§ "This Act shall not come into force until the House of Commons has considered and approved the salaries and expenses to be paid to Members of the European Assembly".—[Mr. Madden.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ 4.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Max Madden (Sowerby)
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
I am sure that other hon. Members will share my experiences of the extreme difficulty of obtaining any information, let alone accurate information, about the salaries, expenses and other benefits which are proposed for Members of a directly-elected European Assembly.
I asked the Library to give me all the information that it could on these matters. I was told:Comprehensive information on this subject is not very readily available as it tends to be treated as an internal administration matter of the Assembly".The Library added:On salary and allowances to be paid to directly elected Assembly Members, this is of course the responsibility of the Community institutions themselves. It is not a matter on which the Government accepts responsibility to the House and so far as I can see the Government has not taken a position in the House on it".Several references have been made earlier today about the imprudence of accepting all that is written in newspapers. As a working journalist of some experience—
§ Mr. Madden
As a working journalist of some experience, I share that view. I think that it is a general rule that hon. Members should observe. However, on 684 occasions—certainly when there is difficulty gaining information from other sources—the Press can be extremely helpful. On the proposals for salaries, expenses and other benefits of directly elected Members, the Press has been the only source of some information.
The following headlines give some indication of the view of the Press of those proposals. The Irish Times had an article headlined:Euro MPs Set For Bonanza".The Economist referred to "The Lure of Europe".
The Sunday Times asked:Is There a Gravy Train on the Strasbourg Run?The Times commented:A Well-Paid House of Europe".Those headlines give an indication of the substance of some extremely interesting stories. They were based primarily on rumours about the recommendations of a working party of the European Assembly that was beavering away on proposals for salaries, expenses and other benefits of directly-elected Members of the European Parliament. I understand that two of the members of the working party were Lord Bessborough and my right hon. Friend the Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas).
I do not know whether the newspaper articles to which I have referred were based on inspired leaks or briefings, but they seemed to contain a great deal of detailed information that has not led to any comment so far that I have been able to secure from Ministers or other official sources.
The articles stated that the working party had unanimously agreed on a series of recommendations. For instance, it recommended that consideration should be given to two salary scales. The lesser scale would give directly elected Members of the European Assembly from Britain salaries of £22,782 a year, which, after a special Common Market rate of tax, reduced below the level prevailing in the rest of the United Kingdom, would leave Members with £16,392. The higher scale recommended by the working party was £30,692, which, after the payment of the special EEC tax, would amount to £21,544. In addition, the working party proposed most substantial allowances, partial legal immunity and reduced tax rates.
685 The working party went on to propose substantial family allowances, sickness benefit and other fringe benefits worth several thousand pounds a year. It suggested that directly elected Members of the European Assembly from Britain and other member States of the Common Market should have offices in their own countries and a paid secretary. Also among the recommendations was the proposal that Members should have full-time research assistants earning salaries of between £10,090 a year and £12,000. Finally, it was suggested that those who were no longer members of a directly elected European Assembly should have a golden handshake of up to one year's salary.
These stories attracted some modest attention within the British Press. I am sure that most of my colleagues will agree that these matters did not grab the headlines of several newspapers over a considerable period. When challenged, officials of the European Assembly were circumspect and guarded in making any comment. The comments that I have been able to find consist of noncommittal and reserved responses that point out that no final decision may be taken by the Commission or the Council of Ministers until all nine member States are irrevocably committed to take part in direct elections.
The reasons for the proposals made by the working party were varied. There were all sorts of comments about the need to attract people of all talents and of impressive calibre. There was talk about the enormous variation in salaries and allowances of Members of other member State Parliaments. It was argued that it was unacceptable to do anything that brought Members below the standard prevailing in Germany, which is the country that pays its legislators the highest salaries, allowances and other benefits.
It is interesting to dwell on the comments made recently in Ireland by Herr Ludwig Felleurmaier, the Chairman of the Assembly's Socialist Group. He recently told The Irish Times that Members of the German Parliament now receive a total of £33,060 a year, and that an equivalent salary would be expected by Germans directly elected to any European Assembly. Those who might wish to support that view should consider one thing that Herr Felleurmaier said, namely, that it was not merely a parity argument. 686 He made the interesting comment that it was essential for European parliamentarians to maintain their independence from national pressures. He said that in view of the geographical constituency problems of European representation a large income would be a necessity. He added that it would be a necessity to ensure that salary, expenses and other benefits were equal.
The figures that I have given are not fanciful, or figments of the colourful imagination of a journalist. The allowances and conditions of existing Assembly Members indicate that the view on these matters of those who control the European Assembly is far from niggardly. An ex-Member of the present Assembly told The Sunday Times last July that he was no longer a member of what he called the "gravy train". He went on to claim that it was possible to make £9,000 a year over and above his Westminster salary on Assembly expenses. The article revealed that travelling expenses to Luxembourg were at least £200, regardless of the class or cost of travel. If Members chose to fly tourist, it cost £80. Obviously the difference went to the Member. I understand that the allowance for that form of travel has increased five times in the past year.
The article went on to state that once in Luxembourg Members enjoyed an allowance of £53 a day for living expenses. Although The Sunday Times Common Market editor believed that that was about right to permit Members to live in a reasonable style, Lord Brimelow, former head of the Diplomatic Service, who we must assume knows what living in style is all about, was moved to confess to The Sunday Times:I think these allowances are rather on the high side myself. I find I just do not spend the full allowance".4.30 p.m.
