be asked to approve. The matter will be settled by the Community.
We discovered more than that. We discovered that the Government had under the Clause 1(3) mechanism a means of adding to existing treaties simply by using the affirmative Resolution procedure. This is no small matter. When we consider what kind of treaties ancillary to the main treaties can be added in the way I have described with only a relatively short debate in the House we can see the importance of this. We can see approaching us in the near future the treaty which will be introduced to establish an economic and monetary 325 union—a treaty which in its present draft outline is described by those who advocate it as being equivalent to a second Rome Treaty. That is the measure of its importance and this we discovered only through the detailed scrutiny of Clause 1.
It is not necessary for these new treaties to be agreed in the way that the Government have suggested in the Bill. It is wholly open to Parliament to decide whether new treaties shall go through the process of simply requiring an affirmative Resolution or whether they should require a wholly separate enactment. This is a major matter for anyone who is concerned with the question of parliamentary control as distinct from the question whether it is right on the terms negotiated to enter the Common Market.
The same point may be emerging—although we have not yet explored it sufficiently—in relation to the powers which the Government are seeking to take in Clause 2(1). There the question has arisen whether the language of the Clause, which seems to strip Parliament of any means of intervening in the legislative process, is dictated by the underlying Article 189—or whatever it is—of the Rome Treaty. If it is not, there is opened up the possibility of amendment to make it more possible for Parliament to influence future Community regulations and laws. These are powerful reasons why we believe that it is quite wrong for the Government to attempt to impose upon us a guillotine Motion at this stage.
The Opposition have a duty to probe and the Government have a duty to answer our questions. The questions will not be answered under a guillotine. If the questions are not asked and answered in the House, under the British constitution there is nowhere else it can be done. It certainly will not be done in the upper House. It is ironical to recall that not long ago it was seriously argued that the case for a second and delaying Chamber was that, on major matters where it was reasonable to believe that the majority opinion in the House of Commons was out of sympathy with the opinion of the nation as a whole, the second Chamber had a duty to intervene. I did not believe that argument at the time and there is certainly no evidence now that we shall get any help from that quarter.
326 As the House well knows, we have no written constitution that might require specially high majorities in matters of exceptional constitutional importance and, regretfully, the constitutional conventions are not felt by the Government to be strong enough to compel them to refer these matters to the electorate. So we in the House alone have the duty to examine and explore these many issues and to try to answer the great question to what extent and to whom are the powers of making laws in England to be ceded in the future. I do not think that any hon. Member feels that we have been able so far to discharge our duty properly or that in the 12 allotted days we shall be able to discharge it properly.
What then are we to say to our constituents and the people of this country when, as will happen, the laws of the Community begin to impinge upon their rights? Are we to tell them that these 42 volumes of laws went through on the nod, unread and undiscused in the British Parliament, and that the right to make new laws and impose taxes was ceded by this House after a few perfunctory debates to institutions that have no foundation in the free consent of the British people?
I believe that the reputation of Parliament itself will be damaged appallingly if this happens. It is an improper use of majority power. The Prime Minister has broken faith with the British people on the question of obtaining their full-hearted consent. A majority of eight and the guillotine does not add up to that. But I believe that by introducing this now he will destroy utterly whatever remaining claim upon consent that the Government can make. To guillotine this Bill, therefore, is to invite, almost to incite, its repeal. We cannot live under such a Bill any more than we can accept the treaties that it claims to implement.
That is the submission which I make to the House. I say to the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton), who has tabled an Amendment, that in our view while his is a more sensible allocation of time than that proposed by the Government, it is after all, as he will be the first to acknowledge, simply moving what are a number of separate guillotines within a single guillotine. That is the purpose of the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment. While that may be slightly more acceptable than the series of guillotines with 327 which the Leader of the House has presented us, it is the principle of the guillotine on this Bill at this stage that we shall oppose.
§ 9.32 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Geoffrey Rippon)
In the earlier part of his speech the right hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) defined the issue in clear terms as being whether under the timetable Motion before the House we shall continue to have reasonable discussion of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman's assertion was that a further 12 days was wholly inadequate. That is the issue of substance before the House.
In the second part of his speech the right hon. Gentleman went on to more familiar ground to those of us who have attended the Committee's proceedings. In effect he gave us a repetition of the speech we have heard several times already in our discussions on Clause 2 which he regards as an abyss into which will be pitched all the rights of Parliament and people. In fact, as the House knows, it has been clear since 1967 what is involved in accepting membership of the Community.
