HC Deb 01 December 1977 vol 940 cc785-848
Mr. Jay

I beg to move an amendment which is, happily, in order and which you have selected, Mr. Murton—Amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 7, at beginning insert During the period ending with the date on which any alteration in the powers of the Assembly of the European Communities (in this Act referred to as "the Assembly") takes effect by virtue of any treaty as defined in section 1 of the European Communities Act 1972'.

The Chairman

With this we may discuss Amendment No. 7, in page 1, line 8, leave out from 'Assembly' to 'shall' in line 9.

Mr. Jay

I wish to point out that I put my name to the amendment a few days ago but it has been removed because, I understand, only six names appear on the Notice Paper.

The Chairman

No discourtesy was intended. There was no printer's error or anything like that.

Mr. Jay

I recognise that. I merely wished to make it clear that my name was put to the amendment.

The meaning of the amendment is that the terms of this measure would cease to have effect at any time when there was an increase in the powers of the EEC Assembly, however that increase came about. What we are seeking to achieve is to carry out undertakings which, I understand, have been given by both Front Benches that they do not favour any increase in the powers of the Assembly. If there were to be an increase, additional legislation—not just an Order in Council—would be required to continue the validity of this measure. I hope I am right in saying that that is the view of the Government and the Con- servative Front Bench. I am not sure whether that is the view of the Liberal Party. At the moment, Liberal Members are showing their great enthusiasm for the Bill by totally absenting themselves from the Chamber.

The view of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is quite clear. He wrote a letter on this point to the Secretary of the Labour Party on September 30th, stating: It is our policy to continue to uphold the rights of national Governments and Parliaments. We do not envisage any significant Increase in the powers of the European Parliament. Should any such increase in powers be contemplated it would need the unanimous consent of the Nine Member States and of the Parliaments. The United Kingdom should make it clear that in our case any change in the powers of the Assembly would require an Act of Parliament and not simply be introduced by an affirmative order under the European Communities Act. That is unusually plain and unambiguous compared with some political statements and political manifestos that some of us remember. It is perfectly clear that what we are doing here is to carry out and embody in the Bill the pronouncement that the Prime Minister made.

I see the Minister of State, Home Office on the Front Bench. He reaffirmed this objective of ensuring that any increase in the powers of the Assembly would be carried out by legislation as recently as the Second Reading debate on the Bill a week ago. I shall quote what my hon. Friend said to show him that all we are trying to do is assist him and support him by putting into the Bill the undertaking which he gave us on Second Reading.

My hon. Friend said: The powers of the Assembly are laid down by the Treaty, and in order to alter the Treaty the unanimous consent of all nine countries is required. Before the powers of the European Assembly could be added to, the British Government would have to give their assent and, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear in his letter to the NEC of the Labour Party, it is intended that any extension of the powers of the European Assembly would be effected here by means of an Act of Parliament…I hope that the right hon. Gentleman who leads for the Opposition on this occasion will affirm his party's commitment to a similar procedure. I thought that the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. White-law) so affirmed, but he can make that absolutely plain tonight.

The Minister of State made a further statement in his Second Reading speech. He was speaking about the proposal for the regional list system of election. I do not intend to discuss that now, but the Minister mentioned it as being relevant to this question of powers. He said: The advantage that we see for the regional list system derives from the fact that the Assembly is a consultative and advisory body which has neither legislative nor executive powers. In our view, such a body would be better served by an electoral system reflecting the division of view within our country rather than one with a greater chance of a clear result, which is far more important for a legislative or executive body. "—[Official Report, 24th November 1977; Vol. 939, c. 1776, 1771.] It is of interest for the Committee to note, for the purpose of later discussions, that the Minister of State justified the regional list system, which apparently the Government favour, clearly and explicitly on the grounds that the Assembly was to be purely advisory and consultative. The implication of that is that if the Assembly ceased to be purely advisory and consultative, and if it had increased powers, the whole case for that system of election would fall to the ground. I hope that the Committee will note that.

My hon. Friend will, I hope, accept the amendment, or at any rate the substance of it, because it appears to be entirely in tune with what he was saying. I hope he will not argue that, although he entirely agrees with our objectives and he reaffirms the undertakings that there will be no increase in powers without legislation, nevertheless, in spite of all that, he does not want to put this into the Bill. Speaking for myself, I have so often heard Ministers say that they intend to do something in the best of good faith but are not prepared to put it into the Bill that, while I do not say that my hon. Friend arouses my suspicions, I have some suspicions of that attitude on the part of a government.

Someone said the other day that the Prime Minister might be Moses but he is not Methuselah. He will not be the Prime Minister for ever. Neither is my hon. Friend Methuselah. These verbal undertakings, recorded in Hansard, or letters to the Labour Party written by Ministers, even the Prime Minister, are rarely a sufficient safeguard.

If the amendment, or the substance of it, is accepted, it will mean that, should the Assembly increase its powers, it will be necessary to have a further Bill amending this measure so that representatives from the United Kingdom can go on serving in the Assembly. That would precisely carry out the undertaking that full, new legislation would be necessary. I do not think it is enough to be told that there can be no change in the powers of the Assembly without a unanimous decision by the Council of Ministers and approval by this House.

6.45 p.m.

Most hon. Members know what occurred last summer. There was an increase in the powers of the Assembly last summer over the budget. It was accepted by the Council of Ministers and it was formally, we are told, accepted by this House of Commons. All that happened was that there appeared on the Order Paper one day—probably a Friday, although I am not sure—the words "Definitions of Treaties Order, Number something or other", and this was approved at some late hour without very many hon. Members knowing what was happening. I am sure we all agree that it would be profoundly unsatisfactory if anything like that occurred again.

I hope, therefore, that we can achieve unanimous agreement in Committee that there must not be increases in the powers of the Assembly without full legislation and full discussion in the House. That is the only safeguard that matters. If the Government are sincere and genuine, as I am sure they are, they will agree to have this safeguard clearly and plainly written into the Bill.

Mr. Powell

My hon. Friends and I were pleased when we found that the amendment which we have tabled and which, by the good fortune of proposing the insertion of words at the beginning of the first line of the Bill, would be the first amendment—should you select it, Mr. Murton—to be considered by the Committee, had found favour more widely. I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) for giving it the stamp of his approval, as well as his signature, by moving it.

This is an amendment which, if one follows the tenor of previous debates upon the subject, we had every reason to suppose conformed with the intentions and wishes of both sides of the House of Commons, certainly with those of the Front and Back Benches on the Government side and quite certainly with the intentions of the official Opposition.

The area of agreement is considerable and is continually widening. We all knew that a further extension of the powers of the Assembly required action by Parliament because that was provided for in Section 1 of the 1972 Act. This assurance was carried further, as the right hon. Member for Battersea, North has reminded the Committee, by the Prime Minister, who made it clear—among other ways in his famous letter to the NEC—that although, technically, it would be possible for a resolution under Section 1 of the 1972 Act to do the job, this Government at any rate had no intention of any appreciable extension of the powers of the Assembly being brought about otherwise than by substantive legislation.

That certainly means that, although it might be a short Bill, it would have to go through all its stages in both Houses, and we would have as full an opportunity as our procedure gives us of examining the implications of that proposed extension of powers in the light of what we were doing in the Bill, in the light of the fact that this was an Assembly to which, under the Bill, we had consented to send directly-elected representatives.

The area of agreement was broadened further a week ago today on Second Reading. After the Minister of State, Home Office had repeatedly and most clearly re-enunciated the undertaking of the Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw)—and I think there were many in the House who were glad to hear it—not merely accepted that undertaking on behalf of the Opposition but also expressed the opinion that it may have to be written into the Bill to make sure that it is so."—[Official Report, 24th November 1977; Vol. 939, c. 1781.] I think that I am probably interpreting the right hon. Gentleman's intentions in the use of those words correctly when I say that he was not casting doubt on the good faith in this respect of the Government, or, still less, upon the good faith of his own colleagues, but was saying that, in a matter as important as this and so directly relevant to the decision to participate in a directly-elected Assembly which we are taking in the Bill, the promise ought to be entrenched legislatively—entrenched on the statute book. Indeed, the whole of what the right hon. Gentleman said at Column 1781 is well worth reading.

So I believe that on the proposition that, if we are to pass the Bill, it should be distinctly upon the basis of the existing powers of the Assembly and also upon the basis that those powers cannot be appreciably increased without further legislative action by the House of Commons, we are again on what is basically agreed ground.

In July 1976 the Prime Minister used the expression, in relation to a directly-elected Assembly, that it will be elected on the powers which it has already."—[Official Report, 14th July 1976; Vol. 915, c. 661.] Those words were re-echoed a year later by the Home Secretary, who said: I should emphasise that these direct elections are being conducted on the basis of the present limited powers of the European Assembly."—[Official Report, 6th July 1977; Vol. 934, c. 1251.] Of course, there is a logical sense in which that is bound to be true. It could be treated as a truism to say that, if we set up a directly elected Assembly now, we set it up on the basis of the powers as they are now, But that would be an empty truism, and I am certain that it was not as an empty truism that it was pronounced by the Prime Minister or by the Home Secretary. The Prime Minister was not just putting us off by logical fiddling so that we would think we were getting an assurance when, if we read the small print, we should find no assurance at all. Both he and the Home Secretary were saying, in effect, "We would not be asking the House to consent—certainly not as things are at the moment—to direct elections except on the assumption of the current powers of that Assembly, which we are proposing to assist in turning into a directly elected Assembly".

So the thought that the one is conditional upon the other has been implicit in this matter, not just in the last week or few months but from the first time that the Government came forward with any positive proposals to the House for direct elections. In fact, it is in line with the thinking of the Prime Minister and the Government as expressed in the letter to the NEC of the Labour Party. Over and over again in that statement of the policy of the Government, the Prime Minister stressed that he regarded the Assembly as an Assembly in which nations were represented and that he would not be a party to anything which would diminish the powers of national Parliaments and national Governments.

No one should be under the impression that the Prime Minister was using those expressions lightheartedly or that he was using them in order to steer between the Scylla and Charybdis of a difficult legislative path. They undoubtedly came from his heart, for one cannot read—and they are good reading —the speeches which at an earlier stage he used to make without knowing that he understands perfectly well that, once we have a directly elected Assembly, unless the powers of that Assembly are rigorously limited so that they cannot conflict with the rights and powers of national Parliaments and national Governments, there is no question but that the House of Commons will have lost effective control.

I am not going to trouble the Committee by quotations—although they are very good—from some of the Prime Minister's speeches, particularly at Cardiff, in which he vividly illustrated what would be the position of Members of the House and of our constituents if a directly elected Assembly were mandated to give assent to executive or legislative acts of the EEC: we should have effectively lost control over the policies and legislation of our own country.

Therefore, it is entirely in line with the thinking of the Government, and with the careful, solemn and repeated expressions which have been used during the last 18 months by members of the Government, that we should see this legislative step as conditional upon the present limitation of the powers of the Assembly. The right hon. Member for Battersea, North quoted the Minister of State, Home Office, who, in moving the Second Reading, rested the case for the Bill upon the fact that it was only "a consultative and advisory body"—words which will still be true, Mr. Murton, whether or not we are permitted by your decision actually to write them into the clause.

But the Minister of State went further still and made a remarkable statement which, I think, expresses how closely in the Government's mind the case, and, indeed, the justification, for the Bill, if it has one, is conditional upon the limitation of the powers of the Assembly to substantially what they are at present. He said: I am advancing the argument that this Bill stands or falls on its merits as a measure to elect people directly to the Assembly, with the powers of that Assembly as they are today."—[Official Report, 24th November 1977; Vol. 939, c. 1768.] In other words, the Bill stands or falls on the proposition that the Assembly to which representatives are to be directly elected is an Assembly with the powers as they are today. What need have we of witnesses, since the Minister himself said that the case for the Bill would fall if the powers of the Assembly were appreciably increased?

7.0 p.m.

The effect of this amendment is precisely to turn into legislative form the words of the Minister of State, Home Office; for the amendment secures—I hope that it secures, but at least it intends to do so, and I know that the Government will not quibble about that—that if those powers are extended the House—and, therefore, the country—will have the opportunity to consider de novo the case for direct elections and to validate a directly elected Assembly again, if it thinks fit, in those new circumstances, because the case for what we are doing now with this Bill will by them have fallen.