The noble Lord went on to confess that he had attended a European Assembly meeting in London earlier in the year for two days and had received £106. The only outlays that he had been called upon to make were bus fares to and from Lancaster House. He went on to say"This was obviously a bit extravagant".I am sure that most Members would heartily endorse the view of Lord Brimelow.
§ Mr. J. W. Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr
Whatever we may think about the calculation of the expenses, if expenses are being drawn in excess of expenditure, surely the British Inland Revenue ought to be taking an interest in the matter.
§ Mr. Neil Marten (Banbury)
Of course, there is just the possibility that a Member of Parliament having a constituency on the South Coast of England could keep a car in Calais, go across the Channel, drive to Brussels and back, and still draw the entire travel allowance, thus making for himself a substantial profit.
As for the salaries mentioned by the hon. Gentleman, I should point out that I have been chasing officials at the Treasury to find out whether those salaries will be taxable. I should have thought that it was simple enough for anybody to give the answer, but the Treasury cannot tell us whether those salaries will be taxable. It could not tell us on 1st February this year.
§ Mr. Madden
The hon. Gentleman has brought out some extremely interesting matters to which I was intending to refer later. Our understanding on that matter coincides.
Present Members of the European Assembly receive a secretarial allowance in addition to the secretarial allowance that they enjoy as Members of this House. I understand that the travelling allowance—this relates to the issue raised by the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten)—is 35p a mile for the first 250 miles and 13p a mile thereafter. That is calculated from a point midway between a Member's constituency and London. Westminster Members of Parliament have free warrants between their constituencies and London. Clearly, the Assembly's calculation offers an additional benefit to existing Assembly Members.
The working party to which I referred was unanimous in its view that new Euro-MPs should pay low rates of income tax comparable with Commission staff. I understand that the Inland Revenue is already pressing for the taxation of the daily allowances paid to Assembly Members. Such Members are officially regarded as being resident in Britain and normally subject to British income tax.
688 Travel and subsistence allowances may already be paid by bank transfer to any account of a Member's choice, based on the exchange value of the European unit of account in his national currency. It is also open to an Assembly Member to be paid in any currency of his choice other than that of his own country. I am sure that it is important that we consider collectively the wisdom of such arrangements. Obviously we must take account of the possibility—I put it no higher than that—of abuse of such loose arrangements.
§ Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)
I should like to be absolutely sure about the expenses that my hon. Friend has mentioned so far. Is he saying that a flat amount is paid—he mentioned £53 a day and £200 for travel—without any request being made to a Member to sign, as we sign for our secretarial expenses, that the money has in fact been expended?
§ Mr. Madden
That is my understanding. I hope that Members of the Assembly who have far greater knowledge of these matters than I have will be able to give information to the House. We are denied accurate information about these matters. There seems to be a conspiracy of silence to ensure that the media, this House, the public and other public representatives are kept in the dark about these matters. The Government have not been forthcoming about their attitude to these matters. We do not know what attitude will be adopted by the Council of Ministers when these proposals are discussed. It is essential that we have clear information and that the House be asked to consider and approve any proposals relating to these matters before the legislation comes into force. That is the demand that is made in the new clause.
We should also be concerned about the legal status and privileges that directly-elected Members of the European Assembly may enjoy. The report of the working party stated that the Council of Ministers would have to decidewhen a Member is entitled to immunity".Casting our minds back to the extremely tangled web woven by the Select Committee on Members' Interests and the comments of the Salmon Committee and others, we know about the complexities 689 of the legal position of Members of this House. Therefore, the difficulties that could arise regarding legal immunity for Members of a directly elected European Assembly could be monumental. On the best available information that we have—I stress that it is from newspapers and reports which, so far as I am aware, have not been published and are not available in the Library—that appears to be the position.
Are we satisfied that, if these proposals are endorsed, directly elected Members of the European Assembly should be 10 times better off than their Westminster counterparts? Do we believe that Euro-MPs should be substantially better off than the Prime Minister? Are we agreeing that this legislation should be passed and that British taxpayers should be asked to sign a substantial blank cheque to underwrite the enormous salaries, expenses and benefits of the 81 directly elected Members who will represent the United Kingdom in the European Assembly?
That is an unsatisfactory position. I am sure that the public will believe it to be a very unsatisfactory position. The people of this country have not given any mandate for approval of these matters. The final insult in this long and unhappy saga would be if the legislation came into force without these matters having been considered and approved by the House. I urge that the new clause be accepted, in the name not only of democracy but of good government.
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)
I support the new clause for reasons rather different from those advanced by the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Madden).
It is not for us to cast aspersions on our colleagues for what they may or may not do with the money that they are paid. The fundamental fact is that the standard of living in Europe is much higher than it is here, and that is reflected in higher living costs. I think that the Members of the European Assembly, whether they be Euro-Communists, Euro-Conservatives, Euro-Liberals or Euro-Socialists, at wherever it is decided the headquarters of the Parliament should be—there seems to be some doubt about that between the Prime Minister of Luxembourg and the President of France, 690 who are having a considerable hassle about the timing of their elections—should be paid the proper rate for the job.