In this debate we are not dealing with the principle of Community membership. That was decided by this House long ago. We are concerned with the procedure with which we deal with the Bill, to which we gave a Second Reading on 17th February. I am afraid that many of us know that the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) was quite right when he said that some right hon. and hon. Members on both sides were continually challenging the principle of entry. The hon. Gentleman referred especially to his right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney. If he had spoken later and followed the hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins), the hon. Member for Fife, West might have made the same comments about him. The hon. Member for Walthamstow, West said that the policy of entering the Community can and must be reversed.
It is not the Government's intention in this Motion or anywhere else to seek to damn the oratory of those who wish to express their whole-hearted and full- 328 throated dissent to Community membership at any price. We have long recognised that only beneficial experience of membership of the Community is likely to change their minds.
What we are talking about now is not in any sense stopping the debate. We are talking about what is a reasonable timetable for parliamentary examination of the remainder of the Bill. I am sure that the House will recognise from the terms of the Motion and from the explanations which have been given, especially by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, that what we are proposing is an exceptionally generous timetable by any precedent or standard. As my right hon. Friend said, with the debates that we have had and the debates provided for in this timetable, by the end of the day the Bill will have had devoted to it more of the time of Parliament than any Bill in recent history.
§ Mr. Rippon
I hear someone say "and so it ought ". There has been no dissent by the Government from that point of view. That is why we have spent 14 days in Committee on the Bill and propose to spend another 12 days on it—26 days in all. The House knows that since January last year we have had 15 days of general debate, so that since the beginning of last year we shall have spent about 30 days on the issues which arise out of our entry into the Community. Under the timetable the total will exceed 40 days by the end of the Committee stage. In addition, as the right hon. Member for Stepney acknowledged, there have been a number of statements by myself about the progress of negotiations and, indeed, a long debate on the fishery negotiations during the consideration of the Consolidated Fund Bill.
Against that background, assertions that the Government are behaving in any way intolerably, or are abrogating the rights of Parliament, are wild exaggerations, and I am sure that the House will in any event treat statements of that kind with the appropriate reserve, and so will the country.
As I think right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House are well aware, what we are proposing is not to guillotine, or chop, or axe debate, still 329 less to abrogate parliamentary rights and authority. What we are proposing—and this is how it will be accepted outside the House—is that the process of examination of the remainder of the Bill may be channelled within reasonable and, indeed, generous bounds.
We all know that this is a well-established parliamentary procedure—which hon. Members opposite have used when in office—for ordering our debates according to a reasonable timetable.
§ Sir Robin Turtonrose—
§ Mr. Rippon
May I deal with my right hon. Friend, because he and others have questioned whether it is proper, as a matter of principle, for a Bill which raises constitutional issues to be subject to a timetable Motion. It was my right hon. Friend himself who suggested in our debate on 6th March that the Bill provided a good occasion when there might be talks between the two sides on some voluntary timetable. Indeed, he said:If ever there was a case for a voluntary agreement freely entered into by both sides— a Government generous in the offer of time, an Opposition responsible in their demands—it is this Bill. It would be for the dignity of Parliament if the Government would offer to confer with those who oppose the Bill and try to get an agreed programme for the Committee stage, so that all these vital matters for Parliament and the country are adequately discussed." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th March, 1972; Vol, 832, c. 1115.]That, as my right hon. Friend will appreciate, is what we have tried to do. We have sought, and resought, a voluntary timetable, and one not only generous in time. We have been willing to discuss how that time might be distributed. I am sorry to have to tell my right hon. Friend that the response was not positive. Whether it was responsible in the words which my right hon. Friend used is a matter for the judgment of the House, but we would have much preferred a voluntary timetable.
§ Sir Robin Turton
The point that I was trying to make was that why, having, unfortunately, not got a voluntary timetable, my right hon. and learned Friend did not use the procedure of the House as laid down in Standing Order No. 43 and allow the Chairman of Ways and Means and eight other hon. Members to determine what was a fair allocation of the time which the Government were willing to provide?
§ Mr. Rippon
I appreciate very much the point my right hon. Friend has made. The advantage of the Government's Motion is that it demonstrates to the House that it is possible to allocate the 12 days so as to give proper time for each Clause and Schedule and for the different subsections to Clause 2 to be debated.
On this matter, which is highly controversial, the House is not being asked simply to take a decision on the principle of a timetable Motion without knowing how it will work out. It was important for us to lay before the House a timetable Motion which made it clear that we proposed a fair and reasonable allocation of time. If we had done what my right hon. Friend suggested, the House would have had the time but no indication, until after the Business Committee had considered the matter, of how it might be deployed.