Therefore, I not only hope that the intention of the amendment will be accepted by the Government, who are in fact committed to it by their own words and by the general spirit of their policy, but I look to it being supported by the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border and his colleagues on the Opposition Front Bench. The right hon. Gentleman was not, I believe, present in the Chamber a few minutes ago when his hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) pointed out that this was perhaps the only way in which we could get into the Bill, given the scope of the Bill, that legislative enactment of the pledge which the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border wanted. So I think that we should count upon having for this amendment not the support of a minority but the support of the greater part of both sides of the House and the official support of both Front Benches.

There is only one thing that I want to add. There are a number of hon. Members—mainly, though not exclusively, sitting on the Opposition side—who take an entirely different view from that of the Prime Minister, the Government and most of us about what they intend and wish for the future of the European Economic Community and our place in it. From the beginning of this controversy I have always said publicly inside and outside the House, that I cast no imputations upon the honour of any hon. Member who conscientiously believes it right to advocate that this nation should become a province of a new structure which is to grow out of the EEC. I know, indeed, that that is the view—and I have honoured him for expressing it clearly—of the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath). I have said that repeatedly.

In the debate on Second Reading last Thursday, we heard hon. Members on both sides of the House of Commons, but certainly on the Opposition side, say "Yes, I do desire a federal outcome. That is what I want, and that is what I think it is all about." It is entirely right that those hon. Members should have said that, and they are entirely entitled—as entitled as any hon. Member—to put their point of view. What is clear is that it is a view which does not command the general support of Her Majesty's Opposition, which is in conflict with the rejection by the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border of what we call loosely "federalism", knowing perfectly well what we are talking about. It is, of course, also in conflict with the view of the future of the EEC which the Prime Minister has enunciated on behalf of the Government, and it is in conflict with the view of the majority, undoubtedly and visibly, of hon. Members who sit on the Government side of the House of Commons.

What I am saying—and in a way this amendment is the first of many opportunities for us to do what I believe is our duty—is that we have to stop pretending that there is no fundamental cleavage of intention here as to what the European Economic Community is going to be for this country. We have to come clean. If we do, we shall find, I believe, that on both sides of the House of Commons there is a large, perhaps overwhelming, majority who desire the rights of our Government and of this Parliament to be preserved and entrenched against the federal development of the European Economic Community. The case for or against can be debated, of course—it is the essence of the debate—but the division has to be recognised.

In this, the first amendment which we consider upon this Bill, we are making clear that, at any rate if there is to be any alteration of purpose, if there is to be any alteration of function, of the European Assembly, we wish whatever authority we are giving in the Bill to be recalled so that on behalf of the people of this country we can take our decision afresh and without prejudice; for I believe that that is the intention not only of a majority of this House of Commons—and a large majority—but of a vast majority of the people whom we represent.

I hope that the Committee will agree either to the amendment as it stands or to some undertaking from the Government that they will embody the intention and purpose of it in amendments which they themselves will bring forward.

Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)

I am grateful for the opportunity of making a short contribution to this important debate. There are some aspects of the amendment which I find difficult, for reasons which I shall give, but the difficulty which I entertain does not in any way derive from the object of the amendment as it has been defined and as I understand it to be. I apprehend that the object of this amendment is to retain a parliamentary control at Westminster of any extension, or attempted extension, of the powers of the European Parliament. If and in so far as that is the object, it is a laudable object and one which I support.

If the attainment of that object were to depend upon the enactment of this provision and could be obtained solely by the carrying of this amendment, I would certainly be very sympathetically inclined to it, in spite of the practical difficulties to which it would give rise, but, in my view, that is not really the case. The control by this Parliament of any extension of the powers of the European Parliament or Assembly does not depend upon or, indeed, strictly require, the introduction of any such provision as this and the practical difficulties which it entails.

There would, of course, be practical difficulties. It would mean that suddenly, on a date impossible to prognosticate, to anticipate or to regulate, the British representation at the Assembly would come abruptly to a halt. Not only would the tenure of the directly elected British representatives be at an end but there would be no statutory provision for their replacement or for any other British representation. There is no amendment tabled to the Bill, so far as I can see, to seek to provide for such representation in those circumstances.

Mr. Powell

The right hon. and learned Member has been very fair in recognising the object of this amendment. Perhaps I may put it to him that it by no means follows from the amendment that there would be an abrupt termination of our representation in the European Assembly, because, of course, we would not take the legislative steps which would be necessary as part of the unanimous agreement of the Community States unless we were also ready to continue, by a renewal of the mandate given by the Bill, the existence of the directly elected Assembly. So whatever may be the other difficulties, I do not think that it is a practical point that we would suddenly be faced with our representatives in the Assembly disappearing, as it were, through a trap door. It would be known months, perhaps years, beforehand what the date would be, because it would be by an Act of Parliament that the powers of the Assembly would have been increased.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for what he said at the outset and for the explanation which he sought to give. The fact remains, however, that the amendment, if carried, would have a certain effect. We see from the correlation of the words of the amendment to the Bill that During the period ending with the date on which any alteration in the powers of the Assembly…takes effect "—

Mr. Powell

"Takes effect".

Sir D. Walker-Smith

"Takes effect", yes. The date on which it takes effect is not a date within the control of this Parliament, or certainly not exclusively of this Parliament. It is a date dependent upon the ratification, according to their own constitutional procedures, of at least eight other member States, or more if the Community is enlarged. It is a date dependent upon the completion of the ratification procedures by the last of those member States. So it is not a date which is in the control of this Parliament. Hence my use of the word "regulate". It is not a date within the power of this Parliament to foresee in advance. Hence my use of the term "anticipate or prognosticate". It may not be a difficulty which it is impossible to get over, but it is a practical difficulty which has to be weighed in the balance if one is looking at comparative methods of achieving what I have stated to be a desirable object.

That is why I want to come to the question of what is the position of this Parliament as a matter of constitutional law—and, indeed, international law—in regard to any effort to extend the powers of the European Parliament or Assembly.

The extension of the powers of that Assembly is not a matter within the jurisdiction or control of the Assembly itself, nor even a matter for its own initiative. Of course, it would be otherwise—if I may respectfully say so, this is why some right hon. and hon. Gentlemen perhaps do not always see this matter in its full constitutional clarity—if the Community were based on the British concept of the omnicompetence of Parliament, of the sovereignty of Parliament. If that were so, of course a directly elected Parliament would be able ipso facto to extend its powers, and in those circumstances it would be under some temptation to do so.

However, that is not the position. The Community is an institutionalised structure based on the separation between the four institutions of the Community—the Council of Ministers, the Commission, the Assembly and the European Court of Justice—of powers and functions defined and allotted in a written constitution, a concept not very familiar to most of us here but, of course, very familiar to the majority of the other member States.

The powers and functions of the Assembly are defined, as the Committee well knows, in Article 137 of the Treaty which states: The Assembly, which shall consist of representatives of the people of the States brought together in the Community, shall exercise the advisory and supervisory powers"— and then there follow these words— which are conferred upon it by this Treaty. I emphasise those final words because that is the definition and delimitation of the powers of the Assembly.

Though the European Parliament can and does properly, and, I believe, does usefully, within these powers, influence and seek to improve legislation, it is not a legislative body such as is this Parliament, for example. It is not a legislative body, and it cannot become a legislative body within the framework of its powers as they are defined in the Treaty.

7.15 p.m.

Not only is the European Parliament not the controller of its own powers. It is not even the arbiter of its powers. It is the European Court of Justice which, under Article 164 of the Treaty, shall ensure that in the interpretation and application of this Treaty the law is observed. So, the powers of the Assembly being defined and limited by the express provisions of the Treaty and the interpretation and enforcement of those powers and functions being a matter not for itself but for the European Court of Justice, what is the position in respect of enlarging the powers of a directly elected Parliament? It can be done only by an amendment of the Treaty, the procedure for which is prescribed in Article 236, the terms of which, I am sure, are well known to the Committee but which repay every moment of detailed study which can be given to them.

From Article 236 two propositions are abundantly clear. First, a directly elected Parliament would not of itself have any right to initiate the proposal for the necessary amendment for the extension of its powers. This initiative is expressly confined by the terms of the Treaty to The Government of any Member State or the Commission. They submit any proposals to the Council of Ministers. So there is no power of amendment in a directly elected Parlia- ment, no right of initiative of any amendment.

The second proposition that clearly emerges is this. Any amendment to increase the powers of the directly elected European Parliament could enter into force only after being ratified by all the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. That last position—the requirement of ratification in accordance with the constitutional requirements of the member States—would, in the case of most of the member States, immediately involve the control of any increase or attempted increase in the powers of the European Parliament by the national parliament since the written constitutions of those member States ordinarily and properly make such ratification expressly a matter for the national parliament.

Here in the United Kingdom, by way of contrast, the matter is complicated by our historic concept of treaty making as a matter of Crown prerogative, from which it might appear that Parliament has no, or no sufficient and proper, control, apart from the opportunity for discussion under the so-called Ponsonby rule. Fortunately, as the Committee may think and certainly as the proponents of the amendment will think, this does not represent the reality of the position. In the United Kingdom, unlike in some other countries, such as the United States, treaties are not what lawyers call self-executing. That is, they do not automatically become the law of the country which signs the treaty.

In the words of the leading textbook on the subject, Lord McNair's "Law of Treaties", No treaty requiring municipal action in case there is any isolated right hon. or hon. Member who is not aware of it, let me state that "municipal" is the language of international lawyers for "national" and has nothing to do with dustmen, sewerage or any of those things— to give effect to it can receive that effect without the co-operation of Parliament, either in the form of a Statute or in some other way. As with the Treaty of Accession, any amendment to the EEC Treaty would require national action within the terms of Lord McNair's definition, since the British courts will not apply directly the provisions of a treaty in this country in derogation of private rights. They will apply only such provisions as are incorporated and given effect to in our own national statute law. An amendment of the EEC treaty to give increased powers to a directly elected European Parliament would, therefore, come within the first of the three classes of treaty defined by Lord McNair at page 83 of his classic work where, in his words, sanction is required for their municipal"— national— execution and application and must be given in the form of a statute Lord McNair uses the words in the form of a statute It must be considered whether, under contemporary parliamentary practice, and particularly the European Communities Act 1972, it would be possible to minimise parliamentary control, to get away from the full effects of parliamentary control, by substituting approval by Order in Council under Section 1 and thereby not giving a proper opportunity for full parliamentary consideration and statutory decision. In my view, Section 1(3) of the 1972 Act could not properly be read as the procedure required in Lord McNair' definition for an amendment under Article 236 of the Treaty designed to extend the powers of the European Parliament. I would not say—

Mr. Marten


Sir D. Walker-Smith

I was about to say—and this may reinforce my hon. Friend's desire to put the point—that such a proposition is not unarguable, because my pretty long forensic experience leads me to believe that very few propositions are unarguable, but it is not a proposition which I would expect to succeed when one considers what Section 1(3) deals with. My hon. Friend will know from his legal experience, the canon of construction that one should look at the subject matter in interpreting the words of any legal instrument.

Mr. Marten

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for his compliment to my legal training, most of which went out of the window many years ago. I have been following his argument with great interest. What worries me is the fact that things can be twisted in the Community. May I give him an example and ask him to comment on it? The decision of 20th September 1976 was that the elections should be held on a single date and that all countries should hold them on that date. I have here what is called the European Parliament Report, published by the Community, which states: The date of the elections was of such political and psychological importance to the Community, Mr. Simonet argued"— and he is, after all, President of the Council of Ministers— that if one or more countries held back then he others should go ahead. In other words, despite the decision to hold the elections on one day, the President of the Council of Ministers argues exactly the opposite. The quotation continues: This view caused some controversy. Lawyers Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Con/UK) and Mario Scelba (CD/It) were sceptical. John Prescott (Soc/UK) called it an astounding doctrine. He has…implied that the Treaty obligation now can be considered changed on political grounds, rather than remain a legal obligation'. It is this weaving, twisting and turning by people in the Community which makes the amendment of the Bill necessary.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

Was it not lucky that I was present when Mr. Simonet made that proposition, so that I could point out to him that under the Treaty these are matters of interpretation for the European Court of Justice? I said that if there was doubt on the proposition it would not be resolved by pronouncements made either by him as President of the Council or even by a humble Back Bencher like myself. It was a matter for the court.