I do not want to declare any personal interest in those matters. I do not propose to stand, as some hon. Members do, for those eminent offices. Nor do I take a dog-in-the-manger view of the situation. Nevertheless, it is very important that the Fees Office should be used as a means of paying our representatives abroad. That seems a perfectly reasonable suggestion, reasonably put forward in the new clause. I support the new clause, first, because it will establish a link between our representatives abroad and the House. Second, it will mean that they will feel themselves tied to the body politic and not astral bodies floating in Europe without connection with the House of Commons. That is very important.
Third, the new clause could be interpreted as a Draconian measure by which, if the House felt displeased with its European representatives, it could move to have their salaries reduced. We do that with Ministers. I do not say that that would happen.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)
I am not sure whether what the right hon. Gentleman is now approaching falls within the new clause that we are debating.
§ Mr. John Roper (Farnworth)
The right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) has just said "if the House felt displeased with its European representatives". Does he not agree that they will be the representatives not of this House but of the British people after they have been directly elected by the British people? In any case, we are debating not New Clause 1 but New Clause 2, which makes no reference to the Fees Office.
§ Mr. Fraser
I am putting forward a concept. There should be a proper relationship between our representatives abroad and this House of Commons.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The right hon. Gentleman is now directing his attention to New Clause 1, which has not been selected.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon North)
I do not necessarily agree with the right hon. Gentleman, but I can see that he is strictly in order. New Clause 2 provides that the House of Commons should consider what the salaries are. Therefore, it seems highly logical that the House of Commons should decide the matter. So I am at least following the right hon. Gentleman in his lucid logicality.
§ Mr. Nick Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)
Does my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) agree that if the House of Commons is to control these salaries and expenses it already has the machinery at hand to do so, namely, the Fees Office?
§ Mr. Fraser
That was the point that I was endeavouring to make, and I thought that I had made it. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) for his reinforcement of this powerful argument. There is the danger that our representatives in Europe and the representatives of the people in this House of Commons will express views which are completely out of kilter one with another.
We have talked about the problems that could arise with the Scotland Bill. Far more extreme and dangerous problems could arise between this House and the European Parliament. Therefore, I hope that the proposal to establish this link is successful.
It is impossible to exaggerate the danger and damage that could be done unless there is a proper relationship between the House and the Members who sit in the European Assembly. There are many problems in Europe today. The Foreign Office, with the greatest humility, has approached the German Government about a new Summit. The right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) in the European Assembly denounced Chancellor Schmidt for not reflating the German economy fast enough. I can imagine no area in which greater international trouble would be 692 caused than by the speeches of persons who are said to represent the British Parliament but who are in no way subject to British sovereignty. This ingenious clause could well provide a cash nexus between the House and those who represent us overseas. Therefore, I hope that the new clause will be accepted by this House.
There have been great difficulties. It is not just the fault of Labour Members. It is not the fault of our Minister of Agriculture. It is not the fault of representatives of the Government. The problem arises because of the intrinsic difficulties in the relationship of this island State to the mainland of Europe. Those difficulties are becoming more and more apparent, whether they be in regard to agriculture, oil, kilometres, tachometers, or whatever. Above all, there is a great constitutional difference—let no one forget it—between the constitutional belief and meaning of our society and that of other European societies, which have written constitutions, or constitutions created in the last 20, 30 or 50 years. Naturally, we shall be in great difficulties. The fault lies not so much in the nature of the Government as in the nature of the difficulties that lie between this country and our European partners.
It may well be said that we are more vociferous than federative in some of the actions that we are bound to take. In those circumstances, it is important that we should try, somehow, to establish a cash nexus, if need be, between this sovereign body of Parliament and those who represent us in Europe. At the end of the day, those who know what is being thought in this country, those who are in touch with the feeling of the country, will not be Members of a European Parliament, representing 500,000 people, but Members of this House of Commons. That is why I believe that the new clause should be carried.
§ Mr. Roper
When we were debating the Second Reading of the Bill on 7th July I referred to this problem of salaries and said that I was sure that we should have to return to it at some stage. We need today to consider very carefully the alternative bases on which those who are elected by the British people to represent them in the European Parliament will 693 be paid after direct elections in May or June of next year. There is a good deal of confusion about this matter.
When I spoke on 7th July the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) interrupted me to say that the decision would be made by the European Parliament itself and there was, therefore, little we could do about it. What we have discovered since then suggests that it will not be the European Parliament which will make the decision but that it will be a matter for the Council of Ministers. Since the Council of Ministers will have to be unanimous our Ministers will have a right to intervene and to ensure that the decision is acceptable to them and, thus, to this House.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Down, South)
I am sure that the hon. Member is technically correct but does he not think that before the Council of Ministers proceeds to whatever decision it may formally have to take it will have received from the Assembly a recommendation put forward on the authority of the Assembly?