I have carefully studied the alternative proposals in the Amendments for the allocation of the 12 allotted days. I have been glad to see how far that allocation coincides with the allocation in the Motion, not least in the allocation of one more day to what remains to be considered of the highly important Clause 2(1).
On balance, however, I prefer the allocation in the Government Motion, which has two advantages that would be lost under the Amendment. First, it gives a separate allocation of time to each of the first four important subsections of Clause 2. Second, it provides not less than 3½ hours to each of the succeeding Clauses, whereas the Amendment would give only 2½ hours to each of four Clauses and as little as 1½ hours to a fifth Clause. These are matters of judgment, but there is little between us about the concept of the allocation of time over the 12 days
My right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton) went on to say that the earlier part of the Bill was more important than the latter part. We have tried to meet what are clearly the wishes of the House in this regard. Leaving aside the two censure Motions and the time spent on points of order, we have had six days on Clause 1. We propose nearly seven days on Clause 2.
331 This is not an unreasonable proposition to put before the House. All Governments have had to recognise that one must face the fact that an absolutely unlimited amount of time for any Bill is impracticable if the nation's business is to be conducted properly in Parliament. [Interruption.] We have only one Parliament and a certain number of days in each year. It is our duty to see that all aspects of our national affairs get proper attention.
The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson) asked why we should not give the whole parliamentary year to the Bill.
§ Mr. Rippon
Because that would lead to our not discussing a number of other matters which from time to time hon. Members consider to be of importance to the nation.
§ Mr. Mendelsonrose—
§ Mr. Rippon
I have indicated that there is other business which hon. Members desire to discuss from time to time.
§ Mr. Mendelson
The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that this is not one but two Bills. The Government have deliberately designed the Measure to make it difficult to discuss all the essential transfers of power that are involved. If this important change is to take place, it is far more important for the House of Commons, with the country listening, to debate every aspect of policy in detail, and other legislation can wait until next year.
§ Mr. Rippon
The House deals with more than other legislation. Matters of general interest need to be debated. These, too, would have to wait. Hon. Members who were present in Committee will accept that a wide range of Amendments and subjects need to be discussed.
On 3rd February, 1881, Mr. Gladstone —[Interruption.] This is apposite to the debate—Mr. Gladstone said that there was no legislative assembly in the world which worked itself so pitilessly and relentlessly as the British House of Commons. I do not know what he would have said of our activities today.
332 Mr. Gladstone pointed out, I accept wildly improbably, that if the House of Commons worked 12 hours a day every day of the year except Sunday, that would not give enough time for every one of the then 650 hon. Members to speak for six hours per Session. The same circumstances exist today. Mr. Gladstone added that speech must be regulated not by the fancies of men but by the necessities of the case and in accordance with the discharge of the duties which we are sent here to discharge. At the same time, I assure my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton (Captain W. Elliot) that we are determined to give proper time to consideration of the Bill and that we would in any event be determined to see that we get our business through. What we are saying is that we think this is a reasonable way of conducting our business. But that we are determined these days to see things through my hon. and gallant Friend need have no doubt.
§ Mr. Shore
The right hon. and learned Gentleman says that he is determined to get things through, determined for the Government to get their way. Will he now address himself to the major issue that this is a constitutional Bill of unique importance and that it has never been the practice for Governments either to guillotine constitutional Bills or to approach them saying ' We will get our way "?
§ Mr. Rippon
I said that we would carry through our business in a constitutional way. We have heard much in the last few weeks about the sovereignty of Parliament. I suggest that the sovereignty of Parliament extends to the right of Parliament to ordain its own procedures on constitutional as on other matters. The right hon. Member for Stepney and his hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) have suggested that the timetable on a so-called constitutional Bill, is unprecedented and wrong.
But the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale has said different things about guillotines on previous occasions. On 14th March, 1968, when talking about the allocation of time on the Transport Bill, he said:The main argument put by the hon. Gentleman at the beginning of his speech was that the Government were doing something unprecedented in applying a guillotine to this Bill of a different nature from the other Bills to 333 which the guillotine has been applied. That is a powerful argument. But all Government have to do things for the first time. All precedents have been set in this manner. Therefore, precedent of itself is not a conclusive argument.The hon. Gentleman went on to say:Although I have other things to say about the Measure later, I would argue that the Bill is unprecedented in that I cannot recall any previous Transport Bills which have been presented since 1945—and, after all, Transport Bills are of extreme importance to the country as a whole—where the House of Commons has been presented, over a period of a year or more before, with a series of White Papers laying out all the main principles incorporated in it." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th March, 1968, Vol. 760, c. 1703.]Here we have had White Papers and debates over 10 years, so it is irrelevant to say that previous discussions are not important.