In my view, therefore, the position is reasonably clear without any further enactment. The position is this, and I put it as a proposition of law deriving from a written constitution. There can be no extension of powers of a directly-elected Parliament without amendment of the Treaty and there can be no such amendment without ratification involving parliamentary approval; that is, approval by the national Parliaments of every one of the nine member States.

Mr. Spearing


Sir D. Walker-Smith

I suppose that we are not in any time difficulties, so I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Spearing

I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for making the position clear, but he is back where he started. Our procedure is completely subterranean, and therefore what he puts forward as a strong safeguard is in fact very little safeguard at all.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. In addition to all his other talents and qualities, he must be a mind reader, because the next sentence in my notes reads: "But the position of the United Kingdom is less clear than that of member States with a written constitution". It is less clear precisely for the reason I gave a few minutes ago. It follows, therefore, that it may be desirable for us in this country and this Parliament to enact an appropriate statutory provision to safeguard the position and for what statutes call the avoidance of doubt.

However, that can be done without a provision involving the practical difficulties which I apprehend may follow from my right hon. Friend's amendment. Lord McNair points the way. In addition to the three cases which he has defined, and one of which, in my view, clearly applies in the context of the present circumstances where parliamentary sanction of a treaty is required ratione materiae, by reason of the inherent character of the treaty, Lord McNair says that there are some cases in which the Crown expressly stipulates for parliamentary sanction as a condition of the coming into force of the treaty". He gives precedent for that.

Such statutory provision can be made either by a simple amendment to this Bill—not the amendment we are discussing, because I think that a simpler amendment could be devised which would give direct effect to Lord McNair's proposition—assuming it to be within the Long Title, or, perhaps better, in a short, simple and separate Bill. That would be feasible, both constitutionally and practically. Such a Bill would be easy to draft and, if I do not mistake the general sentiment of the Committee, it would be assured a speedy and unopposed passage.

In my view, if any action at all is required to safeguard the desirable object of maintaining our parliamentary control of any extension of the powers of die European Parliament, and if there is any reasonable or appreciable doubt, there should be appropriate action for the dissolution or dispersal of doubt. If there be any doubt, action should be taken to remove it, and it could be sought along the lines that I have adumbrated. I respectfully suggest—because those of us who table amendments have no obstinate pride of draftsmanship—the alternative methods which I have suggested would achieve this desirable object perhaps better, if I may modestly say so, than the passage of the amendment in its present terms.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. John Ellis

I do not wish to be offensive to the right hon. and learned Member, because he is an eminent lawyer, but he was left in some bother with interventions. He was saying that we had no need to fear from this amendment. He said that we do not need the amendment and that the EEC was a different matter altogether. He said that the politicians were not involved, but that this was a matter for the courts. He said that he had been there when he stopped them doing this dastardly thing. That is the trouble; we fear that he may not be there.

Because I am a politician, I came to the House with the votes of the people behind me. We make the law and we are answerable for it. Whatever one says about the EEC, it has politicians who operate policy. Some of the politicians have their political dreams and ideologies and wish to see them put into effect.

I suppose that the system that we have in this country might not suit everyone, but it has stood us over many years. It is a system of which I am proud. I think we are all proud of it, especially when we see how it works. Perhaps other countries with less stable systems need constitutions or something that is above themselves. That is something about which we know nothing. Our system is understood by our people when they return us here. We come here and wield power on the basis of their faith and vote in returning us, and we accept that they can refuse us.

We take a momentous step when we say that we shall hold elections to send other representatives of ourselves to Europe. The two Front Benches have been sensitive to what has been happening. I am sure that if we were to have a vote on the Common Market tomorrow there would be a different result.

The two Front Benches are now saying that of course the European Parliament is consultative and advisory. They say that they will not let it be anything else. They say that Parliament is supreme, that we shall take the decisions and that our destiny will be here.

We have already seen powers go. We have seen a Minister on behalf of the House make certain dispensations about the agriculture and pig industries. We have already seen him taken to court and told "This is not on. It is illegal and you must set it aside." Some people would argue that some of the power that we had has already gone. We do not wish to see that position further eroded.

I noticed a peculiar thing when we were debating the principle of the matter. The spokesman on the Government Front Bench gave the pledge that the Assembly would have no more power and that this Parliament would be sovereign and supreme. I can speak only about those hon. Members on the Government side who are in favour of the Common Market. They muttered harshly at that.

It is honourable to say that our future lies in Europe and that we must join. It is honourable to say that if the Italians have something to give they will bring it to the Community and that we shall bring something else, so that we can work as an entity. Such people have the courage and faith to say that we shall have one Parliament and shall be Europeans, rather than a collection of individuals. They believe that the Assembly is only the start. There are hon. Members, whom I salute, who may say just that. All honour to them. That is their dream and conviction, and that is why many of us who take the contrary view are so wary of proceeding further along these lines.

In many ways I wonder what we are at, if this body is to be advisory and is to have only these limited powers. The House sets up many bodies to which it gives instructions. It gives them advisory and supervisory powers. Why do we go to the extent of sending these gentlemen to Europe on an elected basis, as proposed by the Bill and this amendment? Why do we bother?

Mr. Dykes

Is that not the crucial difference? Any power that the European Parliament might have—and it has not got any at the moment—would flow only from the supreme decision of the Council of Ministers, whose own power flows from the national Parliaments.

Mr. Ellis

That is what I am saying. The hon. Member says that as a true European. Perhaps he hopes that the Council of Ministers will be as answerable to the Assembly as our Ministers are to this House. That is a logical follow-through of the argument. If people vote to choose their political representatives in this House, representatives who will create and control policies on their behalf, they will believe that they are sending representatives to do the same in Europe. Yet we are told that that is not to be the case. What, then, is the point of going, if the Members who go will have no influence over events?

It will be all so easy at first. The Assembly will say that it wants only a debating forum, or that it wants Ministers to come before it and explain matters. I regard politics as an honourable profession. We believe in certain principles and we are sent to Parliament to exercise our responsibilites here.

Which self-respecting politician who has any guts will go to Europe and be satisfied merely with being listened to? He will be accosted, as we all are, by some of his more vociferous constituents. They will demand to know why he took a certain action and what right he had to do so. When I am challenged in that way, I reply that I stood on a public platform and declared what I believed in and told the people: "Choose me if you will". I suppose that we have all been opinionated at times. That is why I went into politics. I disagreed with something that was done in our village and I was told "If you want to do it differently, you must stand for election." That was a long time ago, when I was a young man, and I decided to stand and have a go. I ended up in the House of Commons.

The representatives in Europe will say that they were sent by their electorates, and at first their demands will be modest. They will seek only to advise. But when their advice is not taken the demands will grow and they will protest that they came with people's views, and how dare those in authority not listen to them? There are hon. Members on both sides of the House who believe that that is the proper approach, and that it is an evolution that will come. The Front Benches sincerely meant what they said, but if they believe that Parliament will be supreme, that the supervisory and advisory nature of the Assembly is to remain, there can be no objection to that fact being written into the Bill in that precise form.

What we are deciding here will determine what happens tomorrow or next year. The representatives who go to the Assembly will be answerable as we are. Our duty is to see the position clearly. We must put in all the checks and balances that we think appropriate. If we have the support of the two Front Benches in this amendment in saying that the representatives who go to Europe must not extend their power, only the federalists—those who wish to set up an independent Parliament and to pursue their dream—will vote against the amendment. We who believe that this country has a destiny of a different order, and who believe that that would be a wrong step, are mirroring the fears of a growing number of people outside the House.

This amendment would require an act of this House before further powers could be assumed, and on that basis I do not believe that the supporters of the two main parties here tonight can do other than vote for the amendment. I hope that we shall have a vote. We who support the amendment will win if both the Front Benches, who have made their positions clear, do not cavil but follow the logic of their speeches on Second Reading.

7.45 p.m.

Mr. Nick Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)

It is right that the first amendment should deal with the whole relationship of the House of Commons with the proposed European Assembly, or the European Parliament as it can become. The hon. Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe (Mr. Ellis) rightly said that this amendment is at least a first step in defining the relationship between this Parliament and the European Assembly. The conciliatory way in which the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) spoke in supporting the amendment might perhaps have given the impression that he thought that it was almost sufficient to contain the insatiable desire for power and influence by the European Assembly and those who sit in it. I say only that the amendment is the necessary beginning.

I believe that we have to fear not only the law-making powers of the Assembly but its influence. For in recommending to the House the expressions often enunciated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw), as expressed at column 1781 of the Second Reading debate, the right hon. Member for Down, South perhaps gave the impression that he agreed with my right hon. Friend in the view that mere legalisating powers were the beginning and the end of the influence that the European Assembly might have upon this House of Commons.

The true position is perhaps more clearly stated by the right hon. Member for Down, South in his speech at column 1790, where he expressed with his usual vigour and force his belief that the real fear of the increasing influence of the European Assembly will come from its budgetary powers. After I read that passage, I recollected some of the speeches that had been made by my right hon. and hon. Friends in recent debates in the European Assembly upon the budget there. Before looking at those reports, I had in mind the classic conflict which is still being fought out within the Conservative Party.

Of course, the Conservative Party has never been a party wholly of those who agree with Whig free-trade principles, nor of those who wholly agree with the views of the Tory paternalists. But it would be fair to say that at present there is a slight balance in favour of the former. Therefore, I would have expected to see a tendency among those who attended the European Assembly as Tory Party representatives—because that is what they are at present—to prefer market forces to State intervention; a tendency to be sceptical about the efficacy of regional policies; a tendancy, perhaps, to be rather sceptical about some of the social policies to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) referred, putting it so well, when she talked about the need to have wealth-creating jobs and not wealth-consuming jobs.

I should have thought that most of the Tory Party was now at least aware of the argument for reducing public expenditure, and at least aware of the need to reduce public expenditure with a view to becoming once again the party of sound money.

With views of that sort in mind, I thought that it would be of interest to see the kinds of views which were expressed by my colleagues when they were speaking about the budget in the European Assembly. I first refer to a report of the proceedings of that Parliament, as The Times calls it, on 13th September 1977. My hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough (Mr. Shaw) said that the immediate reaction of MPs to the draft budget was unfavourable. The Council of Ministers had produced a draft budget which in no way could be regarded as comprehensive policy document. It was a patched-up job which did not measure up to the hopes and needs of the Community. My hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman) said that the Council of Ministers had used the surgeon's knife to produce virtual sterility in the regional fund. Where money could be more effectively spent by the Community than by Member states it was not additional expenditure but more effective deployment of funds. That is an interesting distinction. My hon. Friend added that to cut the Commission's proposals for the regional fund was madness. Although I said that I would refer only to those members of the European Assembly who are Conservatives, I hope that if I refer to Mr. Roy Jenkins I shall be considered to be referring at least to an honorary Conservative.

Mr. Mikardo

That is fair enough.

Mr. Budgen

Mr. Roy Jenkins, President of the Commission, said that the cuts made by the Council were not in his view responsible. They paid little or no regard to any sense of strategy or priorities, to the future development of Europe or to making the budget not just an accountancy exercise but an expression of policy. The report quotes Mr. Roy Jenkins as having said later: With the advent of direct elections this might he, and he hoped it would be, the last budget that this Parliament as constituted would handle. He hoped by its handling it would signal to its directly elected successor the importance of parliamentary influence over budgetary decisions and the crucial political choices which they posed. Then, on 25th October, my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster made a most passionate speech in support of more money for the alleviation of youth unemployment. But perhaps the most important speech on that day was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Scott-Hopkins), who said that the CAP was often criticised because it represented too large a proportion of the overall budget. This was because everything else was too small. This was due in part to the reluctance of the Council to increase other sectors. The Council was too timorous, and to a certain extent the Commission was at fault for failing to put forward sufficient draft regulations expanding the scope of other sections of the budget. If they were developed the agricultural policy would be seen in its correct perspective. I assert, therefore, that the real danger to the sovereignty of this Parliament comes from the extension of the Community budget. These proposals, which will perhaps to a limited extent regulate the law-making capacity of the Assembly, are a small step in the right direction. But the real risk is that by the extension of the budget the community will progress towards a federal and supervisory rôle which threatens most of all the sovereignty of this Parliament.

Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)

I confess that I sometimes fear for the future of democracy in this country when I hear how frightened some of my colleagues and Government members are of the very process and the spirit of democracy.