§ Mr. Roper
No doubt, as has been suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Madden), the Assembly will have its views on these matters. My hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) will be able to tell us more about the activities of the Assembly, as no doubt, will the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon). It is important to go back to Article 13 of the decision of the Council of Ministers on the subject of direct elections. Article 13 says:Should it appear necessary to adopt measures to implement this Act, the Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Assembly after consulting the Commission, shall adopt such measures, after endeavouring to reach agreement with the Assembly in a conciliation committee consisting of the Council and representatives of the Assembly".It is absolutely clear from the decision of the Council of Ministers on direct elections that the last word on any matter affecting these salaries will lie with the Council. It is made quite clear, because of this opportunity for attempted conciliation, that if it is unable to reach agreement with the Assembly, the Council of Ministers can make the decision on its own and ignore any view of the Assembly. I am sure that it will want to 694 take into account the views, both of the present Assembly and, perhaps much more appropriately, the new Assembly. Who knows which Members of the present Assembly are likely to be Members of the new Assembly? It does not seem that the present Assembly is a relevant body. It will be the new Assembly, those elected by the British people and the people of the other countries, who will have more say about this matter. It is clear from the decision of the Community that a decision will be taken by the Council of Ministers and not by the Assembly.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
Is not that an argument in support of the new clause because in the event of it being carried our representatives at the Council of Ministers could put into effect the decision of this House?
§ Mr. Roper
I shall come to that point. If this matter has to come to the Council of Ministers it will be something which will also come to the Scrutiny Committee. If that happens it will be possible for it to be reported to the House and for the House to debate it. I was about to point out that since we have this procedure for anything coming before the Council of Ministers—
§ Mr. Marten
We have to be a little careful about assuming that it will come to the Scrutiny Committee. Will the hon. Gentleman ask the Minister to give an assurance that there will be no decision on this subject until the House has debated it?
§ Mr. Roper
I am glad to have the support of the hon. Member. The point that I was about to make is that, given that we have the procedure of the Scrutiny Committee for considering anything that goes to the Council of Ministers, and given the fact that we would want to make sure that this matter did come before the Scrutiny Committee and was recommended for a debate in the House before a decision was reached, it seems that there is already a provision to cover this situation without the necessity of introducing the new clause.
I want to discuss the various bases on which salaries might eventually rest. There seem to be three options if we are starting from scratch and thinking about salaries for Members of the European 695 Parliament. The first option would be to take what appears to have been the view of the Berendts working party, namely, that all Members of the European Parliament should have identical salaries because they would be spending the majority of their working time in the same environment and would, therefore, be subject to the same expenses. The figures quoted by the working party relate to salaries which have been paid to Members of Parliament in one member State.
That basis is not the only one on which we could fix salaries. We could, for example, look at the way in which the Commission pays salaries to its officials. I draw the attention of the House to the important document which we considered in the Scrutiny Committee towards the end of last year. This is document No. 564, the Commission's report on the annual review of the remuneration of officials and other servants.
§ Mr. John Farr (Harborough)
Before the hon. Member goes any further and to put the matter into perspective, will he assure the House that he is not likely to present himself for nomination in the European Parliament elections? If he were to be thinking of such a course he would no doubt have declared his interest in the matter by now.
§ Mr. Roper
I am sorry that the hon. Member was not in the House on 7th July when this matter was discussed and when my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) asked a number of hon. Members who spoke to declare whether they intended to stand for election. It was on that occasion that I referred initially to the question of salaries and made my own position clear.
§ Mr. Roper
That I have no intention of putting myself forward as a candidate for the European Parliament. I therefore have a certain independence in speaking on this matter. I have dealt with this already in the House and do not feel that it is necessary for me to go back to what I said earlier.
I had just referred to the recent document which has appeared before the Scrutiny Committee, the Commission's report for 1977 on the annual review on the remuneration of officials and other servants. That review cosiders a num- 696 ber of matters and in particular, on page 4, considers the weightings which are given to the employees of the Commission in different parts of the Community.
Although it may be generally assumed that the same salaries are paid in Brussels, Luxembourg, Bonn and London, this is not the case. There is a series of weightings which takes into account the differences in the cost of living in the various capitals of Europe. As a result, a salary in London is only 58 per cent. of the salary which would be paid to the same official working in Bonn. This principle, which is already being used by the Commission for the salaries of officials, might well be the sort of proposal which the Minister of State and his colleagues on the Council of Ministers would wish to consider when they examine an appropriate basis for the payment of Members of the European Parliament.
It might be possible to fix a salary for Members which had a common theoretical level throughout the Community but which varied in practice by applying precisely the same weightings as are used for the officials of the Commission. That would produce a salary for a British Member living in London different from the salary paid to a German Member of the European Parliament who spends most of his time in Germany.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)
I think that the most recent statement was that the President's salary was around £70,000 equivalent—tax-free, of course. Why do the officials need such large salaries? I was told by my hon. Friend and people like him—there are not many in the House today, but there were many here at the time—of the great pionering spirit, the idea of adventure, about going into Europe, and how they would sacrifice all if only they could get there. Therefore why is there a need for all this 697 money? I should be prepared to pay a fairly substantial sum to some people to go into Europe on a productivity basis, depending on how fast they could smash the whole thing up.
§ Mr. Roper
My hon. Friend will no doubt be able to address those remarks to others taking part in the debate who may be more involved in the Assembly than I, as I am not a Member of the Assembly and will not be participating in it in the future.
German Members of Parliament see no reason why German Members elected to the European Parliament should receive lower salaries than those which it has been thought appropriate in Germany for a Member of Parliament to have. If the Member of the European Parliament is to do his job, there is no reason why he should not have a salary comparable to that paid to Members of national Parliaments.