Another point is that it is wrong to say that there are no precedents. There is, for example, the precedent of the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Bill, 1969, though whether that was wholly constitutional some might beg leave to doubt.
§ Mr. Michael Foot
The right hon. and learned Gentleman and his office have no doubt been digging very hard to discover what they can find from what I have said in previous guillotine debates. If that is the worst they can find, I have a very clean record. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is the person who is curtailing the time of the House. He should not complain about time. He has plenty of time if he withdraws the Bill. Is he really trying to pretend to the HOUse— [HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."] Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order."] I am not going to be sneered down by semi-drunken Members of the other side. — [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. It would be better if the House would calm down and speakers on either side were listened to.
§ Mr. Foot
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman really comparing a Transport Bill, in its constitutional nature, with the Bill before the House at present? Is he saying that there is any comparison, in the scale of its being a constitutional Bill, in the terms in which his right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton) said that it 334 was improper for a guillotine to be introduced on a constitutional Bill of major importance?
§ Mr. Rippon
The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale said a lot of things about guillotines. I tried to choose the most relevant passage. There are not all that many relevant passages in the hon. Member's speeches.
I also answer the question which the right hon. Member for Stepney put to me as to whether there was any constitutional precedent. What we must do is to consider how far the special character of any Bill is reflected in the allocation of time. I submit we have reflected the special character of the Bill in the generous allocation of time we have provided. We are dealing in the Bill with the legislative consequences of the Treaty of Accession to the European Community. We are not dealing with the principle of membership on the terms negotiated which was decided previously by this House. We are not dealing with the Treaty of Accession as such, nor the principle of the Bill, but with the detailed changes required in our domestic law to implement the House's decision of principle.
We have always said we would provide all the time properly needed by Parliament in accordance with our traditional practices for discussion and debate. I submit we have held to that undertaking, and we will continue to do so.
We presented the Bill for First Reading on 25th January. Exceptionally, at the request of the Opposition to give them more time to study the Bill carefully, we delayed Second Reading for three weeks. That again was longer than the normal. Exceptionally we allotted three days, at the request of the Opposition, for Second Reading. As the then Leader of the House said, only two other Bills in the last 30 years have had so many days for Second Reading. In addition, again exceptionally, we allocated a day to the Ways and Means and Money Resolutions instead of taking them straight after Second Reading. All that was on 15th, 16th, 17th and 22nd February. Further, so that the House should have full opportunity for debate, we committed the Bill not to a Standing Committee but to a Committee of the whole House. This means that the whole 335 Committee stage, quite exceptionally, has been taken on the Floor of the House to the exclusion of other matters.
§ Mr. Foot
Why does the right hon. and learned Gentleman say "quite exceptionally "? If a constitutional Bill is taken on the Floor of the House—that is the way the House has always conducted these matters—why does he say that this is quite exceptional as if he is giving a favour to the House of Commons in allowing occasional allegiance to the proper principles of the House of Commons. Why talk about doing us a favour by having them discussed on the Floor of the House?
§ Mr. Rippon
As the hon. Member knows, it was not presented as a favour. We thought it was right and proper. One must look at each particular Bill and decide whether in all the circumstances we provided proper opportunity to debate the principle and the details and gave a suitable lapse of time.
We began the Committee stage on 29th February. We have conducted it in a way which has enabled right hon. and hon. Members who are out-and-out opponents of the Bill and others to express their views very fully. We have had, quite apart from the consideration of 89 Amendments, debates on European economic and monetary union, to which the right hon. Member for Stepney has referred again tonight, on defence, on EFTA, on a General Election and on a referendum. There was a long debate all day on agriculture, ranging from apples and pears to the color of kippers. I do not believe that there is any reason why, in the additional time which has been allocated, it should not be possible for right hon. and hon. Members to deal with all the matters of substance raised in the Bill.
No one makes any charge of filibustering on a matter of this kind. Many right hon. and hon. Members have wished to reiterate over and over again their opposition in principle to the Bill. Those hon. Members who have been present throughout the discussions on Clause 1 will have recognised that charge and countercharge, question and answer, point and counter-point, were absolutely exhausted and hon. Members found great difficulty in dealing with the matter.
§ Mr. English
I am fascinated by the right hon. and learned Gentleman saying that there is no charge of there being a filibuster. Will he tell us then why he quoted from Gladstone who was speaking after a filibuster and was quite satisfied at the time merely to introduce a Closure, not a guillotine. His precedents are like pretty little snowdrops and about as big. Is it not the case, for example, that it is only a minor 'part of the Bill that our power to pass Transport Bills will be taken away by it?
