HC Deb 28 November 1973 vol 865 cc383-4
10. Mr. Deakins

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the matter of EEC political union is next to be discussed in the EEC Council.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

No date has been fixed for discussion in the Council of the objective of European Union set out in paragraph 16 of the 1972 Paris summit communiqué. The Paris summit requested the institutions of the Community to draw up a report on the subject before the end of 1975.

Mr. Deakins

What parliamentary or statutory authority do Her Majesty's Government have for this commitment to European Union? If there is no such authority, is this not an unprecedented extension of the power of the executive?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

No, Sir. This is a matter which should be studied by the Community and by the Community institutions, and reports should be made to the Governments representing the different countries in the Community. I see nothing unconstitutional in that. Every Government can consider the matter, and the national Parliaments will have an opportunity to comment.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is becoming increasingly necessary to have a common approach to foreign policy on the grave matters which confront the European Community at the moment? Is it not also true that the countries in the EEC are, without exception, in favour of closer collaboration in the foreign policy field? Will my right hon. Friend therefore use his best offices to accelerate the move towards closer collaboration in foreign policy?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Yes. It is in the political field that we have had some success. The handicaps have been in the economic field. How far we can take this process is a matter for consensus over the next few years. I think the House knows that I have never attached federal or confederal labels. I think that Europe will work out her own pattern of co-operation.

Mr. Shore

As the Prime Minister has committed himself to European Union by 1980, and since European Union must, by definition, include some concept of political union, does the right hon. Gentleman not think that he really owes it to the country, in this extremely important matter, at least, to publish, even in draft form, what he himself thinks should be the content of such a political union?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

No, Sir, because I think it is sensible to proceed step by step and see where we can agree.

Back to
Forward to