I should like to pursue the point about the system of weightings that already exists within the Community. I believe that such a mechanism might be one way of solving the problems. Salaries would then be much more closely related to the needs of individual countries, while keeping a common element running through. However, I think that on balance I should continue to support what I suggested in the House on 7th July. That was that it would be appropriate, once the Parliament was directly elected, for there to be common European salaries throughout the Community, but that until there was a common system of election, while we still maintained national systems of election there was a great deal to be said for linking the salaries of those going to the European Parliament to the salaries of national Members of Parliament.
I believe that it would be proper for the Minister of State and his colleagues on the Council of Ministers to agree that the salaries should be linked in each country to the salaries of the national Members of Parliament plus—and this is where I come to the second part of the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby—properly monitored, audited and controlled expenses.
I look forward to the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central, because I know that he has worked in 698 the European Parliament for a considerable period to set up the equivalent of the Public Accounts Committee, with proper auditing of the activities of the Commission. Similarly, it is clearly important that the European Parliament should have a body external to able to audit the expenses and activities of its Members. I hope that if he catches the eye of the Chair my hon. Friend will say something about mechanisms for properly auditing the expenses paid to those serving in the European Parliament.
§ Mr. Madden
I referred in my speech to Ludwig Fellermaier, who, I understand, is the chairman of the largest group within the European Assembly. He has said, in the words of a newspaper report, thatThere could be no question … of first-and second-class membership of the Parliament. All would have to be equal".The report continued:In his view where an MP was holding down two jobs, his salary from Europe should be reduced by an amount corresponding to the salary paid to him from his own country. Only a full-time European member would be entitled to a full-time salary.… He premised, though, that when a decision was taken, it would be in the open at a public meeting of the directly-elected assembly".Therefore, on three points Mr. Fellermaier seems to be in disagreement with my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Roper
I agree absolutely with Mr. Fellermaier on the second point. I have not discussed it, but I agree that if somebody holds a dual mandate the salary from his national Parliament should be offset against his salary from the European Parliament.
I believe that the question of equal salaries is one that the Council of Ministers must consider, but once the Assembly is directly elected it will be entitled to have a view. However, it is clear from the text that the decision is not within its competence but is within the competence of the Council of Ministers alone.
§ Mr. Spearing
My hon. Friend is assuming that in this matter the competence of the Assembly will be that of a directly elected Assembly. But Article 13 surely allows the proposal from the Assembly to be from the current Assembly, which will have views, just as this Parliament might have views about 699 the remuneration of the Parliament after the next General Election.
§ Mr. Roper
There will be a difference between, on the one hand, this Parliament and the one elected at the next General Election, because it will be elected on the same basis, and, on the other hand, the position in Europe, where we are considering a nominated Parliament as against a directly elected one. But whichever Assembly puts forward the proposals, whether the present Assembly or the next one, the decision will still be that of the Council of Ministers, as I think my hon. Friend will agree. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister of State can confirm that it is the decision of the Council of Ministers, and therefore I am correct in what I have said about our existing scrutiny procedure in the House, and that there will be a debate in the House before a decision is taken in the Council.
I hope that my hon. Friend will also give us an indication of the state of discussions in the Council of Ministers on this matter. In particular, does it expect to be able to make a decision, as I think some people think to be possible, at the next European Council, when the dates of the direct elections are decided, or does my hon. Friend think that it would be better for the matter to remain open until the Parliament has been directly elected?
§ Mr. Budgen
I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) that the issue is not whether the salaries or expenses with which we are concerned are at too high a level. It is a matter of control. I shall not compare the various salaries paid in the Assemblies throughout Europe and the developed world and say whether one Member gets a good deal and another a bad deal, and look with envy at one and with sympathy at another.
The real issue is that salaries and expenses are the outward manifestation of the status and power of an Assembly. We have had many and long discussions about the way in which this House will soon be in conflict with those who sit in the European Assembly should they become directly elected. There has been no satisfactory discussion of the various relationships that might be achieved between this House and those who sit in the European Assembly.
700 I agree with the hon. Member for Dudley, West (Dr. Phipps), who said the last time the matter was discussed that one of the great criticisms of the guillotine procedure was that we had not been able properly to debate the relationship between Members of this House and Members of the European Assembly. It is the greatest criticism of the whole guillotine procedure that whereas in our discussions on both the Scotland and Wales Bill and recently the Scotland Bill many of us were aware at the start of our fundamental objection to the possibility of the break-up of the Union, we were not aware of what I call the West Lothian question. We thought that it was capable of some sort of solution, which could be reached by incessant discussion. We realised, for example, that the same problem had had to be faced by Mr. Gladstone in the 1880s, and he had not been able to find a solution. We now find that this same problem, which is exactly analogous to the West Lothian question, quite scandalously has not been discussed by the House. Yet there are still those who believe that it is capable of some solution.
The hon. Member for Dudley, West has suggested that it might be possible to have some system by which hon. Members—if that is the correct expression for them—who sit in the Assembly might speak but not vote in this House. Superficially, it is an attractive idea but, just as in the case of the in-and-out solution and various other solutions proposed, it would not work because it would mean that the only candidates who put themselves up for election to the Assembly would be those who were already Members of this House.
It would not work because the term for which a person sits in the Assembly is to be five years fixed, and the term in this House is not fixed. It just could not be done. There may be a superficial attraction in some form of rights which might be accorded to Members of the Assembly in this place, but in reality it could not be done.