That raises points which we have gone over fairly frequently in discussions on Clause 1. A quotation from Gladstone is merely an indication that for about 100 years the House has had to recognise that if it is to conduct its business effectively and efficiently it must have a reasonable timetable. The House has to judge not whether a timetable is right or wrong, but whether the timetable which the Government have proposed is in all the circumstances fair and reasonable.
When we come to the merits of the Bill, as the Prime Minister remarked on Second Reading—I reminded the House of this the other day and make no apology for doing so again—the constitutional position has not changed in any single respect since the negotiations of 1961 when it was very fully discussed in the House time and again. It has not changed since the last Government's White Paper of 1967.A time has come when that particular fact has to be recognised. I know that certain right hon. and hon. Members, including the right hon. Member for Stepney, have continually sought to maintain the contrary: that we face a new situation, that things have developed since 1967, or that the House has not seen the fine print before, and so forth. But, as hon. Members who have attended our Committee and other proceedings know, in the debates we have had we have probed, elucidated, scrutinised and examined in great detail.
In the procedures which we have now put before the House, I submit that every right hon. and hon. Member who wishes to participate in our proceedings will have a full opportunity of raising every relevant point before the Bill concludes its consideration in Committee. We have done our best, by this Motion, 337 to ensure that we have a properly ordered plan of debate—this is important—which means that no important provision fails to be considered. That is what previous experience—my right hon. Friend has always said that—shows to be important.
I assure the House that the Government have treated and will continue to treat the Bill as of exceptional importance.
§ Mr. Martenrose—
§ Mr. Rippon
That is why we thought it right to commend to the House a timetable for a full but ordered debate which is extremely reasonable and generouse by any standards and ensures the protection of the rights and responsibilities of this House.
§ 9.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Swain(Derbyshire, North-East)rose—338
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury(Mr. Francis Pym)
Mr. Speaker, I beg to move—
§ Mr. Swain
I am glad to enter the debate to make a long speech at this time of night. In anticipation of the wasp from Wimbledon getting up in a moment to move the closure, I suggest that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has not attempted to answer the debate. Not one word which he has said in the last half our—
§ It being Ten o'clock, Mr. Speaker proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House this day, to put the Question necessary to dispose of the proceedings on the Motion.
§ The House divided: Ayes 304, Noes 293.339
|Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Simeons, Charles|
|Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Money, Ernie||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Howell, David (Guildtord)||Monks, Mrs. Connie||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Monro, Hector||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Hunt, John||Montgomery, Fergus||Soref, Harold|
|Iremonger, T. L.||More, Jasper||Speed, Keith|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Spence, John|
|James, David||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||Sproat, lain|
|Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Morrison, Charles||Stainton, Keith|
|Jessell, Toby||Mudd, David||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Murton, Oscar||Steel, David|
|Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Neave, Airey||Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)|
|Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Jopling, Michael||Normanton, Tom||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Nott, John||Stokes, John|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Onslow, Cranley||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally||Tapsell, Peter|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Osborn, John||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Kimball, Marcus King||Owen,Idris (Stockoort N)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Taylor,Robert (Croydon, N.W.)|
|King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Tebbit, Norman|
|Kinsey, J. R.||Parkinson, Cecil||Temple John M.|
|Kirk, Peter||Peel, John||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Kitson, Timothy||Percival Ian||Thomas John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Knight, Mrs. Jill||Peyton, Rt. Hn. John||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)|
|Knox, David||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Thompson, Sir Pieter Hendon (Croydon. S.)|
|Lambton, Lord||Pink, R. Bonner||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Lane, David||Price, David (Eastlelgh)||Tilney, John|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.||Trafiord, Dr. Anthony|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Proudfoot, Wilfred||Trew, Peter|
|Le Merchant, Spencer||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Quennell, Miss J. M.||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Lloyd,Rt.Hn.Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)||Raison, Timothy||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Longden, Sir Gilbert||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Waddington, David|
|Loveridge, John||Redmond, Robert||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Luce, R. N.||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Rees, Peter||Wall, Patrick|
|MacArthur, Ian||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Walters, Dennis|
|McCrindle, R. A.||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Ward, Dame Irene|
|McLaren, Martin||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Warren, Kenneth|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Macmillan,Rt.Hn.Maurice (Farnham)||Ridsdale, Julian||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|McNair-Wilson, Michael||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Maddan, Martin||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Wilkinson, John|