We listened to the hon. Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe (Mr. Ellis) make a very powerful speech. It was a speech from the puritanical seventeenth century. "By God", he said, "we must stick to the straight and narrow. We must not deviate for one moment from this House. It is all we know. We dare not even look outside the Chamber for fear of seeing something that we did not create here in this great puritanical centre of democracy."

What he was saying, in other words, was "We dare not export democracy. We must keep democracy here." All sovereignty, it would seem, is the sole prerogative of the House of Commons. The hon. Member spoke glowingly of his position as a Member of Parliament in this country and of how much he liked it. We all do. We treasure the association that we have with our constituents. I agree with him about that. We can speak up for them in this House, as the hon. Gentleman says, and, of course we treasure that. But what is so wrong with another type of MP, a member of an Assembly in Europe, properly elected and democratically representing British people in a European Assembly?

Of course, if we are against the whole idea of partaking in Europe, we must be completely against the Bill. If we want to dissociate ourselves from a community of nations, the European Economic Community—if we want to break away from that, I respect the honesty of any Member who sticks to his guns and says "I shall fight to the last to get away from this Treaty and our commitment under it."

Mr. John Ellis

My point is that we are being led by the Government Front Bench to believe that we are not setting up another European parliamentary system such as our own. If that were the argument, we could understand it. What concerns me is the dishonesty of the position that some people are getting themselves into. The pure federalist—which I take it the hon. Gentleman is—wants to take us into European democracy and convert everyone else to it. All right, but that is not what is said here, and that is what we fear is being done.

Mr. Crouch

I shall come in a moment to the question whether we are federalist. It is certainly my long-term aim to see a federal Europe, but there is a time for everything, and I have always said so. What the Treaty established was a community of nations. It created a legislative centre—a management centre, one might call it—in Brussels. But that was not all. The Community was not intended just for Ministers, just for bureaucrats and officials, or just as a place where international business men could work together with a group of Ministers from six nations. It was much more than that. It was created as a Community of people.

When the Treaty of Rome was written and first signed by the Six, 20 years ago, it took account of the place of people in Parliament, but not just in the Parliaments of their own national countries. The idea was that the people of the member States should themselves have a say and be involved in what was to happen in the Europe of the future. It was not another North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. It was not another International Monetary Fund. It was not even a United Nations, meeting twice a year in General Assembly for a talk. It was much more than a management centre and meeting of Ministers. In the first place, it was the full involvement of politicians. It has taken 20 years for it to grow from that and to involve the people—starting next year, I pray—in an extension of democracy in Europe.

8.0 p.m.

The EEC is nothing if it does not grow as a democratic group of nations. If it grows as a group of nations, as a vast European corporate State, it will not be my ideal. I want the Assembly to have a chance to grow so that the people in the member States can feel that their voices will be heard in the place where important decisions are made.

I know that some Members passionately believe that we must not allow a shred of power to flow from this Parliament. There are those who feel that the power must come back to this Parliament and to the other eight Parliaments if people in those countries have a similar feeling. I appreciate that feeling, but I earnestly believe that we shall succeed in this group of nations and make real history only if we accept that it can be done only with the help of the people, and not with politicians alone. People must participate, and the European Assembly must begin to grow. For 20 years it has not been the type of Assembly that we all admire and want to take part in.

Mr. Dykes

Indeed, and in a world where the essential problem facing all parliamentarians of good will, as the hon. Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe (Mr. Ellis) suggested, is the effective control over both the individual Executives of the national Parliaments and the collective Executive represented by the Council of Ministers, with all the complicated decision-making that will face the Community in the future, is not the task to build the supplementary collective democracy of the European Assembly over and above the individual national democracies in the individual member Parliaments?

Mr. Crouch

I agree. That is what I meant when I spoke of the institution of the Assembly being written into the Treaty of Rome. That was where the creators of the idea of a European Economic Community had their vision. They did not leave democracy out. It would have been easy to produce a treaty that gave us another NATO in economic and social terms. It would have been easy to create a European United Nations. Instead, the great architects of 20 years ago conceived the idea of a rebirth of democracy in Europe. I submit that that must now be given a chance to develop.

There is no Member here whom I would not describe as a good democrat. But there are those of us who are frightened to go out into the open air of Europe in case, by so doing, some of the cold winds might hurt us. I respect the views of those who are against me in this respect. It may be that I would go too far and too fast. Therefore, I respect those who would seek to restrain me. But we are speaking essentially to an amendment to a clause which is the kernel of the Bill. It is the clause that seeks to establish a system of sending representatives elected by the people of this country to represent us in the European Assembly.

I was very concerned about the clever speech made by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell). He is always listened to with great attention, because he does not speak idly or unbriefed. Indeed, he speaks with great persuasiveness and makes us wonder whether he is right. However, this afternoon—although I believe that he is certain that he is right to warn us of the dangers—I feel that he was misleading the Committee. I see the Minister of State, Home Office in his place. The right hon. Member for Down, South quoted from the Minister's speech on Second Reading, at c. 1768. The right hon. Gentleman reminded us that the Minister of State said: I am advancing the argument that this Bill stands or falls on its merits as a measure to elect people directly to the Assembly —and he continued with the important proviso— with the powers of that Assembly as they are today. The right hon. Member for Down, South made use of that quotation as support for his argument that the amendment must be written into the clause if we are to interpret correctly what the Minister of State said. But he did not go on to quote what the Minister said immediately afterwards: It is no part of my thesis that we are considering it as a step towards federalism."—[Official Report, 24th November 1977; Vol. 939, c. 1768.] That was the reminder from the Government that this Bill was not advancing very far ahead. It was a Bill not about federalism but about the Assembly as we know it today. However, the right hon. Member for Down, South latched on to that and claimed that there must be no change whatever in this European set-up.

The right hon. Gentleman is seeking to constrict the Bill, and to constrain Parliament in such a way as to wreck the Bill. I have great respect for the right hon. Gentleman—I wish that he were in his place now—but I shall not be misled by his intention. I suggest that his intention is to wreck the Bill, as surely as he wrecked the Parliament (No. 2) Bill 10 years ago.

Mr. James Molyneaux (Antrim, South)

Perhaps I, at a much humbler level, may explain what is in the minds of the Ulster Unionists. With respect to my colleagues who represent other parts of the United Kingdom, I must point out that they have not had the experience that we have had of trying to run a Parliament and Government subordinate to another body. That is why it is a fallacy and nonsense to pretend that somehow or other we can divide democracy, have a certain element of it transferred to a superior body, and yet retain intact the powers of this Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Crouch

That intervention would be more appropriate to the devolution debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux) knows well enough that, although he has lived through and experienced the establishment and running of Stormont in Northern Ireland, it was not thought by many to have been a total failure. The trouble is that some Members here are afraid of exporting democracy to Europe.

Mr. Molyneaux

Taking it from here.

Mr. Crouch

I cannot understand why some hon. Members are against having Members of Parliament somewhere other than here. Members of Parliament in Europe can do as good a job as Members of Parliament here on behalf of the constituents that they represent. They can do their job effectively, I suggest, because they can be seen to be more active democratically if they are there as of right, having been elected rather than nominated.

Mr. Gould

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that we are not against having Members of Parliament elsewhere in Europe? Indeed, we have gently pointed out that there are Members of Parliament elsewhere in Europe doing a very fine job.

Mr. Crouch

I know the views of the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Mr. Gould). Indeed, looking round the Chamber tonight, I believe that eight out of 10 Members present are passionately against my views. It may be that I am exaggerating, but I think that I know those who support me and those who are against me.

I shall finish on this point because I know that you want me to, Sir Myer. The right hon. Member for Down, South wants to constrain and constrict us, and not just the Bill. But I am afraid that he now wants to constrain Parliament and the people of this country from real expression and real advance. He wants to put us into a corset. I believe that he wants to put a chastity belt around this country. That is what I fear about the right hon. Gentleman's point of view. He is not helping us. He will not help us with the Bill. He will fight to the very last to wreck it, and I shall do the same to try to advance its course.

Mr. David Howell (Guildford)

The right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), when moving the amendment earlier, began by saying that he believed that the purpose of the amendment reflected what he understood to be the Opposition's view—that any increase in the powers of the Assembly at the expense of national Governments or national Parliaments should be by Act of Parliament. I accept fully that that was his intention and the intention of those hon. Members who have put forward the amendment. It is obviously a matter for debate whether the amendment does the trick, and that is what we have been debating for the last few hours.

We have been discussing whether the amendment achieves the aims outlined by my right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw) during Second Reading, namely, that any increase in powers at the expense of this place should be by Act of Parliament. That was the view taken by my right hon. Friend and that was the view to which the right hon. Member for Battersea, North sought to give expression in his amendment.

That is all that we argue. My right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border, in words that have been quoted this afternoon, asserted that any such increase in power would be unthinkable without an Act of Parliament. It was also pointed out during Second Reading that in a letter to Mr. Ron Hayward the Prime Minister expressed the same sort of sentiments, although he obviously used different words. No doubt we shall hear more about that in a moment from the Government Front Bench.

My right hon. Friend did not argue, nor do I now, that the whole Bill should be put in suspension in order for there to be a procedure by which any increase in the power of the Assembly at the expense of this place be governed by an Act. Nor did he argue—he made this clear in Hansard—that somehow we could put all the procedures of the Assembly into the deep freeze. That is not the proposition that we have put from these Benches. I do not think that the right hon. Member for Battersea, North or anyone else was asserting that we had gone beyond what my right hon. Friend said during Second Reading.

During the Second Reading debate the question sprang up—it has continued today—whether under existing circumstances it was correct to say that an increase in the powers of the Assembly would need an Act and could be done only by Act of Parliament. That debate has been continued, particularly in the dazzling and learned exposition of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir a Walker-Smith).

During Second Reading the Home Secretary said that in his view it would need an Act of Parliament to give the Assembly any further powers. I do not think that we are right to conclude that from the debate today. Nor do I think that the Home Secretary was entirely correct, because we have had an example from the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) of the most important case when Article 203 of the Treaty was amended by Order in Council in ways that are set out in Command 6252.

Those amendments govern the financial provisions—that was an increase in the powers of the Assembly—and it cannot be denied that the order went through this House without an Act. It went through this House with approval, but without an Act of Parliament. Therefore, it is incorrect to say that under the present procedures an Act of Parliament is required to increase the power of the Assembly at the expense of this House. That is not so, because it did not happen in that case.

There was an increase in powers and the order was approved in this House under Section 1(3) of the European Communities Act. The Home Secretary was incorrect. If he implied that that was the Prime Minister's view, the Prime Minister was incorrect as well.

We are agreed—this is an unusual and untypical example of amicable agreement—that if the purposes outlined by my right hon. Friend and by the Prime Minister in his letter are to be fulfilled, something is necessary. The question that we have been debating is whether the amendment fulfils that purpose, whether some change to the Bill is now required to fulfil that purpose or whether it is the Government's view that further provisions already exist that will fulfil that purpose.

8.15 p.m.

My own inclination, having heard my right hon. and hon. Friends speak with great bearing and erudition on this matter, is that while a change is necessary the amendment goes considerably further in its actual purpose than what my right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border had in mind, and what he specifically said during Second Reading.

We should like to hear from the Government how they propose to proceed in a way that is consistent with the various statements of aim that have been made in various places about what is now desirable in order to ensure that in future, when the House deals with the question of a treaty that would enlarge the powers of the Assembly, it can do so only in the form of an Act going through this House and not by a more surreptitious procedure. We think that that is the way to proceed. But that has not been said during this dramatic debate; it has merely been asserted that it is right that this sovereign Parliament should have a full opportunity of passing an Act of Parliament to supervise and approve or not to approve any transfer of powers that would be an extension of the Assembly's powers at the expense of this House.

That is our position, no more and no less. We should now like to hear how the Government intend to proceed on this matter.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Dr. David Owen)

Everyone who has listened to this debate will agree that it touches on a very important and sensitive issue. A lot of the anxiety that underlies the debate about direct elections, and, indeed, the whole rôle of the European Assembly, is the fear held by a number of hon. Members on both sides that it is the start of a movement towards federalism and that the European Assembly will take unto itself powers that will challenge the House of Commons and, indeed, the national Parliaments.