Above all, it could not be done for the fundamental constitutional reason that the persons listened to in the House of Commons, and heard with attention throughout the country, are those who are known to be going to vote according 701 to the way in which they believe. It is that nexus between speaking and voting, between speaking and taking responsibility for what one says, that is the essence of this place, and that distinguishes it from a mere debating chamber.
So it would be that no real respect could ever be given to Members of the Assembly who merely sat and spoke here but who did not have either the responsibility to a British constituency on the same basis as ourselves or the power to vote according to what they said. Such persons could, of course, be heard in party committees or in Select Committees, but it is difficult to see how they could possibly sit or speak in this House.
I contend that one of the scandals of the guillotine procedure is that the House has never satisfactorily considered ways in which we might control those who go from this country, apparently on our behalf, to the European Assembly. Indeed, it is the inability to find any sort of solution to this West Lothian-type problem that leads me to conclude that there may be some slight control over those who go to the Assembly if we have control over their salaries and expenses, for, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) says, not only could we fix the general level of salaries and expenses but we could also express our criticism of individual Members by bringing individual motions of disapproval, motions which would cut the salaries of individual Members.
Although it is not a complete or satistory way of checking the probably ever-expanding power of the Assembly and the ever-expanding pretensions of its Members, the new clause would be a small step in the right direction, and for that reason I shall vote for it.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Roper) on one thing—that the question of the salaries of European Members of Parliament is not a matter for the Assembly but is for decision by the Council of Ministers. Indeed, this was confirmed to me by the Foreign Office only the other day, as I have been pursuing the matter in Questions to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, ask- 702 ing him to raise with the heads of Government in the Communitythe desirability of national parliaments being able to decide the salaries of their nationals elected to the European Parliament".The Prime Minister referred my Question to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.
It is interesting that the answer was not that we were divested of power to make our separate decision in this way. Indeed, the reply confirmed that it had already been raised at Heads of Government level by the Prime Minister. The reply continued:At the request of the European Council the question is being pursued by the Council of Ministers. Discussions are still continuing. —[Official Report, 26th January 1978; Vol. 942, c. 747.]In other words, discussions are continuing not merely on what would be a desirable level of salary in a European Parliament but on whether the matter could and should be left to the decision of national parliaments. That is really the crux of the issue we are discussing.
I am sure that we were all deeply impressed by the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Madden). We all recognise how obscene it would be for us to sit back and allow British nationals elected to the European Parliament to wallow in the gravy train that perhaps we know will operate if we lose any kind of control. My hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth was right to say "This is under the control of the Council of Ministers", but I think his speech actually made an excellent case for the new clause.
I repeat that what we are asking for is not a chance through the Scrutiny Committee to say whether £24,000 would be too much for European Members of Parliament, or whether £16,000 would be the right figure, or whatever. We are asking for the clear acceptance by the Council of Ministers that we in this country at any rate want to control our European MPs' salaries. But we shall not do that by a casual reference from the Scrutiny Committee. We shall do it only by building it into an Act of Parliament. That is what we are asking our hon. Friends to accept. My hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth has, indeed, admitted that there may be alternatives to identical salaries. Of course one does not need them to be identical.
703 When I went as an alternate delegate to the General Assembly of the United Nations shortly after I came into this House, there was a dollar shortage of such proportions in this country that we would have been bankrupted if the British delegation had been paid comparable salaries and even comparable expenses with the rest of the delegates. Of course, we were given an allowance commensurate with our country's ability to afford it.
§ Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East)
Does the right hon. Lady approve of the existing expenses and allowances of the European Parliament?
§ Mrs. Castle
No, I do not. I do not approve of the control over them. I do not approve of their level. I do not approve of the principle that one turns a blind eye, that somehow the money will come from somewhere in Europe so it does not affect us here. The direct impact on our inflationary situation of Members of the European Assembly being paid out of public funds, in the name of this country, salaries way above what we should consider desirable for ourselves would be very serious.
§ Mr. Dykes
If the right hon. Lady disapproves of the existing arrangements, which also include a fairly substantial secretarial allowance, may I ask her whether she has discussed that with her husband, who has been a Member of the European Parliament? Has she suggested to him that it should be lower now?
§ Mrs. Castle
My husband knows my view, and only the most major male chauvinist would try to involve me, in my arguments about the Common Market, with my husband's attitude. It is no secret that there is a slight political difference of opinion in the Castle family on the question of direct elections, but the hon. Gentleman is living in the Victorian age when he tries to drag that one into this argument.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)
When the decision was taken on what expenses, and so on, my right hon. Friend was to get when she went to the United Nations, was it by the British Government or did it have the express approval of this House after being discussed by this House?
§ Mrs. Castle
I cannot answer that. I should imagine that it was paid by the British Government, but I can assure my right hon. Friend that the figure was so low that if it had been reduced any more, we should have been on the streets. As I remember it, it was about $14 a day, of which we had by instruction to spend $11 in staying at a reasonable hotel. That was just for bed, not bed and breakfast. We could not afford the breakfast at the hotel. We were left with only $3 per day to eat in the drugstores, having had to spend $11 per day in keeping a decent roof over our heads. I should have thought that if the question of the amount had been brought before this House, the House in its kindness would have increased it, not reduced it.
To return to the main point of my argument, what we are discussing is not what should be the level of an identical salary. We are discussing the desirability of our having the right to discuss the salary level which is appropriate to this country's needs. When my hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth said "But we are not talking about representatives of this House, we are talking about representatives of the British people elected to an entirely separate Parliament", my blood really ran cold.
