§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[The Prime Minister.]
§ 3.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)
The purpose of this debate, on the Opposidon's initiative, in Opposition time, is to enable the House, before Thursday's summit, to debate the issues raised by that meeting, the basis and the credentials on which the Prime Minister will be attending it, and to warn him against further concessions which he may intend to make, and for which he has no authority from the British people.
A debate before an important conference follows many Parliamentary precedents. The right hon. Gentleman, as Leader of the Opposition, frequently insisted on one or, indeed, more debates before certain White House meetings and on other occasions. The House has the right to insist, too, that, on his return, Parliament should have not merely a full report—and a few words after Questions will not do—but a full debate in Government time.
But there is another consideration arising out of the right hon. Gentleman's treatment of this House. It is not only that he censored debate, railroaded through Parliament a Measure which was an outrage against all the constitutional doctrines and practices of our democracy over the years; it is not merely that the Government deliberately decided, on grounds of political expediency and the rationing of Parliamentary time, against considering the acceptance of a single Amendment—a Clause, a line, even a word—in either House, however strong the case for an Amendment; but—that is why we must have this debate—that on many of the gravest issues raised throughout the debates over the past 18 months, the Government have been deliberately uninformative about their intentions.
Major questions were raised by my right hon. and hon. Friends, and also by hon. Gentlemen opposite, on the interpretation of the Treaties, on undertakings given and positions accepted by the Prime Minister in his talks with President 40 Pompidou, and other European ministerial meetings, about defence, including nuclear issues, about monetary commitments, about sterling balances, about the parity of sterling, and about many more issues. When these were raised during the passage of the Bill, Ministers made it clear that they had no more intention of answering them than of allowing the free consideration of Amendments. It was an unprecedented record of concealment, secretiveness and evasion by the 1970 adherents of "open Government".
Of course there was a reason. We read it from time to time in Press stories which emanated not from suspicious commentators, for the Press was unanimously in support of the right hon. Gentleman on the Market, but from what those journalists were told on authority. The reason was that, faced with a continuing prospect of minuscule majorities on the Bill, the Government preferred to hide their real intentions for fear of arousing apprehensions among their supporters or of aggravating growing popular resistance to the Government's plans in the country.
Let us take defence. The Prime Minister has been committed for years to the idea of an Anglo-French nuclear deterrent in statements and discussions, principally abroad. That is where he has made these statements. But he has muted this theme in this country. We heard nothing of it in the last General Election, and every question which has been put to him at Question Time and in the debates has been brushed aside. Every Opposition warning of what it would mean if, for example, there were a German component, even an indirect influence in nuclear control, with all that would mean for NATO and the Atlantic Alliance, for détente with the East and relations between the West and the Soviet bloc, has always been brushed aside. But there has never been—which has made me suspicious—any repudiation of what were known to be the Prime Minister's views over a long period. All the House was told was that it did not arise, it had not been discussed, it would not come up—perhaps it would go away—it was not being considered. Perhaps he was careful not to allow it to be raised. It was not allowed to be raised before he had driven his Bill through Parliament.
41 But even before that Bill could receive the Royal Assent, the Secretary of State for Defence, last Friday, at the Conservative Party Conference, drew the veil aside just a little. He is reported as saying thatthe evolution of European defence must include some kind of European nuclear force, although not on a scale comparable to that of the United States.Can the Government now claim that this is not a live issue, that it has not been considered? Will the Prime Minister—this is nothing to laugh at; the right hon. Gentleman should answer this question—or, failing him, will the Foreign Secretary today tell the House categorically that there has been no discussion of these matters with any European powers, none during the Brussels negotiations, none in any of the bilateral talks with the French President or Ministers, none at NATO meetings, none in the European Defence Group or the sort of dining meetings held at NATO ministerial conferences?
The Prime Minister on Saturday in his speech was asking people to say "Yes" more often. I now ask him to say yes or no to this question: Did the statement of the Secretary of State for Defence last Friday represent the policy of Her Majesty's Government?
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Edward Heath)
The Secretary of State said that he visualised that at some future time there would be a movement towards a European deterrent. He has said this on many occasions in the past. I have said it in the past, and I have put it deliberately in the form of an Anglo-French trust for the rest of Europe. There is nothing secret about this. It has been publicly discussed, as the right hon. Gentleman knows. I have discussed it many times in this House. I have also told the House absolutely frankly that it was not discussed with President Pompidou, because he did not wish to discuss it and nor did I. The right hon. Gentleman should also know, if he has ever studied French policy, that the French are not in favour of it.
§ Mr. Wilson
The right hon. Gentleman seems to write this down as a personal view, a personal idiosyncrasy, of the 42 Secretary of State for Defence and of himself. He did not answer my question: is it the policy of Her Majesty's Government? Is he going to work towards it or against it? He did not answer this question.
It is certainly a fact that the right hon. Gentleman, whilst he has stated it many times in Vienna, in the Godk in lectures—and almost in this House—has not made an issue of this and has tried to veil it from discussion throughout the whole period we have been debating in this House entry into Europe. Will he tell us, too, on the Bill for example, that this was put forward as the view of the Government? It was not. It was veiled from the House. This was why he and the French President did not want it raised until the Bill had been railroaded through the House.
§ The Prime Minister
The right hon. Gentleman may recall that the Treaty of Rome does not cover defence.
§ Mr. Wilson
Exactly. The Treaty of Rome does not cover defence. I remember the NATO Parliamentarians' Meeting in 1962 when Dr. Hallstein talked of a three-stage rocket: economic Europe, political Europe, defence Europe. The right hon. Gentleman has talked of defence Europe. So, now, has his own Secretary of State for Defence. He ought to get up in this House and repudiate that statement that was made.
I should like the right hon. Gentleman to give an assurance that this matter will not be discussed at this week's summit, whether round the conference table or in the couloirs. Any move in that direction will meet the opposition of the British people even more than the decision to ride roughshod over their views in entering the Common Market on the terms which the right hon. Gentleman has negotiated.
Any move in the direction of the European nuclear policy will be instantly repudiated by an incoming Labour Government. This issue, and this issue alone, and the denial and repudiation for which I have asked and have not been given, justifies this pre-summit debate, even though we could not have known when we chose the subject for debate that the Secretary of State for Defence would innocently let the Government's thinking emerge and see daylight.
43 I do not intend today to repeat all the arguments of the Great Debate, or even such of the vitally important issues as we were graciously permitted to debate, under the guillotine, in the proceedings on the European Communities Bill. On the acceptability of the terms, the Government and the Opposition have made clear their respective positions. The Government accept the terms, even glory in them. We reject them as humiliating and crippling for Britain.
I have shown yet again, and set out the evidence—the prior warnings that we gave Europe when we were the Government—that the terms could not have been accepted by the Labour Government had we remained in office after June, 1970, and been charged with the negotiations. We have set out precisely how the incoming Labour Government will act. We shall seek to alter those terms by negotiation. We have set out the issues calling for fundamental revision. And, be the results acceptable or unacceptable to the Government, we shall submit the conclusion of those negotiations to the British people for final acceptance or rejection—the same right as was given to the people of Ireland, Norway and Denmark.
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)
Will this re-negotiation have priority over the re-negotiation of the Nassau Agreement?
§ Mr. Wilson
The Nassau Agreement was dealt with by the announcement that we made about the renunciation of what Mr. Macmillan accepted. This matter will have absolute priority in the incoming Labour Government, and the hon. Gentleman may even vote for us by that time.
The Prime Minister went to Italy and started a long-range domestic battle about the sanctity of treaties. The sanctity of treaties. The right hon. Gentleman's remarks on this score will be treated with all the respect, but no more, that he earned by his record as Chief Whip at the time of the multi-treaty-breaking Suez operation. More recently, in April, the right hon. Gentleman entered into the most solemn of agreements with his prospective European partners, and proceeded to break it in June.
The lesson to be learned from the Prime Minister's action in repudiating 44 that agreement is not that treaties should be broken when they become inconvenient but that no Government should enter into agreements or treaties which they know they will not be able to keep and which are bound to be crippling to this country, as the Government fairly argued was the case when they broke the agreement last June. In any event, the April agreement was a clear denial of freedom which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had announced for himself in his Budget speech in March in connection with the parity of sterling.
If the argument was that the Government signed this agreement because the right hon. Gentleman had committed himself to President Pompidou at one of his meetings, that merely underlines the need not to make secret commitments which one knows one cannot keep. It underlines, too, the need for frankness by the Government with the House, today, before this week's summit, and also after the summit has taken place.
The sanctity of treaties—except for the right hon. Gentleman on his record—is an important factor, as I urged last October before the House took its first vote on Europe. But equally important is our constitutional doctrine that one Parliament cannot bind another. The view which I expressed last October on this was given authoritative support during the debate on the European Communities Bill by no less a Member than the Solicitor-General. On 5th July he quoted all the constitutional authorities, including his noble Friend the Lord Chancellor, and made clear that future Parliaments could reverse the Bill and reverse the Treaty. He quoted the noble Lord the Lord Chancellor—and I, too, propose to quote him—who said:We do not treat treaties as scraps of paper; but we have always in practice had the power to do so, since power is a question of fact and power is the reality of sovereignty."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 27th July, 1971; Vol. 323, c. 203.]The right hon. Gentleman must not repudiate the Lord Chancellor as well as the Secretary of State for Defence. He ought to begin to know where he is.
But there was one overriding consideration which the right hon. Gentleman did not have in mind when he addressed the Blackpool Labour Party Conference from Rome. The treaty which 45 he signed, which he now claims as sacrosanct, was signed without one whit of authority from the British people whom he claimed to represent, those whose "full-hearted consent" he had told the self-same people, in 1970, he would require in order to take Britain into Europe. It was a treaty which he signed without even Parliament being able to debate the issues with the text of the treaty and protocols before it.
Since I have referred to fresh negotiations, I must refer to the importunings of Dr. Mansholt, the present, and very lame duck, President of the Commission. I use the phrase "lame duck" in its American sense, and not in any of the definitions given to it in alternate years by Conservative Ministers at Conservative Conferences.
Dr. Mansholt has been effectively answered by a leading article in The Times of 5th October, which said:It is silly of Dr. Mansholt to say there can be no re-negotiation.The reaction of Cabinet Ministers last week to an outburst by another Commissioner supported the line that I took about Dr. Mansholt. On Wednesday the Vice-President of the Commission, M. Raymond Barre, was reported as saying that a compulsory prices and incomes policy might have to be introduced throughout the EEC if Governments, employers and unions fail to check inflation by other means.
That must have been very galling to the Prime Minister, because he is on record hundreds of times against any such policy, compulsory or voluntary. I have the texts. I shall not quote all that the right hon. Gentleman has said, but I invite him to re-read his speech at Carshalton on 8th July, 1969, which he may remember because, contrary to all that I read in the Press, I am sure he intends, at all costs, to keep just one of the promises on which he was elected. Although the right hon. Gentleman seems contented, even enthusiastic, at the prospect of a European authority imposing on the British people by force of law measures which he would not wish to put himself before Parliament, I think that he would draw the line at welcoming European insistence on imposing a compulsory prices and incomes policy which is 46impracticable, unfair, undesirable and an unjustifiable infringement of the freedom of the individual.But in the Mansholt context it was interesting to note in The Times this comment:Ministers attending the Conservative Party Conference were not unduly surprised by M. Barre's statement but emphasised that he is an official and cannot speak for the Council of Ministers.That is what we said, when we were in Blackpool, about Dr. Mansholt, so let us hear no more of his views about the impossibility of fresh negotiations. I have raised the matter because it is likely to be mentioned and I do not want to address the House twice today. The right hon. Gentleman made the point in his interview in The Times and also during the week of the conference about negotiations as well as about the sanctity of treaties, so perhaps it is best to get rid of the only respectable supporter that he ever had for that view.
The Prime Minister must recognise that the reality overhanging the summit is the reality of an incoming Labour Government in this country with a demand for fresh negotiations, and if he is going to pursue a project for which he cannot now even pretend to claim national support, he would be well advised to start on the negotiations now, this week. The right hon. Gentleman has our list of subjects on which new terms are required. If he has lost it, I shall be pleased to send him a copy.
The right hon. Gentleman will know of the acute anxiety felt in this House, and far and wide outside this House, about commitments in the field of monetary policy. I believe that the Prime Minister, in part at least, perhaps more than he has told us. must share these anxieties. I have referred to the currency shambles which forced the Government last June to repudiate a policy on which they had accepted such binding commitments seven weeks before. But the right hon. Gentleman has been, and is, under strong pressure now to fix a new sterling parity and to keep it within that narrow range of 2¼ per cent. as between any two European countries required by the "snake in the tunnel" part of the European Monetary Union Agreement, as against the 4½ per cent. under the Smithsonian Agreement of last December.
47 The right hon. Gentleman must realise the dangers of such a commitment. He had a bitter foretaste in June. He must realise what this must mean for his commitment to a 5 per cent. growth rate and for any hopes of reducing the unacceptable, near-million, unemployment rate into which the Prime Minister has led the country.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer realises it. [Interruption.] The Prime Minister laughs at a million unemployed; it is becoming absolutely impossible. I am sorry that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not here this afternoon because he could have given us some reinforcement on this point. In his Budget speech he referred to the lesson of the international balance of payments upsets in recent years and said:It is neither necessary nor desirable to distort domestic economies to an unacceptable extent in order to maintain unrealistic exchange rates, whether they are too high or too low."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st March, 1972: Vol 833, c. 1354.]He said that, we were told to encourage domestic industrial investment.
So far, it must be said, investment this year is below that of last year, and the Department of Trade's projection for next year is anything but bright. We cannot compete with Europe, inside or outside the Market, on the present abysmal level of investment. But the Chancellor's one escape mechanism, a change of parity, which attracted so much attention in his Budget speech, is effectively foreclosed to him by the commitment which his European partners are demanding from him.
I ask the Government: has this commitment been accepted? Until last week there was a conspiracy of governmental silence—although, to be fair to the Foreign Secretary, he did appear to know something at one point of time about this. Emerging from the financial discussions at a meeting of Foreign and Finance Ministers last month, and in the context of European monetary cooperation, he explained, in a moment of rare hubris:We are now in a position to chart the way ahead for the next ten years".But he, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer were unable to tell the country, and the country's 48 trade and industrial and financial institutions who had to make plans ahead —what plans they had for charting the sterling parity rate in the next 10 weeks.
President Pompidou appeared to know better. At his Press conference on 21st September he for his part was confident that a commitment had been given. He had, he said, "reason to be confident". The Financial Times reporting this, added:… thus strongly suggestting that he had received a personal undertaking to this effect from the British Government.Had he? Was this given in secret? If so, when was it given and why was the country not told? Those of us who are most concerned about unemployment—and in this we were fortified by the Chancellor's Budget reference—hoped that there had not been, and would not be, such a commitment. But last Thursday the Chancellor ended his secrecy—characteristically, at the Conservative Party Conference. He then said:We intend to return to fixed parity as soon as conditions permit, which I hope will be before January 1st.Last week he gave a date, which previously he had consistently refused to do.
If through European pressures, be they threats or blandishments, this foolhardy commitment has been made, then we must warn the Prime Minister, before he goes to Paris, against making that undertaking a reality. I know that he does not intend to speak today but I want him to listen—[An HON. MEMBER: "Coward."] I must dissociate myself from that remark. When I was Prime Minister and did not speak, the right hon. Gentleman chose to say similar things about me. But I am not making such an accusation against him. It would have been better for the right hon. Gentleman to have spoken today, but I will not trade discourtesy against his discourtesy.
If through European pressures this commitment has been made, then I warn the Government that all their hopes for more industrial production and for a reduction in unemployment will be dogged by a constant threat—and in its impact it can be as sudden and as devastating as the events of last June. The Chancellor knows it and the Prime Minister knows it.
49 The Chancellor of the Exchequer knows the state of our visible trade accounts. Making every allowance for the lingering after-effects of the dock strike which the Government's legalistic blundering created, he knows that the figures for the last three months give no reason whatever for hoping that the ominous second quarter deficit was giving way to an improvement. Even the Economist commented:It now looks as if Britain will be lucky merely to break even on current account this year"—that was against the billion-pound plus surplus last year, their inheritance from the Labour Government. The Economist went on to say:The latest figures show how right Mr. Heath has been to resist pressures to re-peg the pound.But before those words were even on the streets, the Chancellor proved the Economist wrong, and proved that the aforementioned Mr. Heath was not right but dead wrong, because he wants to re-peg the £. [An HON. MEMBER: "He has got to."] Yes, he has got to—he has no choice. Now the Chancellor may not have the way out about which he told us in the Budget. Not only is he again bound by the European monetary agreement, but a further float or devaluation will arouse great hostility from their prospective European partners, for we have seen the effect of past currency changes on the whole intricate Heath Robinson, or now the Heath-Mansholt, agricultural contraption.
The Government have every reason to recognise and fear the power of mass movements of volatile international currency. There was a total of £1,000 million lost in six working days last June, as the Chancellor told us. Has anything basically changed? The virulent power of the Euro-currency market is as great as ever. Have the Governnment any pledges from Europe about adequate, assured and mobilisable counter-speculative funds? The pathetic two billion dollars created by the monetary agreement last April was enough to keep the Frankfurt and Amsterdam money markets open for just one hour on that Friday morning in June. We wish to be told how unbreachable is the new European Maginot line today against currency upsets. It is not only short-term capital movements. I have referred to the grim record of domestic industrial investment.
50 Almost every Market speech made by the Prime Minister over the past two years has been intended to herald a great surge of investment to meet the Market opportunities in Europe. What has happened to it? As soon as he secured a majority in this House for European entry, he sounded his muezzin-call invoking the industrial and City establishments to their devotions—and their investment intentions. I quote his Guildhall speech of last November:I should like to see the boards of directors of every company in the land meeting this week…".He charged them in moving terms tocommission new factory buildings, to order new plant and equipmentand called fora major programme of investment in industrial expansion and modernisation.And to that clarion call, the response from the boards of directors of every company in the land has been a collective industrial raspberry. The investment boom has been confined, under this Government, to land and property speculation.
We were told more than this. Ministers painted bright pictures of massive investment by European and multi-national corporations in Britain. So far we have the Hunterston scheme. But how much else?
§ The Prime Minister
If the right hon. Gentleman is about to leave the matter of international currency, since it is a serious matter I should make the situation quite plain. This Government have always said they support an international system of fixed parities, in exactly the same way as did the right hon. Gentleman's Government. The time and rate for fixing sterling is a matter for this Government's decision. This Government have been under no pressure from members in the Community—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] No undertaking has been given of any kind. The confidence which the President of France has is that this country believes in fixed parities. The difference between this Government and the right hon. Gentleman's Government is that, whereas we took the right decision to float at the right moment and saved our reserves, the right hon. Gentleman's Government tried to hang on to a parity, which the then Chancellor thought was not possible or necessary, and as a result 51 they lost their reserves and went into debt. That is the difference.
§ Mr. Wilson
The point is that the Prime Minister defaulted on the agreement which he signed in April—[Interruption.] Of course he did. He devalued—[An HON. MEMBER: "Floated."] Then will he tell us that he will put the new fixed parity at 2.60 to the £?
§ The Prime Minister
What the right hon. Gentleman does not understand about the agreement in Europe is that it allows one to change parities. He must grasp this simple point about the European agreement. If Governments decide to change parities to meet the needs of their economies they can do so, and they can do so in consultation with their colleagues. What we did was to float at that time and all the members of the Community have understood that perfectly well.
§ Mr. Wilson
They understood that we had to do so because of the mess this Government got the country into. In fact the agreement was one not to change parities by more than 1¼ per cent., and the right hon. Gentleman did change it. He must reconcile the commitment to Europe with what the Chancellor said in his Budget speech.
I was referring to the investment by European countries, and I mentioned Hunterston. I should like the Government to tell us the figures of investment from Europe here and from here to Europe. Although industry has not shown the alacrity the Prime Minister wanted in terms of investment in this country, there is growing evidence of both industrial and financial investment by British concerns in Europe—not all of it designed to increase our exports of British components and CKD kits for assembly. I hope the Foreign Secretary will say how he assesses the present investment trends between this country and Europe.
Since many hon. Members will wish to speak in this debate I shall leave my right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore), if he catches Mr. Speaker's eye, to develop further reasons—and there are many—for anxiety about the Government's commitments on monetary policy. But there are two thoughts I wish to put before the House 52 in the hope that the Foreign Secretary will deal with them.
I have quoted his words about charting the way ahead for the next 10 years. Will he take us into his confidence? How does he see the way ahead for the next 10 years? There are many leading figures in Europe who believe that there can be no European monetary policy unless there is full integration of economic policies, including fiscal, social and industrial policies. It means, as they see it, a European budget covering expenditure and taxation, completing the process of destroying the power of this Parliament which was so obviously the motive of the European Communities Bill.
For many in Europe, this is not only the inevitable consequence. It is what they want. I do not know whether the Prime Minister wants it. He has never told us during the time he has been trying to lure his somewhat unwilling majority to carry the Bill.
§ The Prime Minister
The right hon. Gentleman put his name to the Anglo-Italian Declaration which I reaffirmed in Rome.
§ Mr. Wilson
I never put my name, in Rome or anywhere else, to any proposal on these terms or any other. We are required to take steps which will mean that this House is powerless to decide expenditure or taxation. Is this the concept of economic integration which the Prime Minister wants to see? That is what some in Europe want. They are federalists, which the right hon. Gentleman has always said he is not. If the answer is "No" he is misleading Europe and, by adhering to the European Monetary Agreement, hobbling the British economy. If this is what he wants, then he is systematically misleading this House throughout debates on the Common Market and on the Common Market legislation, since he has never said that this is what he wants to see.
But there is a still wider consideration. The deep monetary problems of trade and finance, on a world scale, in a world where the Bretton Woods settlement, after a quarter of a century has passed into history, cannot be solved by regional monetary pacts.
I will not develop this topic this afternoon. though hon. Members may have 53 seen a perceptive and wide-ranging study by Mr. Fred Hirsch, published in the Economist early in August. Hon. Members may have read his devastating chapter entitled, "Europe—the money illusion", with his clear warnings that countries on the periphery, countries with an uncertain balance of payments, countries facing costly capital movements, will be forced into deflation and unemployment. But on the issue of world monetary reform he gives this warning:… as long as European monetary integration remains on the official agenda, it overrides other aspects of future planning in all related spheres. The ambiguity of whether the world's largest trading unit is to be represented by nine currencies or by one has become the most serious stumbling block towards monetary reform on an international plane.I hope that in his speech the Foreign Secretary, who has world-wide responsibilities including responsibility for Third World countries, will deal with the point about relating the European Monetary Agreement to greater monetary reform.
The House will want to know the Government's intentions on regional policy. We understand————because this is a much more open Government in their dealing with the Press than in their dealings with the House—that the right hon. Gentleman intends to lay claim to a charge on the Community's "resources propres" for industrial regions comparable with what he to lamely accepted for agriculture. This is important and we wish him well in pressing it at the summit—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Some of us are a little more concerned about the regions than are some hon. Members. In my constituency, kids cannot get work—it is one of the classic parts of the country—so we have an interest in the regions. Therefore, again I say that I wish the right hon. Gentleman well. But why in the name of heaven, the balance of payments and the future of a million unemployed did he not insist on it in place of the one-sided package dictated to him by the French President in 1971?
Instead of that, he accepted the most crippling burdens on our freedom to help the regions. I want him to say—or perhaps the Foreign Secretary will tell us—which of the powers conferred by the Industrial Expansion Act, how many of the expenditure programmes announced by Ministers, or under consideration by 54 Ministers, will be sanctioned by Brussels. I have seen suggestions that the people in Brussels are protesting already. For example, we read in the Financial Times:Last week saw the announcement of a major new investment by an American engineering company on a site previously occupied by GEC in Manchester "—in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshaw (Mr. Alfred Morris):the Americans' decision to locate there rather than on the Continent was evidently influenced by the range of aids which the British Government can now provide.That is very encouraging but we now read that the European Commission in Brussels is showing a somewhat anxious interest in this on the grounds that these incentives are diverting to Britain Americans who might settle in Europe. We would like some pretty clear indication from the Government about whether the Act they passed has to he approved by Brussels. It is no good the Prime Minister shaking his head; he signed the Treaty of Rome before the House had ever seen it.
In previous debates my right hon. Friends and I have expressed our deep apprehensions about the consequences for the regions of whatever commitments the Government may have accepted in pricing policies, transport policies and interference with major public industries. In the summer of 1971, even before the Government's entry terms were known, I repeatedly pressed the Government about the position of the British steel industry. The House may recall our exchanges.
The prosperity of the steel industry is vital to some of the hardest hit regions, whatever regional pourboire the Prime Minister may extract from his European colleagues. The steel industry is of great importance in any policy for dealing with inflation—the Prime Minister must know that—and for financial relations between Government and public industry. Is there a clash between the Government's prices and incomes policy—limited, slanted and socially unjust as it is—and the commitments entered into in the entry negotiations? It would be nice for the House to know, even after 15 months, precisely what commitments were entered into.
55 We must be told the full story today. All the House was told—and the legislation provided this—was that the ministerial power of direction on prices had to go. But we were not to be allowed to influence the BSC to hold prices, as is understood to be in the Chequers package, including the use of subsidies. Are we to be free after 1st January to lean on the Steel Board to keep steel prices down? This is a question to which I should like a clear answer this afternoon.
In asking this, I find myself once again, surprisingly, supported by the Economist, whose economic editor is, I understand, the former draftsman of the Prime Minister's "at a stroke" commitments, and later a highly paid Cabinet Office official. Last Friday, on steel, the Economist pointed out the contradiction between the Chequers proposals—a 4 per cent limit on prices—and the obligation the Government entered into at Brussels.