The decision of the Government was made clear by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in a letter to the General Secretary of the Labour Party on 30th September. Under the heading The maintenance of the authority of national governments and parliaments", he said: The Government has never accepted that the Community should develop into a federation. It is our policy to continue to uphold the rights of national Governments and parliaments. We do not envisage any significant increase in powers of the European Parliament Should any such increase in powers be contemplated it would need the unanimous consent of the nine member states and of the parliaments. I think that effectively to increase the powers of the European Assembly, whether at the expense of the powers of another European institution or of national Governments, would require an amendment to the Treaty of Rome. Any such amendment could be made only by varying Article 236 of that Treaty, which requires a conference of representatives of Governments of member States to be convened by the Council to determine the amendment by common accord. Article 236 specifically stipulates that the amendment shall come into force only after ratification by all member States in accordance with the respective constitutional requirements.

In France, the decision ratifying the Council of Ministers' decision on direct elections of 20th September 1976 required that any treaty extending the powers of the Assembly should be incorporated in the French constitution. This provision has been made because the French have a written constitution which requires that any Treaty, once ratified, is directly applicable and can override French law. We, who have no written constitution, find ourselves in a different situation.

There have been discussions about amendments. The situation is that, if Parliament were to approve the ratification of such an amendment to the Treaty, the legal effect of the amendment which has been put down by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) would be that the European Assembly Elections Act would fall to the ground as soon as the Treaty increasing the powers of the Assembly was entered into. I do not think that hon. Members who have argued for the sovereignty of this Parliament and the decisions made here can possibly support the amendment, which would have the effect of blocking a decision of this Parliament.

It is perfectly right to say that we should safeguard the rights of the House of Commons, but it is a fair argument that the House of Commons itself should be able to make these decisions. The Government's intention is clear. This Government do not wish to move in any direction towards a federation and do not envisage any increase in the powers of the present Assembly.

We cannot, and should not, attempt to bind our successors. Neither should we preclude the possibility that the House of Commons may decide to make such changes. The effect of the amendment is very sweeping. The Government share the concern expressed in both today and on Second Reading about any extension of the encroachment on the legislative powers of national Parliaments, particularly our own.

The amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Down, South is defective on a number of grounds. It provides that any alteration—not necessarily an extension of the Assembly's powers—shall have the effect that I have outlined. This applies to minor as well as major alterations at the expense of Community institutions, such as the Commission, or of national Governments.

If we wish to retain the right to make these decisions and our Parliament is to remain sovereign—a view which I hold—we must face the fact that Parliament can make decisions with which some hon. Members might disagree.

Mr. Jay

Is my right hon. Friend really saying that if Parliament passes any Act at all, because it must repeal or amend that Act, the situation will be that Parliament is blocking itself on any future action? I believe that it would be possible to amend this measure.

Dr. Owen

I am coming to the question of how we could amend the Bill when it has become an Act.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) said that what we were being offered was a verbal assurance. He made great play of the fact that certain prominent personalities of this Government might not necessarily always be here, and that even if they were their intentions, which might be clear now, might not be fulfilled. That is perfectly fair. I have always thought, right from the start, that there was a case for putting this assurance into the Bill.

The Government's position is clear. We cannot accept any extension of powers of the Assembly which we feel will encroach on the powers of Westminster without specific legislation to that effect. We do not believe that it can be done by affirmative order under the European Communities Act.

The right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw), speaking on behalf of the Opposition, expressed agreement that it was unthinkable that the powers of the European Assembly should be increased at the expense of national Governments or Parliaments without an Act of Parliament, and that position was reiterated today.

Mr. Powell

The Foreign Secretary used the expression, in his drafting of a possible enactment, "a change which would encroach upon the legislative powers of this House". He will appreciate that many increases in the powers of the Assembly could be imagined which would, in fact, limit the powers of national Governmentts or Parliaments without in any way formally limiting our rights to legislate. Will he bear this point in mind?

Dr. Owen

One can take account of that.

There are two provisions that hon. Members and others outside have found most objectionable in the existing procedure. The main one is that it is possible to make fundamental changes on a one-and-a-half-hour order under the European Communities Act. Some hon. Members have mentioned the budgetary powers. If the Assembly were to be given powers—certainly this is advocated by those who want to see a federal State—to raise revenue, this would require a treaty which was subject to ratification. It would be offensive to take such a power by using the affirmative order under the Act.

It is technically possible, but unlikely, that the Assembly could be given powers in the future requiring amendments to the Treaty of Rome, and necessitating ratification, that would annul the laws of member States. It is possible to see the Assembly being given power to issue binding decisions, directives and regulations which would have effect in EEC countries and which would require an amendment to Article 189. Such an amending treaty, subject to ratification, would be subject to parliamentary approval under the Ponsonby rule. This would require legislation by Parliament under the existing Section 13 of the European Communities Act.

We believe that we should make clear in the Bill that we should do this by primary legislation. This is to meet a genuine anxiety which has been expressed. The question asked is how this should be done. At a later stage of the Bill the Government will introduce a new clause, which I think the right hon. Member for Down, South will agree is probably the best way of dealing with this issue rather than that we should seek to amend Clause I in the way he suggests. I have already explained that that amendment is defective in a number of respects. The clause will ensure that no extension of the powers of the European Assembly which would encroach on the legislative powers of this House can be agreed by the Government without an authorising Act of Parliament. When hon. Members see the exact wording of the clause, they will be able to decide whether it meets their objections.

Mr. Spearing

Why was it not done earlier?

Dr. Owen

My hon. Friend should recognise that this is a significant step forward in a direction which he and others have been advocating. It is a direct attempt to meet a matter of legitimate concern where action could be taken which would increase the powers of the European Assembly to the direct detriment of this House.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Jay

My right hon. Friend is referring to extension of the power of the Assembly which would encroach on the powers of this Parliament. Would he regard a further extension of the budgetary powers of the Assembly which did not directly affect this country as encroaching on the powers of this Parliament? I would have thought that that was a matter of opinion. Many people might think that it did not so encroach.

Dr. Owen

This is a point that will come out when one examines the details. The question is, what are the powers?

Mr. Spearing


Dr. Owen

My hon. Friend must appreciate that I am trying to deal with this matter, and it is a difficult power to define in a legal sense. What is not difficult to define is something that affects our own legislative power in this House.

The matter goes beyond that. The authority of Ministers comes from the authority of the House of Commons. I could have come to this House and argued the Ponsonby rules, which have served the country well since they were first introduced in 1926. They touch the question of Crown prerogative and the matter of trusting in international obligations. The powers of the European Assembly are rightly watched with great care and, understandably, the House wishes to subject those powers to scrutiny.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

In regard to the Ponsonby rules, I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that they were not introduced in 1926—it was a Conservative Government by then—but in 1923 or 1924. More importantly, however, that is only a procedure for ensuring information to the House and discusison thereby. What is at issue here is parliamentary tion to the House and discussion thereby which would extend the power of Parliament. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman, with great respect, that he would be wise to avoid any such phrase as "encroaching on the powers of Parliament". That to some extent necessarily is a subjective value judgment. I think that this matter is capable of a simple formulation by way of ensuring Lord McNair's precedent laid down for Parliament in terms of ratification or amendment of the Treaty. That only brings our position on these matters into line with what is already enshrined in the written constitutions of most member States.

Dr. Owen

The idea is that Parliament itself should decide. I do not know whether the term "encroachment" will survive the scrutiny of parliamentary draftsmen, and it may not even survive the scrutiny of the House. I am offering the Committee, in good faith, the possibility of tabling a new clause to deal with this matter. It will be a clause which can be discussed. I am indicating to the Committee that it is right for us to be most vigilant and to ensure that there is adequate control. I refer to that matter in the sense of not relying on a purely verbal assurance. I think that we have met most of the points of principle, and I emphasise that the details can be examined when we see the new clause.

Mr. Powell

May I re-emphasise the importance of considering how unduly limiting is the definition of a change as encroaching on the legislative capability of this House? For example, if the Assembly were to take power to alter the budget or to impose taxation in some way, that would not alter the legislative powers of this House, just as formerly we were assured that there was no encroachment on the legislative powers of the House although there is direct taxation in other ways by the European Economic Community. This is a serious point.

Dr. Owen

It needs to be looked at, but in that case the Assembly does not now have that power because the power is held by the Council of Ministers. We are therefore protected in the sense that it is a subject not for majority voting but for decision by Ministers. If one were to take away from individual Ministers a decision to be made nationally, that is how one would come back to the matter of its affecting the powers of the House. We shall look at this and we are perfectly prepared to take on board all the points that have been made in the debate. We shall come back to it.

Mr. Marten

May I make a small point about language? The right hon. Gentleman said that he would offer the possibility of bringing forward a new clause. Can we be assured, to use the right hon. Gentleman's own expression about something else, that there are no weasel words here?

Dr. Owen

I have said that the Government will introduce, at a later stage of the consideration of the Bill, a new clause to give effect to the concern that has been expressed. There are no weasel words in that. We have had a discussion about the scope of the legislation, and I do not want to poach on that territory. However, I am advised that it will be possible to introduce such a clause, and I give that assurance in good faith but, like everyone else, I am subject to the decisions of the Chair.

Mr. David Howell

Guidance on this matter is already available to the Foreign Secretary on the question of the powers. It is in the amendment that we are discussing, and the point has rightly been made by the right hon. Gentleman that the powers concerned are those that will take effect by virtue of any treaty as defined in Section 1 of the European Communities Act. We should be concerned with treaty alterations that hitherto had not been covered expressly, but the suggestion is that a clause would be brought forward to enable that to be done.

On the matter of timing, we have not yet debated it but it is a central element in our consideration of the Bill and the way we approach the amendments and our view of the right hon. Gentleman's proposal.

Dr. Owen

It will come up when the new clauses are taken. In view of the obvious interest of the Committee, we should try to ensure that the new clause is tabled in ample time for all Members to give it full consideration and to be able to make any adjustments that they might wish.

Mr. Mikardo

On that point, does not my right hon. Friend realise that those of us who have been worried about this matter cannot think clearly about our attitude to Clause 1 until we see the text of the new clause? Cannot my right hon. Friend at least put it down before we have finished with Clause 1?

Dr. Owen

My hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) is a far more experienced parliamentarian than I, and he knows perfectly well that the argument is that the Government should listen to the views of the House. The Government have listened, both on Second Reading and today, and have come forward in good faith with a proposition which it is open to anyone to amend or change or to take any view on it when it comes before the House. That is the normal way in which we deal with these matters. I urge hon. Members at least to accept that the Government have taken a step—although it may not be entirely what hon. Members want—in good faith to try to meet genuine feeling.

Mr. Gould

I am sure that my right hon. Friend is right in suggesting that a new clause is the best way of dealing with this, and the Government have taken a considerable step. However, the point that needs clarifying is whether in the new clause the Government will bring forward and deal with the extension of the Assembly's powers rather than any diminution of the powers of this House. That is the essential point. We would want a new clause to change the focus from that suggested by my right hon. Friend to that which is implicit in the amendment.

Dr. Owen

I have undertaken to look at this, but I have to tell the Committee that there are real problems in definition. It is much easier to define anything which affects the diminution of powers of the House. One can take it further by saying that something is a diminution of the powers of a Minister. That will probably cover the point of anxiety. We need to look at that and other areas.

The word "powers" has been used rather loosely. I have described a number of areas of power—I spoke of legislative powers, which include regulations, directives and so on—and it is clear that we shall need definition here too. This will have to be subject to the scrutiny of the parliamentary draftsman and clarified by drafting to give hon. Members the opportunity to make any amendments. I am not claiming that it will meet all the points that the right hon. Member for Down, South wants, but it meets the basic anxiety relating to parliamentary sovereignty and decisions being taken to take away powers currently exercised by the House without the possibility of full and ample discussion and a considered decision being taken by the House on whether it wishes those powers to be taken away from it.

Mr. Jay

I recognise that my right hon. Friend has genuinely and courteously tried to meet the points raised in the debate, but I am afraid that his formula contains too many loopholes and is too uncertain. Therefore, although we shall look at his new clause with great interest when he brings it forward, I hope that we shall press the amendment.

Mr. Spearing


The First Deputy Chairman (Sir Myer Galpern)

Order. Is the hon. Gentleman's intervention really urgent? I thought that the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) was closing the debate.