We are now seeing the emergence of a new type of creature with no national allegiance, no patriotism, and no identity even with the people in the constituency from which he or she comes. It is said not to matter whether the Member of the Assembly gets a salary of such size, but the fact is that it would set an inflationary precedent. We do not dare do things of that sort in this House, because we know that we are part and parcel of the lives of our constituents, and they in turn are part and parcel of our national needs and our national economy.
§ Mr. Roper
My right hon. Friend has quoted me. She referred to the fact that I said that we were talking of the representatives of the British people, and so on, but she will recall that I outlined three possible systems, and that the system I favoured at the end of the day was that the representatives should be paid salaries comparable with those paid in national Parliaments. My right hon. Friend, in quoting me, should remember what I said.
§ Mrs. Castle
In trying to wind up my remarks I was just coming to that last point of my hon. Friend, because he gave us our argument that there should be nationally decided salaries. But he qualified it when he said that this should continue up to the establishment of a common system of election. Is my hon. Friend merely saying that it should be until we have moved on to a uniform voting system, which is also envisaged by the Treaty of Rome, and towards which he and some of his pro-Market friends want to move very rapidly? What is he offering us? For what purpose is he offering us this lifeline, and is it for one year, two years, or some other period?
It was because my hon. Friend qualified his acceptance of a national salary that I believe that we must write this into the Bill, otherwise we shall find that we are on an escalator which carries us along automatically. It will then be outside the control of this House and directly elected Members will not be responsible to us. They will not be answerable in this House. Possibly none of them will be a Member of it. They will have become creatures living a life of their own, answerable to Brussels, with all its inflationary factors, but their electors will not have a Scrutiny Committee or a place in which there can be a debate about exactly what a Member is being paid and why. If a Member is to answer to an electorate of 500,000 people, what sort of control is that?
This is, therefore, our last chance to retain control over these future developments by writing it into an Act of Parliament. That is why I believe that even those hon. Members with whom I have differed over the Common Market ought to support the new clause this afternoon. If they do not we shall feed cynicism not only about the Common Market but also about the whole democratic process. It will have become too much of a "gravy train" to be tolerable, and, indeed, I think it will diminish what its supporters are trying to achieve.
Why is it that the Government do not accept this change? They are discussing the question in the Council of Ministers. The reply that I received to my Question showed that. They have the power to decide it. They have the power to choose to do this. If the Government 706 Front Bench ask us to reject the new clause, it will be because they are already saying that they will reject this policy in the Council of Ministers, and I think the House would find that intolerable.
§ Mr. Dykes
The debate has shown already one of the understandable preoccupations of this House, irrespective of variations in views about the Community and all the rest of it. The House has an understandable preoccupation with the salaries of the directly elected Members of the European Parliament. The general feeling seems to be that the salaries and the expenses should neither be excessive nor other than very carefully constructed and monitored, and carefully decided upon in the initial stage.
Despite the very persuasive arguments of the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Madden), I do not agree with the terms of the new clause, as I shall seek to explain, I hope fairly briefly. I think that the new clause is wrong for a number of reasons, but one of them must be the reason given by the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) in her opening remarks. There is ample evidence already of the Government's position.
I have also asked Questions on a number of occasions. I recall in particular a Question which I asked on 30th November last. I then asked for information about the basis of the discussion continuing within the EEC on the provision of salaries and allowances for directly elected Members of the European Assembly, and about the authority for any discussion in any of the institutions of the Community other than the Assembly itself. I am not quoting the words of my Question, but it was along those lines.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, replied briefly, clearly and unequivocally. He saidDiscussion of this matter continues under the auspices of the Council of Ministers which has ultimate responsibility".—[Official Report, 1st December 1977; Vol. 940, c. 258.]That is the position. There is no way in which anyone can plausibly or convincingly argue in any other sense. I was for two years a Member for the European Parliament and I am an enthusiast for our membership of the Community, but there would be no authority and 707 logic in the European Parliament, either as it is now constituted or in the future, having other than its own views and opinion on this matter.
In the same sense, the new directly elected European Parliament or Assembly will to a certain degree be a provisional Assembly. In that sense—this is not alarming to me and I do not see why it should be alarming to other hon. Members—it may wish to deliberate, decide, argue and discuss its relationship to the other institutions, particularly the Council of Ministers, the Commission and, in due course, the International Court of Justice.
That is understandable and entirely reasonable. If the salaries or expenses figures have not been decided by the Council of Ministers, as is possible—I hope not—it might want to deliberate on these matters. If the initial salary and expenses figures have been determined by the Council of Ministers—that is what would prefer, and the sooner the better, so that the public can be guided about this matter—the Assembly might wish to express views and opinions about the future level of salaries and allowances.
In all conscience, I do not think that is an unreasonable or unacceptable position. It is wholly natural. The idea that Members, particularly with large-scale European-sized constituencies of 500,000 constituents—rather like the United States Senate—would not have strong views on these matters or wish to communicate them to their electorate is wholly absurd. I hope that no one will suggest that.
The key question will be the relationship between whatever the Council of Ministers discusses and individual national Parliaments that are preoccupied with the expression of views and determination of salaries and allowances. Again, I do not wish to detract from the authority of this sovereign Parliament. Of course, the House of Commons will have very strong pronounced views, some of which have already come out in this debate. Others will come out later.