The Economist stated:If the Government does use its influence as the major shareholder in the nationalised British Steel Corporation and controls prices after January 1st, it can be taken to task by the EEC and perhaps even taken eventually to the Court of Justice in Luxembourg. These threats forced the Dutch Government to back down in 1969 when it attempted to control steel prices, but the alternative facing the British Government is too economically scarifying to leave it open to any other choice: if it accepts that steel is a special case, there will be a lot of other manufacturers rushing to squeeze through the same breach.The Economist might have gone on to add that even if other industries do not follow suit, steel prices have so great an effect in determining other prices throughout industry that an unbridled rise to European price levels will make it immeasurably harder for the CBI to accept, and to honour, the 4 per cent. limit. And well the CBI knows it. Steel prices are decisive to the Chequers package, but steel prices cannot be held down once we are in Europe.
The Economist claims to know, though the House has not been told, the Government's ideas about how they are going to reconcile the irreconcilable. I will not quote what the Economist said would be done, but it goes on, after referring to the Continental steel workers and, in passing, to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, by saying: 56… before long static British steel prices may prompt these same Continental steel workers to remember that it was this same Minister who assured them that BSC would be given full commercial freedom (including prices) under EEC rules. It was on this basis that it was agreed to admit the giant BSC into Europe in one piece.Was it that same Minister? Was there a deal that prices should go up to European levels in return for Europe's dropping its pressure to split the BSC into smaller units? What did he undertake? And why was the House not told at the time? I suppose the point was that he never realised that there was this contradiction pointed out by the Economist. He could not have known that three months before the date fixed for entry the Prime Minister would be seeking to negotiate a prices and incomes policy in which steel prices would be decisive. It is all very sad for the poor fellow. But the extent of commitment given was what some of us were asking about in the summer of 1971. The Prime Minister has no right to represent Britain at the summit until the House is satisfied on this "scarifying" contradiction between whatever commitments they entered into in Europe and their public policy on inflation.
So, when the Foreign Secretary replies, the House will expect an answer to the questions I have put to him. It will not do to leave them to his right hon. Friend who will speak at 9.30. Many hon. Members who wish to speak in this debate will want to know the answers to these vitally important questions. And the Government, and above all the Foreign Secretary, must know the answers. They can be concealed no longer.
In order to help the Foreign Secretary, I will briefly give him a recap of the questions that must be answered if this debate, and consequentially the Prime Minister's attendance at the summit, are to be meaningful.
First, on defence, does he agree with his noble Friend the Secretary of State for Defence in the words he spoke at Blackpool last week? Do Her Majesty's Government seek a European defence policy, including nuclear weapons? Would such a policy include any German influence, direct or indirect, on nuclear policy? Is that what the Foreign Secretary, speaking, as he must, for the Prime Minister, seeks? Or will he categorically 57 repudiate the Defence Secretary? If he does not repudiate him, will he say why this nuclear policy was not outlined to the House when we had to take vital decisions about EEC entry and the European Community Bill?
Next, on the Chancellor's Budget commitment, does the Budget reservation of the right to make changes in sterling parity to protect growth and to reduce unemployment still stand? If so, does this mean that Her Majesty's Government are free, at any time, to renegotiate on the European Monetary Agreement, and on the parity to be fixed under that Agreement before 1st January, as indicated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week?
Again, was any assurance about parity given to European Ministers before the Blackpool announcement? If not, will he repudiate President Pompidou's implied claim to be in possession of prior information denied to this House?
Then, before the Chancellor made his announcement last week, what assurances did Her Majesty's Government receive from European Governments about the protection available against a run on sterling? In the light of the Foreign Secretary's own personal assessments of the complexities of the Euro-currency market, will he give his personal assurance that these guarantees are adequate?
On another issue, will the Foreign Secretary confirm that acceptance of the obligations of the European Monetary Agreement means no more than the parity obligation, and the "snake in the tunnel"; and that he will enter into no further commitments in Paris this week? Would he put the House further in his debt by giving it his inner reflections on the "snake in the tunnel" commitment? Does he accept the widespread European view that this commitment involves a further commitment to European economic integration—fiscal, budgetary, social and industrial? If that is his view, will he explain why the House of Commons was not so informed before the signature of the Treaty and the passage of the European Communities Bill?
Then I would ask him, with his wider world, and Commonwealth, responsibilities, does he agree or not agree with authoritative statements, such as those I 58 have quoted, that monetary reform must be on a world scale, not a regional scale, and that indeed inward-looking, umbilical-contemplating, Euro-regional policies, can and must be inimical to the achievement of a world-wide monetary settlement to replace the now defunct Bretton Woods mechanism?
On another issue I have raised, will he give us his assessment of inward and outward investment trends?
On regional questions, will he tell the House how far the Government's new powers to help regional investment will be permitted by the EEC? Will he say how many of the specific guarantees to individual enterprises in the regions, or those under consideration by the Government, will be permitted by EEC rules?
On commitments that have been made or have not been made, conscious as he no doubt is of the vital importance of a policy to deal with inflation, will he now tell the House what commitment the Government gave 15 months ago about steel prices—or coal prices, if he will extend or stretch himself? Will he state how far any such commitment was related to EEC acquiescence in the continuation of the Steel Corporation as a single entity? And will he perhaps tell the House why Parliament was not informed? If he tells us that there was no such commitment, will he confirm that the Prime Minister is entirely free to relate steel prices to the totality of his proposals for domestic prices? And if, as is possible, he does not know the answers, will he ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to seek to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker?
While the right hon. Gentleman is rearranging his notes, to ensure that all these 25 questions will be answered, as they must be answered, I will briefly address myself, through you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to the Prime Minister.
We should have liked to hear from him before the summit, but since he has decided otherwise I want him to realise that he will speak in Paris manifestly without the authority of the British people. We recall his reference to the need for the… full-hearted consent of the Parliament and peoples of the new member countries59 On Election Forum, on 27th May, he said:I will go further and say this—no British Government could possibly take this country into the Common Market against the wish of the British people.He has not secured that consent: his action is against the wish of the British people. And in so far as he claims the authority of Parliament, it is a Parliament which was deliberately denied information available to him, and a Parliament whose legislative proceedings were themselves robbed of authority by the denial of free debate and the refusal to consider a single Amendment.
So I would ask him to make this clear to those with whom he will be negotiating: first, that the mandate he pretends he has from the British people never existed, and that an increasing proportion of the public are opposed to entry on these terms; that a majority—even of Conservative voters, it appears—want a referendum so that it can decide. The latest public opinion poll shows that of Conservative votes less than half now support entry. Of Tory voters, 63 per cent. want a referendum, and 77 per cent. of all voters want a referendum. The right hon. Gentleman rejects it. That is why he will speak at the summit without any authority beyond his own obsessions.
Second, I hope that he will make it clear at the summit that after him there will be a British Government who reject the terms he was prepared to accept; a Government who cannot support British membership on these terms; who will demand fresh negotiations and who, following these negotiations, will leave the final outcome about British membership, one way or the other, to the sovereign authority of the British people.
§ 4.39 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)
I think that it must have been the wish of the House, as the pattern of our relationship changes with Europe, that there should be a constructive debate, with constructive proposals put forward which my right hon. Friend could consider in relation to the meeting which is to be held this week. But we have known also that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition 60 could not resist jogging backwards. He went so far as to repeat and rehash arguments for a Social Government renegotiating the terms of entry into Europe, with the implication that the renegotiation would be pretty fundamental. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] One of his right hon. Friends says "Hear, hear". The Leader of the Opposition must know that, if he wants European membership, the attitude which he takes up is totally unrealistic. [HON MEMBERS: " Why? "]
The right hon. Gentleman asked me 25 questions. I shall ask him just one. What would he do about the common agricultural policy, which is fundamental to the whole Common Market set-up? Perhaps I may remind him and the House of what he said in relation to the common agricultural policy:It is useless to think that we can wish it away, and I should be totally misleading the House if I suggested that this policy is negotiable. We have to come to terms with it. But we can play our part in affecting its future development if, but only if, we are members of the Community."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 1066.]
§ Mr. Harold Wilson
Will the right hon. Gentleman now read what I said in that statement to the House in relation to the financing of the common agricultural policy as it then was, and will he tell the House how much it has changed between 2nd May, 1967, and the present time?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I should be surprised if almost the whole House did not understand, and does not now understand, that the right hon. Gentleman intends to renegotiate the agricultural policy. In fact, he said that it is not negotiable, and he knows it. As he looked behind him, perhaps he will allow me one small reminiscence of our debates in the past in which he played so prominent a part. I recall the time when he and Lord George-Brown, in harness, made a triumphant tour of the capitals of Europe, carrying conviction that, as he put it, not only the Socialist Government over which he presided but the British Parliament meant business in relation to entry into the Community. It was the sheer burning fervour of the right hon. Gentleman at that time that swept me along the European road. But I do not remember his saying, with that humility 61 which sits so easily on his shoulders, "I may be fallible, and, therefore, of course, the British people should speak in a referendum and give their opinion ".
Quite the opposite. On 8th July, 1971, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said this in response to my right hon. Friend:The Prime Minister said that I oppose a referendum, and I agree—I have always done so, as he has ".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th July, 1971; Vol. 820, c. 1515.]He has capitulated, I suppose, to his right hon. Friend who is absent from the Opposition Front Bench today. Still less did he forecast a General Election on the issue. I do not want to rub salt in the wounds, but it is for the Prime Minister of the day to choose the date of a General Election, and the right hon. Gentleman's last choice was not conspicuously successful. Perhaps he will leave it to my right hon. Friend to choose the time when we go to the country and to determine what we put forward and ask for as a mandate.
On defence, the right hon. Gentleman has taken up a sentence used by my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. He said—if I have his words aright—that there has never been any mention of the future of European defence, even at the General Election. I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman, if I may say so, was the last person to raise such a subject. My memory stretches back to 1964, when the right hon. Gentleman went to the people and said that he would renegotiate the Nassau agreement, and that Britain need no longer have a nuclear weapon. That was in his prospectus. What happened? The right hon. Gentleman did not renegotiate it, and it has not been renegotiated to this day. I repeat, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman is hardly the person to throw across the Floor charges on the subject of defence, and on nuclear defence least of all.
I think it right, now that Britain is to enter the Community, when the pattern of our relations with other countries—
§ Mr. Wilson
The Prime Minister intervened some four or five times, and I 62 think that I am entitled to ask the Secretary of State about this. I hope that he is not leaving the subject of defence. Does he agree with the noble Lord's speech? Further, since he referred to the 1964 election, does he remember that I challenged him, then Prime Minister, to give an assurance that he would not support any European nuclear deterrent? I kept on challenging him, and I never had a clear answer. Will he now answer the question: does he support the European nuclear force referred to by the Secretary of State for Defence?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
The right hon. Gentleman did not get his answer in 1964, and he will not get in 1972 an answer of the kind that he wants. I put it to him in this way, if I may. No one yet knows the shape of European or Atlantic defence in the next 25 or even 50 years. Every possible aspect of this has to be considered over the years. But this debate relates to the summit meeting, and the right hon. Gentleman has dragged in the question. It is emphatically not an issue for this summit conference, though very much an issue for consideration by the House and everyone else interested in the subject of European and Atlantic defence in the future.
I think it right, now that Britain is to enter the Community and when, as I said, the pattern of our relationships with other countries is to change, to concentrate on the real advantages to Europe which partnership can create and of which Britain will reap her share. The purpose of the summit meeting, at this time of expansion, is to chart the course for the Community for the years ahead. There is a successful precedent in the conference at The Hague, which did chart the course for the Six members of the Community for some 10 years.
I can relieve the right hon. Gentleman of certain anxieties. The Prime Minister goes to this conference with no secret deals of any kind. He will identify and pursue British interests. But the right hon. Gentleman seems to persist in his conception of a summit conference, as of the Council of Ministers and, indeed, of the European Council as a whole, as if such things always take place in an atmosphere of confrontation, with the persons concerned locked in combat. No doubt, the national corners are strongly 63 argued and contested at meetings of the Council of Ministers, but it is not an exercise in confrontation. It is an exercise in reconciliation and action for the common good. That is the essence of partnership, and it is a partnership into which we are entering.
As for the right hon. Gentleman's questions relating to any action concerning the future exchange rate of sterling—he understands very well the sensitivity of this subject—I would only say that my moments of hubris on the subject are so rare that I shall not add anything to what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said in this and other places in recent months.
The agenda, I think, is likely to start off with a discussion of the Community's financial and economic goals. I do not think that there can be much difference, at least between the two Front Benches, concerning items under the heading, "Progress towards monetary union ".
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Let me explain to the hon. Gentleman, if I may. Perhaps he does not heed what his right hon. Friends said when they were Chancellors of the Exchequer. They have applauded this objective. For example, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) said:An enlarged Community would be in a position to follow policies which will establish Europe's monetary strength and increase her influence in the world. Such policies might, for example, eventually allow the creation of a common European currency in which all our currencies, including sterling, would be subsumed. Certainly, we in the United Kingdom are ready to make our contribution to the closest possible European co-operation in these matters, which can bring nothing but good to all our peoples.The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East may look incredulous but he said it. Presumably the right hon. Gentleman was speaking with the authority of the then Prime Minister. At any rate, the Finance Ministers of the Nine made a useful start in Rome with the creation of a European Fund. That is only a start but the implications could be wide. There has been considerable progress towards European economic and monetary union which should not hold 64 back work on international monetary reform. I feel that the external impact and influence of the expanded Community will be in a different league from that which many people expect. It will be the greatest overseas investor and responsible for 40 per cent. of the trade of the world. One of its first aims will be to establish smooth trading relations between the three great industrial units, Europe, the United States and Japan.
There must also be great concern too for policies towards the developing world. The Six have already considerable achievements to their credit in that direction. However, the countries of the expanded Community have a wealth of first-hand experience of the needs of Africa, Asia, the West Indies and other areas which will help in developing the infrastructure of those countries which cannot get off the ground and into the race and bridge the gap which exists between them and the advanced and industrialised nations. That they should face nothing better than a future of subsistence not only nags at the conscience but is bad business. The European Community should certainly be able to mobilise more investment and aid and by co-ordination of the policy of investment and aid for the developing countries secure better value for money. I should think there is broad agreement on that basis.
Mr. Tam Dlyell (West Lothian)
What about trade?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I am coming to that in a moment. There is no evidence that the Community is likely to require a bloc mentality, quite the opposite. The preamble to the Treaty denies it. Although it is often forgotten, it is worth recording that it was the Six which negotiated as a Community strongly and successfully in the Kennedy Round of tariff reductions. I doubt if any countries individually would have been able to achieve such a successful result.
It is a British interest and, after ten years, it is now a Community interest, to complement the agricultural policy with regional and industrial policies for the enlarged Community. This is the other side of the coin to increasing financial integration, for the latter cannot proceed very far unless the general economic direction of the different countries can 65 be harmonised. Regional policy is due for close study and action by the Community and, I hope, very soon. It should be possible to devise Community programmes to assist the areas where the level of employment is well below the national average. Italy and Britain would define regional problems in much the same way—how to lift the productive potential of certain areas nearer to the level of prosperity of the whole, and thereby attract investment and people. The Germans, with their interest in Community action to improve the lot of ordinary people, label it as social policy but it is near to what we mean by regional policy.
The countries in the Community have similar aims in those matters. It is a problem which none has been particularly successful in solving alone. It may be easier to solve these problems together and if we can find Community resources to supplement the efforts which individual countries are making, that could make a substantial difference to our ability to show results in regional policies in a reasonable time-scale. That is why we shall aim for a date to be set by which the expanded Community will begin to implement a coherent and co-ordinated regional policy.
§ Mr. Dalyell
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs knows that there is concern in Scotland about the German attitude to the Industry Bill. Is there anything which the right hon. Gentleman can say to the House on that matter?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I will examine the matter and correspond with the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell). I do not think that I know the point which the hon. Gentleman has in mind. However, I know that the Germans are very interested in social policy which has a close affinity to what we term regional policy. Therefore, I hope that in the Community we shall be able to work out successful regional policies which will be effective in areas such as Scotland which the hon. Member for West Lothian and I know well.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I will examine the points made and keep in touch with the hon. Member. We could then look forward to a balance between national interests, a balance between industry and trade on the one hand and agriculture on the other. That is essential to the success of the expanded Community.
Expansion means that it is time for a new look at the Community's institutions. There are certain fixed landmarks: the Commission, the Parliament, and the Council of Ministers. There is no doubt that the latter will remain the body which takes the final decisions. The matter for debate will be how far the powers of the Parliament should be increased. Clearly the Parliament must oversee the activities of the Commission, but before judging the degree of change which should be made in the powers of the Parliament we should like experience of its working at first-hand.
Direct elections are not immediately essential to the increase of the Parliament's necessary supervising powers. I believe that the House will feel that it is prudent to have a good look at the working from inside before making up our mind on the nature and the scope of the reform of the European Parliament.
§ Sir Harmer Nicholls (Peterborough)
Whilst accepting the good sense of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks and while waiting to see what is likely to come from discussion on the eventual Parliament, may I ask my right hon. Friend to bear in mind that in the interim the representatives who go from this House in the initial stages should represent a good number of people who have shown their doubts as to the advisability of signing the Treaty of Rome? It should not merely be made a meeting place for those who have shown their full support without question, for that would not give the impression that the real watch dogs were there to guard British interests.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
My hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Sir Harmar Nicholls) has made his point. I hope that it will include, whatever their views, good Parliamentarians from both sides of the House. The institutional arrangements are not only important in our domestic context. They matter because it is necessary that the proper 67 political authority should be clearly recognisable abroad.
Since the time of Charlemagne, the unity of Europe has been chased as an ideal. It has been elusive, and, worse than that, it has all but been destroyed by discord, jealousies, rivalries and wars. Now is an opportunity for the leaders of the Governments of Western Europe to resurrect the ideal and to point the way by giving it content. It is resurrected by countries with a strong tradition and sense of nationhood, but countries which have come to learn by bitter experience that partnership and interdependence are the better and the only way to the full life. The goal of unity is a long way off, that is true, but prosperity is not an event, it is a process. Unity is not an event, it is a process. Peace is not an event, it is a process. So, let us proceed on our European way.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Roy Jenkins (Birmingham, Stetchford)
The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary, no doubt due to shortage of time and the many other themes that he had to cover in great depth, did not answer very many of the questions put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson). But he was fair because he did not answer the question by my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) or that by the hon. Member for Peterborough (Sir Harmar Nicholls). So he answered none of the questions put to him.
When I saw that the debate had been arranged for the first day of our return I felt considerable doubt about its purpose and wisdom, and I still feel that doubt. If the object of the debate was to secure the views of the House before the summit that would be desirable in itself, but in those circumstances it would be better and more natural not to have a vote at the end. In any event, after 11 weeks away there are a number of subjects which more urgently require our attention. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] The Government side should not cheer that too loudly because they have two days this week and neither of the subjects they have put down for those days seem to me of any urgency or real importance at the present time.
68 Unemployment stands at over 1 million and the prospect is still bleak. What used to be called the Bank Rate has been increased by a sort of backdoor method by 1 per cent. in the past week. Sterling is at its lowest since the floating so that, in effect, there has been a backdoor devaluation of 7 per cent. There is the revival of rampant inflation and there is the situation in Ulster on which we have had a brief exchange this afternoon. There is the issue of the Uganda Asians on which the country is entitled to a moral lead from the House. All these issues have arisen during the Recess and are of greater public concern than anything we have to debate this week.
If the object of the debate is not to secure the views of the House before the summit, but to go back and try to have the Third Reading or the Second Reading votes or the vote of 28th October again, or to reopen the debate on the principle of entry or to try to delay entry beyond 1st January, that would seem to me an unwise course for the Opposition to take. I did not detect any attempt to raise matters of principle in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton this afternoon. It would be an unwise course for two reasons. It would begin the autumn with an almost obsessive return to the most divisive issue of the last 18 months. Divisive issues have to be faced but they need not be re-faced every other week.
Second, and still more important, I cannot see the point not merely in relation to my own views, but in relation to the compromise which came out of the Labour Party Conference—a somewhat imprecise compromise, but a compromise just the same—for refusing to accept the facts and for seeking to delay entry. The House knows that the views expressed at Blackpool are not exactly mine, but what emerged there was better than it might have been and I pay tribute to the skill of my right hon. Friend in achieving that result. Nor do I think that there is necessarily as wide a gulf between the broad intention of the statement commended to the Conference by my right hon. Friend and the views of the Labour Europeans as is sometimes thought.
What the Labour Party is surely saying now officially is that it will look at Britain's experience in the Community 69 with a sceptical and even jaundiced eye, and if things do not turn out better than we expect it reserves the right to pull out. But if we are to watch what happens we must have something to watch. The assumption of our whole policy quite rightly is that we are going in on 1st January. If that did not happen, we would not have a policy, and even the boilermakers' resolution was based on that assumption. We could not observe what happened to an enlarged Community or renegotiate if we were outside. There would be nothing to renegotiate from unless the idea were abandoned in principle in which case a future Labour Government would have to start again, going back to 1967 with my right hon. Friend making another exploratory tour of the Six. I doubt if that would fill him with enthusiasm any more than it would me.
There is therefore now no point in adding to these divisive effects by trying to vote again on the principle of entry or for delay. I have no intention of taking back the vote I gave on 28th October last year. There are strong reasons under our party system for voting with one party whenever that is possible. I did so on the Bill. The Bill was Government business and there were legitimate objections to its form. But I regarded Third Reading as the end of that road. I draw a distinction between the Opposition's handling of a Government Bill and gratuitous attempts to re-open the question by new Motions.
Tonight we have no Motion, but we have a vote. It is a fairly purposeless vote. It commits no one to anything and I propose to treat it as such. It shows that we are back and clocking in and not much else. But I give clear notice that having leaned over backwards on the Bill I shall vote for no Motions of substance which in any way challenge the principle of entry or seek to delay it beyond 1st January.
I turn now to questions of substance and why, in my view, there is not an impossible gap between present official Labour Party policy and those who accept entry on present terms. The difference here may be more semantic than anything else. I dislike the term "renegotiate" and I would never have chosen it. It implies that in 1974 or 1975 it will be possible to go back to 1971 and to pretend that nothing happened in the mean- 70 time. The world is never like that. One can never go back but one must always start from one's present position.
But if the proposition is that if there is no substantial change in the Community, if it tries to remain frozen in a shape dictated by a pattern of national interest which is now out of date or by a pattern of special interest which is now inadequate, inevitably there will be disenchantment and freedom of action and I do not dissent from that. I am in favour of changing the Community and of changing it substantially. That can only be done from within. I doubt whether the threat of withdrawal is as powerful as some of my hon. Friends think. But I in no way underestimate the need for change and I believe that there should be a strong European interest in winning over British public opinion.
I am not indifferent to the lack of enthusiasm in Britain. It is a fact and it is no tribute to the Government's powers of persuasion. It is not a good augury for the future of Europe and unless it can be overcome, as I believe it can, it will mean that we are not a wholly effective Parliament.
The Community has previously recognised the need to still the fears of those within the Six who started doubtful or hostile. It has succeeded with most of French opinion, with the German SPD and even with the Italian Communists. It must be prepared to do the same with us and to recognise that it needs to be demonstrated that British interests can be looked after and benefited just as those of other countries have been. I am encouraged by the fact that the doubts shown in this country, and particularly within the Labour movement, are centred on those issues where the existing Community is already most in a state of flux and most looking for new directions What are these?
First there is the need for a substantial re-allocation of resources towards regional development and away from the excessive concentration upon agriculture Secondly, there must be a greater European commitment towards the Third World and directed much less exclusively towards the Francophone countries of Africa. This is absolutely vital to the whole future prospect of the Third World. As the United States, regrettably recedes 71 from its rôle as a major donor, and there is no evidence that this cessation will desist, the only group in the world which can fill that place is not ourselves alone but Europe, accepting its responsibilties to a greater extent than it has done.
Thirdly, there must be more democracy in the political institutions of the Community. That means an effective Parliament with real work to do. I confess that at this stage I am more interested in giving the Parliament work to do, in allowing it to develop teeth, than, for the moment in arguing about exactly how it should be elected.
Fourthly, we must aim to make the Community at least as much concerned with the use of wealth as with its creation. Not nearly enough attention has yet been given to the distribution of wealth, between individual countries, between regions and different groups, or to the problems of amenity and environment.
These are the areas in which the Community is looking for new directions, these are the areas in which real progress can be made. They are vital and can greatly change opinion here. But surely the opportunities which exist are a great argument, whatever may be decided by a Labour Government in future, for playing our full part in the work of the Community meantime. We can hardly complain that the Community has not enough social responsibility and refuse to influence it in the right direction. We can hardly complain that it is a league of capitalists and prevent the Socialist group, by our abstention, from being the largest group within the Community. We can certainly temper our internationalism by a solid respect for British interests. But we cannot pretend that it exists if we return a message of absolute non-cooperation and nothing else.
There have been some who have always wanted to escape from the practical internationalism of Europe on our doorstep by saying that we are interested only in something much wider. I have never found this very convincing. I have never been very impressed by people who illustrate their love for humanity by their hostility towards their neighbours. I also apply a more practical test. Where, if we turn our backs—and I am addressing this side of the House—on European 72 social democracy, do we expect to find our friends in the future?