Mr. Spearing

I have just a few sentences to say, Sir Myer. We appreciate very much what my right hon. Friend has said and the tone in which he has said it, but our doubts are mainly related to the polarity of his suggestion. It is easier to define when a new party is taking powers than when one finds that one's own powers are being prejudiced.

New Clause 1 does precisely that. I understand that it is translated from the system adopted by the French Assembly

Division No. 32] AYES [8.44 p.m.
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Hooley, Frank Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Atkinson, Norman Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Moate, Roger
Bidwell, Sydney Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Molyneaux, James
Body, Richard Jeger, Mrs Lena Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Bradford, Rev Robert Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Richardson, Miss Jo
Buchan, Norman Kerr, Russell Robinson, Geoffrey
Budgen, Nick Lamond, James Ross, William (Londonderry)
Carson, John Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Lee, John Sillars, James
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Skinner, Dennis
Corbett, Robin Litterick, Tom Spearing, Nigel
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) McCusker, H. Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Flannery, Martin Madden, Max
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Marten, Neil TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
George, Bruce Maynard, Miss Joan Mr. John Ellis and Mr. David Stoddart.
Gould, Bryan Mendelson, John
Heffer, Eric S Mikardo, Ian
Abse, Leo Eyre, Reginald Rees-Davies, W. R.
Armstrong, Ernest Fookes, Miss Janet Rhodes James, R.
Arnold, Tom Foot, Rt Hon Michael Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Gilbert, Dr John Roper, John
Bain, Mrs Margaret Graham, Ted Rose, Paul B.
Bates, Alf Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Bean, R. E. Harper, Joseph Royle, Sir Anthony
Berry, Hon Anthony Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Sandelson, Neville
Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Sever, John
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hooson, Emlyn Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Horam, John Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Bottomley, Peter Howell, David (Guildford) Small, William
Braine, Sir Bernard Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hunter, Adam Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield)
Brittan, Leon John, Brynmor Stallard, A. W.
Brotherton, Michael Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Steel, Rt Hon David
Buchanan, Richard Jones, Barry (East Flint) Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Judd, Frank Stott, Roger
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Kimball, Marcus Stradling Thomas, J.
Carlisle, Mark Lamborn, Harry Strang, Gavin
Carter, Ray Lester, Jim (Beeston) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Cartwright, John Lipton, Marcus Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) MacCormick, Iain Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Coleman, Donald Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Thompson, George
Concannon, J. D. Maclennan, Robert Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Costain, A. P. Magee, Bryan Tinn, James
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Crawshaw, Richard Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Crouch, David Meyer, Sir Anthony Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Molloy, William Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Doig, Peter Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Watkinson, John
Dormand, J. D. Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Whitehead, Phillip
Duffy, A. E. P. Neubert, Michael Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Dunn, James A. Ogden, Eric Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Dunnett, Jack Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Dykes, Hugh Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Palmer, Arthur Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
English, Michael Parker, John
Ennals, Rt Hon David Pattie, Geoffrey TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Ewing, Harry (Stiring) Radice, Giles Mr. James Hamilton and Mr. Frank R. White.
Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray) Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)

Question accordingly negatived.

and related entirely to the new powers of the European Assembly. My right hon. Friend says that he is going to look at this, but why is that which is apparently acceptable to the French Assembly and Government not acceptable here? My right hon. Friend did not refer once to New Clause 1 in his reply.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 49, Noes 122.

The First Deputy Chairman

The Question is, That the clause stand part of the Bill. As many as are of that opinion—

Mr. Jay

On a point of order, Sir Myer. I wish to move, That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again.

Earlier today, we had a long discussion with the Chairman of Ways and Means about certain of the amendments that had not been selected, and he was courteous and helpful enough to give some of the main reasons why amendments to Clause 1, in the condition in which they had been first put down, were not suitable for selection. He also marked his selection today as provisional, which presumably implies that he was willing to reconsider his non-selection of some of these amendments.

It is clear that, if we proceed to discuss Clause 1 as a whole now, there will not be time in the Committee thoroughly to consider what the Chairman said, in order that we may be able to redraft some of the amendments to Clause I which, as is evident from our earlier discussion, could fairly easily be put in order if time and opportunity were given.

We have also heard from my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary that he proposes to introduce a clause on the vital point of powers. We have not yet seen that clause, and we are, necessarily, thoroughly vague about it. I think that it would be unsatisfactory to continue discussing the clause without knowledge of what the Government's new clause is to contain. I therefore very much hope that it will be possible to report Progress now, so that the Committee has the opportunity to proceed in a more orderly and considered way.

Several Hon. Members


The First Deputy Chairman

Order. There is no further submission to make at the moment. I have listened with great interest to the submission by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), but I have to intimate that I decline to put that Question to the Committee.

The Question is, That the clause stand part—

Mr. Spearing

On a point of order, Sir Myer. I would like your guidance. When we entered the Chamber today, the Amendment Paper contained 11 amendments to Clause 1. It transpired that only one substantive amendment was either selected or in order. Earlier, we were given the reasons why certain matters were in order or were not in order. If we proceed now with the "clause stand part" debate, which you are about to call, Sir Myer, it means that we shall not be able, before Clause 1 is disposed of, to read what the Chairman said, in order that we might have the opportunity of tabling more amendments to Clause 1.

As there were 11 amendments on the Order Paper this morning, it was not expected that we would reach the "clause stand part" debate so soon. If we proceed without having the opportunity to read the Chairman's ruling and to put down more amendments, it means that the Bill will have the same history of the same attitudes and feelings as those attached to a previous measure of this kind, on which we encountered the same difficulties—although I think that it has been agreed across the Floor of the House and with the Chair that the same constraints do not apply to this Bill or, indeed, to this Government.

Those of us who believe that we should be able to table amendments, and that we should have the opportunity of advice from the Chair, hope that you can give us some guidance, Sir Myer. In the light of guidance from the Chair, we may wish to table more amendments to Clause 1, but if we now proceed to the "clause stand part" debate that will be impossible. For ever afterwards, those in this Chamber and those of us who put down the other 10 amendments which are not being called will have a legitimate grievance.

9.0 p.m.

It may be within the competence of the Leader of the House, who has democracy at heart and, indeed, the procedures of the House of Commons at heart, himself to move Progress. If that were to be the case, it might be possible. It has been discussed already. Perhaps you, Sir Myer, could suggest some procedure other than the moving of the motion. Otherwise, we shall find ourselves in a very difficult position. I think that those of us present who have put our names to the 10 amendments will have a legitimate and reasonable grievance.

Mr. Ron Thomas (Bristol, North-West)

Further to that point of order, Sir Myer—

The First Deputy Chairman

Is the hon. Member's point of order on the same point, or are we to have another two-hour session on points of order? I have given a ruling already, in response to the submission made by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), that I was not prepared to put to the Committee the Question, That I do report progress. What the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) is doing, in effect, is challenging my ruling. I was present in the Chamber during the whole of the submissions on points of order during the occupancy of the Chair by the Chairman of Ways and Means, and I have already proposed the Question, That Clause I stand part of the Bill, and the Committee is going to proceed.

Mr. Ron Thomas

On a point of order, Sir Myer. If, as you say, you were present during the submissions in regard to the amendments that were not accepted, I think you will agree with me that the Chairman was very helpful indeed in suggesting that had some of the amendments been worded slightly differently, they would have been selected. I particularly refer to Amendments Nos. 12 and 13, which dealt with the salaries and allowances of Members of the European Assembly when they are elected. The point was quite rightly made that outside this place this is one of the major items of concern. It has been discussed throughout the country, and considerable concern has been expressed about it.

The Chairman was good enough to say, as I understood him, that it was simply the way in which these amendments had been worded that prevented him from selecting them for discussion, and had they been worded rather differently, they would have been selected. If we now move to a debate on the Question, That the clause stand part of the Bill, it will be impossible for those of us who are very concerned about this mat- ter, and are trying to represent our constituents in regard to it, to table other amendments which, if suitably worded, would be accepted by the Chairman.

The First Deputy Chairman

I think that we can dispose of this matter. There is some misunderstanding. As I have already said, I heard all the exchanges during that period before we embarked upon consideration of the amendments. My view is that it does not affect Clause 1. Apart from that, however, I remind hon. Members who are disposed to raise points of order that they have not been denied the opportunity of what they thought had been promised in the guidance given to them by the Chairman of Ways and Means, and that there is still the Report stage to come, when there will be the opportunity to put down those amendments.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

On a point of order, Sir Myer. I do not want to take up time, but there is a slight misapprehension on the part of the Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Thomas). The reference of the Chairman of Ways and Means to the amendments which could be in order if put down to an appropriate clause—he was good enough to indicate the clause, which was Clause 9, and the appropriate schedule—was to Amendments Nos. 10 and 11. Amendments Nos. 12 and 13, to which the hon. Member more specifically referred, were ruled out of order because they imposed a charge and would not be in order without a Ways and Means Money Resolution. So they are in rather a different position.

The First Deputy Chairman

I am obliged to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. That is what I was trying to convey to the Committee—that hon. Members are not being denied anything on the Question, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Spearing

We are.

Mr. Stoddart

On a point of order, Sir Myer. I understood you to refuse to accept the motion that the Committee should now report Progress. What I hope to do is to persuade you to the view that you should accept that motion.

The Chairman

Order. I have already given my ruling, and it cannot be challenged.

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Marten

My hon. Friend the Member for Faversham (Mr. Moate) has just pointed out to me—no doubt he will elaborate it in his remarks, if he succeeds in catching your eye, Sir Myer—the question of the Assembly of the European Communities. Nowhere in the Bill does it describe what the Assembly is. Nowhere does it refer to the Treaty of Rome, or anything like that. It might be any European Assembly, any assembly of the European Communities, and somebody else might set up a perfectly voluntary Assembly of the Communities in Europe. To which one would it refer? It requires clarification that it is the Treaty of Rome Assembly. Nowhere in the Bill is that mentioned. Perhaps that matter will be considered.

We are grateful for the fall-back position, with the Government intending to introduce a new clause which will go some way towards meeting our object in tabling the amendment. As has been said, what matters is that there shall be no extension of the powers of the Assembly, than that there shall be no taking away of powers from the House of Commons. That is what we want.

One is brought back to the question of the powers of the Assembly and the way in which one thinks it will develop. That is a matter that the Committee should consider very carefully. I go back in the history of this matter not so far as the beginning of the Treaty of Rome, where, clearly, the founders were aiming at a federal Europe; no more, no less. I go back merely to December 1974, to the Summit communique. The communique, which I have here, states that The competence of the European Assembly will be extended, in particular by granting it certain powers in the Communities' legislative assembly. That gives some indication of what it is after, which is why we must be very careful about the way in which the new clause is drafted.

To cover their intentions, which are so clearly expressed there, we go to the Tindemans Report, which Mr. Tindemans drew up after one year of solid study of the Community. He made a most interesting report, saying how the Community should progress. On page 4 he speaks of remaining personally convinced that Europe will only fulfil its destiny if it espouses federalism. So the great expert who has conducted a greater study of the Community than anybody in the Parliament of the United Kingdom gives it as his opinion that it must head towards a federal Europe. There again we are concerned with powers.

Then Mr. Ortoli, who was President of the Commission, writes as follows, in his annual report for 1975: If the elected Parliament is to be true to its calling"— it would not be anything other than true to its calling with the right hon. Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas) as one of the bastions of the Assembly— it must be given legislative power. So that is confirmed again by the President of the Commission in 1975.

Right hon. and hon. Members might have heard about the attempts of the European Conservatives or Euro-Conservatives to form an alliance with the other similar parties—Christian Democrats, and so on—in the Assembly in that part of Europe which is called the Community. The other parties—the Christian Democrat parties of the EEC countries—have formed a party called the European People's Party. That is the one which I think our Conservatives over there would be trying to work with.

Article 3 of the statute of that new political party makes it quite clear: Objectives.

  1. (c) it shall participate"—
that is, this party shall participate— in, and support the process of, European integration and cooperate in the transformation of Europe into a European Union with a view to achieving Federal Union. Again, that is clear. We must ensure that any powers which might be required do not take us towards that objective.

This year, Lord Thomson, the former Commissioner, said: After direct elections it will be converted into a rival of national Parliaments, fighting for a fairer share of Parliamentary power". That is the reality from Mr. Tindemans, Mr. Ortoli and now Lord Thomson, who has declared exactly what they are after—more power. We are discussing the question of stopping them getting more power and how to do it.