|Madel, David||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Mather, Carol||Rost, Peter||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Royle, Anthony||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Mawby, Ray||Russell, Sir Ronald||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||St. John-Stevas, Norman||Worsley, Marcus|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Scott, Nicholas||Younger, Hn. George|
|Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Sharpies, Richard||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mitchell,Lt.-Col.C. (Aberdeen, W)||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Mr. Bernard Weathcrill and|
|Shelton, William (Clapham)||Mr. Walter Clegg.|
|Division No. 160]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Churchill, W. S.||Galbraith, Hn. T. G.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Clark, William (Surrey, E.)||Gardner, Edward|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Gibson-Watt, David|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Cockeram, Eric||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Cooke, Robert||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)|
|Astor, John||Coombs, Derek||Glyn, Dr. Alan|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Cooper, A. E.||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.|
|Awdry, Daniel||Cordle, John||Goodhart, Philip|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Goodhew, Victor|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Cormack, Patrick||Gorst, John|
|Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord||Costain, A. P.||Gower, Raymond|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Critchley, Julian||Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)|
|Batsford, Brian||Crouch, David||Gray, Hamish|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Crowder, F. P.||Green, Alan|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Grieve, Percy|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)|
|Benyon, W.||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid,Maj.-Gen. James||Grylls, Michael|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Dean, Paul||Gummer, Selwyn|
|Blaker, Peter||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Gurden, Harold|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W)||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)|
|Boscawen, Robert||Dixon, Piers||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.|
|Bowden, Andrew||Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)|
|Braine, Bernard||Drayson, G. B.||Hannam, John (Exeter)|
|Bray, Ronald||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)|
|Brewis, John||Dykes, Hugh||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Eden, Sir John||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Hastings, Stephen|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Havers, Michael|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne.N.)||Hawkins, Paul|
|Bryan, Paul||Emery, Peter||Hay, John|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M)||Eyre, Reginald||Hayhoe, Barney|
|Buck, Antony||Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Fidier, Michael||Heseltine, Michael|
|Burden, F. A.||Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Hicks, Robert|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Higgins, Terence L.|
|Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray&Nairn)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Hiley, Joseph|
|Carlisle, Mark||Fookes, Miss Janet||Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Fortescue, Tim||Hill, James (Southampton, Test)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Foster, Sir John||Holland, Philip|
|Channon, Paul||Fowler, Norman||Holt, Miss Mary|
|Chapman, Sydney||Fox, Marcus||Hooson, Emlyn|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone)||Hordern, Peter|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Fry, Peter||Hornby, Richard|
|Abse. Leo||Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Cohen, Stanley|
|Albu, Austen||Body, Richard||Concannon, J. D.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Booth, Albert||Conlan, Bernard|
|Allen, Scholefield||Bottomley, Rt. Hn. John||Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland)||Crawshaw, Richard|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Bradley, Tom||Cronin, John|
|Ashley, Jack||Broughton, Sir Alfred||Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony|
|Ashton, Joe||Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.)||Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Atkinson, Norman||Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Brown, Ronald (ShoredHch & F'bury)||Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)|
|Barnes, Michael||Buchan, Norman||Dalyell, Tam|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Darling, Rt. Hn. George|
|Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton)||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Davidson, Arthur|
|Baxter, William||Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)|
|Beaney, Alan||Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Davies, Ifor (Gower)|
|Bell, Ronald||Cant, R. B.||Davis,Clinton (Hackney, C.)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Carmichael, Neil||Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)||Deakins, Eric|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey|
|Biffen, John||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Delargy, Hugh|
|Bishop, E. S.||Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Dempsey, James|
|Dolg, Peter||Kaufman, Gerald||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Dormand, J. D.||Kelley, Richard||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Kerr, Russell||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Kilfedder, James||Prescott, John|
|Driberg, Tom||Kinnock, Neil||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Lambie, David||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Dunn, James A.||Lamond, James||Probert, Arthur|
|Dunnett, Jack||Latham, Arthur||Rankin, John|
|Eadie, Alex||Laadbitter, Ted||Reed, p. (Sedgefield)|
|Edelman, Maurice||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Leonard, Dick||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Lestor, Miss Joan||Richard, Ivor|