We have all lived nearly all our adult life, for the past 25 years, in a world of considerable Western cohesion. American commitment, indeed captaincy, has been inevitably the cornerstone. A great deal, perhaps the decisive contribution, was made by the key figures of the Attlee Government—Ernest Bevin and Stafford Cripps. There have been considerable benefits from this cohesion. The worst threats of the immediate post-war period have never materialised; there has been no major conflict. On the contrary a hesitant, encouraging move towards relief of tension in central Europe and between East and West has developed.
There has been a fair degree of stability and prosperity. That stability is now in greater danger of breaking up than for some time past. There is some United States disengagement. I never got quite as worried as some people about Senator McGovern's defence proposals, partly because I believe that President Nixon, if re-elected, will inevitably travel something of the same road. Confronted by the likelihood of a lessening United States commitment I could not, apart from my positive European convictions, break up cohesion in Europe, and treat lightly from a NATO point of view the prospect of failure of the summit or the development of a disorganised and disunited Europe which would be extremely menacing at present.
If this country refuses to go forward we do not now have the choice of remaining where we have been, of falling back on the Atlantic foreign policy which we have pursued, perhaps particularly under the two Labour Governments, for the past generation. We would find ourselves more isolated, more friendless, in a still dangerous world than for a long time past.
Nor do I find any reluctance to enter Europe in this country being accompanied by a wider world perspective. To take one example, there is an almost complete unawareness outside of professional diplomatic circles here that Russian relations with us have been extremely chilly for the past year, ever since the mass expulsion of the diplomat spies. The Soviet Government makes considerable efforts to get on with the Americans and ignores us whenever it can. We 73 might at the very least be aware of that. Equally we have been unconcerned about the great Russian-Chinese rift. American opinion has been much concerned about how far it would go and whether it might even go as far as a pre-emptive nuclear strike by the Russians against China's nascent nuclear capacity, about where their interests lay and what the interests of the world were. This has passed over our heads.
Nor is it in any way balanced by our position in the Third World, the vital Indian sub-continent. Our influence has not been great and our contribution to UNCTAD III was, to say the least, undistinguished. There is not the beginning of evidence that if we detach ourselves from Europe we could find a new rôle elsewhere. I do not for one moment think that Europe is the only part of the world which counts but I think we are far more likely to exercise the influence we should, and which we need for our future, through Europe. I want that Europe to be stronger and more progressive than it has been hitherto. I want to seek this through co-operation with the other European Socialist parties. That is the only real alternative for us, as a party and as a nation, to a dangerous and isolated impotence.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Neil Marten (Banbury)
Last week the Prime Minister was making a speech in which he said that there was great political merit in consistency. I must confess that when I listened to the reasons of the right hon. Member for Binning-ham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) for voting in favour of the Common Market on 28th October last and subsequently voting against Second Reading, Clause 2 and Third Reading, I found it a most difficult exercise to follow. There are some on this side who voted against entry on 28th October and who have consistently voted against it throughout. It was very hard for those people on this side to follow the rather tortuous arguments used by the right hon. Gentleman. He also said that he did not like the thought of re-opening the debate of 28th October. I would not expect any pro-Marketeer to like being reminded of some of those facts but that is precisely what I want to touch on in my remarks.
I am sorry that the Foreign Secretary is leaving the Chamber because I wanted 74 to make some reference to his speech the other day at the Conservative Party Conference. At the conference I raised the question of the referendum and the Foreign Secretary in his very good-natured reply entirely misinterpreted my attitude because I had spoken in favour of a motion which was so neutral that it did not really add up to very much. The motion said:That this Conference urges her Majesty's Government to take positive initiatives in the Common Market.I felt that I could almost support that because I hope that the Government will take positive initiatives if we go in. In his reply the Foreign Secretary said of me:He is now almost, he says, a supporter of this motion. Well, you have moved quite a long way since last year.I want to say to him—I am sorry he has left—that he has got hold of entirely the wrong end of the stick. I have not budged one inch since last year. I believe that entry to the Common Market is fundamentally a wrong decision for this country and in saying that I am no "Little Englander", I am no right-winger.
It is fair to say that those sort of remarks, which have been made recently at the Conservative Party Conference at Blackpool, entirely misrepresent our views. They mean that the people who make those remarks and write those leading articles calling us "Little Englanders" have not done us the courtesy of trying to understand our arguments.
I want to deal first with the moral dilemma in which the Government find themselves and then with the question of how the facts on which the vote of 28th October last year was taken have changed fundamentally. On the moral dilemma point I refer to the question of the pledge solemnly given at the last election to reassure potential Conservative voters that when they voted Conservative they would not be bulldozed into the Common Market; the pledge was that we would not go in without the full-hearted consent of the people.
When we had the vote in Parliament only 56 per cent. of the Members voted in favour. That is not full-hearted and it is not the people. I question whether it 75 is right to judge whether we have full-hearted consent of the people through a Parliamentary vote. Let us take the example of Norway. When its Parliament last voted on the issue of the Common Market 75 per cent. of its Members voted in favour of going in. When that same question was put to the people in a referendum—lucky people they were!— only 46 per cent. wanted to go in. In other words, Members of Parliament are not the machinery by which to judge whether the people of a country wish to enter. It is not a fair yardstick.
On every other occasion in the House, on all the votes we have had on the Common Market, we never again reached 50 per cent. of the House voting in favour of entry. Even if, for the sake of argument, we regard all those who think that the 56 per cent. vote is the full-hearted consent of Parliament, like Humpty-Dumpty in "Through the Looking Glass" when he said:When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.Those words "neither more nor less" are reminiscent! Is it not absurd by any rational standard to claim that a vote taken a year ago is valid today on this issue? The time to judge whether our proposition to go in has the full-hearted consent of the people is not a year ago; it is now, when everything is known and the matter is more or less wrapped up. We should say, "This is it", and put it to the people.
The reasons why things are now very different from what they were on 28th October are the well-known ones that, first, when that vote was taken the negotiations had not even been completed; secondly, we had not seen the details of the Treaty of Accession—and there are many doubtful aspects in that, particularly concerning New Zealand, Commonwealth sugar and fishing, which we are unhappy about: thirdly, we had not seen the European Communities Bill. That was a pretty bad start for that vote.
Let us take a quick look at what has changed since then. I remember the many debates I had throughout various parts of the country in what was called the great debate outside, when I debated on a platform with many hon. 76 Members. Their great argument for going in was that our growth rate had been so poor and the growth rate in the Common Market had been so good that we had to go in to get the infection of that growth rate and get the same growth as the Common Market. That was a very strong argument used throughout the debate; I would say that it was the major argument. But let us look at the position 12 months later. Our annual growth rate is 5 per cent. and the Common Market's is 3–3½ per cent., so that argument, on which many of the votes on 28th October were cast, is no longer valid.
Then we were told that our standard of living was dropping behind terribly. Yet I heard my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer saying the other day that our standard of living was picking up by leaps and bounds, and I dare say that by now we have overtaken the Common Market in our standard of living.
We were told that it was no good relying on the Commonwealth, because the Commonwealth trade was declining and therefore we must look to Europe. That was a very strong argument too. But when we look at the facts since that vote we find that the Commonwealth, to quote the Financial Times,knocks the Common Market off the trade top spot".So that argument has gone out of the window.
We were also told, "We must go in, because there is no alternative ", to which I used to reply, "We should be going for an industrial free trade area". I am no little European; I am a much wider free trader than that. We were told that there was no chance of an industrial free trade area, but look at what has happened since then. On 22nd July this year, precisely that happened. An industrial free trade area is available to those who do not join, and we could have it; so that argument has gone. The EFTA Bulletin sets the position out clearly. It is interesting to read the back page. We were always told that another big argument for joining the Common Market was that much more trade would be generated than was possible in EFTA. But EFTA has done a great study of 77 that, and we find the statement to be totally untrue. The EFTA Bulletin says:In general, EFTA has … created relatively more trade between Member countries than the EEC and a higher proportion of the rise in total intra-area trade since 1959 was the result of the creation of a free trade area than in the EEC.That shoots that argument down. We are beginning to have very little argument left for going in.
We were told, "Don't worry. There will be no loss of sovereignty if we go in." In the Chamber I see many of us who sat through the whole debate on the Committee stage of the Bill, who will now recognise that that statement was nonsense. We do lose a great amount of sovereignty, and this will bear upon the people of this country more and more as the years go by, and indeed, as the months go by.
We were given an estimate that food prices would rise by, I think, 16½ per cent. over the five years. But that cannot now be true, after we have floated the £ and various other things have happened. I am sure that the estimate of the rise in food prices must now be much greater than that, but the vote on 28th October was taken on the basis of only 16½ per cent. over five years.
We were told throughout the debate that there was no fear of federalism. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said it time and time again when questioned. But look at the way in which things are proposed to be developed in the Common Market. It is quite clear that there is great pressure to move towards federalism, which I know will please some hon. Members present. The vote was taken on no federalism, but clearly we are going headlong towards it.
The defence situation has altered. It is no fault of the Government, but in our election manifesto we said,We will continue to make our contribution to the forces of NATO and will seek to revitalise this organisation which is basic to the defence of Britain.The very fact that the Norwegians have said, "No", to joining the Common 78 Market changes the situation. Having recently been over there, I believe that the Norwegians will tend to move out of NATO into a neutralist Nordic bloc with Sweden and possibly Finland. That exposes the entire northern flank of NATO, so any of my hon. Friends who are passionately fond of supporting NATO and honouring that election pledge should surely urge that that matter at least be re-debated, and that we examine the problem in the House. That is where I disagree with the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford, who has, regrettably, left the chamber so soon after making his speech.
In view of all those examples it can be seen that it is the mentality of Humpty Dumpty to rely on the vote a year ago as the only justification for saying that entry has the full-hearted support of the people of this country.
What about the people? Let us just look at the opinion polls. I think that we can say that we have got over that little schoolboy attitude that nobody believes the opinion polls any more, because my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister quotes them at Question Time in support of his policies of going into the Common Market. We know from Robert Rhodes James's book on the last election how the Conservative Central Office relies very much on the trends of public opinion polls in studying people's reactions and so on. In opinion polls on the Common Market the only question that really matters is, "Are you or are you not in favour of going into the Common Market?", or, "Do you or do you not want to join the Common Market?". None of the other questions matter, because they are loaded, and that is the only straight question. The whole trend over the past six months has been one of declining support for the Common Market, something which the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford, implied in some of his remarks. He regretted that it was so. The last national opinion poll gave 51 per cent., a complete majority, against entry, with only 31 per cent. in favour. Eliminating the "Don't knows", as would happen in a referendum, we find that 62 per cent. of the people would vote against entry in a referendum.
79 I have just received a breakdown of that poll by age groups. The only age group now which shows a slight majority in favour of entry is the 16–20 age group—in other words, sixth formers and people just leaving the sixth form. In the 21–24 age group only 37 per cent. want to go in, while 44 per cent. do not; in the 25–34 age group 34 per cent. are in favour of entry and 48 per cent. are not; and in the 35–44 age group the figures are 34 per cent. in favour and 52 per cent. against. Really, it is only the kiddies—I withdraw that remark and substitute "sixth formers and those who have just left school"—who are now in favour of going in. That is understandable, because the whole thing is at just about that level.
§ Mr. Eric Deakins (Walthamstow, West)
Could it be argued by proMarketeers in the House on the basis of the figures the hon. Gentleman has just given that if we wait long enough and the 16–20 age group keep their opinions as they grow older, in 30 or 40 years' time there may well be a majority of the British people who would favour retaining membership of the Common Market?
§ Mr. Marten
As they are British people, I think they will mature and that they, too, will learn. It is inevitable. Think of all the money being spent in schools to try and convert them to Europeanism. It appears to he the only place where it is working.
On the only evidence, the only yardstick available, there is a prima facie case—I say no more than that-that the proposition has not got the full-hearted consent of the people. Therefore, if entry goes ahead the implication will rightly stick that a major election pledge has been broken. That will be a very awkward matter to have on the conscience of my party. If the Government think I am wrong, as clearly they do—they must do, because they think they have the full-hearted support and that they are honouring our election pledge—how can they prove that to the people, so that at the next election we can say, "There is proof positive that we had the support of the country"? They can do it only by referendum.
80 I suggested last April in an Amendment to the Bill that we should have a consultative referendum, but that was turned down. Now we shall have to have not a consultative referendum but a binding referendum, and that is what we should have.
It would have three advantages. First, it would overcome the feeling that the people have never been consulted. They feel now that they have been gagged, hi-jacked into the Common Market, to use an expression used by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) in his article in The Times. That is a very undesirable image for any political party, having given that pledge.
I went to Norway to observe the referendum there. I did not interfere in it or make any speeches while I was there. I was impressed by the people saying, "It's glorious being asked to participate in this historic decision. The Government trust us, they say that we are grown up enough to make up our own minds, and are giving us a chance to express our opinions." The people of this country have never had a chance to express them. At the last two elections the Conservative Party has been known to be in favour of entry, but so have the Labour Party and the Liberal Party, and there has been no opportunity to express a choice against entry. A referendum would enable the Government to march into Europe with their flags flying, firm in the view that they enjoy the burning enthusiasm of the British people. That is a very good reason by itself.
Thirdly—and I hope that the Labour Party will forgive my saying this—if the Labour Party is to renegotiate and then put the results to a referendum, surely it would be a good political move for the Conservative Party to put the present terms to the people in a referendum? As the people will obviously say, "Yes", the whole country will later be able to say, "We accepted the Tory terms anyway." Any pro-Marketeer—I see that there is one or one and a half behind me—should support that thesis and bring pressure to bear on the Government to have a referendum for that very purpose. If the people said, "Yes", here and now, there would be no more anxieties; and if 81 the Labour Party returned to power the matter would be all finished. The people could be very happy about the whole thing.
The objection to the referendum was given to me very clearly at our party conference by my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, who said:Let me, if I may, bury one body once and for all. A referendum is not in our constitution. The present Conservative Government has no intention of introducing it into our constitution and that is that.He was on the Front Bench today when he heard my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland say that he would introduce a referendum into our constitution this year. Therefore, how can that argument possibly stand up? It was the only argument against the referendum presented at the conference. Of course that argument is now a non-argument.
It was not a constitutional necessity in Norway. It is not in that country's constitution to have a referendum, but the Norwegians had one nevertheless. We have a constitution which is very flexible. Moreover, we are now to have a referendum—the Northern Irish one, and so surely we could have one about the Common Market. There is no argument against it. Let us remember that Winston Churchill in 1945 proposed a referendum, that Baldwin in 1933 proposed a referendum; and three other Conservative Prime Ministers have proposed referenda. Are they unconstitutional? I cannot really believe it.
I hope the Government will have second thoughts and not be obstinate about this because it would be helpful if the whole country showed its enthusiasm for joining the Community. But if we do have the referendum it must be agreed beforehand between the three main political parties here in this country that whatever the result of the referendum there will be no question of the Government of the day resigning. I say that simply because that keeps party politics out of the vote; it keeps the vote in the referendum clear; the people vote "aye" or "no". An hon. Gentleman laughs, but I have seen party politics come into a referendum and when they do the votes get mixed up. We want to keep party politics out of this 82 question and keep our eye on the subject under discussion, the subject of the vote. The easiest way to ensure that is to say that there will be no resignation by the Government even if the answer is "no". We did have a little to-do about that on Second Reading of the Bill—that if the Government did not get the Bill they would resign. I think that that must have been a slight aberration in the heat of the moment. I think it will not be said again.
I make no apology for returning to this subject because all my life I have been a Conservative and I hate to see this very clear election pledge possibly being broken by my party. If it is, it will not only be bad for my party but it will be thoroughly bad for British politics as a whole.
§ 5.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Bert Oram (East Ham, South)
I am grateful for having caught your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in this debate. I can assure you and the House that I intend to speak only briefly. What I propose to do is to speak on one aspect and one aspect only of the summit talks. I refer to the relationship between the enlarged Community and the Third World. That is an aspect of this problem which I fear may not receive in this debate, or indeed in Paris, the priority which I believe it deserves. I noted with particular appreciation what my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) had to say on this point, as, indeed, the comments of the Foreign Secretary.
Since I intend to confine myself to this one subject and since the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) spoke on almost every other aspect of the problem, I hope he will excuse me if I do not attempt to follow his speech.
I have noticed that the developing world is a subject to which the Prime Minister often turns when he tries to elevate his speeches above the purely mundane. I am hoping that when he gets to Paris he will not regard this particular part of his brief as a subject merely for perorations because it is a field in which a good deal of tough bargaining on behalf of the developing countries lies ahead and one in which I believe a distinctive British impact can and should be made on the Community as a whole. We have a vast experience 83 as a world Power; we have had a vast experience in terms of aid to developing countries, and I believe that we should bring that experience constructively to bear upon the decisions which will be made when we are a member of the Community.
Next year, 1973, is going to be a particularly important year in this respect. It is obviously going to be an extremely busy year for shaping the new relationships between the Community and the developing nations. First of all, negotiations will begin in August next year for new agreements to replace those of Yaounde and Arusha. Secondly, through. out the whole range of so-called associable members of the Commonwealth independent decisions will have to be taken by each country one by one about which particular option it wishes to take up, whether it wants to enter into the Yaounde type of association or the Arusha type of association or whether it will prefer to negotiate a trade agreement.
Then again, two years hence, 1974 sees the end of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement and, therefore, next year will not be too soon for the Government to begin to reassert the claims of the Commonwealth sugar producers. Another thing which will happen next year will be that the international coffee agreement will be coming to an end, and in that field, and, indeed, in connection with a number of other basic commodities upon which the welfare of the developing countries depends, there will be in respect of those commodities a good deal of international negotiation and discussion.
Therefore I believe it is important that British spokesmen at the earliest opportunity, and Thursday of this week is not too early, should say what we in this country think should be done in these matters in the interests not just of Britain but of the Third World. I believe, for example, that we should make it clear that when the Yaounde and Arusha agreements come to be renegotiated we shall not be content with the mere linking up of the associable countries with the existing Yaounde and Arusha patterns of trade and aid.
We must make it clear that our view of the developing world is a very much wider one than the view as seen from 84 Paris, or, indeed, the view as seen from Brussels. I have seen a publication issued by the Commission entitled "The EEC and the Developing World." It is a popular production and it is illustrated with a map, but not a map which includes India and Indonesia, on the one hand, and Peru and Ecuador on the other, but a map of Africa. That seems to be the view of the developing world from Brussels—or certainly from France. It is Africa, a Francophone Africa in particular. It may, therefore, be one of the tasks which the Prime Minister has when he goes to Paris to seek to cure this acute myopia from which President Pompidou seems to suffer in development polices.
We therefore need to make it clear in Paris and subsequently that when we in Britain think of the Third World we have in mind not just Africa, but that we think of Asia, particularly of the great Indian sub-continent with its vast needs for development, and that we think of Latin Ameria, too. We should hake it clear in other words that we take a global view of the needs of the Third World and not a narrow view which, so far, has been the view of the Community.
The basic needs of the Third World I think are pretty clear to all of us. The developing countries need to increase their export earnings in order to buy the tools of their development, and since there is a vast gap between what, on the one hand, they are now able to earn with their exports, and what, on the other hand, they need to buy for their development meantime, till they get into a position of earning more, they must be provided with financial aid to fill that gap.
It will be our task when we become members of the Community to urge upon our partners policies of aid and trade which are consistent with those objectives of the developing countries. I do not believe, as some do, that that is a hopeless task. It will be a difficult task, but it can and should be tackled constructively because much remains open for negotiation. I have listed the negotiations which will take place in 1973 alone. Much lies ahead of us in determining the relationship between the Community and the developing world. What was covered in the negotiations which led up to the Treaty of Accession 85 was a vital part but only a small part of the vast task of policy-making between the members of the enlarged Community and of the developing countries.
If we in this country wish, as I hope we shall wish, to advocate progressive policies in these matters, it is not true to say that we shall be standing alone faced with obduracy from the stewards of a rich man's club. For instance, not long ago the Commission issued a statement on development policy. Far be it from me to say that it was a perfect document; it had many important defects. But it contained a great deal that was good, judged by proper standards of development criteria. Therefore, if we stand up for the right thing, we may well find some allies.
It is highly likely that the Germans and the Dutch will support us when we criticise, as we must, the limited geographical coverage of the Yaounde Convention. It will still be a limited coverage even if all the associable countries join in association. If we turn, as I favour, to commodity agreements as the means whereby developing countries can be assured a steady and fair price for their crops, we may well find the French more helpful in this sphere than we are likely to find them in other policy spheres.
I suggest therefore that we should not engage upon our tasks in Europe, certainly those concerning the developing countries, with any sense that the doors are barred, that all negotiations are behind us and that we shall find ourselves without partners if we seek to do the right thing. We can pursue the right policies in development matters with, I believe, a reasonable hope of success.
We would be able better to urge the right policies on our partners if we pursued them more wholeheartedly ourselves. Take the question of the European Development Fund. It has been estimated that the fund will need to be trebled if the aid needs of all the associable Commonwealth countries are to be met. I hope that we shall ensure that our contribution to the European Development Fund is not made at the expense of aid which at present goes to India, Ceylon and other countries. We must not rob them in order to make our contribution to the fund.
86 However, if we want to ensure that no harm is done to aid-worthy countries outside the immediate entourage of the Community, greatly increased amounts of aid will be necessary, not only from us, but from our European partners. Can we ask for increased aid from Brussels or Paris when we, almost alone, have refused to accept the UNCTAD target of .7 per cent. of gross national product as our official aid contribution by 1975? We must put our own house in order if we want to tell our neighbours how to organise theirs. Can we urge, as I hope we shall, that the aid operations financed by the European Development Fund should be much more widely spread throughout the world if we are seen to be reluctant to meet our international obligations through our bilateral aid programme? That is the position at the moment.
We should therefore boldly espouse progressive policies in aid and trade with the developing countries and be prepared at the summit, and later when we take our place within the Community, to give a lead. We should be prepared to initiate new policies and to innovate. If we do that, I believe that we shall have a helpful reception to our ideas. There is no doubt that we shall find ourselves up against stiff resistance to our point of view in some quarters, but we shall also find willing and powerful partners in working out liberal policies vis-à-vis the developing countries.
I recall that when Dr. Mansholt—I hope that it is legitimate to mention his name from these benches—some time ago produced a memorandum on the reform of agriculture in the EEC he made some constructive proposals in relation to sugar and vegetable oils. These two commodities are of special significance because producers of these commodities in developing countries find themselves in direct competition with producers in developed countries. Therefore, particular difficulties are to be faced in relation to these two commodities which overlap. so to speak, between developing economies and developed economies.
Dr. Mansholt proposed that a price policy for sugar and a beet production quota system should be introduced which would eliminate surpluses and thus save expenditure from the Guarantee Fund.
87 In relation to oils, he introduced the concept of compensatory finance to developing countries which suffer a loss of export earnings as a result of levies under the common agricultural policy.
Time has passed since Dr. Mansholt put forward those ideas, but I raise them now because they indicate certain lines of thought for the future which can be useful. There are clues in these ideas to the development of policies for linking the levy system of the common agricultural policy with the provision of aid for developing countries through the European Development Fund. It will be perfectly possible, and perhaps surprisingly acceptable, if we make the claim that the increases in the Community budget to which Britain will be making such a hefty contribution in future should be used, not only for the re-structuring of agriculture and for regional and industrial policies, but also for the enhancement of aid to the developing world.
On Thursday the Prime Minister will be concerned with many other vitally important aspects of British membership of the European Community. He has had quite an agenda put before him this afternoon by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. Therefore, in the summit talks the Prime Minister has more than enough to contend with. I only hope that he will see his task in handling his brief and that agenda against the background of the other major international problems facing our generation. I believe that the greatest of these international problems is mankind's struggle against the massive problems of world poverty. It is my plea that in Paris that struggle will not be forgotten.
§ 6.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East)
I hope that I shall not embarrass the hon. Member for East Ham, South (Mr. Oram) excessively if I say—there may be others on this side who will agree with this—that his words today were positive and refreshingly interesting in comparison with those of his hon. Friends in the debates hitherto, with a number of exceptions in the many ways distinguished speech of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins).
The words of the hon. Member for East Ham, South were interesting, posi- 88 five and refreshing because the hon. Gentleman got away completely from the shallow and superficial politicising which has characterised the stance of the Leader of the Opposition in this debate. This is true to such an extent that we come back repeatedly to the astonishing question: why is this debate on this subject being conducted at all in the House?
It ill behoves those members of the Opposition who wish to take a particular posture on this solemn subject—whatever their views were on previous occasions, but who now for some reason have decided to adopt this position—and it ill behoves some of my hon. Friends who make the same point, to say that the enthusiasm in the country or in Parliament for what has transpired this year by the passage of the Bill is diminished by an absence of hon. Members in the House today. The very reverse is the answer. This debate is not inspiring interest in the House today precisely and simply because all these arguments have been gone through again and again in the House and there is no merit in resuscitating them today.
That is why I especially condemn the shallow and superficial speech of the Leader of the Opposition for being devoid of any positive content and for—perhaps for the first time in the House in actual semantic terms—espousing a new generic explanation for the word "renegotiation", which now means, apparently, "the temporary philosophical reconciliation between the intelligentsia and the boilermakers within the Labour Party".
If the public yet again has the opportunity—we on this side should welcome it and not decry it—to see the contortions, the posturings, and the awkward expressions on the faces of members of the Opposition as they revive themselves with exhausted old arguments about how consistent they have been all the way through, the public itself will be able to judge, not only which party is better equipped and fitted to govern—this is an argument which can come later—but also, with its capacity for shrewdness and common sense, which would be well in evidence if there were more of the sensible members of the Labour Party present today on this subject, just what real issues are involved in the whole question of the European Communities Act and the 89 vitally important summit meeting which is to take place.