In a more emotional way, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon), speaking in the Assembly on 15th June this year, said: if I may say so, if we as Europeans fail to transcend the old nation-state boundaries, we will ultimately consign ourselves to the obscurity which we will have deserved". There was apparently then applause from the European Conservative Group.

That is the emotional side of the argument. It shows a lack of faith in our country and a defeatist attitude towards our country if it is said that if we do not transcend nation-State boundaries—in other words, cease to be nation States—we shall consign ourselves to obscurity. What absolute rubbish!

Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)

Surely the hon. Gentleman is being unfair. It does not necessarily indicate a defeatist attitude; it indicates a different concept of the rôle of this country, which is not necessarily defeatist, but may be very optimistic.

Mr. Marten

I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman has intervened, because if he had made that remark I would not have criticised it, as he is an out-and-out and accepted federalist, and I admire him for it. I disagree with him, but I always respect him. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham has been a bit of a Gaullist at times, and that remark does not tie in with the attitude that he previously adopted.

Almost finally on the point about the powers in the clause, I come to the famous manifesto of the European Movement, published in November this year. Paragraph 7 reads: we will work … to transform the Community into a federal democracy …". Later it says that a European Government will be wanted and that until then majority voting should be used more widely.

All those are red lights flashing a warning that we must be extremely careful in drafting the amended clause to which the Foreign Secretary referred. The Economist of 26th Novmber carries an article with the title "Look before you leap". I agree with that. It is about Mr. Roy Jenkins. He is sometimes called "President Jenkins" in the Euro-bumph, but that is too much like "President Carter". If we continue along that line, we shall have references to "President Plumb" of the NFU, and so on. The article refers to the question of monetary union. It states that Despite Mr. Jenkin's retreat"— that is, in the face of the fire from Mr. Ortoli— Germany's finance minister, Herr Apel was scathing about the modest Ortoli paper when finance ministers took a first look on 22nd November. He waspishly described it as a 'string of pearls without any string'. And he insisted that Germany could not agree to a bigger and more redistributive EEC budget as long as countries such as Britain opposed political integration. That is from one of the EEC countries going for political integration. We know that the Germans want a federal Europe, for a variety of reasons.

I think that I have given sufficient warning of the red lights to show that the new clause must be very carefully drafted to meet our objections.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, in her speech on Europe in Rome earlier this year, said: I do not believe that the nation States in Europe will wither away". I agree with her. She was saying that the nation State will survive. The logic of that is that no further powers will be given to the European Assembly at any time. That is the Conservative official view.

9.15 p.m.

Mr. Mikardo

You told us, Sir Myer, that you were present when your predecessor in the Chair was kind enough to give the House advice on some matters concerning procedure and suggestions on amendments on the same topic that had been tabled in different terms and in different places. You will recall, Sir Myer, that you advised one of my hon. Friends that, even if one of the amendments was not called, it would be open to him to raise matters in it in the debate on the clause.

I propose to take the advice of the Chairman and make some references to some of the ideas in the amendments. I shall not attempt to cover them all, but I am sure that my hon. Friends will step in and fill all the gaps that I shall leave. I appreciate why I cannot talk about the amendments themselves, but I propose to draw the attention of the House to some of the issues covered by the amendments and to some other issues.

If it came about that we were to have the opportunity of drafting revised amendments before there was a decision on Clause 1, we should not need to pursue all these various issues in the debate on the clause. I appreciate that the matter is entirely at your discretion, Sir Myer, but if you found it possible later to accept a motion to report Progress, perhaps from the Leader of the House or from another hon. Member, even in the small hours, and we had not completed discussion of this clause, it might be possible to deal with the issue with a little more celerity.

It might take us until the early morning to finish discussion of Clause 1, and I am bound to go through the various issues that are raised by the clause and to take my share of the Committee's duty to inquire into all the matters that are covered by the clause, along the lines suggested by the Chairman.

I refer to a subject raised by the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten). It involves the question of powers, which has occupied a considerable amount of time this evening. I welcomed the offer of the Secretary of State to table a new clause, but I reiterate what I ventured to put to him in a short intervention—namely, that it really is not possible for us to take a considered, balanced view of our attitude to the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", without knowing the text of the new clause. We cannot vote without seeing that text.

I am not accusing my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary of any lack of good faith—I am sure that he made his offer in the best of good faith—but there are various ways of drafting the clause. Some of them will suffice, while some will not. Until we see the text, we shall be buying, in this debate, a pig in a poke. It might transpire that the new clause will still have to rely on ministerial assurances, such as those that have been quoted almost ad nauseam today, as a safeguard for the powers and the rôle of the House. If that is so, I say only that in this, my ninth Parliament, I can recall many events which have led me to the conclusion that I should adapt the proverb and say that all too often ministerial assurances are piecrusts. Sometimes they have been piecrusts made of flaky pastry, and very thin flaky pastry at that.

So we want to know whether we are to have a clause which safeguards the achievement of the objectives for which right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have today been pressing. Or are we to have a text which will not stand up without the reinforcement of those ministerial assurances, without someone being able to argue what were the intentions of Parliament in respect of Clause 1 and the new clause respectively?

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

There is another point that my hon. Friend might like to consider. Earlier today, during business questions, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House announced that there would be no Common Market business next week. Since my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary might come up with something which is supposed to meet the arguments put forward on the first amendment, it would seem ludicrous to conclude discussion on Clause 1 tonight. The Government are not including the Bill in next week's business, and it would seem that they can afford to leave it for that time. Therefore, it would be sensible not to conclude this debate on the clause tonight. The Government have delayed the debate on the Bill in order to have a debate on proportional representation in the week before Christmas—they have not told us that, but that is the arrangement that has been made behind the scenes with the Liberals—so why conclude this debate on the clause tonight?

Mr. Mikardo

There seems to be some force in my hon. Friend's argument. If no time is to be allocated to the Bill next week, what the heck is the hurry to get Clause 1 tonight? Having got it, it appears that we are only to sit on our bottoms and do nothing for a couple of weeks.

I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention, which was as cogent as always, and I return to the difficulty which we shall face unless certain provisions are specifically written into the Bill.

Over the last three or four weeks, in respect of another Act of Parliament, something has happened in the courts which ought to cause us furiously to think. That Act first came before this House as a very small Private Member's Bill in 1975, with nothing like the importance and the moment of the Bill now before the House. It became the Domestic Violence and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1976. I am not, with respect, moving out of order, Sir Myer, in talking about that measure, because in doing so I wish to refer very closely to the Bill that is now before us.

Mr. Skinner

It is analogous.

Mr. Mikardo

When that Bill went through the House, the whole House understood at every stage—and the Lord Chancellor so advised—that its provisions applied equally to cohabiting couples as to married couples. That was manifestly the intention of Parliament. It was never in question. Then it was challenged in the courts in respect of cohabiting couples. The court ruled that it could not take into account, in deciding this cause, what were the intentions of Parliament. Indeed, the president of the court refused to allow to be admitted in evidence passages from the proceedings in Committee and in the House which made clear the intentions of Parliament.

It sounds like a small thing, Sir Myer, but you, with your long experience of these matters and your great knowledge of procedures of the House, will realise that it makes an enormous difference to us. If it is a fact that the intentions of Parliament—

Mr. Budgen

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Mikardo

Gladly, when I have finished the sentence. If it is a fact that the intentions of Parliament are not to be taken into account in deciding causes at law, we must make very sure indeed that our intentions are crystallised precisely in the wording of the Bill.

Mr. Budgen

If the hon. Gentleman is saying that he approves of the practice of Lord Denning—he was the judge who looked at the debates in Parliament upon that Bill, as it then was—presumably he would have approved of a judge looking at the observations of Tory politicians when they were introducing the Industrial Relations Bill. The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. Or would he say that the proper ground on which he bases himself was in his last sentence, when he said that it is important to get legislation right, because the courts interpret it not as it is believed it ought to be but as it is?

Mr. Mikardo

I do not think that that intervention does justice to the hon. Gentleman, who makes percipient contributions to our thinking. I was not talking about taking into account the observations of politicians in the House, and it does not matter tuppence whether they are Tory, Labour, Liberal or anything else. I did not say that at all. I was talking about taking into account what was clearly expressed as an intention of the House—not an obiter dictum by some politician, but the intention of the House. The hon. Gentleman in the end got round to the right answer but for the wrong reason. The point, of course, is that this puts upon us very much greater pressure to ensure that Acts say exactly what we intend them to mean, as far as it is humanly possible so to do. I join the hon. Gentleman in applauding Lord Denning's reversal of the decision of a predecessor. That, however, is not final. There has been notice of appeal to the House of Lords, and it can all be shifted back the other way.

9.30 p.m.

I do not want to go further into discussion of that matter except to point out —I repeat myself, but I promise to do so only once—that since a ministerial assurance, accepted by the House, indicates the intention of Parliament, if it is a fact that the intention of Parliament does not weigh in the courts, ministerial assurances ought not to be relied upon to give us the safeguards that we want. However much we know that assurances are given in good faith, and however much we trust and admire the Ministers who give them, it would seem that such assurances cannot be relied upon. Therefore, it is essential—I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Government Front Bench are listening, because I am addressing these remarks specifically to them—that we see the proposed text of the new clause promised by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary before we are asked to come to a conclusion on the Question, "That the clause stand part of the Bill".

It would be very helpful if one of my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench were to get up now and tell us that that is the intention. It would save an awful lot of talk and a very late night or a very early morning. The only point that worries me is that I have to deliver my daughter to Heathrow Airport at 6.40 a.m. I shall not be able to carry on after 6 o'clock, but I shall be all right till then. As my right hon. and hon. Friends know, I shall be bright, lively and alert all the way through to 6 a.m.

Seriously, I suggest that it would save a lot of time and trouble if my right hon. Friend would seek to ask leave for the Committee to report Progress before we are asked to reach a decision on whether Clause 1 should stand part of the Bill. We could then have a quiet, shortish debate and have a good look at the revised amendments that right hon. and hon. Members on both sides will no doubt want to table. It would be a sensible way to proceed. In the end it would reduce, rather than increase, the time spent debating the Question "That the clause stand part of the Bill". If my right hon. Friend wishes to intervene, I shall be happy to give way to him.

Mr. Skinner

Do not be shy.

Mr. Mikardo

I am sorry that my right hon. Friend does not want to intervene. However, I hope that he will have further thoughts on this matter and seek to intervene later. In the event, I must go on.

Mr. John Lee (Birmingham, Handsworth)

Before my hon. Friend goes on, I should like to take up a point that he made earlier. Is there not another reason for certainty in legislation and for being specific in this clause? One other spinoff, as one might describe it, of the judgment in the celebrated case of Davis v. Johnson, to which my hon. Friend alluded, is that Lord Denning decided that the Court of Appeal could overrule itself.

We now have the situation that the two most superior courts in the land have decided that they are not bound by their own decisions. The House of Lords made that decision some time ago, and the Court of Appeal decided that this week. Does not that inject a further element of uncertainty into the whole of law-making at large and, therefore, make it imperative that we should spell these matters out in as much detail as possible so that we can see the way ahead that much more clearly?

Mr. Mikardo

I go along with my hon. Friend as far as a layman can go along with a lawyer as learned as he is. If I tried to follow my hon. Friend all the way, I would rapidly get out of my depth.

Of course, it must not be thought that the case for having legislation precise and clear is a new one. We have always tried to make the text of the law as unambiguous as we can. If someone has to go to a court to find out what the law means, we accept that as evidence of failure on the part of Parliament to make its intentions clear.

I am not saying that we have always been slipshod in the past, but it is now necessary to become precise. We have always tried to be precise, but, of course, no man is so wise as to be able to anticipate all the contingencies that might arise. Therefore, in our mortal fallibility we unintentionally leave some ambiguities.

The only fresh point I was making was that in the past we have relied a great deal on ministerial assurances when they have been formal and given in good faith, but the events over the last few weeks warn us that we can no longer do so.

Mr. Skinner

My hon. Friend is missing another point that is often instanced in this place and outside in respect of ensuring that a Bill can be easily interpreted by the courts. Not only do we have Committee and Report stages, but we often hear from the great constitutionalists that there is another place to deal with Bills in order to tidy them up, to insert the dots, the semi-colons and so on and to make sure that they are fit to be interpreted properly by the lawyers. But the real problem in respect of the House of Lords—I think my hon. Friend will agree—is that it is not the safeguard, certainly in relation to Common Market matters, that it should be.