|Ellis, Tom||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|English, Michael||lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Evans, Fred||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Roderick, CaerwynE.(Br'c'n&R'dnor)|
|Ewing, Henry||Lipton, Marcus||Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Faulds, Andrew||Lomas, Kenneth||Roper, John|
|Fell, Anthony||Loughlin, Charles||Rose, Paul B.|
|Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)|
|Fisher, Mrs. Doris(B'ham,Ladywood)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Rowlands, Edward|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Mabon Dr J Dickson||Sandelson, Neville|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||McBride, Neil||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||McCartney Huah||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Foley, Maurice||McElhone Frank||Short.Rt.Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Foot, Michael||McGuire, Michael||Short, Mrs. Renee (W'hampton, N.E.j|
|Ford, Ben||Mackenzie Greor||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Forrester, John||Mackie, John||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Mackintosh John P||Sillars, James|
|Freeson, Reginald||Maclennan Robert||Silverman, Julius|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Garrett, W.||McNamara, J. Kevin||Small, William|
|Gilbert, Dr. John||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)|
|Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)||Maginnis, John E.||Spearing, Nigel|
|Golding, John||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Spriggs Leslie|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Stallard, A. W.|
|Gourlay, Harry||Marks, Kenneth||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)|
|Grant, George (Morpeth)||Marquand, David||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Grant, John D (Islington, E.)||marsden, F.||Stonehouse Rt. Hn. John|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Marshall, Dr. Edmund||Strang, Gavin|
|Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Marten Neil||Strauss Rt Hn G R|
|Hamilton, James, (Bothwell)||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Mayhew, Christopher||Swain, Thomas|
|Hamling, William||Meacher, Michael||Taverne, Dick|
|Hardy Peter||Mellish, Rt Hn. Robert||Thomas,Ht.n.George (Cardriff,w.)|
|Harper, Joseph||Mendelson, John||Thomas, Jeffrey (Aberttilery)|
|Harrison, Waller (Wakefield)||Mikardo, Ian||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)|
|Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||Millan, Bruce|
|Hattersley, Roy||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Tinn, James|
|Heatey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Milne, Edward||Tomney, Frank|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, lichen)||Torney, Tom|
|Hilton, W. S.||Moate, Roger||Tuck, Raphael|
|Horam, John||Molloy, William||Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Molyneaux, James||Urwin, T. W.|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||varley, Eric G|
|Huckfield Leslie||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Wainwrignt, Edwin|
|Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)|
|Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)||walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)||Moyle, Roland||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Wallace, George|
|Hunter, Adam||Murray, Ronald King||watkins, David|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Oakes, Gordon||weitzman, David|
|Irvine Rt Hn Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)||Ogden, Eric||Wellbeloved, James|
|O'Halloran, Michael||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Janner, Greville||O'Malley, Brian||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Oram, Bert||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Orbach, Maurice||Whitlock, William|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Orme, Stanley||Willey,, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Orr, Capt, L. P. S.||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Oswald, Thomas||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|John, Brynmor||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)||Williams W T (Warrington)|
|Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Padley, Walter||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||Paget, R. T.||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)||Palmar, Arthur||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Woof, Robert|
|Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)||Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Pavitt Laurie||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Mr. Donald Coleman and|
|Judd, Frank||Pentland, Norman||Mr. Tom Pendry.|
|Question accordingly agreed to.|
|That the following provisions shall apply to the further Proceedings on the European Communities Bill (in this Order referred to as ' the Bill'):—|
|Completion of Committee Stage|
|1. —(1) The remaining Proceedings in Committee on the Bill shall be completed in twelve allotted days, and those Proceedings shall be taken in the order stated and (if not previously brought to a conclusion) be brought to a conclusion at the times shown in the following table: —|
|Allotted day||Proceedings||Time for conclusion of proceedings|
|First day||Clause 2—Amendments before subsection (2)||11.00 p.m.|
|Second day||Clause 2—Amendments before subsection (3)||11.00 p.m.|
|Third day||Clause 2—Amendments before subsection (4)||11.00 p.m.|
|Fourth day||Clause 2—Amendments before subsection (5)||7.30 p.m.|
|Fourth and Fifth days||Clause 2—remaining proceedings||7.30 p.m. on Fifth day|
|Fifth and Sixth days||Clause 3||6.00 p.m. on Sixth day|
|Sixth day||Schedule 1||7.30 p.m.|
|Schedule 2||11.00 p.m.|
|Seventh day||Clause 5, Schedule 3 Part I and Schedule 4 to end of paragraph 2||11.00 p.m.|
|Eighth day||Clause 6||11.00 p.m.|
|Ninth day||Clause 7 and Schedule 3 Part II||7.30 p.m.|
|Clause 4 and remaining proceedings on Schedule 3||11.00 p.m.|
|Tenth day||Remaining proceedings on Schedule 4||6.00 p.m.|
|Clause 8||9.30 p.m.|
|Tenth and Eleventh days||Clause 9||6.00 p.m. on Eleventh day|
|Eleventh day||Clause 10||9.30 p.m.|
|Eleventh and Twelfth days||Clause 11||6.00 p.m. on Twelfth day|
|Twelfth day||Clause 12 and remaining proceedings in Committee||11.00 p.m.|