I want to enunciate one or two thoughts and sentiments connected with the summit which I do not think were touched upon today in the speech with which the Leader of the Opposition sought to unite his own side more than to give any guidance to the nation.
I believe that the summit is important, not for any of those absurd, ridiculous, rhetorical and, indeed, knockabout 25 questions or phoney questions that the Leader of the Opposition put, but because the summit itself symbolises the accretion and the existence of the real power base within the Community with ourselves and the other new members coming together.
This is true to such an extent that the success of the summit, even in general terms or even if no precise details down to the minutiae of the discussions are eventually released to the public, which I believe would be wholly understandable and acceptable, is the vital kick off for what many hon. Members and large numbers of people throughout the country have been waiting for a long time to see, namely, the enlargement of the Community, the incipient realisation that the Community is still at an early stage despite all that has passed and, equally, despite the objections at the eleventh hour of the right hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore), who when he was in Government presided over a Department whose initials stood for " Deny everything afterwards".
Despite the eleventh hour objections of the right hon. Member for Stepney and those of his colleagues, a situation is developing in which the real debate about Europe can begin at long last with good will on both sides, as we go to the summit and ensuing meetings, not only at this level of Heads of State or Prime Minister, or a combination of both depending on the nations, but also at Foreign Minister level and Economic Minister level on ensuing occasions.
The key questions are, for example, European monetary integration and co-operation; just what influential powers or influential re-enforcement of powers will be given to the European Parliament in advance of any franchise, or what combination of extra powers will be given side by side with the idea of eventual 90 direct franchise; the very question, as was rightly raised by the hon. Member for East Ham, South, of the Community's relationship with the under-developed world, and not only in the adherent territories; and the very important question, although outside this immediate debate, of defence and of security in Europe.
All these things were never by definition subsumed in the Bill which went through Parliament and which has now concluded all its stages, and none of these things can emerge until the passage of time allows it to do so. That is why my right hon. Friend was right to say that none of these is an event as yet. They will all be events in the future. They are the beginning of the unfolding of a process which will determine whether Europe is to be the outward looking, liberal, fair-minded, democratic, strong and collective institution which many hon. Members on this side and other people will hope to see in future.
That is, therefore, the important part of whatever begins to emerge in the summit discussion. It is not about the apologia for the Opposition's failure to unite themselves, as they could have done earlier much more easily if they had resisted the temptation to tie themselves up in intellectual and philosophical knots as they have done.
The summit is not about the natural doubts that are expressed—understandably—by housewives and other members of the community in Britain about the effects on the cost of living of entering Europe in a short-term way, although I sympathise and understand those fears to a great extent. It is not about that but about the long-term construction of a united Europe in which Britain's place is a reality. That seems to me to be the message that should, and I hope will, come out of whatever is discussed at the meeting that is about to take place.
But one comes back to the anxieties and fears that are held and expressed. I disagreed very strongly with my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) when he again brought out. as did others, all the tired old arguments. It is said that public opinion is dead against entry. I do not believe that for a moment. Nor do I believe, bearing in mind what has happened in the Labour 91 Party and the curious exercise which took place in Blackpool before last week, and bearing in mind the difficulties felt by various hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite in reconciling their conflicting views, that the solution is the alien method of a referendum, which would not accord with our constitutional methods.
That method also means, leaving aside the political equations, that people who apparently say they are against going in are really expressing anxieties about the cost of living rather than about the central attractions and ideas of being part of an economic and eventually political united Europe in which all the member nations, with no exceptions, in a quite astonishing way, and all the populations are of one accord that the Common Market is not that wildly exciting thing many people feel it to be but a natural thing that people have come to accept because they see its economic and other benefits. That is the basis on which the future political discussion begins.
If this curious and abortive debate has done nothing more, it has shown up yet again the Labour Party's embarrassment both in the House and outside. One may sympathise with hon. Members' natural difficulties but that should not detract us from helping in the unfolding history of the country and its gradual and inevitable progress towards the European Economic Community.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
The hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) said that a plebiscite or referendum was contrary to our constitutional practice. I must ask him: which constitution? Is it the unwritten constitution dependent on the sovereignty of Parliament which we have enjoyed until now, or the new, written constitution, with a subordinate Parliament, which is being imposed on our people without consultation or without their having a chance to say "yea" or "nay"?
I am not an enthusiast for referenda but surely in this case some form of consultation of the people is demanded. Instead, this great debate is ending with a yawn. No one today is enthusiastic for Europe—that has gone. Instead, we find as a replacement a sort of reluctant 92 acquiescence of the unconsulted. However, I propose not to go through the old arguments but to deal very briefly with two points.
For the first time in my life I see the value of our money in real danger. I had the inestimable privilege of sitting at the feet of the late Lord Keynes. I know that that makes me a very old man, and I am. I remember his explaining to us what happened to the Deutsch-mark when it collapsed after the First World War. I remember his telling us how all the bankers of Germany came to him, and to us at the Peace Conference, and the officials of Weimar saying over and over again: "There is no reason for this loss of value. All the conventional banking methods for the production of money have been complied with. There is no reason why these values should run away." But they did run away, and they ran away for the one simple reason that people no longer believed that that money would go on buying things.
It meant that for the wage-earner it did not become a question of a weekly pay day but of a daily pay day, and then it became two payments and then three payments per day, because if anyone kept his money for more than an hour it lost value. That money depreciated by several multiples every day until the point came when the shopping areas were cluttered with barrows carrying men's half-day's wages in order to buy goods This was what happened to a currency when confidence went. It happened, and confidence just ran away.
Now, as I say, for the first time in my life, I see that danger threatening us here today. The British people have lost confidence in sterling as an investment. Gilt-edged is now a gambling counter. It is regarded as thoroughly unsafe. Consols, which used to be the measure of our sterling solidity, are equally affected. On the other hand, goods have expanded wildly in value. Within the last six or seven months I have seen the value of agricultural land around me double and in some cases more than double. Land which was £250 an acre, and that was a very high price in my view, is now fetching £500. The same kind of thing is happening with houses. The same kind of thing is happening with works of art, with horses, with any 93 alternative to money, because confidence in money is oozing out.
Mr. Macmillan brought the history of Britain as a great Power to an end when he told the Cabinet at the time of Suez that the £ was in danger and that we could not longer pursue an independent policy but, believe me, the £ was then in nothing like the danger in which it is today.
On any rational basis the £ should have been in far greater danger during the war. At that time we carried out a mobilisation larger than that achieved by any country in the history of the world. More people were engaged in the non-production of consumer goods—because that is what mobilisation means—and receiving wages without having anything on which they could spend those wages. We were having to sell all our world investments and borrow everywhere. But the value of sterling was retained, and it was retained by a simple and direct method—price control; a price control which was backed by the two essentials of a subsidy policy which provided an incentive adequate to call forth the production of the goods, and a rationing policy which meant a fair distribution of the goods produced. That kept the value of sterling.
Yet, faced today with the collapse of sterling, we are choosing at this moment to deny ourselves the means of protecting it. We cannot price control within the Market, and all this talk of the TUC and of the industries is nonsense. We cannot subsidise in the Market, which is a necessary aspect, and we cannot ration. We are at this very point when we need these defences most, denying ourselves the means of defending ourselves.
But I do not put this forward as my main objection. Germany has seen its currency collapse and recover again with a new currency. It is not a pleasant way but it is something we may have to go through and then recover from. But the one thing that I do not think that any country in the history of the world has done has been to recover from loss of will to defend itself. That is what I see in this. It is totally the opposite view on the question of defence to that taken by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins).
94 This Common Market is a novel idea. It is best described as a conglomerate. It is something that we have become accustomed to in industry—this conglomeration of often disparate units in a new take-over association of great size; units which lose their identity, units which lose the kind of personal things that make units work and which are justified by a superior profitability.
In very much the same way, the Cornmon Market justifies itself by a superior capacity to profit—a capacity to get fat. That alone it has displayed. It has failed to display any of the personality of a new nation. It has utterly failed to display any will to defend itself. It has leant back under the guard of the American nuclear deterrent, and the credibility of that deterrent has gone. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Stechford that even after the threat of McGovern has gone, and even with the present American Administration, the threat of the deterrent is no longer there. The agreement reached with the Russians on nuclear armaments is an agreement between those two Powers that it will not be used—so that has gone. But what have we left in its place?
I remember the Lisbon meeting in 1952 when the Powers met to decide what was necessary for the defence of Europe. It was stated to be 50 divisions as a minimum, another 120 divisions to be available in so many days and the main force to be held behind the Rhine. That meant, none the less, a disparity in power, but even that minimum was never produced. Not a half, not a quarter of it was produced, partly because the Powers did not have the will to defend themselves and partly because the Germans were unwilling to provide the battlefield for that sort of strategy. Instead, we simply had a token force on the frontier which, not merely by reason of its size but by reason of the position to which it is committed, could not last three days if the Russians were to move. No one who knows the strategic position doubts that. Not three days could it last before it was in the bag. That is a power vacuum. This power vacuum exists because the Germans insist on a forward defence which everybody knows is unworkable; it exists because there is not the will to provide the alternative defence.
95 We are now told that this will be reinforced by a European nuclear defence. This sort of obscurantist nonsense enrages me. "Nuclears" are not weapons of war; they are weapons of deterrent. They cannot be used in war. A deterrent has a passive as well as an active use. A nation deters and in turn is itself deterred. We must bear in mind the tiny nuclear capacity of Europe and the vulnerability of its cities. This vulnerability comes from the absence of that degree of protection which arises from distance.
Any force that we have is an utter irrelevance. In terms of deterrence a nuclear force is credible not for what it can do, not for what it can survive, but for its capacity to be able to deter. The United States could have used her "nuclears" and have said, "If you dare to reply, look at what is coming to you." The idea of "nuclears" has now gone, and to imagine that we can defend ourselves from them is a complete delusion.
Therefore, we find ourselves joining this conglomerate which has no will to defend itself, which has no intention of providing the ground troops, and which has thrown away the ethos of a deterrent which would be able to defend it. We are prepared to get fat as a power vacuum. The whole history of power vacuums is that people step into them. The history of Russia has been one of constantly moving into power vacuums.
The first to go will be the Germans. They will realise their helplessness. In Germany a number of "Unite the Fatherland" fronts are emerging. Those fronts and the Ost politik, even as we are seeing it today, will mean a united Germany under Eastern leadership, because it will be the Eastern end which will have the power. When that happens, it will be discovered that the working-class movements in France and Italy are Communist, too. We shall see this in a short time in Europe.
Those who will be independent in Europe and who will avoid this situation will be the Swiss, the Norwegians and the Swedes; in other words, they will be the people who have a total will to defend themselves—not by collecting "nuclears", but by making it abundantly plain that occupation of their territory would not be worthwhile, that every street would provide resistance and that every Russian 96 who was stationed there would put his life in danger if he showed his face in the street. This is what will happen in those nations which are organised in terms of their own local defence and which retain the will and determination to remain free. On the other hand, a posture by a group of nations with four or five nuclear submarines is quite farcical.
Some say that this conglomerate will mean the end of Greco-Roman Christian civilisation. I do not believe that that will happen at this stage. However, I believe that it will mean the end of our island's independence. And that could still be saved.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. John P. Mackintosh (Berwick and East Lothian)
Having listened to the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), for whom on a personal basis I have great respect, I feel like one of those people who set puzzles. We start with the proposition that we are forming a Common Market in Western Europe and end with the proposition that it is a Communist plot to subvert Western Europe. By what logical means do we proceed from proposition A to proposition B? I could not think of anybody who could have got through such a maze except my hon. and learned Friend. I will not follow him into the intricacies of this far-fetched, and indeed fantastic, argument. It is not an argument which is appreciated in the Soviet Union and the States in Western Europe would not accept his view of it.
I turn to the position as it stands in this debate. It has been a debate which has been distinguished by a superb speech from my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins), and we have heard a sound and helpful speech by my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, South (Mr. Oram).
I begin by making a few comments on the posture of the Opposition on the whole question of renegotiation and what this means. I accept my right hon. Friend's point that if renegotiation means development of the Common Market policies in certain directions, and if those directions involve the sort of regional, social and industrial policies to which we on this side of the House are committed, then the gap between the concept of 97 renegotiation and the view of the Labour Party pro-Europeans would not be wide. I accept that, but I do not think it is exactly what the official statement of the Labour Party Executive means. I believe that we should look at this statement to see what it means and I also believe that people in politics should mean what they say.
Although I am not a populist on the referendum issue, I do not believe that in politics one should say one thing and mean another, or that one should say one thing in order to give oneself freedom to go in a different way if and when one needs to do so. Part of the cynicism in the current popular attitudes to politics is a product of this sort of activity, and it is therefore best that if one means something one should say so.
What do we find in the resolution passed at the Labour Party Conference? We find framed in fairly strong language a commitment, or so it would appear, to renegotiate. The National Executive statement says that renegotiation will be done… because Britain will use the power of veto on all Community developments until a new treaty is written.One of the other resolutions passed at the conference went further. It said that Britain would pull out of her financial commitments and associations with the Common Market until there was a new treaty and a complete renegotiation.
I wish to consider whether this type of renegotiation is likely to succeed in any way that can be envisaged at the moment. The conditions laid down in these statements and resolutions on renegotiation involve sweeping changes in the structure and approach of the Common Market. They envisage, for example, wholesale changes in common agricultural policy; they want a large change in the method of financing the Market; they want sweeping changes in the whole approach to monetary and economic matters in Europe.
§ Mr. Mackintosh
This is the official view of the party, a view which I am seeking to explain. What they are saying is that it will be possible, at some point in 1974 or 1975, by the use of this type 98 of power pressure to get the Common Market changed into a different sort of animal from that which it now is. This is the sort of sweeping change the resolutions want to see. Instead of the Market being dedicated to closer union on wider and wider fronts, including foreign policy and economic and monetary union, they envisage that it should become a much more restricted organisation—in other words, that it should be merely a free trade area. They envisage that the countries contained within it should not draw closer together or amalgamate in the way in which Brandt, Pompidou, the Prime Minister and other leaders in the Market are at present tending towards.
This is official Labour policy, and we have to consider whether it is feasible that this could be carried out in two or two and a half years' time as and when the occasion arises. It could be feasible in one set of circumstances. It would be feasible if the member States of the Community decided, within the next two and a half years, that their experience of the enlarged Community was so unsatisfactory that they wished to give up the whole drive and direction on which the Common Market has been moving in the 15 years of its existence. It would be feasible only if they wanted to pack up the EEC in its present form and set up a loose, free trade area association.
Is there any evidence that in the next two and a half years such a change of heart will take place among the member States of the enlarged Community? I suggest that at present all the evidence points in the opposite direction. The present avowed intention of the nine member States is to increase the cohesion of the Community and to draw more closely together. Even the French are agreeing to amalgamate their foreign policy more closely with the Common policy in the other Common Market countries. They are thinking of a monetary and economic union.
The present Government are demanding effective regional policies, and if we look at what is happening outside the EEC, the policies of other countries are having the same effect. The interesting thing in terms of foreign policy is that the various Foreign Offices are being pushed into working together in Europe because the Russians and the Americans are speaking directly to each other over 99 the heads of the European Powers. If the European Powers are to work together in a security conference with the Soviet Union next year, they must agree on a common line. They must speak together and they may also have to do so in terms of burden-sharing and financial matters in dealing with the United States.
An interesting situation has developed in the Near East where the Russians have been expelled by the Egyptians. The Egyptian Government has come to Europe, not to Britain, France, or Germany to come in as make-weight, but to ask whether Europe collectively will do something to fill the power vacuum which has been left by the Russian pullout or expulsion from Egypt. All the internal forces of the member States of the Community and the external forces of world events are pushing the member States in the next two-and-a-half years to co-operate more closely and to make a success of the enlarged Community—a Community which they have struggled so hard to build up.
Faced with this situation, is it likely that a British Government coming to power in October, 1974, or June, 1975, will find the Community willing to say, "Yes, you were quite right. The whole concept we have been trying to set up is wrong"? Would they be likely to accept the kind of proposals inherent in a renegotiation, including all the safeguard clauses which were contained in the National Executive statement put before the recent Labour Party Conference? Surely all the evidence shows that the Community would not do so for one moment. The idea that we would have a special strength and could force the European nations, against their will, to alter the character of the Common Market so as to retain Britain as a member is extremely unlikely. In effect, we are saying that they would be so afraid of losing Britain's membership that they would be willing to change the nature of the Community they are running. Is this likely? Why should they do this?
We must remember that the Community of Six got along without Britain. Indeed, they got along so well that some of them were dubious about our joining.
100 If we intend to say, "We shall withdraw unless you change the nature of the Community", is it likely that they will say, "Yes, of course we will change it." Is it likely that they would agree to change the form of the Community, that they would give up the idea of economic and social union, and the freedom to amalgamate in foreign and other policies? Is this a credible bargaining position? I do not think it is for one moment.
If we were to go through with these proposals, we would be faced with one simple question: do you wish to remain within the Community and to see it go in a certain direction, or do you wish to pull out? That will be the alternative, and it is as well that we should face it.
I believe that it is fundamentally wrong, first, for any party to try to say now, precisely and decisively, what it would do two years hence in its foreign policy. To try to bind itself in that way is entirely wrong. Second, all the evidence suggests that, when we face that situation in two or two-and-a-half years, there will be no question of going back to square one. It will not be possible to revive EFTA. It will not be possible to go back to the Commonwealth preferences they will have been reallocated and Commonwealth trading patterns will have altered over that two-and-a-half years. Moreover, as I have said, America and Russia are, and will be, speaking more often to each other directly, without intermediaries.
Thus, the position we shall face is that Europe will have co-operated for twoand-a-half years, and the Commonwealth will have disintegrated further even than it has today. Could Britain, as it is argued, pull out and stand apart by itself in total isolation in such a situation?
I do not think that any Government who had the interests of this country at heart would seriously contemplate such a step, and it is even less satisfactory to suggest that a party could bind itself to such a sten as of now, two-and-a-half years before reaching that point.
It is worth spending a little time on this matter. I think that the renegotiation proposals can either mean pressure to develop the Market from within, which, we hope, would be normal policy for any 101 British Government, or they mean something much more drastic and more dangerous for the future of this country. I tell the House frankly that I cannot take the latter proposition seriously as a future policy of any responsible Government. I cannot, therefore, see other countries taking it seriously as a standpoint, and accordingly they had treated such a suggestion with the measure of reserve which I think it deserves.
I turn now to the coming summit meeting and the stance which, we hope, the British Government will adopt when they go there. Clearly, at the summit we have to make a case. The interesting fact now about the Common Market—this follows from what I said earlier—is that in a Community of nine no one country is as powerful as each of the major countries was in a Community of six. Interestingly enough, the French have now realised that their position is decisively weaker in a Community of nine. In a Community of six, they could, and did, play the card—"Without us the thing is finished". They played that card in 1965 with the policy of the empty chair, saying, in effect, "If certain things go through, France might even pull out of the Community". This was a serious threat at that time. I do not think that it is as serious, or, indeed, a serious threat now because the Community of nine could survive without any one major State if any member tried such strong-arm tactics.
Matters will have to be treated seriously in negotiation, and I hope that they will be. First on the agenda I put the modification of the common agricultural policy. My impression is that each one of the member States is unhappy about aspects of that policy, and each is hoping that British entry will in some sense produce pressure towards change. But it will be a gradual change. This policy was built up over 11 years. It involved package deals in which non-agricultural quid pro quos were given for agricultural gains by certain member States. It cannot easily be altered. Let us start by saying that we should like to see no further increases in agricultural prices in Europe. In reality there might have to be small increases, but the increases should lag behind the inflation rate. Then the level of inflation would in time restore a more realistic price level.
102 Second, we ought to say that the Mansholt plan for using money for structural change in European agriculture, which means paying farmers to be more efficient, is basically wrong in the sense that the more efficient they are the more they produce, and the more they produce the more they contribute to the surpluses. We do not want to give farmers money to amalgamate in order to be more efficient in an already largely self-sufficient Europe. We should ask that the structural money be spent on alternative jobs outside agriculture in the agricultural areas, to help attract people out of agriculture and to speed the process of leaving the land which is already going ahead rapidly in Europe.
Thus, the form of the common agricultural policy, by holding prices and by structural change offering job alternatives in the agricultural areas, is linked with a positive regional policy. One of the most encouraging things I have heard in this debate was the Foreign Secretary's statement that we should proceed, as the countries have proceeded in all the Common Market negotiations in the past, by putting a date on this process. We want agreement on a regional policy and a date-line by which it should be produced. This is the traditional method used, forcing countries up against the need to reach a decision and get together.
I hope that we tie our regional policy not merely to unemployment but also to depopulation and the declining rural areas. I represent such an area, and I realise that the Foreign Secretary knows the problems of such areas. There has been a tendency in Britain to link regional policy too closely to declining industrial areas. We have to meet the European situation as well as aspects of the British situation.
On industrial policy, we should reduce non-tariff barriers to trade and try to reach the possibility of industrial linkages throughout Europe so that we have the benefit of the extra investment that we want.
On the question of the institutions, I shall say nothing about the need for a more effective approach to the underdeveloped countries and the Third World, since that aspect of the matter was so powerfully dealt with by my hon. Friend 103 the Member for East Ham, South, but I shall say a word directly about the European institutions. I was a little disappointed when the Foreign Secretary said that the British Government would, at the summit, take the line that we ought to be members of the European institutions and have experience of them before proposing any changes. I had hoped that we should move a little faster than that. I should think it a pity if we did not press the recommendations of the Vedel Report for more powers for the European Parliament—actually, more work for it to do. Implementation of these recommendations would be a step forward, and not to do so would be a disappointment for the countries of Europe which collaborated to bring forward the Vedel Report.
We have, I think, made a great contribution with our two superb nominations as Commissioners. I hope that we shall follow this up by ensuring that the Commission has a good planning unit. able to push forward in the direction of positive opportunities for Europe.
As regards the Council of Ministers, I hope that we shall agree at the summit on a set of proposals to cover, let us say, two years ahead, and that, when we agree at the summit on the direction of change in agricultural policy, regional policy and industrial policy, we shall then say to the Council of Ministers that everything agreed upon at the summit must automatically or readily be accepted by the Council. There must not be renewed argument and delay of nine months or a year about each item as it comes up.
At this summit, we shall have the chance of writing a kind of Queen's Speech for Europe, a setting of directions, and we should put behind it, as a new participating member, our energy and enthusiasm. This country is now committed to entry, and we want to see it a success. If it is not, if it is a disaster, the kind of renegotiation proposals of which we have heard in the official Labour Party conference resolutions will then become feasible. But if it is a success—I hope that it is—it will, I believe, be in the interests of this country to remain permanently part of the Community.
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ Mr. John Loveridge (Hornchurch)
The House always hears the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) speaking on the Common Market, with deep and intense interest. His enthusiasm and leadership inspire us, and I hope that they will inspire the Prime Minister when he goes to the summit.
Europe may not yet be ready for a grand design. There are those who feel that there must be time to wait and see how the addition of the three new members affects its progress. Yet we must, surely, look ahead to a grander design, for our own safety and strength; and it is up to Britain, perhaps the strongest nation of the nine, to set a lead and to demonstrate the will that Europe ought to have to defend herself. In the meantime, however, while that will is growing. the old alliances upon which our lives and safety depend must be held together.
First, the Prime Minister must say to our friends in Europe that they ought not to make life more difficult for the United States of America, that they ought not to force confrontation with her. For example, there are vast sums of floating dollars, almost unwanted, built up in the last two years in the central banks of Europe. We know that the French would like to see a sharp rise in the price of gold. Here, surely, is a point at which Britain can set a lead for a compromise between the rival views.
We want to keep the United States troops committed to Europe for the foreseeable future upon a substantial scale. It is only reasonable that we Europeans should try to help the United States in her economic difficulties just as she helped Europe in her hour of need. It is important to remember these factors as we get together for the vital European security conference which we hope will be held shortly.
Secondly, we should encourage the link between the NATO powers and France. Europe has experienced the damage of the new pirates, the international terrorists. We must get together to increase our defences against such terrorists as their own power, purpose and unanimity, even in the different anarchist views which they 105 put forward, is strengthened. It is foreseeable that terrorists might act on a much larger scale in future.
We should therefore interest France and the European powers in the safety of the Southern seas. At any time there are more than 1,000 European ships sailing east of Suez. Such ships are a natural target for international terrorism. How easy it would be to mine the paths of the great tankers bringing oil to Europe. We must hope that the Prime Minister will inspire our friends in Europe to spend more upon defence to protect Europe's vital supply lines. In the long term there will be a need to strengthen nuclear arms as well, but it would be folly to think that our deterrent, or the French nuclear deterrent, could keep us safe without the help of the United States. In the long term we must plan to do more for our nuclear safety ourselves against the prospect that one day there might be a change in the policy of a future United States Government. In the meantime, to stick together is the surest safe way for survival.
The third aspect which the Prime Minister should speak about is the common basis upon which we should work with the other eight Powers towards a monetary and economic policy which we can all share. This country is in a situation where the old policy of buying food in the cheapest market has gone. Therefore, it would be wise to try to ensure that there are not extra cash outflows across the currency barriers between ourselves and Europe in order to import Europe's more expensive foodstuffs, thus providing us with a deficit on our balance of payments. A monetary agreement aiming for fixed parities between the European powers would greatly strengthen us in that respect. However, such a policy can be practical only in the context of a shared economic policy. We also need an investment policy which is fair in relation to the demand and capacity of the different parts of Europe. When such a common basis between the European powers has been arrived at, it will then be possible to make fair arrangements with the United States, Japan and other parts of the world.