With his great knowledge and experience, my hon. Friend will recall that when we initially dealt with the Common Market legislation in 1972—we were then innocent and naive members on the Opposition Benches—we expected the House of Lords, with its great wisdom, constitutional knowledge and know-how, to fashion that Bill in a way which could be properly interpreted by the courts so that there would be no breakdowns in communication and interpretation thereafter. But, somehow, the House of Lords did nothing about that Bill. It did not even insert a comma.

That is what makes it important for my hon. Friends and all hon. Members to understand that, with regard to this Bill above all others the House of Lords can be no safeguard, even though it may be a safeguard in respect of other Bills, which I very much challenge.

With regard to the Common Market, however, there is such a pro-Market majority in the House of Lords that there can be no safeguard at all. That is what makes it even more necessary for my right hon. Friend to get up and say—

The Chairman (Mr. Oscar Murton)

The hon. Gentleman is an astute politician, but he is confusing the difference between a speech and an interjection. I am glad that he agrees with me. Will he be kind enough to complete his interjection very quickly?

Mr. Skinner

I was so tied up with this that I was inserting the semi-colons and putting in the dots. I was explaining to my hon. Friend that this is such a crucial matter and of the utmost importance that he is right on the ball in demanding that the Government Front Bench should make a statement.

Mr. Mikardo

I hate to differ from you, Mr. Murton, but I thought that my hon. Friend's confusion was a little different from the way in which you put it. I thought that he was failing to distinguish between trespassing upon the time of the Committee and encroaching upon eternity. However, I would say to him that I do not join him in his criticism of the other place. I have a great regard for the other place and I shall go on having it as long as that place exists, which I hope will be for a very short time.

The real trouble with the other place in connection with this Bill is that it will not come to discuss it until we have finished with it. I am talking about something happening before we reach a decision on whether Clause 1 should stand part of the Bill. It will be much too late when the other place considers the Bill. Even if my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover persuaded them all to have a road-to-Damascus conversion, it would be too late to get anything done about it.

The plea I am making to the Secretary of State is that we should be able to see the text of his proposed new clause and put amendments to it before we are asked to come to a conclusion on whether Clause 1 should stand part of the Bill.

We have been discussing the question of powers, and we could have gone on discussing it for a long time. I am sure some of my hon. Friends still wish to discuss it, because it is vital. There has been a great deal of difference of opinion among people—genuine differences of view—with opinions on both sides of the Committee held equally firmly and equally sincerely about the extent to which the existence of the European Assembly, never mind about its extended powers, will diminish the rights of the House, and certainly about the extent to which, if the powers are obtained, this will reinforce the powers of the Commission to make regulations binding on us. The extent to which the very rôle and the part to be played by the House of Commons would be gravely affected is also a matter of widely differing opinions.

Mr. Spearing

Was my hon. Friend present at the debate the other day when the hon. Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd) welcomed the prospect of having another Member in his area to whom he could refer matters relating to the EEC? Would he care to speculate what would happen in North-East London if we told our constituents to go and see their directly-elected Member who had no powers ultimately in the European Assembly?

Mr. Mikardo

The very putting of the question by my hon. Friend indicates the answer. We have heard this afternoon from hon. Members on both sides how a few months ago an increase in the powers of the Assembly went through unchallenged and without any need for legislation in a most perfunctory manner either on a Friday or in one of those late-night dos that we have, when there are about half a dozen sleepy hon. Members around—

Mr. Skinner

Not sleepy.

9.45 p.m.

Mr. Mikardo

One wakeful Member and half a dozen sleepy ones. A motion then comes before the House at that hour containing masses of Brussels verbiage—what some of us call Brussels Chinese, a language that nobody understands. That motion goes through without anybody having appreciated what is before the House.

It has been done once, and there is nothing to prevent its being done again. That will happen unless we write into our law a provision that such a matter cannot go through this House in a hole-and-corner fashion but shall be the subject of full-scale legislation that alerts us all. We need alerting, in view of the great volume of stuff that comes before us on serious and important issues. Such a matter should never again be allowed to go through without coming before the House in a form in which we are alerted to its importance and significance.

In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test (Mr. Gould), my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary seemed to suggest that his new clause would be triggered off only by an attempt by the European Assembly to obtain powers that encroached on the powers of this House. That is a matter about which there could be all kinds of subjective judgments. If a new clause is to come along on those lines it will not do any good at all, because we require a better insurance policy than that. The only insurance policy is wording that requires an Act of Parliament if the European Assembly desires to make any significant changes in its powers. We shall then be in a position to examine the proposed changes, and we can judge for ourselves whether and to what extent they encroach on the powers of this House. That is the only thorough going and effective safety net that will be of real value to us. That is why we must see the wording before we can be fairly asked to give blanket approval to the Question, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

I leave that subject, although I am sure that some of my hon. Friends, and, indeed, some Opposition Members who are more knowledgeable on these matters than I am, will seek to probe the matter a little further.

I wish now to deal with the matters raised by Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 and consequential Amendments Nos. 18, 22 and 23, which are amendments to Clause 2. We do not yet know whether they have been selected. This part of the discussion relates to whether those we send as representatives to the Assembly are to represent only the people of the United Kingdom, or the people of the United Kingdom, its colonies and dependencies. That is a subject of considerable moment. Let us examine the matter not through our eyes but through the eyes of any citizen of one of those colonies or dependencies.

The welfare and livelihood of such a citizen could be directly affected by decisions taken, motions carried and representations made by the European Assembly. A citizen of Bermuda or Hong Kong could have his trade considerably affected by the mucking about of the European Commission. Such a citizen could have his welfare affected by someone going from East London to talk in the European Assembly—and yet he would have no access to the Assembly at all.

Last week one hon. Gentleman talked about his own constituents being unable to have access to someone to discuss European Assembly matters affecting them. If one accepts that point, one must consider what access a citizen of Bermuda, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar or Hong Kong would have. He would have no one to go to.

Let us consider what would happen if representatives were elected on a constituency basis. Which British Member of the European Assembly would such a citizen consult about what was imposed on him by the Community? Would it be the Member for East London or the Member for Aldgate Pump to Dagenham, which will presumably be one constituency? Is that the Member to whom this poor chap in Hong Kong would apply for redress of his grievances, to whom he could write and say "Please go to Strasbourg, and remember that I do not have the same trade union protection as do some other people, and that my employers are being disadvantaged by EEC tariffs and regulations", or whatever else? Would it be that Member whom he should contact, or the one covering the counties of Devon and Cornwall? I ask hon. Members which would be the most appropriate as the voice of the citizen of Gibraltar. Would it be the Member for Devon and Cornwall or the Member for Aldgate Pump to Dagenham?

Let us consider what would happen if we adopted the regional system. How would the poor chap in Gibraltar or the Falkland Islands decide between the Member for the North-West Region and the Member for the South-East Region? In fact, he will not have any access. He will have his welfare affected to a greater or lesser extent by what goes on in Strasbourg and he will have absolutely no one to turn to.

Mr. Powell

Is there not a more exquisite reason for doubt and difficulty that the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) is overlooking, which is that unless we get rid of the regional list this chap will not even know who are the Members for those constituencies?

Mr. Mikardo

That is absolutely right. If we had the first-past-the-post system the poor chap would at least know the name of someone he could write to, although he would have no claim on that person beyond the right to point out these things, but he would not even know the person's name if we had the regional list system.

Mr. Dykes

On a point of order, Mr. Murton. I am sorry to stop the proceedings but the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) was, as usual, making an extremely boring speech, and most Members—as a result of his speaking for more than half an hour—had switched off and were no longer listening closely.

I forced myself to try to concentrate briefly on what the hon. Gentleman was saying. Unless I misunderstood him, he seemed to be talking about a clause that was not Clause 1. I understood that this was a debate on whether Clause 1 should stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Skinner

Further to that point of order, if it is a point of order, Mr. Murton. Before you answer it, I should like to make representations on behalf of many of my hon. Friends and many Opposition Members. We have greatly enjoyed the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo), but we have been informed in the last 10 minutes of an area that has not been discussed before. It is extremely important that all this material is brought out.

I understand why the hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) is getting a bit aerated about the matter. He hopes to be one of the 81 Members of the Assembly picking up £30,000 a year and he does not want someone from Hong Kong writing to him. That is his problem.

The Chairman

I do not think that any comment is needed from the Chair.

Mr. Mikardo

I am sure that if I had strayed away from the paths of order, Mr. Murton, you would have been quick to redirect my feet on to the proper path without the assistance of the hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes). I shall go on talking for as long as I am in order, and if the hon. Gentleman is getting a little tired, or finds his powers of concentration flagging, I give him leave to go out for a noggin or two in the next hour or so. He can then come back for the last part of my speech.

It is a matter of importance who the representatives are to represent. There is nothing in the Long Title about this matter.

Mr. Body

Before the hon. Gentleman leaves the question of who is to speak up for those living in the dependancies and affected by policies of the EEC, may I ask whether he is aware that the French are coping with this problem very much better than we are? Their equivalents to Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands—that is, Martinique and Guadaloupe—will be represented in the Assembly. Yet we are to be deprived of the opportunity of amending the Bill to allow the counterparts of Martinique to be represented.

Mr. Mikardo

I hasten to assure the hon. Gentleman that I was not about to leave this point. He has anticipated one of the arguments that I proposed to put to the Committee. Do we think it right that a citizen of a British colony should have less power and influence in this matter than a citizen of a French colony?

The Long Title does not say who is to be represented by the representatives. Only later do we come to a reference to the people of the United Kingdom.

It would have been open to the Government to draft the Bill in such a way that it covered the colonies and dependancies as well as the people of the United Kingdom. Indeed, it is still open to them to do that by a new clause or an amendment. We have already had an undertaking, for which we are very grateful, about a new clause. If the Government can bring in a new clause along the lines

Division No. 33] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Armstrong, Ernest Foot, Rt Hon Michael Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)
Arnold, Tom Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Rhodes James, R.
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) George, Bruce Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Gilbert, Dr John Roper, John
Bates, Alf Graham, Ted Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Royle, Sir Anthony
Bottomley, Peter Hannam, John Sandelson, Neville
Braine, Sir Bernard Harper, Joseph Sever, John
Bray, Dr Jeremy Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Brittan, Leon Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Brotherton, Michael Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Small, William
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Hooley, Frank Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Buchanan, Richard Hooson, Emlyn Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield)
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Horam, John Stallard, A. W.
Carlisle, Mark Howell David (Guildford) Steel, Rt Hon David
Carter, Ray Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Cartwright, John Hunter, Adam Stott, Roger
Chalker, Mrs Lynda John, Brynmor Stradling Thomas, J.
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Strang, Gavin
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Jones, Barry (East Flint) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Cohen, Stanley Judd, Frank Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Concannon, J. D. Kilfedder, James Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Corbett, Robin Le Marchant, Spencer Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Lester, Jim (Beeston) Tinn, James
Crawshaw, Richard Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor van Straubenzee, W R.
Crouch, David Maclennan, Robert Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Davidson, Arthur Magee, Bryan Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Dormand, J. D. Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Watkinson, John
Duffy, A. E. P. Meyer, Sir Anthony White, Frank R. (Bury)
Dunn, James A, Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Whitehead, Phillip
Dunnett, Jack Molloy, William Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Durant, Tony Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Wiggin, Jerry
Dykes, Hugh Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Neubert, Michael Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
English, Michael Ogden, Eric Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Ennals Rt Hon David Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Palmer, Arthur TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Eyre, Reginald Pattie, Geoffrey Mr. James Hamilton and Mr. Donald Coleman.
Fookes, Miss Janet Radice, Giles
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Henderson, Douglas Marten, Neil
Atkinson, Norman Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Maynard, Miss Joan
Bidwell Sydney Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Mikardo, Ian
Body, Richard Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Moate, Roger
Budgen, Nick Kilfedder, James Molyneaux, James
Carson, John Lamond, James Powell, Rt Hon J Enoch
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Richardson, Miss Jo
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Robinson, Geoffrey
Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Litterick, Tom Rooker, J. W.
Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray) McCusker, H Ross, William (Londonderry)
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Sillars, James
Flannery, Martin Madden, Max Skinner, Dennis

proposed by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, they could certainly bring in—

It being Ten o'clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.

Committee report Progress.

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