|(2) Standing Order No. 43 (Business Committee) shall not apply to this Order so far as it relates to Proceedings in Committee on the Bill.|
|Proceedings on going into Committee|
|2.When the Order of the Day is read for the House to resolve itself into Committee on the Bill, Mr. Speaker shall leave the chair without putting any question, notwithstanding that notice of an Instruction has been given.|
|Conclusion of Proceedings in Committee|
|3.On the conclusion of the Proceedings in Committee on the Bill the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without putting any Question.|
|No dilatory Motion with respect to, or in the course of, Proceedings on the Bill shall be made on an allotted day except by a Member of the Government. and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.|
|Extra time on allotted days|
|5. — (1) On an allotted day paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 3 (Exempted business) shall apply to the Proceedings on the Bill for one hour after Ten o'clock.|
|(2) Any period during which Proceedings on the Bill may be proceeded with after Ten o'clock under paragraph (7) of Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) shall be in addition to the period under this paragraph.|
|(3) If an allotted day is one to which a Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 stands over from an earlier day, a period of time equal to the duration of the proceedings upon that Motion shall be added to the period during which proceedings on the Bill may be proceeded with after Ten o'clock under this paragraph and the bringing to a conclusion of any proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order, are to be brought to a conclusion on that day shall also be postponed for a period equal to the duration of the proceedings on the Motion.|
|Standing Order No. 13|
|6.Standing Order No. 13 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and nomination of Select Committees at commencement of public business) shall not apply on an allotted day.|
|7.Any private business which has been set down for consideration at Seven o'clock on an allotted day shall, instead of being considered as provided by the Standing Orders, be considered at the conclusion of the Proceedings on the Bill on that day, and paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 3 (Exempted business) shall apply to the private business for a period of three hours from the conclusion of the Proceedings on the Bill or, if those Proceedings are concluded before Ten o'clock, for a period equal to the time elapsing between Seven o'clock and the completion of those Proceedings.|
|Conclusion of Proceedings|
|8. — (1) For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any Proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion at a time appointed by this Order and which have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman or Mr Speaker shall forthwith proceed to put the following Questions (but no others), that is to say—|
|(a) the Question or Questions already proposed from the Chair, or necessary to bring to a decision a Question so proposed (including, in the case of a new Clause or new Schedule which has been read a Second time, the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill);|
|(b) the Question on any amendment or Motion standing on the Order Paper in the name of any Member, if that amendment or Motion is moved by a Member of the Government;|
|(c) any other Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded; and on a Motion so moved for a new Clause or a new Schedule, 'the Chairman or Mr Speaker shall put only the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill.|
|(2) Proceedings under sub-paragraph (I) of this paragraph shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House.|
|(3) If, at Seven o'clock on an allotted day, any Proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order, are to be brought to a conclusion before that time have not been concluded, any Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) which, apart from this Order, would stand over to that time shall stand over until those Proceedings have been concluded.|
|(4) If a Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 stands over to Seven o'clock on an allotted day, or to any later time under sub-paragraph (3) above, the bringing to a conclusion of any Proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order, are to be brought to a conclusion on that day at any hour falling after the beginning of the Proceedings on that Motion shall be postponed for a period equal to the duration of the Proceedings on that Motion.|
|9. —(1) The Proceedings on any Motion moved in the House by a Member of the Government for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order (including any Motion for allocating time to Proceedings on the Bill subsequent to the Proceedings in Committee) shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion one hour after they have been commenced, and the last foregoing paragraph shall apply as if the Proceedings were Proceedings on the Bill on an allotted day.|
|(2) If any such Motion moved by a Member of the Government is under consideration at Seven o'clock on a day on which any private business has been set down for consideration at Seven o'clock, the private business shall stand over and be considered when the Proceedings on the Motion have been concluded, and paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 3 (Exempted business) shall apply to the private business so standing over for a period equal to the time for which it so stands over.|
|(3) If on an allotted day on which any Proceedings on the Bill are to be brought to a conclusion the House is adjourned, or the sitting is suspended, before those proceedings are concluded, no notice shall be required of a Motion moved at the next sitting by a Member of the Government for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order.|
|10. Nothing in this Order shall—|
|(a) prevent any Proceedings to which the Order applies from being taken or completed earlier than is required by the Order; or|
|(b) prevent any business (whether on the Bill or not) from being proceeded with on any day after the completion of all such Proceedings on the Bill as are to be taken on that day.|
|11. In this Order `allotted day' means any day (other than a Friday or the day on which this Order is agreed to) on which the Bill is put down as the first Government Order of the Day.|