The fourth aspect which the Prime Minister should consider and speak about is the help which should be given to the 106 poorer nations. Their desperate need is not only for more trade but also for more stable prices for the goods which they sell. It is up to the richer nations to ensure that the poorer nations can get reasonably stable prices for their products. That is not impossible on the basis of such a large community as the future European Community.
Fifthly, there are Europe's own poor. It is reasonable to think that, as in the past the policy of the European budget helped France and her agriculture, future increases voted for the European budget should provide for greater payments towards the required development in Europe. There is no reason to think that France is unequal to agreeing to such a future policy.
Sixthly, there is parliamentary control. Most of us feel that it will be in the far distant future before the European Parliament can provide any effective measure of control over the working of the Commission, and even longer before it can affect the Council of Ministers. It is from the national identities of Europe that Europe's heritage in art, culture and industry have sprung. There is no reason why the national parliaments cannot provide a real measure of control upon proposals issuing from the Commission or the Council of Ministers. For that to be possible and to be effective the necessary information must flow from the first. Discussions must not take place behind closed doors, otherwise we shall find ourselves meeting accomplished fact after accomplished fact when what in reality we need is to discuss proposals as they emerge.
The Prime Minister should stress to his colleagues the need for open talking and early information if the parliaments of Europe are to be able to debate and question proposals which are put forward. It is here that Britain can give an example of leadership. Britain has surely in this House given such an example to the world throughout long years of history. Now is our opportunity to lead any action by asking the Europeans to provide the information in good time so that the democratic process of Parliament can be effective. There are many who have thought that we should wait and see in Europe before moving forward. However, the world is so dangerous that we cannot afford for long to wait and see. I 107 ask the Prime Minister to take with him in good measure the courage in his heart, as I am sure he will, and to set a lead for Europe and the world.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom Ellis (Wrexham)
I was glad to hear the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Loveridge) refer to economic and monetary policy, because I want briefly to deal with one aspect of that policy.
I accept that on the first day of 1973 Britain will enter the EEC. That might not appear to be a startling observation, but having listened to some speeches I think that it is well worth saying. I intend to direct my energies, such as they are worth, towards helping to achieve the EEC which I want to see. I was heartened to hear the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) when he spoke of the state of flux facing the Community and the opportunity which is presenting itself to us to have situations changed and moulded to our desires. My hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) made the point in a different way when he spoke about accepting the policies of successive British Governments with a certain scepticism.
The EEC is committed if words mean what they say and if communiqués reflect faithfully the intentions of those parties who issue communiqués, to monetary and economic union. I put "monetary" and "economic" in that order because the pressures which are developing in that direction have come largely from monetary affairs. For example, international financial developments in recent months have been unsettling and unnerving. I was glad to hear my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) speak so eloquently about the situation facing sterling. He supports largely what I have just said about the unnerving aspect of international finance. Pressures are coming from there, and it seems to me that there is an increasing awareness of the economic gains arising from greater certainty in commercial transactions across inter-Community national boundaries.
However, I saw in The Guardian today a report that a little cooling off seems to 108 be taking place in that one hears talk of a readiness for a little flexibility on the way to achieving fixed parities. The £, we were given to understand some months ago, had its deadline set at least for 1st January next. Now we hear from Brussels that there is talk of fixed but flexible rates for a period, with the flexibility being exercised if necessary at very frequent intervals. I suppose this reflects a sense of realism beginning to manifest itself. I welcome it because, as fervently as I would like to see not only monetary and economic union but full political integration—I may be in very much of a minority in that respect—I think it would be absurd to attempt to have fixed parities at one jump without a number of other important preconditions being agreed to. I want therefore to say something about what I consider to be the most important of them—regional development.
Last week I spoke to the headmaster of the village school in Merionethshire, where my parents-in-law reside. He told me that eight years ago when he became headmaster, there were 250 pupils on the register. This term he has 138. I suppose that if the trend of the past eight years continues for the next eight years, he will then have 70 pupils on the register. That is one illustration in Merionethshire. There are many others. For example, there is great controversy in parts of Wales about people purchasing holiday homes which are empty for a large part of the year, to the consequent disruption of the life of the village.
Our regional policies over the past years have failed. I know that some Governments perhaps have failed more miserably than others, but it is true to say that by and large we have not yet succeeded in having an effective and meaningful regional development policy in this country. This concern of mine with regional development might appear to many Britishers as an important and pragmatic concern, but to a Welshman, or at least to a Welsman like myself, it means a concern for my people, for my language, for my way of life, for my culture. It is a concern for a way of life which slowly but surely in present circumstances is being erased from the map of Wales.
I am not so concerned about my political sovereignty because I lost that in 1282 when Llewelyn the Last was killed, and 109 700 years has been long enough for me to get used to doing without political sovereignty. I dare say that the Irish, who regained political sovereignty 50 years ago have found their regional problems just as intractable with it. They, like Wales, have a high proportion of their national product coming from industries which are declining and without growth potential, and their problem, too, is to have resources transferred from those industries to industries of increasing productivity and also, of equal importance, into their economic infrastructure.
On the other hand, there are areas like West Germany where the economic situation is very different. I suppose it is possible to summarise and to say that, on the one hand, we have a predominantly cost-push type of inflationary situation and, on the other hand, a demand-pull type, all within the same uniform ambience of increasing expectations.
At present, of course, Governments attempt more or less successfully to control the respective inflationary tendencies of their countries by corrective policies for credit, taxation and exchange rates. Clearly, monetary integration, which will limit substantially the scope of a Government for discretionary corrective action, will tend to aggravate regional economic disparities within the Community unless substantial intra-Community capital transfers take place. These are the pressures, arising essentially from monetary influences, which it seems to me are setting the pattern for future developments in the Community. Thus, if a monetary union is established, the task of evening out the effects on growth and employment of the different propensities to inflation within the Community falls on capital transfers.
Genuine progress towards monetary integration requires a narrowing of the disparities in the various propensities to inflate of the individual countries and regions of countries. Viewed in this light, capital transfers are the best way towards monetary integration because, employed productively under a well-conceived policy for the Community as a whole, they will gradually redress the persistent structural imbalances which are at the root of the trouble. So one can claim that regional policy based on intra-Community capital transfers, and developed within the context of effective 110 overall economic and monetary planning at the Community level, emerges as the cornerstone of economic and monetary union.
I for one hope that the summit meeting will end with a clear-cut reiteration of a commitment not only to European economic and monetary union but also to the consequential requirements in planning and interventionism. Without rapid progress in this direction, I hold out no more hope for my Merioneth school than under our present arrangements.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ Dr. Alan Glyn (Windsor)
One of the first items of business for the House today was Mr. Speaker's announcement of the Royal Assent to the European Communities Act. As I see it, this is the final stage which Parliament and the country have to go through before the Act becomes effective, and I believe that the debate should not be a rehearsal of the old arguments for and against entry but a look towards the future, thinking how we want to play our part in Europe and how we as a nation can best use our influence to create a united and well defended Europe, a Europe which can also be of great assistance to the weaker nations.
I have not had the privilege of speaking in any of these debates before, and I state now my firm belief that when we came to the decision we had no real alternative but to joint the E.E.C. The pattern of trade throughout the world, our relations with the Commonwealth countries and their own developments had all made it virtually impossible for us to seek our markets in any part of the world except in Europe. I want to speak briefly on the question of how, when we enter Europe, we shall be able to help ourselves and our partners.
The Leader of the Opposition spoke of the possibility of renegotiation of the treaty. But we must surely all appreciate that after the next two years of this Parliament, during which Britain will be a member of the Community, it will be almost impossible to renegotiate the treaty, except as a member of the Community from the inside of that organisation. By then our Commonwealth partners will have reshaped their own trade; and altered the whole pattern of their trade. We can never go back to 111 where we started from originally. The only possibility is for us to use our influence within the European Community to make those changes that we believe to be right for our nation and right for Europe.
In the negotiations my right hon. Friends have achieved tremendous concessions already for our Commonwealth partners, but it is only right that at the forthcoming conference it should be made clear to our European partners that we still feel close ties with the Common. wealth and that those ties will remain, even though the pattern of trade may change as a result of our entry into the Community.
Sooner or later, the whole issue of the common agricultural policy will have to be considered. I make no apology for being pro-Europe, but that does not prevent my thinking that there are many things in Europe that we shall have to alter, and I am certain that our European partners will see the force of the arguments that we shall present for making those changes.
I divide the advantages of entering Europe into two—commercial and defence. All that need be said now about the commercial side is that Europe is where our trade lies and that this country has the ability and the know-how and strength to make a success of joining. We shall be able to show our European partners that we can compete and that as a nation we shall be able to do well and to raise the standard of living of our people.
Sterling has been mentioned by a number of Members. Its whole position as a reserve currency has completely altered since the war. With our entry into a larger community with greater fiscal and financial resources, sterling will be made more stable and even stronger.
I know that our finance houses will do well. London will probably remain the centre of world markets. We already have tremendous control. The other day I was looking at figures showing investments in France and I was surprised to find how high in the league we were for the amount of money invested in some of the larger companies. That is a little known fact. We now have the 112 ability to invest in a much larger market and that will bring a great benefit to our people.
What sort of Europe do we want? What are we looking for? It is a Europe able to offer us and our partners commercial strength, with an ability to increase the standard of living of all the nations within the Community while being a unit strong enough to pay for its own defence, which I believe to he fundamental.
Of course present arrangements are not perfect. I like many other hon. Members have considerable misgivings about the powers of the Commission. This is a subject which may well be developed at the forthcoming conference.
The Commission is a body of civil servants, and many people would regard it as having far too much control over European affairs. That is a view that I share. But there is no reason why we should not exercise our influence and advocate our view that it is the European Parliament that should have control not the Commission. I shall not go through all the arguments because we all know them and we are all aware of the powers of the Commission and the powers of the European Parliament. It is up to us to say that in this country we have a system which is democratic control by Parliament and that it has advantages.
I hope that one of the views that my right hon. Friend will press will be that the European Parliament should have more control over the affairs of Europe and that it should not all be left to the decisions of the civil servants with Parliament able to say only "Yea" or "Nay" to their decisions. There must be more democratic debate and decisions should be made by the European Parliament and not the Commission.
I, too, have been extraordinarily worried about the defence of Western Europe. I hope that when we enter the Community we shall slowly be able to bring France back into NATO. There are already signs of the movement in that direction, but I do not believe that we will achieve the change overnight. The wooing of France back to NATO may be a long process, but it is extremely important because, as the right hon. 113 Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) said, there is a real chance that America will not necessarily withdraw from Europe but will at least reduce its financial commitment to the defence of Europe. At that point we shall find it extremely difficult to pay for a replacement of Polaris or whatever weapon we shall then require.
I am convinced that it is the duty of Europe to take a greater share of the burden of defence. If America does not help, this country can no longer afford to continue the heavy burden of having a nuclear deterrent. If we are in Europe, there will be the funds available to pool resources to get a proper balance of conventional and nuclear forces.
We are going through a period of one of the greatest changes in the balance of power to have happened for a long time—recognition of China, the relationship between America, mainland China, and Japan. The balance of power between Russia and China has completely altered. That is another reason for our being part of a strong defence unit. Russia has always been worried about her 2,000-mile frontier, and it is by no means inconceivable that Russia might decide to destroy the atomic plant in Sinkiang, which is an odd sort of province in China but not exactly Chinese. Nevertheless, it would completely alter the balance of power in the Far East.
All these changes of power make me believe that it is essential that Europe has a credible defence properly equipped with a nuclear deterrent. Other possibilities include the uniting of China and Russia. Whatever happens and whatever way Japan goes, the changes in power are rapid and the only stability for us lies with our real allies in Western Europe and America.
I hope that both parties in the House will forget the past and will work together and will send to Europe the best parliamentary brains that we have. Let us show Europe that we have parliamentarians not only as good as but better than those of any other nation. We should he sending our best parliamentarians to enhance the reputation of Parliament here.
If we are to work together for a united and strong Europe, where defence is regarded as important, we must all work 114 to raise the standard of living for the people of our own country and for the people of our partner nations so that as a financially strong commercially well-placed and well-defended bloc, our country is able to use its influence not only to help the poorer nations, but as a great Power in the world, to bring peace and prosperity to the world for at least the next half-century if not for posterity.
§ 7.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Raphael Tuck (Watford)
I am sure that the hon. Member for Windsor (Dr. Glyn) will forgive me if I do not comment on what he said, for I disagree with him. He has advanced cogent arguments for entering the Common Market and I have strong arguments against doing so, but they have all been made in previous debates and I shall not go into them now.
I have risen to explain why in my view this summit is a non-starter, a non-event, for the United Kingdom. Some time ago I asked my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition to make it clear that, because the people of the United Kingdom had not been consulted, when the Labour Government returned to power he would regard this signing of the treaty as null and void. He has not gone as far as that but he has said that he will renegotiate the treaty entirely. The summit meeting, will, in my submission, be a non-event because the British people have not been consulted and their view has not been sought. I agree that—as has been pointed out in this House—a referendum is not part of our constitution, but neither is entry into the EEC It is a complete departure from our constitution and our very way of life. It is a unique and unprecedented step in the history of this country, and because it is such a departure from our way of life, the British people should have been given the opportunity to express their views.
In his pre-election speeches the Prime Minister said that his sole commitment wasto negotiate; no more, no less".I am sure he has not the face to say that to negotiate means to sign a firm contract which will be irrevocable. Similarly, he said that it would be unthinkable for the United Kingdom to join the Common Market unless its entry had the "full-hearted support " of the 115 British Parliament and people. Again, I do not think he would have the face to say that a majority of eight on Second Reading—or even 112 on 28th October in favour of the principle of entry—amounted to the full-hearted consent of Parliament, much less of the people who have not been consulted at all.
The Prime Minister has therefore betrayed the people of this country. May I remind him that he is following in the footsteps of one of his predecessors, Mr. Stanley Baldwin. In the mid-1930s the Abyssinian war was in progress and Mr. Baldwin and his Government wanted the Italians to win. The British people wanted the Abyssinians to triumph. He realised that the only way to appease the electorate was to put sanctions on Italy but he knew that if sanctions ran until the General Election in the autumn Italy would lose the war. He also knew that if he did not impose sanctions he would lose the General Election. He therefore imposed sanctions on Italy and advanced the date of the General Election. He went before the electorate saying that he had imposed sanctions, and on that he was re-elected. He then immediately removed the sanctions, and Italy won the war.
That was not the only time he told the electorate one thing and did another. I was upstairs in the gallery as a young man on one occasion when Mr. Churchill flayed Mr. Baldwin for this. He asked why Mr. Baldwin had told the electorate one thing and did something else. Mr. Baldwin rose and said blandly, "Well, if I had really told the electorate what I was going to do I would never have got into Parliament."
I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Secretary of State for Wales who is now on the Front Bench will tell the Prime Minister that if he had really told the electorate what he was going to do he would never have got into Parliament. I solemnly warn him that whether the General Election comes this year or next or after that, the people of the United Kingdom will not forgive his perfidy.
§ 7.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)
I fear only too much that there was an element of truth in what the hon. Member for 116 Watford (Mr. Raphael Tuck) has just said. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Dr. Glyn) on having made a most reasonable speech and on having kept the tone very low. It is perhaps as difficult to be generous in victory as it is to be generous in defeat. He said that when negotiations began with the Common Market there was nowhere else for us to turn for increased business. That is just the sort of remark which is often thrown in the air and which is latched on to by people.
I remind my hon. Friend that 11 years ago when this horror started I was rude to the then Prime Minister on this issue not because I enjoyed being rude to the leader of my party, not because I particularly enjoyed making a scene, but because I had been brought up in the Commonwealth. I was educated and reared in New Zealand and I knew how the Commonwealth worked and what Britain meant to the people out there. I could see that the moment we spoke about going into Europe every Commonwealth country perforce would have to consider its trading position and rush around looking for markets to replace those which might be lost if Britain joined the Common Market.
In those 11 years we succeeded beyond our dreams in Europe. We enjoyed enormous success in developing trade with the EFTA countries. There was enormous success and the world was open to us to trade wherever we wished, reaching trading agreements with whoever we liked. But we shall not now be able to do just what we like.
My hon. Friend the Member for Windsor must believe that the Common Market will work for us. Of course, he is right to appeal to hon. Members now that the dreadful day has come and is almost over to do everything they can to make the adventure into Europe as great a success as possible. I am sure that most hon. Members will respond to his appeal.
I do not often say much about my constituency. I do not try to introduce the subject into my speeches just because it is my constituency unless there is a definite point pertaining to it in the subject under discussion. But this evening I shall mention briefly the East Coast port of Yarmouth. We have had one or two shocks there recently in connection with 117 unemployment. There was a takeover bid for a large firm in Yarmouth some years ago. The firm was allowed to run down and has now been closed. The great master was ICI which controlled the company which took over the company in my constituency.
We now have another company in Yarmouth which has been taken over amid protestations of good faith. "None of the people who work at the factory will suffer any loss of any sort. Indeed we intend to increase our production if anything", it is said. I do not want to name names because it might be invidious. "Everything will be fine", it is said. I had a look at the company which had taken this company over. What do I find? It is the old story. It is simply a finance company which has precious little interest that I can see in the manufacture that goes on in the company that has been taken over.
Suppose that goes bust and we have more trouble and unemployment and suppose Yarmouth becomes an area which needs special help from the Government. I have already been to various Ministries about our difficulties. It is difficult to get help because we are not a special area. We cannot ask for special preference since during the year as a whole our unemployment has been lower than in many parts of the British Isles. But at least I have been able to go to Ministers and to talk with them knowing that I am talking to the people who have the power. When we finally sign on the dotted line and are in Europe, what do I then do? What assurance will I then have that when I go to a Minister in London I can feel confident that he will not have to go off somewhere, outside this country, to find out whether my town can be helped? I should be interested to know the answer to that. Throughout all the stages of the Bill there has been much discussion about regional assistance. How will it happen? What are the plans? What form will it take?
I should like to know as soon as possible. Perhaps this is one of the things about which the Prime Minister will be talking at the summit so that we will know more about it next week. So far we have had no real answer. I could see the point being made by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. 118 Paget). Unfortunately I was just coming into the Chamber, so I did not hear the whole of his argument. He was talking about a prices and incomes policy and how it would work in a European set-up. I earnestly hope that a voluntary prices and incomes policy can be agreed, although I have reservations, even if agreement is reached at Chequers, whether it will be supported by all trade unions. Suppose agreement is not reached and suppose the Government fall to the general call there will be in the Press to institute statutory control of prices and incomes. How will that fit into the pattern of Europe?
I have my views about what would have happened if we had been asked to join a Europe in which the nations had fixed prices and wages, which was not a free enterprise society at all. There would have been far more careful thought given to it. One thing is certain and it is that if there should be any talk of a statutory freeze of some sort we must know how it would affect our position with our European partners.
This is a sad day for Britain—it is a sad day for at least 14 million of our voters, which is a majority. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) admitted that there was no rush on the part of the British people to get into Europe. We have had a situation where, since the war, there has been a loosening of many things. I do not know whether the Liberal Party would dispute what I am saying. With all the havoc that has arisen through permissiveness and so on there has been one thing which has gone along with it, and it is that the more freedom people get the more they want. Young people have been demanding closer contact with those in positions of power and we have to start facing up to the fact that we have to treat the electorate as ordinary sensible, intelligent human beings.
We cannot go on brushing them off and looking down on them. We cannot say to people at an election, "We will do this, no more than this" and then flagrantly do what we said we would not do. We cannot do it and get away with it.
§ Mr. Fell
My hon. Friend was one of the few who can claim such a distinction. He must realise that other people put other things in their election addresses and also had the support of the people. One thing he cannot get round, unless words have ceased to have any meaning at all, is that the Prime Minister made a promise. Some people may say, "For heaven's sake why don't you stop talking about what the Prime Minister said?". The people will not forget it if I do. The simple fact is that he made this promise.
I have been trying hard to understand how the Prime Minister's mind works.— [Interruption]—I am being quite serious about this. I listened with the greatest attention to his speech on Saturday. During that profound and carefully thought-out speech he spoke about the greatness of Britain. It is good to hear a leader of the country, more importantly a Conservative Prime Minister, talking about the greatness of Britain. What he said—I am not quoting him—was that we cannot be great by sitting at home. He said that we have gained our greatness in the past by going abroad. However true that may be, we have not gained our greatness by sinking our personality in the personality of six other countries and allowing our hands to be tied in the process. Of course we have joined various defence treaties and up to a point given away sovereignty, for our defence, our very lives.
It is not and never has been true that we have attempted to join an organisation of this sort. It is extraordinary that the Prime Minister, with the deep thinking that went into that speech, should not have realised that such a statement could not be taken seriously from a man of such high intelligence. Surely it was clear to anyone who listened to those words that there was an alternative other than entering the Community. Surely it must have been clear during all the discussions on the Bill. There must have been times when my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy wanted very much to give way on some Amendment which would have been useful.
§ Mr. Fell
That makes it even worse. His hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor- 120 General, who played such an important part in these debates, must, I am sure, have known times when he wanted to give way on some of the brilliant Amendments tabled by hon. and right hon. Members. Never was such a thing apparently even contemplated. This has been the sad history of the House of Commons over the past year. It is no use some of my hon. Friends who are pro-Market laughing at what has happened. What they have to do is to laugh in the face of the British people, and that they dare not do.
Having got that off my chest, I repeat that in my view this is a day of mourning for the British people. However, I shall do what is in my small and humble power to help the process of Britain in Europe, now that we are about to begin.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Deakins (Walthamstow, West)
the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) has spoken as passionately as he always does on the Common Market issue, although this time he rightly introduced a constituency element which worried him. Many more hon. Members in the months and years to come during the, one hopes, fairly short period of Common Market membership by Great Britain will increasingly face problems in their constituencies directly resulting from membership of the Common Market on the present terms.
I was just a little disappointed in the hon. Gentleman, for whom I have a great respect on this issue, in that he appeared in closing to have given up the struggle. I can assure him and pro-Marketeers on both sides that although one stage of the struggle ends today a new and much more important stage is now beginning on a different level, a struggle to ensure that British interests are adequately represented in Europe and that we make no further concessions until there can be an alternative Government of this country which will resolve to put the issue once and for all to the British people for their final verdict.
We are concerned today with the summit meeting. The very idea of a summit meeting conjures up thoughts of a gathering of Olympian deities disposing of the fates of nations. I do not know whether the Prime Minister is a historian. I suspect that he is not, but if he is he may well have been thinking back to the 121 early days of the Congress system after the Napoleonic Wars, between 1814 and 1822, and perhaps thinking that the system that worked so well then might well be refurbished today in the form of constant Common Market summitry. But the Prime Minister, whatever his other virtues, is not an Olympian deity. Indeed, I think his only Olympian characteristic is his sublime disregard for the real problems which face the British people. The summit will not help in any way to resolve those problems, which are mainly economic but which are also social. The decisions taken there may well end up by exacerbating those problems.
For the Prime Minister attendance at the summit is not a matter of representing the British people, the British nation. It is really a matter now of party politics, because for the first time since the war we no longer have a bi-partisan foreign policy in one of the most important foreign policy areas of this country as an offshore island of the Continent of Europe. We have different party policies in our attitude to the Common Market.
While other leaders of the Common Market countries at the summit this week may well he able to claim, rightly or wrongly, to speak for their electorates, their parliaments and their nations, that is certainly not a claim that our Prime Minister will be able to make. I fear that he will carry much less weight at this summit than he should if he were to play the proper rôle of a representative of the British nation, because he goes there as Prime Minister of a nation completely divided on the issues which will be raised at the summit later this week. His weight will also be that much less as the Labour Opposition and many other people in Britain constantly reiterate their claim that the terms are not good enough and must be re-negotiated. The Prime Minister's presence at the summit will be somewhat insubstantial, lacking authority, rather like the ghost at Pompidou's banquet. It will be a sight that might well have frightened Macbeth, but I doubt whether the Prime Minister will carry much weight or influence with the other Common Market leaders that he will be meeting on equal terms.
Why cannot the Prime Minister speak for Britain and the British people later this week? There are a number of obvious reasons, and as they have not 122 been spelt out so far in this debate, except by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition at the beginning, I shall pause a moment to summarise them. The first is that the Labour Party, the one alternative Government of this country, is completely opposed to the terms of entry. That needs saying again and again until it is finally heard and understood in the Common Market countries. That includes the Commission. Further than that, we must make it perfectly clear that it is not only the Labour Party that is opposed, but the British people. A majority of the British people go much further than the Labour Party in their opposition, because a majority are opposed to entry on any terms. Their point of view carries no weight in any of our debates, and will play no part in the summit.
I realise that these considerations will count for nothing with the Prime Minister or those he will take with him. He is above all a technocrat. He would have made, and could still make, a very good Chairman of the Commission in Brussels. But, with the greatest of respect, I do not regard him as a good democrat. I believe that he is one of those people who think they know what is best for the country, and say, "To hell with those rather tiresome, bothersome democratic procedures", procedures that must be overcome before the technocrats can have their way. There is a certain unselfconscious arrogance in the man in claiming to speak for the British people at such an important international meeting, one of the most important that any British Prime Minister has attended this century.
It has been wisely said by a person much better informed and more elegant than I, "Le style, c'est l'homme". That applies to the Prime Minister. There is no misunderstanding him or his motives. They are plain to see. Any doubts about the weakness of his addiction to democracy and democratic procedures will have been dispelled by his conduct during the European Communities Bill earlier this year.
The second reason why the Prime Minister will not be able to speak for the British people or Parliament is that there is an item on the agenda, the subject of European—that is, West European —economic and military union, which 123 has never been debated in this Chamber and has never been publicly debated or put to the British people in an election or in any other way. It is an issue which has been kept in the background. The Prime Minister will not be able to claim that on this agenda item, which I understand he wholeheartedly supports and approves, he has the whole hearted consent of the British people or Parliament, since neither has discussed it. Therefore, if he seeks, as he will be seeking at the Common Market summit later this week, to commit the British people and nation to acceptance of the basic principles of West European economic and monetary union, he will not be speaking for all of us or the whole of the British people, certainly not for the alternative Government, Her Majesty's Opposition.
Does the Prime Minister realise exactly what economic and monetary union involve? His contretemps earlier this year in the little matter of fixed exchange rates suggests that he does not know what he is letting himself in for. The fact that his earlier Common Market agreement was broken so quickly could provide a useful precedent for a future Government.
However, I think there is method in the Prime Minister's madness. He wants a federal Western Europe, and he, like many undeclared federalists in this House, wants economic and monetary union, because that would put the seal on the process—it would be a vital stage towards achieving that federal Western Europe which he and many other right hon. and hon. Members wish to see. An undeclared federalist, without the courage of his convictions, afraid to have the issue openly debated in this Chamber and before the British people, is not a very good example. Yet one can sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman, because if the issue of economic and monetary union were explained to the British people, if the real, basic issue of federalism in Western Europe were explained to them, how much more violent would be their anger, resentment and rejection of the Government's attitude on this issue! Yet the Prime Minister will go to Paris later this week and sign on the dotted line, trying to commit the British people and nation in favour of a vital step on the way to a federal Western Europe.
124 The Labour Party, fortunately, has looked at some of the consequences, though not yet all, that would flow from an economic and monetary union. We have looked at the idea of permanently fixed exchange rates, and we have rejected them. We have looked at the idea of harmonisation of indirect taxation, which is inevitable in an economic and monetary union, not to mention ultimate harmonisation of direct taxation, company taxation and so on, and we have rejected these ideas as well. But there are many more features of economic and monetary union which are totally repugnant to the Labour movement of this country and the British people. Let there be no doubt that the Labour Party and the Labour movement, and, I suspect, a majority of the British people, will not be behind the Prime Minister when he agrees to economic and monetary union later this week.
An earlier speaker in the debate—I think the Foreign Secretary—mentioned that my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1966 or 1967 had approved the idea of West European monetary co-operation. But that is not the argument. My right hon. Friend favoured, as I suspect most of us in this Chamber do, the closest possible co-operation in monetary matters with those countries with whom we have interests in common. There is a great difference, and it is not just a semantic difference, between co-operation and integration. The project of West European economic and monetary union is not a project of economic and monetary co-operation; it is a project of economic and monetary integration. I sometimes wish that some of my right hon. and hon. Friends who are pro-Market would also appreciate this distinction, because it puts into perspective the argument we heard from my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) about internationalism.
The alternatives are not to accept integration with Western Europe or to be isolationists. They are to accept integration or to deny integration and have close co-operation. Internationalism can mean either, and the sooner that is appreciated the better. The fact that most people in the Labour movement 125 reject international integration does not mean that they reject international co-operation.
If the Prime Minister were really concerned with British interests at the summit this week there would have been a rather different agenda. We know from Press reports that he made very little attempt, other than on the issue of regional policy, to have any major changes made in the agenda. First, there should have been no mention of economic and monetary union. That issue should have been swept to one side, because it he is successful in promoting that idea and if, which I think is unlikely, he stays in power long enough to see it to successful fruition, he will do more than anything else could do to cripple the British economy and the powers of the British Parliament and people over it. His efforts in that respect would be even more successful in crippling our economy than the Industrial Relations Act, the European Communities Act and other inflationary measures that we have adopted.
An item that should be on the summit agenda, but is not, is the re-negotiation of some of the onerous terms that were forced on us during the abortive negotiations. I regard them as abortive, because they really amounted to a surrender all along the line. I should like to see a re-negotiation particularly of those terms which will cause increasing inflationary pressures in the British economy. That is an argument that should appeal very much to a Prime Minister, Cabinet and Government who regard inflation as the most important economic problem facing the nation.
There are two inflationary items which need to be dealt with. First of all, the balance of payments burden, which I will not attempt to value, but, obviously, it will be that much worse as a result of hidden devaluation of the £ or the floating exchange rate, and that will pose for a future Government of this country the problem of how to cope with the consequences of a balance of payments crisis. I suspect that the argument of this Government and possibly of another Government would be that we must have an export led boom to get over the balance of payments burden, but an export led boom must inevitably increase the 126 inflationary pressures on the economy, which goes against all that the Prime Minister is urging on the nation at the present time.
The second item in the inflationary package negotiated in Brussels earlier this year concerns the cost of living. We have debated this a good deal—food prices going up, value added tax, and so on, and the ultimate harmonisation of value added tax. So in spite of what promarketeers say it will ultimately have to apply to food, rents, home ownership, fares and so on when we are brought into line with other Common Market countries. Will this not lead to demands for higher wages and pensions and social security benefits—to justified demands? And if they are met, as they will have to be, does this not increase further the inflationary pressures on the economy?
The summit decisions taken in negotiations earlier this year have imposed and continue to impose great burdens on the British people. Some of us would say that those burdens can never be resolved in terms of the Common Market. Britain socially, economically and politically will be so worsened by Market membership that only withdrawal, the British people's consent to that course of action having first been obtained, will enable us to resolve them.
I should point out that withdrawal will not leave us friendless, isolated, alone to face a hostile world, because we shall still have an industrial free trade area with the enlarged Common Market and the EFTA countries which are not joining, and we shall, therefore, be able to enjoy the economic advantages for which we are paying such a heavy and exorbitant price in terms of economic strength and loss of sovereignty.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Geoffrey Rippon)
I am very interested in this point. Does the hon. Member say—how does he think—that if we renegotiate we shall get an industrial free trade area of that kind and that is all?
§ Mr. Deakins
I am grateful for that interruption because I want to emphasise that in this part of my speech I am speaking out as an anti-Marketeer against entry on any terms. I have dealt with the issue of renegotiation of the terms which need to be renegotiated. I am saying that if we 127 withdraw and stop our payments to the Community Fund I do not think the Community or we will want to be the first to re-erect, against the rules of GATT, incidentally, tariff barriers which have previously been brought down. I think we should end up with the sort of solution Sweden has and Norway is most likely to get.
The best and immediate way to tackle the problem in advance of the summit is for us to get rid of the Prime Minister, so determined to carry out his Market policy without regard to the real needs and interests of the British people. I think his policies at this summit will be in direct conflict with the policies he has been urging on us for domestic consumption. He will be speaking with one voice in Paris and another voice to the British people. He will be accepting inflationary propositions in Paris while he will be telling us when he gets back that we must combat inflation. I do not think anyone, even someone as adroit as the Prime Minister, will be able successfully, in this era of mass communications, to get away with saying two different things to two different audiences. What he should do is to use the summit to start the process of renegotiation which, if it does not start now, will inevitably have to start when we have an alternative Government.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Cecil Parkinson (Enfield, West)
I apologise to the House for missing some of the speeches although I have been present during most of the debate. I shall not very closely follow the hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins). All I would say, having sat in on most of the debates throughout the various stages of the European Communities Bill, is that I have the distinct feeling that I have heard a great deal of his speech before. He always contrives to sound very forceful and interesting, but basically the message is always the same. It is one of despair; it is one of negation with not anything positive about it. If I may give him some advice, I suggest that he stops making it for he is not doing his parliamentary reputation any good now, and further repetition will wear away what remains of that fragile stone.
I listened with interest to him, with great authority, once again, 128 proclaiming that the terms are totally unacceptable. I could not help thinking of other people in his party for whom I have possibly even higher regard, such as the former Shadow Chancellor, the right hon. Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever), the former Market negotiator, the former Foreign Secretary, the whole of the former Treasury team, at the time of the Second Reading of the Bill, all of them finding the terms acceptable, all of them in favour, most of them prepared to stand up and say so, most of them, as a result, relegated to the back benches. I know that they are still regarded in the minds of most as people whose economic views are perhaps of greater value than those of the knee in the groin politician who now occupies the post of Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer.
I had the rather tough job of following him around Germany last year and trying to explain to audiences to which he had been speaking a year before what had happened to him. He had been going round Germany as the most convinced European who ever existed, making speeches such that his audiences were fired with enthusiasm. I was told over and over again what a fine speaker he was, what a wonderful man he was, what conviction he carried. Then I was asked what had happened. What had happened to his convictions? What went wrong? What suddenly happened to this man who was a convinced European only a little time ago, and was now, for various reasons desperately trying to maintain that he never was in favour, or making rather poor arguments about the terms, trying to imply that he had been against on principle all along?
All I can say is this, as I have listened over and over again to this argument for renegotiation, that the Labour Party should ask itself who is to do the renegotiating. All of its Front Bench team at present are almost totally discredited in Europe, and the idea that any one of them, such as the Shadow Chancellor, will now renegotiate is laughable to anybody who crosses the Channel and talks to people to whom he was making speeches not so long ago. The same is true of the present Leader of the Opposition as well as many of his Front Bench colleagues. The idea that Europe is waiting with open arms to renegotiate 129 with that group of idealistic people all of whom have totally changed their attitude, totally changed their stance, and have tried to muscle in on the block vote bandwaggon, people who have abandoned their principles—the idea that Europe is waiting to talk and renegotiate with them is enough to make anybody of common sense laugh.
As I listened to the Leader of the Opposition giving us a little lecture on democracy I could not help remembering an article I read, and I went to the Library to get a copy of it. It is a leader in the New York Times, which described the Labour Party Conference, and I hope the House will bear with me for a moment if I quote a little bit from it:When the British Labour Party is out of power its annual conference—probably the most undemocratic assembly of its kind in the West—often becomes an emotional outburst of unreality and irresponsibility. It is useful to keep this thought in mind in scanning the havoc wrought at Blackpool this week by a bizarre combination of union bosses, fellow-travellers, Little Englanders, Commonwealth firsters and sordid opportunists.I think that sentence is slightly overdone—but only slightly—because there were many people at the Conference from the constituencies who did not fall into any of those brackets. This is not a Conservative politician making a party political speech about the Labour Party; this is the New York Times commenting in a leader, on its views of the Opposition. One may not agree with it, but this is much more the way in which the world is looking at and talking about the Labour Party.
The idea which the Leader of the Opposition appears to have acquired from somewhere that he is still regarded as a statesman from whom the world is waiting to hear and to renegotiate with is not the way in which the rest of the world sees him. The sooner he gets rid of the idea that the big block vote cast in his favour is the equivalent of commendation from the public the better.
One of my problems as I travelled round Europe was trying to explain the situation to people who might read in their newspapers that 5 million people in the Labour Party were against the Common Market as a result of a vote at the Labour Party conference and the next week might read that only 3,000 or 130 4,000 Conservatives were in favour of it. I had the difficult problem of explaining that we in the Conservative Party are a democratic party, that we believe in one man, one vote and that whether one gives £10,000 or 10p to the Conservative Party if one is sent as a delegate to the Conservative Party Conference—and only if—one casts only one vote. I had to explain that the Socialist Party—the party which has given us nauseating lecture after nauseating lecture about its belief in democracy—is the party in which money buys votes. The bigger one's contribution, the bigger one's vote at the conference. Nothing is passed unless Mr. Scanlon and Mr. Jones agree.
I speak as someone who, when a young man, was a member of the Labour Party—[HON. MEMBERS: " Oh."] Yes, I was a member of the Young Socialists for a short time. But one cannot go on talking about democracy day in and day out and use the power of the block vote to produce the answer one wants on the basis of a late night whisky with the leader of one's party in his suite at the conference hotel, without sickening the listener.
§ Mr. Nigel Spearing (Acton)
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that the gentlemen he has named who are secretaries of big unions alone decide in which way a vote should be cast? Is he not aware that each of these unions has a conference to which each branch sends a delegation and many issues, if not all issues, are discussed at the conference? The delegations meet at intervals throughout the time of the conference. Is the hon. Gentleman aware of those facts?
§ Mr. Parkinson
I am aware of them. I am also aware of the facts to which I listened during the various discussions on the Industrial Relations Act. A very eloquent spokesman for the National Union of Seamen told us that when elections are held in his union, although the lists are kept open for six months because in that time every member of the union has the chance to come back to this country and vote, there is a vote of under 3 per cent. of the total electorate. One can imagine how many attend the conference about which the hon. Gentleman has just spoken. I do not 131 claim to speak for the whole of my constituency, but if Mr. Jones claims to speak for the whole of his union he is not only a dangerous man; he is a knave as well.
I have listened with great interest to the debates on this issue. I have very strong views about it. I do not see Europe as a threat; I see it as an opportunity. I see our chance to join Europe as a chance to play a part in an ever more dangerous world. I see it as a chance for us to create greater economic security for the British people. I see it as a chance to play a part in creating a safer world.
I am sick and tired of the infighting which has gone on in the House and of the Labour Party, knowing that a very substantial number of its members are in favour of joining the Common Market, trying to find procedural means of stopping them expressing their opinion, telling them that they are not voting about the Common Market but sustaining the Conservative Government. It has used every possible means to stop them expressing their views about the issue. The country is getting sick of the Labour Party's wheelings and dealings. I am not pleased that the country is not enthusiastically in favour of the Common Market. But do not let the Labour Party think that the country is impressed by its manoeuvrings. Do not let it think that because it is side tracking most of the moderate and sensible people who are electorally much more of a threat than most of the people promoted in their places, it is doing itself any good.
The sooner the Labour Party starts to think of Europe as a great design, as a great opportunity, as a force for good in the world, as a continent made up of countries able to combine together to use its great economic power, its great diplomatic expertise, its worldwide connections for good in the world. The sooner it ceases to use Europe as a means of putting something on the Order Paper which will make its Europeans wriggle and further discredit themselves, the sooner that party will start to play a rôle in creating that which I want to join Europe for—a more prosperous, more secure and more humane Britain. Europe offers great opportunities for us to play a rôle for good, and I hope that the Labour Party, even at this late stage, will 132 stop using it as an opportunity for party manoeuvring and will start to see it as something worthwhile, inspiring and noble.
§ 8.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael English (Nottingham, West)
Converts, it is said, are usually more Catholic than the Pope. That is the only comment I need to make on the speech of the hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Parkinson).
I wish now to refer to the speech of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins). I propose to go on to matters of greater importance later. I was slightly surprised by his speech. One incident which followed it was illustrative of a great deal. Immediately after the right hon. Member had made it, he walked out of the Chamber without following the usual courtesy of remaining while the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) made his speech. There are sometimes good reasons for breaking that courtesy, which is why it is a courtesy and not a rule. But it is usual to explain that one has a reason or possibly—since it was obvious who would speak next—to pass a note privately to that Member. I understand that neither was done.
That illustrated a great deal. Because it concerned someone who had been in the Oxford Union, I cannot think that it was ignorance of the courtesies of the House. It illustrates the sort of attitude—which is objected to in this party—adopted by less moderate members of the same faction, such as the former Member for Lincoln, Mr. Taverne. It is an attitude which, whether or not actually arrogant, certainly appears to be arrogant in regard to this House. Outside the House people have come to take the view that many Members who favour British entry to the Common Market are taking an arrogant attitude towards the electorate. This is the danger in the electorate's view of Parliament.
The speech of the right hon. Member for Stechford had its usual technical brilliance. I do not think the same of its content. He said—and I think that I have some claim to speak on this point—that the Labour Party should participate in the institutions of the Community. It is rash to say that one first thought of any idea. I will merely point out that 133 as far back as July I put to the appropriate members of my Front Bench the thought that the Labour Party should not participate in the European Assembly. The idea seems to have grown a little since then. It has been taken up a little.
It is up to the Parliamentary Labour Party to decide. I do not know whether the Labour Party will eventually decide to participate in the European Assembly. However, I must take up the argument of the right hon. Member for Stechford that we should. He said that, if we did, the Socialist Party would be the biggest party in the European Assembly. I have seen this statement in various newspapers lately. It is a rather specious statement. It ignores the figures.
I will explain what the figures are. In April of this year, there were in the European Assembly 50 Christian Democrats, 37 Socialists, 22 Liberals and their allies—the Liberals in Europe are usually to the right of their compatriots here—19 Gaullists—they can surely not be regarded as to the left of anybody—and 11 others, and "others" in this case includes the Italian Communists.
Therefore, as I work it out, assuming that all the 11 others were to the left of the Socialist Party, the left would have 48 members and the right wing parties—Liberals, Christian Democrats and Gaul-lists would have 91—an interesting combination. Adding almost equal numbers of Conservative and Labour Members to both sides would do nothing.
The proposal I originally put forward to my Front Bench was not a stupid one, in the sense that I regard it as stupid simply to say that one should walk out. This is like a kid having had its toy taken away and crying. I am not suggesting that the Labour Party should walk out. I was making a much more positive proposal. The proposal I made was that the European Assembly delegation should represent entirely the governing party in the State, and that at present happens to be the Conservative Party, the only one which is wholly in favour of entering Europe on these terms. It also at a future time might well be the Labour Party.
What is even more important, as many hon. Members—the majority—wish to be good Europeans, it is exactly the practice which the French adopt. The French 134 make their entire delegation consist at present of Gaullists. Not even the right hon. Member for Stechford could conceivably deny that the French have great influence in Europe and are possibly the most influential single power in Europe. This is one of the reasons why they are.
When the right hon. Member for Stechford says that the Labour Party should participate in the European Assembly he is really saying that there should be a Conservative minority amongst the delegation when there is a Labour Government. I would wish him to explain that, because it assumes that a European Assembly delegation is like a Select Committee of the House. A Select Committee represents the House as a whole, but there is no constitutional practice that says that our delegations abroad to international institutions should consist of members of the minority party. As far as I know, for example, a delegation to the United Nations often includes Members of Parliament, but they are always drawn from the governing party.
Further, the principle for which I am arguing has already been conceded by the Government, because the Government have appointed not one but two Commissioners. The fact that one of them happens technically to belong to the Labour Party is not the point I am arguing about. The point I am arguing about is known as the Gaitskell rule. In Macmillan's day Hugh Gaitskell was asked whether he would like to be consulted with regard to the appointment of some Labour Life Peers. Hugh Gaitskell said, "No", for a very simple reason. He said, "If you want to tell me that I can appoint a certain number of Labour Peers, I will. If you want to appoint Labour Peers, you may, but please do not consult me. If you are doing the appointing, you do it. If I am doing the appointing, I will do it." This rule has always been adhered to since. If the Government of the day wish to allot to the Opposition a certain proportion of the membership of, let us say, a Select Committee, they say to the Opposition. "You can have so many places" and the Opposition themselves determine the membership of those places.
This was not done in this case. The right hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. George Thomson) was appointed by the Conservative Government with, as far as 135 I am aware, no consultation of, and certainly not by the Opposition Front Bench.
The more important point that I want to turn to is that of the whole attitude that the European Communities Act and the manner of its passage and its results have engendered in the country. I thought that the Government, after they had pushed the Act through, could have felt that they were able to relax and to be a little more democratic than they had been. I am sorry that they do not believe this. On the one hand, they argue that the European institutions are like a Select Committee and we should have bipartisan membership. On the other hand, they argue, as the Prime Minister did in answer to Questions this afternoon, "This summit meeting is an ordinary international meeting and it has never been customary to reveal our proposals beforehand."
The Government cannot have it both ways. They must choose. Either we are not in any sort of international institution which is different from any other sort of foreign policy body, or we are. The passion that has been aroused by members of the pro-European lobby says that we are in a different sort of thing and that it will open up a new world in Western Europe. If that is so, please apply the same principles all the time and be consistent. Consistency in this case says. not that we should have, as I understand from one hon. Member on this side, a summit that meets in private with proposals unknown to anyone outside beforehand and which lays down a legislative programme like a Queen's Speech for the next two years. I believe that that was the suggestion. How would it lay it down—not in a democratic way, but in an authoritarian way.
If we were to be truly democratic, it would have been possible to say, "These are the British proposals. We know that we shall have to negotiate upon them, but these are what they are. Let the country as a whole and the House of Commons discuss them".
The right hon. Member for Stechford said that this debate was pointless and should not have taken place. Of course the debate should have taken place, though it could have had something a little more substantial to discuss if the 136 Government's proposals for a summit meeting had been placed before it as a White Paper. If there is any fault in the nature of the debate, it is not that the debate is being held but that it could have been a meatier debate had there been proposals before it which could have been argued about. The fault for that lies fairly and squarely upon the Prime Minister, who likes to conduct these things in private without the awkward, nasty interference of the House of Commons.
I accept, as the right hon. Member for Stechford said, that there is a tremendous need, a need which is recognised by many people in Europe, for greater democracy in the Common Market. This is not apparently on the Prime Minister's agenda. Indeed, it was only the third item on the agenda of the right hon. Member for Stechford, and even he said that by "democracy" he did not mean anything on the lines of an elected assembly, though that is one thing which democracy is commonly held to include.
Something deeper than this has to be considered. The present attitude is only illustrative of what has happened in the past. On this point I very much agreed with something that was said by the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten). He mentioned it in respect of his own party but raised an argument about morality. It is morality and respect for our democratic processes which I believe have been endangered by the whole way in which this Act has been passed.
On all sides we hear about people who say that they no longer believe in upholding the law. We know of them in Northern Ireland on both sides, Catholic and Protestant. We know of them, as we often hear from Conservative members, in the trade unions. We also know of them in the shape of people who wish to evade regulations in regard to exports to Rhodesia. In companies, in trade unions and in the population as a whole there is a growing disrespect for the law and for democracy. The situation is not helped if either party in the State goes to the electorate and says merely, as both parties did at the last election, that it wishes to negotiate British entry into the Community and the leader of one even says we all know that the present Prime Minister said at that time that he would 137 not wish to go into the Community without having the full-hearted consent of the British Parliament and people—and then does just the opposite. We know that it was not the full-hearted consent of Parliament, and it was certainly not the full-hearted consent of the British people. We know, as indeed the right hon. Member for Stechford admitted, that the overwhelming majority of the public as a whole were opposed to British entry at the time the Bill was going through the House and that they did not have a chance to decide for themselves.
This is what the argument is all about. It is no good saying to the public, "We have not used a referendum before, so we shall not do so in the future." Nor is it any good saying to the public that they are less to be trusted as an electorate than somebody in the bogs of Ireland; and indeed that they are less to be trusted as an electorate than the Danes or Norwegians, or even than the French. All those people have been consulted, whereas our people have not.
The people have not been consulted in the normal way either. They have not been consulted by being confronted by two parties in the State at a general election, one party saying, "We are in favour of British entry" and the other saying "We are not in favour". The public have been consulted in no way at all.
For this reason the actions of the right hon. Member for Stechford illustrate an attitude which tends to be called elitism. A less polite word for it is perhaps arrogance. It is the arrogance of those who say, "What we decide here totally represents democracy", when every person in this Chamber knows that on this issue we do not represent the majority of the country.
There are people who hold passionate views on the Common Market. There is a minority of Conservative Members who can at least claim that they represent the majority of the people in the country, even if they do not represent the majority of those attending their own party conference.
There are some people on this side of the House who take the minority view, and I do not know who they claim to represent. They cannot claim to represent either the Labour Party or the people. What worries me is that if in 138 this House we do not truly represent the people of this country, then in the end we have no title to claim that the law should be obeyed by those people who have never had a chance to be consulted about what it should be.
§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Mr. James Molyneaux (Antrim, South)
A little earlier today my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley), tried to obtain from the Ministry of Agriculture assurances that pig producers in Northern Ireland would be protected from the hardships that they would experience following entry into the EEC. I strongly support that plea. Surely it is not unreasonable to ask for certain safeguards in the form of a lengthy transitional period, at least until recent heavy capital expenditure has been recouped. Already the adjustments in preparation for entry have had a detrimental effect on the pig industry, but the impact on egg producers has been well nigh disastrous.
It is fair to say that all egg producers in Northern Ireland are suffering a substantial loss on every dozen eggs produced. Their capital costs have been as great as, and in some cases much greater than, those in other branches of agriculture. The cost of their feedingstuffs has risen. Under the Common Market quota system they will be unable to shop around for cheap feedingstuffs and grains, and therefore they can see no way out of their difficulties. Many are on the verge of bankruptcy, and I know many farmers who have had to sell off land to pay off their debts. They are without hope and they see no way out of their troubles. They are certain of one thing only, and that is that their position will worsen. I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will try to do something to help both these categories.
My hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) dealt earlier with the question of a referendum. I hope the House will forgive me if I, as a Northern Ireland Member, sound a little cynical on this topic. We in Ulster have discovered that on this subject promise and fulfilment are two completely different things. One suspects that there are many in the House who support the idea only when the probable result is to their liking.
139 I turn briefly to another aspect of entry which bewilders me and that is the serenity with which many hon. Members on both sides of the House face the prospect, and indeed the certainty, of the erosion of their own rights and powers. A year ago in this House there was a test of opinion of sorts in Parliament.
We could understand at that time the enthusiasm, even if we did not entirely share it, for what was regarded as a great adventure—enthusiasm which overcame certain niggling doubts about the wisdom of transforming this House into a subordinate assembly. But one year later there can be no such excuse, because today in this House, during the statement on Northern Ireland, we have had a tragic reminder of what can happen to a subordinate body when its betters do not understand and maybe do not care what peculiar difficulties it faces and how delicate balances can be upset by well-meaning but blundering outsiders, with disastrous results.
I wonder whether hon. Members have ever considered what would happen in England if at some future time a Commission in Brussels or elsewhere were to take the liberty of advising on how we should cope with an influx of residents from some part of the Commonwealth? What would be the effect of, say, a long-range report on the housing conditions of immigrants? Would that be followed by advice to the effect that certain councils might have to be wound up? And would it stop there? Might not we have teams of investigators setting about to convince certain members of the Community that they were under-privileged? It would then be a short step to disturbances, and no doubt they would be inspired by the example of what has happened in Northern Ireland, where, unfortunately, it has been shown that violence and force do bring their rewards.
It would be far-fetched to suggest that even the Council of Europe could try to suspend Westminster. I imagine, with respect, that the March initiative has cured even the most adventurous politicians of any hankering for direct rule all over the world, but it is not farfetched to suggest that certain pressures will be applied to prevent this Parliament doing what it believes to be right in the 140 interests of the people it represents, and even at this very late stage I beg the Government and my fellow Members to consider very carefully what it is they are on the verge of throwing away.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Meacher (Oldham, West)
I want to return to the issue first raised in the debate by my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson)—the issue of regional policy, which will certainly form the central feature of the coming summit. Although everyone recognises that the theme of economic and monetary union will certainly dominate the summit, there can be very little disagreement that such a prospect is utterly unpalatable unless there is full acceptance of another item on the agenda, namely, the construction of an effective industrial regional policy for the Community, for once economic and monetary union has precluded the possibility of nation-wide regional devaluations, reasonable equilibrium in the face of the concentrating pressures of the Market can come only through very strong and wide-ranging counter-pulls deliberately constructed in favour of the old industrial areas, and it is not too much to say that the success of the summit, for Britain at least, hinges on the negotiation of an industrial regional policy strong enough to provide solutions to any severe imbalances for which previously devaluation was considered to be the most appropriate course of action.
This immediately raises three issues. The first is the balance which will be sought in the Community budget between the agricultural and the industrial sectors. The second concerns the overall size of the industrial fund that will be allocated towards regional stabilisation. The third concerns the instruments which will be adopted for carrying out the policy and what degree of flexibility they will have.
On the question of the relationship between the agricultural and industrial parts of the Community budget, it is at last now almost everywhere admitted that the balance is heavily lopsided in a way which would at present work heavily to Britain's disadvantage. Of a total budget of one and two-thirds billion, no less than 80 per cent. goes to sheer price support and only about 1 per cent. goes towards Euratom, for example, while the amount 141 spent in the European social fund to retrain Community workers is actually only one-hundredth of 1 per cent. The balance within the agricultural fund between the sheer price support and the guidance section which is concerned with promoting structural improvement is also heavily weighted to the disadvantage of the latter.
It is obviously crucial, therefore, that at the summit Britain should insist on at least as much emphasis being placed on a full-scale industrial regional policy as France has for so long insisted on being placed on a basically untenable and unacceptable CAP. The very minimum requirement must be that Community expenditure swings heavily away from direct support for agriculture and towards promoting industrial development in just those areas where the proportion of the population employed on the land is very high. The Community proposed in October last year that £100 million should go towards subsidies over the next five years to assist employers at the rate of £600 for every job created for a farmer or one of his children. This may be a step in the right direction, but I suggest that is ridiculously small if a decisive change is intended.
This leads to the second question, which is the most important of all, about the total fund to be made available for industrial regional purposes and it is here that the Government are caught in a dilemma: either the extent of regional aid is maintained at the level proposed by the recent Industry Act—which, on all the evidence, remains quite unacceptable to the Commission—or a much more modest programme of regional aid is agreed, in which case, even if the total for industrial purposes were considerably raised above the present levels within the Community, the prospect for Britain would still be a considerable move towards regional inequality and a faster run-down of the older depressed areas.
There is not yet agreement on whether a joint policy for regional programmes will replace or complement national policies. Undoubtedly, a complementary joint policy would be to Britain's interest. But the signs are not good. The German Government's intervention regarding the Industry Bill in May, the Brussels limitation in April of Italian Government 142 credits to small and medium-size firms to one year, and the Commission's rejection of the Belgian Economic Expansion Act all point, obviously, in precisely the opposite direction.
Indeed, since the Community has so far shown itself far more concerned with preventing the spiralling cost of competition to attract foreign investment than with pumping adequate resources into the poorer areas, it is all too likely that national policies will be forcibly harmonised, and for Britain that will mean difficulties.
§ Mr. Deakins
Is there not a further danger—my hon. Friend may be coming to this—that if there were to be an industrial regional policy in the enlarged Community, it would be financed separately from the present Community budget and new sources of finance would have to be found for it? In such circumstances, is it not at least arguable that Britain would put in precisely as much as it got out of it, and there would, therefore, be no net benefit for Britain from such an industrial regional policy financed separately?
§ Mr. Meacher
I am grateful for that intervention. I was trying to make the point that, unless one has a large swing away within the existing Community budget from sheer farm price support to industrial purposes, any alternative system providing for industrial regional aid will not prove to be of any net advantage for Britain.
This is extremely serious for Britain because the recent Industry Act, which is certainly more generous than the equivalent Community policies, is itself likely to prove unequal to the task of reducing regional disparities, and regional policy in Britain over the last 10 years, as in France and Belgium, has failed to narrow the gap, particularly, between the richer and the poorer regions, despite enormous increases in aid.
In Britain, preferential Government assistance to the development areas stood roughly at £25 million a year in the first half of the 1960s. In the second half, by 1970, it had risen eightfold, to £300 million a year, a level to which, I am glad to say, the Industry Act is now returning. Yet the excess of unemployment in the depressed areas, despite that 143 bonanza, is just as great as, if not greater than, it was at the start 10 years ago. In the Northern region and in Scotland, the regions with the highest unemployment, preferential aid 10 years ago stood at £10 million a year. It is now £120 million. Yet the unemployment differential is just as high as ever it was.
What this means is that, if the level of regional aid in Britain is cut, even the very modest success of the last decade in preventing a worsening of the unemployment differential will be sacrificed.
Is there any realistic possibility of obtaining anything approaching that level of aid, when the Foreign Secretary in this debate emphasises that the CAP is non-negotiable, and the so-called peripheral regions are unlikely to be defined much beyond the Italian Mazzogiorno and west and south-west France, and possibly the German frontier zone?
The third issue raised by a regional policy strong enough to compensate for the loss of the devaluation option concerns the instruments for carrying it out. In its 1969 memorandum on regional policy, the Commission recommended that a standing regional development committee be set up to examine regional policy forecasts and programmes. If implemented, such a body should, it seems to me, not merely ensure that two depressed regions with broadly similar problems in two countries receive much the same level of assistance but should, rather, give the necessary flexibility of action to ensure that the unique local problems of particular countries may be met. Yet again the signs are not good. The regional employment premium, which will surely remain as an essential component in any regional aid package in Britain, is disapproved of by the Commission, not because it is inherently unfair but because its total net value cannot be properly quantified. That is typically superimposing a bureaucratic standardisation upon sensitivity towards national and local needs.
The central issue is money and the level of regional aid which will be put towards an industrial policy of devaluation is to be effectively blocked, as it will be, by economic and monetary union. Then a regional aid programme will be required that is several times more am- 144 bitious than the recently-passed Industry Act. If the accelerated concentration of capital investment is to be fully countered if the summit does not yield the outlines of such a programme, then it will be the height of irresponsibility for the Government to bow to further French pressure towards economic and monetary union.
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Selwyn Gummer (Lewisham, West)
I am sorry that we have had in many parts of the debate a repeat of the debates which went on before the historic decision which culminated today in the announcement of the Royal Assent. However, it is inevitable because we have a situation in which, instead of facing the issue head on, large sections of the Opposition have wished to continue the agony of arguing about the future and, sadly, of opting out of their opportunity to change Europe.
Many of the views which were made by the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) will be shared by many who are enthusiastic supporters of our entry into the EEC. It would be wrong to allow the hon. Member for Waltham-stow, West (Mr. Deakins) to get away with the easy definition of internationalism as meaning co-operation and not integration. The hon. Gentleman means that he will accept internationalism as long as it does not make any demands on him, as long as he does not have to do anything about it, as long as he does not have to change the world and to make it more internationally minded. He is quite happy to go on addressing his United Nations Association branch about internationalism but once it means actually changing the world, then the hon. Gentleman will not have it.
However, we on this side of the House, and many people who have not been able to put this forward as clearly as they would like because of the pressures placed upon them, would like to say that they believe in a kind of internationalism which moves towards the brotherhood of man, which brings people together to work jointly for their future. But we shall not be able to do that unless we accept that we must be truthful in dealing with the problems which the summit will discuss.
It is not truthful to say that the reason why Belgium plans for the regions were 145 turned down by the Commission was some anti-regional attitude. It was because those plans were vague and aimed not at helping the regions but at giving the whole of Belgium special protection, and not those regions which needed such protection, against the rest of the Community. It was perfectly reasonable for the Commission to do so. One would have expected it to do so and would have complained had it not done so.
It is not acceptable to look at the summit on the basis that, because a particular method unknown in the history of Britain has not been used to find out whether the British people support our entry into the Common Market, the Prime Minister goes to the summit without the authority of the British people. It is for this House to give authority to the Prime Minister, whether he be Socialist or Conservative. It is for this House to make up its mind in the duly constituted manner and, the House having done so, it is for the nation to accept that that is the law.
Crocodile tears have been shed by the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) about the feelings of many people who are no longer willing to accept the law as they once were. The hon. Gentleman is one of those persons who are suggesting that, Parliament having passed the law in exactly the way in which the Leader of the Opposition said that he would pass it, in the way in which not only the nation but every organ of public opinion outside the nation believes to be the normal way to pass the law, the Labour Party, having passed a number of seemingly contradictory decisions at its conference, should now cease to accept the decision.
I believe that it would be a sad thing for Europe as a whole if the Labour Party and the whole of Britain did not use their full and united influence to build in Europe the kind of community which we all wish to see. I believe that that kind of community will be started now in the summit discussions. The first mark of that community must be to increase the democratic nature of Europe. If we are to do that, it will be nonsense if the Labour Party says that it will not contribute to any of the present democratic forms. I hope that those who have fought against Europe because it was not demo- 146 cratic enough will be the first to demand that in the present arrangements there is a full and loud-mouthed group of Conservative and Socialist parliamentarians putting the view of those who fight for more democracy in Europe.
I must give warning to my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster that many of us will now begin to exert continued pressure on him and his colleagues to see that direct elections are instituted as rapidly as possible. Until there is a direct means of electing Members from this country to the European Parliament, I believe that we shall not have moved far enough towards creating the kind of democratic structure that we want.
I agree with the hon. Gentleman's comments about the need for a very strong regional policy. One of the major reasons for support for our entry is that so many of us believe that the regional difficulties of Europe are an important, perhaps the most important, social problem facing not just Britain but the other countries of Europe, and that it will be better solved as part of the Community than separately, with Britain outside it. It is not good enough to suggest that the regions which would be helped are only those of certain parts of Germany and the Mezzogiorno. It is not true and is known not to be true, as has been stated again and again, not only by British politicians but by those in the Community responsible for regional policy. Purposely or ignorantly—one or the other—it misleads the country disgracefully to suggest that the regions of Britain which need help will not he amongst the first to receive it, because that is the stated policy not only of the present Government but of the last Government and of the Commissioners concerned with the regions.
I hope that on the agenda for the summit and out of the summit will come the realisation and a continuation of the desire to show that Britain is not prepared to resign itself to a fourth-rate position in the world. I believe that we have a great deal to contribute to the growing unity of Europe. I believe that inside this new association we can show the kind of internationalism which may hurt in the sense that it demands a great deal of us but which will be more effective than all the fine words and generalities we have heard about internationalism in the last 25 years.
147 We are being asked to put our internationalism to the test. We are being asked to act out our internationalism. We are being asked to build in Europe a unity which can bring to its nations a greater degree of prosperity and power in the world and the chance to help further the ends of "one world". It will remind us that if we really believe in international society, the concept of one nation must be developed into the concept of "one world".
Finally, unless we are prepared to use every means possible to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor nations of the world, we shall have lost the great opportunity which the unification of Europe can bring us. Many of us fight for this new association in Europe because we want to draw upon the wealth of Europe to use it for purposes for which it should be used—to change this world so that, instead of merely being concerned with the power of Britain, a theme which has been the burden of the speeches of many right hon. and hon. Members opposite, we shall be concerned with the poor of the whole of Europe and of the whole of the world.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Shore (Stepney)
I will not comment on the last speech, because, if I may return the point to the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Selwyn Gummer), we have heard it from him on previous occasions. I do not doubt the strength of his views, but he must be prepared to consider the possibility that a genuine concern about the contribution that we as a country can make to solving the problems of the rest of the world is not the unique property of those who believe that this country should join the western half of the Continent of Europe in the particular association of the Common Market. For many people it is precisely the feeling that we are cutting the links that we have with so many other continents, where our history, our trade and our interests are so strongly established, that makes the proposition of joining Western Europe so extremely unattractive.
Having said that, I assert my belief that it is right that we should have this debate and this vote today, the first day that Parliament has resumed after the Summer Recess and the very day when 148 what is to us this odious European Communities Act received the Royal Assent. It is right, too, because in two days' time the Prime Minister will be attending President Pompidou's summit in Paris and purporting to speak there for the British people.
It is right that we should raise these issues not because other matters are unimportant: on the contrary, I need not be told about the 1 million unemployed in this country and about inflation, still hyper-inflation, with no apparent breakthrough in policies for dealing with it. I need not be told that these matters are of great importance to all in this country. What amazes me is that those who recognise the importance of those problems do not also see the way in which they are essentially connected with the whole question of joining the European Communities.
Does any hon. Member seriously believe that the problem of dealing with the 1 million unemployed in Britain is not greatly influenced by the new freedom of capital movement, the new freedom for firms to locate themselves not just in Great Britain, but anywhere in Western Europe? Does anyone believe that the problem of unemployment in this country is not affected by the new arrangements into which we are now entering? Does anyone believe that the very framework within which the problem of unemployment in this country will be considered will not in future be the framework of an enlarged Community which, while it might have great surpluses of labour in this country, may also have great shortages of labour in the central areas of the Continent? It is therefore important and relevant to know in which framework we are seeking to deal with these problems, whether we are pursuing full employment within the framework of Great Britain itself, or within the framework of Western Europe.
On the subject of prices and hyper-inflation; does anyone imagine that the problem of bringing prices under control and containing inflation in this country will not be grievously affected by the commitments into which we have now entered and which will be felt shortly and sharply by everyone in this country in terms of the increase in food prices that we must experience from the beginning—1st January next year—and felt again in terms 149 of the value added tax which will have to be introduced and which we shall feel so sharply in April of next year?
So do not let us pretend that we are talking about something which does not affect the lives and the prosperity of our people. The issue affects all those matters and many more besides and it is right therefore that we should have taken the first opportunity of discussing it on our return. It is also surely right that those of us who believe that the treaties and the Act are an outrage and are against the interests of this country should seek again an opportunity to express not merely our view but what we believe to be the view of the majority of our fellow countrymen, expressing that view and doing our utmost to support it with our votes later tonight.
There are two features of the debate which deserve close attention from the outset. The first is that it is taking place only because the Opposition have supplied the time to make it possible. If we had not done so the Prime Minister would have gone to the summit on Thursday with the object of making a far-reaching agreement—whether the object would be fulfilled is another matter—with the leaders of the other eight countries and without a word of explanation or advice in the House of Commons.
That is an important point, but it is no more than an augury of the things to come should the new Euro-régime dominate our affairs. It also provides evidence of how little worth we can now attach to the protestations earlier this year by Ministers in the course of the proceedings on the European Communities Bill, protestations of their desire to consult the House of Commons in all possible ways and as fully as possible before decisions were taken either in Brussels or in Paris.
I am not satisfied with the Prime Minister's explanation that it is unusual for debates to take place on matters to be discussed before the actual conference has been held. Many previous debates have been held in similar circumstances. But the point is the special relationship In Europe and the overwhelming need, as we have always argued, that these matters should be discussed in Parliament first because once things are agreed in Brussels the law of the land is decided. 150 Agreement is reached at Head of State or Council of Ministers level and the laws of the land are drawn up. We must have the right to interrogate, persuade and, if need be, to stop these decisions being reached.
The other feature of the debate which is noticeable has been the refusal of the Prime Minister to play any part in it. I do not know his reasons and he has not deigned to give them. But I find it odd that on the day of the Royal Assent to what is the most controversial and far-reaching Measure probably in the history of Parliament, a Measure which will be a monument to the Prime Minister—
§ Mr. Shore
—whether it will be his glory or his shame has yet to be decided. It is extraordinary on this occasion that he should decide to take no part in the debate and that he cannot bring himself to sit on the Government Front Bench during the winding-up. There are a number of reasons why he does not, and doubtless one of them is his desire to impress both this country and, still more, Europe that the whole issue of Britain and the Common Market has been settled and decided. So much and so thoroughly has it been deckled that it does not even need his presence let alone his contribution to our further debates. The House will recall that the Prime Minister has not spoken on any stage of the Bill since Second Reading on 17th February. It is fairly obvious what policy he is pursuing.
I regret that in his effort to pretend that all has been settled he has received some support from one or two of my hon. Friends during the course of the debate. This is unfortunate because what is needed above all to be communicated to Europe is not what Europeans wish to hear about the position of the Labour Party and the future of these arrangements, but what the realities are. The matter clearly has not been settled and the argument simply will not go away. The reality is that all the major assumptions that the Government have made about Britain and the Common Market have been falsified by events during this past 12 months.
First and foremost was the Prime Minister's pledge to win the support of 151 the British people for his European policies. I am not going over that ground again. [Interruption.] An hon. Member says, "Thank God." It is the Prime Minister who undoubtedly thanks God that the British people have not yet had the opportunity of judging him and his European policy. Inevitably it will happen. Inevitably the time will come. The fact is that the Prime Minister believed that he would not be in the position that he is in today. He did not believe that at the end of all this debate he would be in the position when he knows he does not command the sentiment and support of the majority of the people. He was wrong on that.
Then he assumed that the imminent prospect of membership would lead to a quickening industrial revival in Britain, that the prospect of the so-called unified market of 250 million consumers would revive the spirits of British industry. Again he has been disappointed. It is 18 months since he left the Elysée Palace with the great breakthrough of the negotiations in his hand, yet despite the Chancellor's almost frantic efforts to stimulate the economy it is terribly flat. With a million unemployed and industrial investment lower in 1972 than in any year for more than a decade, with imports already beginning to flood into Britain as the first response to the Chancellor's reflation, we are not so much advancing into Europe as collapsing into it.
The Prime Minister is now reduced to making the pathetic excuse in explaining why the economy has not revived as he predicted that it is all due to the Labour Party's opposition to the proposition that we should swallow his Bill hook, line and sinker and not even seek to debate it. According to him in his interview in The Times a fortnight ago we delayed by a year the confidence of industry that we would be going into Europe. He must think of something better than that. Last of the assumptions he made and in some ways the most important—and equally false—was that he thought that Her Majesty's Opposition could be ensnared and wooed into support for his European arrangement or, failing that, that we would be brow-beaten and bullied into acquiescence by a campaign of misrepresentation and vilification of individuals which has been almost unparalleled.
§ Mr. Shore
Again he is wrong. The practical consequences of these miscalculations are enormous. Without our support the Treaty of Accession cannot be made to stick. Without our agreement a Measure which transfers powers of decision from this Parliament and people to Ministers and officials in Europe is clearly unconstitutional. It can only be legitimised through a General Election or a referendum.
Now the Government are left with the hope, and it can be no more, that we would be brought to accept what we have so far strongly opposed, that our normal regard for the sanctity of treaties would over-ride our democratic commitment, our regard for constitutional principle and the rights of our people. The British people do not break treaties, the Prime Minister says. That is true, but British Governments do not breach the constitution either. They do not over-ride the rights of the British people; they do not hand over to others the right to make the laws of England or to impose taxes upon its people. The situation we now face is one that we and some hon. Members opposite warned against throughout the debates.
If we cannot resolve the dilemma we face then let there be no doubt about it, we shall know where our duty lies. Let me make the position clear. We are deeply opposed to the major matters of the Treaty of Accession. We are opposed to the Measure which has given it effect and we have said we are prepared to renegotiate the treaty. Further, we have listed the major matters we shall insist on changing including changes in the common agricultural policy, the total recasting of the Community budget both on the financing and expenditure sides and the retention by our Parliament of the necessary rights and powers over the British economy so that we can pursue effective regional, industrial, taxation and employment policies. Finally, we have said that it will not only be a future Labour Government that will have to be satisfied by the new terms but the British people who will have the right, either through a General Election or a consultative referendum, to decide the issue.
That is where we stand. Having heard the rather different contributions from behind me, I thought that my hon. Friend 153 the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) made the point best when he said that the conditions are sweeping and far-reaching. He did not attempt to put upon them a gloss that would be misunderstood in Europe or attempt to present them in a way that frankly is far from reality.
I want to turn now to some of the main issues which we know will be on the agenda of the summit, issues which concern us very much. The first is the matter of economic and monetary union. We all know that the aim of the union is to achieve by 1980 a common Eurocurrency into which the separate national currencies will merge. We all know, too, that the main stepping stone to this end is the irrevocable fixing of existing parities to the currencies of member States. The first step towards this is a narrowing of the band around the existing parities and acceptance of the agreement to make parity changes in future only as a last resort. How much this matters to us was demonstrated in June this year. Ten weeks after our entering the first phase of the economic and monetary union, 10 weeks after our agreeing to narrow the exchange rate margins between the £ sterling and the Six, 10 weeks after joining the so-called snake in the tunnel, we were forced not simply to abandon the enterprise but to float the £, and we are still floating. In the process, in the last few days before the float took place, our reserves fell by £1,000 million. I do not know whether the point has been fully taken and understood.
The first and immediate question for answer is: has the Prime Minister agreed to end the float and to re-enter the tunnel from which he was driven only six months ago with such grievous losses? I confess that I am puzzled. Like others, I have read the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statements. The right hon. Gentleman said at the Blackpool conference:We intend to return to a fixed parity as soon as conditions permit, which I hope will be before January 1st.If words have any meaning, that means that unless a new and unexpected event intervenes, the right hon. Gentleman's intention is to return to a fixed parity by 1st January, 1973. That is clearly what President Pompidou understands the Chancellor of the Exchequer to mean.
154 Further, if I may call in aid other supporting evidence, there seems to me little doubt that the new urgency with which the Government are approaching the question of incomes and prices is also very much geared to the timetable that is herein envisaged. If the Government have a fixed parity again by 1st January, 1973, and the hyper-inflation which they have had in the past two years is still continuing, we all know what will happen. The evidence points to what I believe to be the case, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will fix the £ again then, and it will not be easy to change it once again after the present float has ended. Yet the Prime Minister was telling us quite clearly earlier today that no commitment has been entered into, and giving us almost to understand that he intends to carry on floating. I wish I knew what the answer was. I hope it will be that the Government will do their duty and consider our own interests in the matter, and not agree to end the float until they are completely satisfied that it is in our interests to do so.
The Government Front Bench must not be persuaded in this matter by the setting up of any new short-term European monetary fund with the ostensible purpose of tiding us over short-term difficulties. If we have learned nothing else, we should have learned by now that it is often as dangerous to be bailed out by running into debt as it is to be forced to take remedial action without the support of borrowing at all.
What is clear is that if the Prime Minister has agreed to end the float, and if he agrees with the Six that future parity changes are to be more rather than less difficult for us in the future, all the Chancellor of the Exchequer's talk of 5 per cent. growth for the next two years will turn out to be sheer humbug and deception. The two things are totally incompatible.
I turn to another matter mentioned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary in his all-too-brief speech. He told us of the Government's wish that there should be an offsetting arrangement of regional policy, offsetting the great contribution that we shall make to the common agricultural policy, their hope that there would be agreement on a regional policy which would siphon funds back towards this country, and their hope that 155 there would be agreement on a deadline to work out such a regional policy.
I hope so, too, but this is the classic example of where the negotiations went wrong. We should not have agreed to pay out these vast sums of money under the agricultural policy—an agreement to a policy that we cannot change, because the change is subject to a veto, and France possesses the veto, and France is the great beneficiary of it—without first having got an agreement on a countervailing regional policy on which we should be as clearly and as measurably the beneficiary. It is no good the Government's saying to those in Europe, "We want this to happen". They will get some response, but the plain truth is that the veto will work the other way. If anyone imagines that we shall get a reverse flow from the Continent of Europe, over a French veto, of funds to stimulate our industries and regions equal to the outflow from this country towards French agriculture, he needs to have his head examined.
What I fear most of all is this, that we shall get a token regional fund, as part of a package under which we shall have to agree to forgo giving a large part of the present regional policy benefits which we give as part of the ordinary British State regional policy—REP and others as well.
I turn quickly—I must do so quickly because of the time—to one major matter which was raised in the debate, and that is the European Assembly and the possibilities of its reform. Let me say for myself that in principle any movement towards democratic control over Community decisions at the Community level is welcome to me—with one great proviso, that it should not be at the expense of the democratic control and power of the British democracy here in the House of Commons. What I fear at the moment is that the Government will lend their name to what is in fact a confidence trick, the pretence that the European Assembly is already, or, indeed, has even the potential of operating as a serious instrument of democracy on the European level.
The fact is that the European Assembly is not and has never been intended to be a Parliament. We should be very clear 156 about this. It is not, as it were, a Parliament in the bud. It is not intended to be. It is not designed to be. It is not intended to do those things by which we recognise the existence of a genuine Parliament. It is not intended, for example, to make laws for Europe. It is not intended or designed to raise taxes and to control the expenditures of Europe. It is not designed to dismiss or appoint or even interrogate those who make the decisions in Community.
Its purpose is quite different. It is there to be consulted; it is there to give opinions; it is there as a sounding board. To give a homely comparison, it is like the Conservative Party's Annual Conference. I am not saying this with intent to give offence but I am saying it with, I hope, some accuracy, that the Conservative Party Conference is a conference which does not appoint the leaders of the Conservative Party or control them; it is a conference which does not make their policy—and certainly it is one which is very prudent in its criticism of those who are appointed and who rule on the platform. It is, in other words, a point of communication between Government and governed, leaders and led.
All this is understood by those who are familiar with European institutions. So I do not see that we can hope, even if it lay within our power, which it does not, for any great advance in the direction of the greater democracy for which the hon. Member for Lewisham, West felt we should be asking at the present time. The fact that the President of France has already indicated that he does not think there should be any change in the present status of the Assembly—certainly no change in the way members are appointed there—does not seem to me to indicate that agreement is likely to be forthcoming.
Finally, only just a word about a terribly important matter, and that is the external relations of the Community with the rest of the world. Hardly anybody has yet mentioned this in the debate, but it will be one of the most important matters on the agenda, and that is the general stance and attitude which the Community should take up in relation to the United States and other trading nations in what I hope will be fruitful negotiations over next year's trade. This is absolutely crucial.
157 What I worry about most is that there is insufficient will in the Community to make a constant effort to make those negotiations work to expand the area of trade. The Community is pressing ahead with preferential trade agreements, seeking now to cover the whole of the Mediterranean area with a new free trade area arrangement. Its policies can only have the effect of dividing the world trading system at least into two and driving the Americans into precisely that kind of protectionism with all the implications which that would have, which many people have spoken about, and which we have every reason to fear.
Finally, I wish to say a word about any commitments which may come out of the summit conference. I say this to the absent Prime Minister: it may be right for the other eight political leaders to make commitments and to undertake pledges to each other, but it would not be right for our Prime Minister to do so. He will be there not because he has successfully completed the full constitutional processes of our country but because he has flouted them. He will be there not because he has obtained the full-hearted consent of the majority of our people but because he has flouted their will. He alone will be representing a country where the Opposition, the alternative Government, are wholly uncommitted by the treaties he has signed. have stated that they will not regard the Treaty obligations as binding—a country whose next Parliament has the undoubted right to repeal the European Communities Act, to halt and reverse the processes of entry, to take us out of the Community just as surely as this Parliament has sought to take us in.
The British people will not be represented at the summit this week but they will cast their shadow on all that happens there. Nothing has been settled, nothing can be settled, until the people can use their democratic right—their vote—to decide their own future.
§ 9.32 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Geoffrey Rippon)
We have just listened to another rather depressing repetition of the views of the right hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore). He said something very revealing at the beginning of his speech, namely, 158 that one of the Government's miscalculations was that they thought that the Opposition could be wooed into support of the European policy. It might have been a miscalculation but it was a pretty obvious miscalculation as we took over the European policy of the Labour Government.
The right hon. Member for Stepney has repeated what he always says, which is not the official view of the Labour Party, that the Opposition are deeply opposed to the Treaty and the Act and to the principle of joining Europe. So far from the Government having flouted the constitutional processes, we have followed them from the outset. A Bill has been passed in a constitutional way and it is now the law of the land. I was interested to hear the right hon. Member for Stepney talking about the will of the people being expressed in a general election or a referendum. Perhaps we are getting back to the view which used to be expressed by the Leader of the Opposition—that a referendum is not part of our constitutional process.
The right hon. Member for Stepney says, "We shall renegotiate". My hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Parkinson) dealt pretty savagely with the question of the reception which the Opposition Front Bench negotiators might expect. After all that they have said over many years about their devotion to the European policy, it is curious envisaging the spectacle of the Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer going around Europe and doing what the right hon. Member for Stepney suggests, namely, renegotiating a common agricultural policy which the Leader of the Opposition said over and over again was not negotiable. Then there is the curious idea of the hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins), which is shared by some hon. Members opposite, that we could renegotiate on the basis of having an industrial free trade area and dropping all the rest. The views expressed by the right hon. Member for Stepney tonight, as has happened so often in the past, are totally unrealistic.
The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) and others have doubted the wisdom of having this debate at this time, particularly with 159 a vote at the end of it. The Leader of the Opposition did not make a very wise or constructive opening to our debate, although we must be grateful that he, in contrast to the right hon. Member for Stepney, made no attempt to raise again the matter of the principle of entry.
A number of right hon. and hon. Members have raised matters with which we dealt during the Committee stage of the European Communities Bill and which are outside the agenda for discussion at the summit. The Leader of the Opposition raised the question of defence. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made the position in that respect clear.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson
I am listening to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's speech, which is a courtesy which the Prime Minister did not accord to my right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore), which shows the Prime Minister's attitude to the House of Commons on this and every other matter. So far I have not heard very much to justify my staying, but I cannot accept that the Prime Minister answered my point on defence. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman now do so?
§ Mr. Rippon
Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition will have the patience to listen to more than one sentence on the subject of defence.
The speech at Blackpool of my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Defence did not mark any new trend or departure in British defence policy. We have never, as the right hon. Gentleman alleged, kept our intentions hidden in this regard. Indeed, the whole question of defence was debated in the House on 15th March, 1972 in the course of the Committee Stage of the European Communities Bill. It was made clear then and on many other occasions that the Treaty of Rome has no defence content; but we all hope, and we have said so often enough, that enlargement of the Community will accelerate defence co-operation. It is manifestly too early to forecast the form of Europe's future defence policy and perfectly clear from the context of the speech of my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Defence that he was looking forward to the problems which might arise not so much in the 1970s as in the 1980s.
160 As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister told the House on 11th April of this year, both he and President Pompidou take the view that the time is not ripe for discussion of Anglo-French nuclear collaboration. So I do not believe that the Leader of the Opposition can go on pretending that this is an issue for the summit this week or for the immediate future.
Many of the speeches which have been delivered this afternoon show that it is right, now that the Bill has received the Royal Assent, that we should look towards the future. I have taken part in all but one of the meetings for the preparation of the summit which is being held this week. I have found it a heartening experience sitting round the table instead of confronting the representatives of the Community, working together on what we can achieve now that the enlargement of the Community is being accomplished.
The purpose of those meetings was to prepare the agenda and to identify the issues upon which Heads of Government might he able to reach conclusions. They will not, as the right hon. Member for Stepney exaggeratedly suggested, make the laws which will immediately apply in this country. What we considered was an agenda, not a communique. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said, when the meeting has taken place the usual practice will be followed and a report made to the House of Commons.
In drawing up the agenda it was clear that there was much in common and great possibilities of charting definite future progress.
§ Mr. Shore
There is one point which particularly worries me, especially as we have not had the opportunity of having a debate on the Government's proposals during the course of our discussions today. At the end of the last summit a communiqué was issued—the Hague summit communiqué. That communiqué covered matters of very great importance, including the outline of economic and monetary union, and was given the status of a treaty and is accordingly listed as a treaty among the many documents which we have had to consider in the last few months. That is why I should like the right hon. and learned Gentleman's 161 assurance that there will be no commitments of that kind entered into without our having had any chance to consider them.
§ Mr. Rippon
We had a lot of discussion about the status of the declaration made after the Hague meeting. It was felt to be of such importance in the context of enlargement that we printed it. I do not think that it is right to describe it as a treaty.
The three heads of agenda which have been agreed for this summit conference are, first, economic and monetary union, including industrial and regional policy; second, the enlarged Community's external relations and responsibiliies; and, third, institutional questions and political co-operation.
I should like to deal with some of the questions which have been raised today in that context.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
Will the Chancellor of the Duchy give the House an absolute undertaking that neither at this meeting nor at any subsequent meeting will an agreement be made about an economic or monetary union in Europe which will be regarded as a treaty in the sense that it will not be submitted to separate legislative treatment by this House of Commons?
§ Mr. Rippon
In so far as legislation is required to give effect to treaty obligations, it has to come to this House. There is no question of a communiqu£ of that kind constituting a treaty which would be immediately binding on this country in the context of economic and monetary integration. This is a matter which clearly will take a long time. It is worth bearing in mind how long it took us after the Hague communiqué to reach a situation in which we achieved enlargement of the Community. The same process will take place in this respect.
We believe that effective economic and monetary integration is essential if European countries are to exploit their economies to the full. This is a view which has been expressed by a former Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan). He was not talking of what would happen today or tomorrow but about a long-term objective. It is a long- 162 term objective which has been accepted by successive Governments.
§ Mr. Rippon
It has been accepted by all sides in the Community, and we have made clear time and again in all the debates in this House leading up to the passing of the Act, that the enlarged Community will work together towards closer economic and monetary union. We have discussed the various stages by which this might take place—ending, perhaps many years ahead, with the ideal put forward by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East of a common European currency.
§ Mr. Foot
These obviously are essential matters relating to an economic and monetary union. All we are asking is that the right hon. and learned Gentleman should now give an undertaking to the House—he does not have to do so in elaborate terms, but merely has to say "Yes"—that neither at this meeting nor at any subsequent meeting will the British Government enter into agreements about an economic or monetary union which will not be subject to full legislative processes in this House of Commons. All we are asking is that he should say that the rights of the House of Commons shall be preserved in these essential matters which can affect the whole level of employment in this country.
§ Mr. Rippon
The proper constitutional processes will be followed in future, as they have been in the past. That is the clear position. But we have also taken the view in the preparations for the summit—this was mentioned this afternoon by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary—that the economic and monetary aspects of European integration must be seen as two sides of the same coin and must proceed at a rate and in a manner acceptable to the interests of all the members.
We have also emphasised that a European monetary system cannot be considered in isolation; that it is inescapable that, however ingenious a European system we may devise, it will function properly only in the wider context of a healthy world monetary order. That is 163 the background against which these discussions will take place. We were equally concerned in preparation for the summit that progress should be made in the industrial and social spheres. Therefore, I particularly welcomed the speeches which were made on this aspect of the matter.
Nearly half of the manufacturing output of the United States and Western Europe now consists of projects like engineering and electronic goods and chemicals, all of which rely on advanced technology. That is why time and again in our debates in this House in the past year we have reverted to the need for a common industrial policy in the enlarged Community to cover such matters as the harmonisation of the legal and fiscal systems, elimination of trade barriers, the alignment of standards and the drawing-up of a European company statute. It is a mammoth task but is the sort of field in which a meeting of Heads of Government can begin to chart the way for the future.
There is an aspect of all this which we would ignore at our peril, and that is the need to establish a regional policy which is coherent and effective throughout Europe.
§ Mr. Rippon
The hon. Gentleman asks why we did not do it before, but we were not members of the Community. That is why we have been trying over the last decade, under successive Governments, to play our part in trying to reduce the regional imbalance in Europe and in trying to ensure a fair distribution of wealth. This is one of our purposes and we intend to pursue it within the framework of the Community.
Meanwhile we will pursue our own regional policies. We shall try to get the leaders of the Community to set a date by which the Community will implement a regional policy.
§ Mr. Rippon
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman is now becoming an enthusiast for progress in European regional policy. But what he must understand is that 164 these things will take time. Meanwhile, we shall pursue within the Community these objectives which are the objectives of the whole House. We shall seek to secure within Europe a balanced regional policy levelling out the differences which one now finds.
Meanwhile, the position is as the Commissioner responsible for these matters, Mr. Borschette pointed out on 3rd October:I think it is out of the question that the Commission's aid policy could radically alter British regional development policy.Therefore, I can say categorically that the various matters which were raised by the Leader of the Opposition earlier concerning the Industry Act and Coal and Steel Community prices are irrelevant. He has the assurances which we have repeatedly given in debates on the Bill that the Industry Act is in general conformity with regional policy, and that in regard to Coal and Steel Community prices the treaty leaves pricing policy as a matter affecting the country concerned and as a matter for commercial judgment. Therefore, there is no danger of leaning on the Steel Board in that regard.
On the question of investment, which was a matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition we believe that the prospects for investment in both directions are enhanced by the enlargement of the Community and recent statistics tend to show that the trend in both directions has been rising—in other words, the net has been rising. I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition will be pleased about that. Nor do I think that we should lose sight of the wider aspects of investment, because enlargement is certainly encouraging greater United States investment in the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson
I am obliged to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for giving way, because he was trying to answer some questions which were not answered earlier. On the regional question, will he tell us why, if it is desirable now, he did not seek in his original negotiations a refund to this country corresponding to the amount poured out on agriculture? Further, can he tell us now whether the powers contemplated under the Industry Act will be agreed in Brussels and, although he has not yet come to this point, will he make clear, 165 as the Prime Minister did not, the position about parity in relation to 1st January?
§ Mr. Rippon
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made the position perfectly clear, as has the Chancellor of the Exchequer: we shall return to fixed parity as soon as conditions permit.
As to negotiations, we negotiated on the basis which the right hon. Gentleman himself laid down. That is to say, we had to adhere to the Treaty of Rome on the basis of what the Community had achieved already. We could not conceivably negotiate, as he knows perfectly well, on what the Community might achieve in the next 10 years.
The subject of institutions has raised a great deal of interest this afternoon. We have taken an essentially pragmatic view. My hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Selwyn Gummer) said that we would be under pressure for direct elections. That may be so, because one wants pressure for future developments. That is why the Government, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister reminded the House, have formally endorsed the Anglo-Italian Declaration of 1969, signed by the Labour Government, which states:Europe must be firmly based on democratic institutions and the European Communities should be sustained by an elected Parliament as provided for in the Treaty of Rome.The right hon. Member for Stepney was no doubt delighted when that Saragat Agreement was endorsed. He should read it again in order to refresh his memory of what he and his Government committed the country to.
But that, too, cannot be achieved overnight. That is why my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has said that we ought to get some practical experience of how the European Parliament works before we put forward radical suggestions for revising the existing structure. But the Government share the view expressed by the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) that the European Parliament ought increasingly to have more constructive work to do, and we have responded to the Vedel Report in that spirit.
The other matter which has occupied probably the bulk of the speeches is that of the external relations and responsibili- 166 ties of the Community in future. Clearly, if the Member States should succeed in co-ordinating policy, as increasingly they have done, in internal matters, it is no less important that they should come to do so in external relations and responsibilities. The enlarged Community will be the world's largest trading unit and will be in a great position to exert influence—we hope good influence—on international negotiations, in GATT and elsewhere leading to trade liberalisation. I think that on both sides of the House there are anxieties about the growth of protectionism.
I think that it is because the members of the enlarged Community have such a unique dependence on world trade that both our interests and our responsibilities towards developing countries march forward together because, increasingly, the more effective the Community is and the greater its own economic strength, the greater the contribution it can make to the developing world, and I feel that the whole House welcomed the speeches made by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford, the hon. Member for East Ham, South (Mr. Oram) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, West.
I have just returned from a tour of Commonwealth countries in Asia and the Indian Ocean—Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, the Seychelles and Mauritius. They all have varying trading patterns which we are now able to discuss in detail with them in the context of enlargement. I found ready acceptance in all those countries that British accession to the Community will be of real benefit to the developing nations. This is what Heads of Government this week will have an opportunity of carrying forward and this is a return now to the basic idealism that the founders of the European Movement had. I hope that increasingly now hon. and right hon. Members on both sides will join, critically perhaps, as the right hon. Member for Stechford said, even cynically, perhaps, at the beginning, but will join in trying to make a contribution to the discussion in these fields.
Clearly, as regards the developing world, many people I agree, feel some disappointment at the results of UNCTAD III. I think that it may have come a year 167 too soon. But, certainly, now that we in Europe have completed our own enlargement negotiations, and completed at the end of July the various association and other agreements for the EFTA non-candidate countries, we shall, I hope, increasingly be able to turn our attention to external relations and responsibilities.
For my part, I believe that it is no good either giving relief aid or project aid or helping the countries of the developing world to develop their secondary industries or to develop their primary products and then deny them the markets essential to their trade. Now that Britain is a full member of the Community, the way is open, as many hon. Members on both sides have suggested in the debate, for a coherent and overall European policy in these three fields of aid, trade and development.
One must hope, therefore, that at the meeting of Heads of Government this week we shall seek and find new guidelines and new initiatives under the various headings of the agreed agenda—in progress towards economic and monetary union, in progress towards the development of regional and social policies, in progress towards the creation of a common industrial policy, in progress towards the development of a European Parliament and the other Community institutions necessary to meet the needs of enlargement and the demands of the future, and in progress towards coordinating our external relations and responsibilities.
I am certain that the vast majority of right hon. and hon. Members, who have the ultimate responsibility under our constitution for determining British policy and British law and who are responsible for these matters as the elected representatives, believe with my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary that, above all, the European Economic Community
§ is a partnership for peace. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman sits there muttering now, but when he was Prime Minister he went all over Europe saying that the way ahead for all of us was to create this partnership for peace. He is one of the most discredited men in Europe today, and for a very good reason. He has stood on his head and spurned all the things that he told the people of this country while he was Prime Minister. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] No wonder they are confused. It has been the deliberate policy of the Leader of the Opposition—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Jeffrey Thomas (Abertillery)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has just spoken of my right hon. Friend in a most abusive fashion. Will he not agree that he is the gentleman who is so—
§ Mr. Rippon
I am glad to see the hon. Member here for the first time.
I believe that we now have before us prospects which will be of benefit to us, to Europe and to the Commonwealth. For so long the enlargement of the European Community and the unity of Western Europe has been an aspiration shared by many people, including right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Now, with the passing of the European Communities Act and with the summit meeting which is to take place this week, we have an opportunity to make the aspirations of those who supported the European cause for so long into a reality, a reality which will be for the benefit of us all.
§ Question put, That this House do now adjourn:
§ The House divided: Ayes 239, Noes 267.171
|Division No. 335.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton)||Broughton, Sir Alfred|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Baxter, William||Brown, Robert C. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne, W.)|
|Allen, Scholef[...]eld||Beaney, Alan||Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Brown, Ronald(Shoreditch & F'bury)|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Buchan, Norman|
|Ashley, Jack||Bidwell, Sydney||Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)|
|Ashton, Joe||Bishop, E. S.||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Blenkinsop, Arthur||Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Boardman, K. (Leigh)||Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|Barnes, Michael||Booth, Albert||Cant, R. B.|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Bradley, Tom||Carmichael, Neil|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Hunter, Adam||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Janner, Greville||Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Cohen, Stanley||Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Pendry, Tom|
|Concannon, J. D||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Pentland, Norman|
|Conlan, Bernard||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||John, Brynmor||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.|
|Cox, Thomas (W[...]ndsworth, C.)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham. S.)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Cronin, John||Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||Probert, Arthur|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Rankin, John|
|Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)||Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)||Reed, D. (Sedgefield)|
|Da[...]yell, Tam||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Rees. Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Davidson, Arthur||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Davies, Denz[...]l (Llanelly)||Kaufman, Gerald||Richard, Ivor|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Kelley, Richard||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Kerr, Russell||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Lambie, David||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Lamborn, Harry||Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Brc'n&R'dnor)|
|Deakins, Eric||Lamond, James||Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Latham, Arthur||Rose, Paul B.|
|Delargy, Hugh||Leadbitter, Ted||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Rowlands, Ted|
|Dempsey, James||Leonard, Dick||Sandelson, Neville|
|Doig, Peter||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Dormand, J. D.||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Lipton, Marcus||Short,Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Lomas, Kenneth||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Driberg, Tom||Loughlin, Charles||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Dunn, James A.||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Sillars, James|
|Eadie, Alex||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Silverman, Julius|
|Edelman, Maurice||McBride, Neil||Skinner, Dennis|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||McCartney, Hugh||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)|
|Ellis, Tom||McGuire, Michael||Spearing, Nigel|
|English, Michael||Mackenzie, Gregor||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Evans, Fred||Mackie, John||Stallard, A. W.|
|Ewing, Harry||Mackintosh, John P.||Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)|
|Faulds, Andrew||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||McNamara, J. Kevin||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Strang, Gavin|
|Foot, Michael||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Ford, Ben||Marks, Kenneth||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Forrester, John||Marsden, F.||Swain, Thomas|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Marshall, Dr. Edmund||Thomas,Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff,W.)|
|Freeson, Reginald||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Meacher, Michael||Torney, Tom|
|Garrett, W. E.||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Tuck, Raphael|
|Gilbert, Dr. John||Mendelson, John||Urwin, T. W.|
|Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)||Milne, Edward||Varley, Eric G.|
|Golding, John||Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Gourlay, Harry||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Wallace, Georgo|
|Grant, George (Morpeth)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Watkins, David|
|Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)||Weitzman, David|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Moyle, Roland||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Murray, Ronald King||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Hardy, Peter||Oakes, Gordon||Whitlock, William|
|Harper, Joseph||Ogden, Eric||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||O'Halloran, Michael||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Hattersley, Roy||O'Malley, Brian||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Oram, Bert||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Hilton, W. S.||Orme, Stanley||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Hooson, Emlyn||Oswald, Thomas||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)||Woof, Robert|
|Huckfield, Leslie||Padley, Walter|
|Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Paget, R. T.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Paisley, Rev. Ian||Mr. James Hamilton and|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)||Palmer, Arthur||Mr. James Wellbeloved.|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)|
|Adley, Robert||Batsford, Brian||Bowden, Andrew|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Braine, Sir Bernard|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Bell, Ronald||Bray, Ronald|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Brewis, John|
|Astor, John||Benyon, W.||Brinton, Sir Tatton|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Berry, Hn. Anthony||Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher|
|Awdry, Daniel||Biggs-Davison, John||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Blaker, Peter||Bruce-Gardyne, J.|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Bryan, Sir Paul|
|Balniel, Rt. Hon. Lord||Boscawen, Hn. Robert||Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M)|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Bossom, Sir Clive||Buck, Antony|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Hill, James (Southampton. Test)||Peyton, Rt. Hn. John|
|Burden, F. A.||Holland, Philip||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Holt, Miss Mary||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray & Nairn)||Hordern, Peter||Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hornby, Richard||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Carr, Rt. Kn. Robert||Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Channon, Paul||Hunt, John||Raison, Timothy|
|Chapman, Sydney||Iremonger, T. L.||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||James, David||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Jenkins, Patrick (Woodford)||Redmond, Robert|
|Churchill, W. S.||Jessel, Toby||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)|
|Clark, William (Surrey, E.)||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Rees, Peter (Dover)|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Jopling, Michael||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Cockeram, Eric||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Cooke, Robert||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Coombs, Derek||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Cooper, A. E.||Kimball, Marcus||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Cordle, John||King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)|
|Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick||Kinsey, J. R.||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Costain, A. P.||Kirk, Peter||Rost, Peter|
|Crouch, David||Kilson, Timothy||Royle, Anthony|
|Crowder, F. P.||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Knox, David||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Lambton, Lord||Scott, Nicholas|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid.Maj.-Gen. Jack||Lamort, Norman||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Dean, Paul||Lane, David||Shelton, William (Clapham)|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Simeons, Charles|
|Dixon, Piers||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Le Marchant, Spencer||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Dykes, Hugh||Lloyd, Rt.Hn.Geoffrey(Sut'nC'field)||Soref, Harold|
|Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Longden, Sir Gilbert||Speed, Keith|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Loveridge, John||Spence, John|
|Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Luce, R. N.||Sproat, Iain|
|Emery, Peter||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Stainton, Keith|
|Eyre, Reginald||MacArthur, Ian||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Farr, John||McCrindle, R. A.||Steel, David|
|Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||McLaren, Martin||Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)|
|Fidler, Michael||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Maurice (Farnham)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||McNair-Wilson, Michael||Stokes, John|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Fortescue, Tim||Maddan, Martin||Sutcliffe, John|
|Foster, Sir John||Madel, David||Tapsell, Peter|
|Fowler, Norman||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Fox, Marcus||Maude, Angus||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Fry, Peter||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Tebbit, Norman|
|Galbraith. Hn. T. G. D.||Mawby, Ray||Temple, John M.|
|Gardner, Edward||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Thatcher, Ht. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)|
|Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Miscampbell, Norman||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan||Mitrhpll Lt -Col C (Aberdeenshire, W)||Trafford, Dr. Anthony|
|Goodhart, Philip||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Trew, Peter|
|Goodhew, Victor||Money, Ernie||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Gower, Raymond||Monks, Mrs. Connie||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||Monro, Hector||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Gray, Hamish||Montgomery, Fergus||Waddington, David|
|Green, Alan||More, Jasper||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Grylls, Michael||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||Wall, Patrick|
|Gummer, J. Selwyn||Morrison, Charles||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Gurden, Harold||Murton, Oscar||Warren, Kenneth|
|Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Hall-Davis A. G. F.||Neave, Airey||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Hannam, John (Exeter)||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Wilkinson, John|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Normanton, Tom||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Nott, John||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Hastings, Stephen||Onslow, Cranley||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Havers, Michael||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Hawkins, Paul||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Worsley, Marcus|
|Hay, John||Osborn, John||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)||Younger, Hn. George|
|Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)|
|Heseltine, Michael||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hicks, Robert||Pardoe, John||Mr. Walter Clegg and|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Parkinson, Cecil||Mr. Bernard Weatherill.|
|Hiley, Joseph||Percival, Ian|
§ Question accordingly negatived.