I share the view of the right hon. Member for Blackburn that this is an area of great anxiety for people, irrespective of their fundamental view one way or the other about the EEC. The matter must be carefully debated and argued.
708 That is one thing. But going beyond that and saying that the House of Commons should determine these things finally must be totally wrong. I again emphasise that in no way wish to detract from the authority of this House.
I think that suggestion would be impractical. It would also deliberately obtrude into the sovereign decision making responsibilities and obligations of the Council of Ministers. That is what this House has already enacted with regard to Community legislation when we joined, along with other relevant protocols and the Accession treaty.
I also believe that on emotional grounds this House would not be qualified to have other than strong views and opinions. To ask this House to make decisions on these matters—in the light of the economic background of this country and the enomous difficulties facing workers with regard to pay policy, for example—would automatically affect the whole basis on which such decisions were made.
§ Mr. Dykes
I shall not give way for the moment. The fact is that this is a national Paliament—I say this in totally neutral terms—where there is stronger resistance to our membership of the Community, let alone to any of the details of our membership, than there is in any other national Parliament. This House contains a large political contingency group which is against Britain's continued membership of the Community. That is an additional emotional reason why any attempt at reaching a rational decision—principally about the salary levels of European Members, but also about expenses, which are equally important, and in many ways more important—would be bedevilled by complications.
§ Mr. Budgen
Will my hon. Friend comment on the fact that in this House the last two Governments have given to themselves powers to control wages throughout the whole economy? At the same time that one of the great parties has real doubts about the public sector, the other of the two great parties has real doubts about the efficiency of the private sector. On my hon. Friend's argument, does not that mean that this House is 709 wholly incapable emotionally of considering all these other questions of salaries?
§ Mr. Dykes
No. I think that my hon. Friend has misunderstood the argument. I am not saying that we should not have the strongest of opinions and views, or wish to give guidance. Indeed, I do not see why the House should not give strong guidance to the Minister—whichever Minister of this somewhat hard-pressed Government it is—who will in due course go along to the Council of Ministers where the decision must and will be made.
I am entirely content and wholly satisfied with the idea that the Council of Ministers should decide this matter. I, too, would not wish to see either the present European Parliament or the future European Parliament decide these matters fully and finally. But that Parliament, too, will have its views. Indeed, views already exist.
We have heard about the Berendts working party. But in order to put the picture in a balanced and correct way it is important to emphasise that the opinions expressed, particularly by German politicians, about the future level of salaries are in no way codified or established decisions that have been taken by either the European Parliament working party or one of the permanent Standing Committees of the Parliament.
I am glad about that. It would be wholly wrong if the existing unelected Parliament were to have other than views and opinions. It would be quite wrong to seek to interfere in decisions which belong to another institution—the supreme decision-making body of the Community, the Council of Ministers.
I hope that I have established that point at least to the satisfaction of some hon. Members. As a former Member of the existing European Parliament I fully understand and share the serious anxieties of Labour Members below the Gangway, and others, about the danger of this international organisation, through all sorts of pressures from other member States, moving towards excessive salaries and allowances.
But I myself cannot put my finger on what "excessive" means, or on what the right level of salaries and allowances 710 should be. All I would say is that I believe that the salaries should be set at a modest level which is lower than the highest salary existing in any of the existing national Parliaments of the member States.
Without specifying a particular figure—not because it is embarrassing, but because at this stage I think it is impractical to do so—I would link that argument to the argument that this House ought to face up to the fact that in this sovereign Parliament a Member of Parliament serves a smaller constituency than a European Member of Parliament will.
None the less, without causing too much laughter, I believe that all the pragmatic evidence suggests that we work probably harder and longer hours than any of the other Community countries, partly because of our existing parliamentary system, partly because of the amount of legislation, and partly because of the traditions that have developed, I regard all these as wholly desirable. In addition, in welfare terms we look after our constituents in a more developed and intensive way than that which obtains in any other member State.
For all those reasons, too, this House will in due course have to face the reality that the salaries of British Members of Parliament are too low and that that fact should be a legitimate part of the wider debate about parliamentary salaries in Europe as a whole.
If a case can be established, after sufficient argument and debate, for a salary which is at a sufficiently high level—without being excessive—to reflect the geographical and constitutional responsibilities of future Members of the European Parliament, it is clear that the figure will undoubtedly be based on a higher level than that of the existing British parliamentary salary. Many people would say that it was on the low side, bearing in mind that many hon. Members are in financial difficulties as a result of the parliamentary salary in this country having fallen behind the level of parliamentary salaries elsewhere and, for that matter, any other commensurate salary in this country. In other words, there will be pressure also for our national parliamentary salary to be higher. That painful decision will face this House in due course. It cannot be postponed for ever. 711 At the moment, of course, it is complicated by the incomes policy and the rest of it, and that is understandable.
But then, too, the House has to consider and advise the Government, though again leaving the decision to be made elsewhere in due course, about what should be done in relation to the total financial package affecting future Members of the European Parliament. As a Member of the European Parliament for a little more than two years, I thought that the biggest danger was not only that the common level established meant that there was a big difference in the financial benefits affecting Members from the different countries—partly because of the different financial performances of the member States, but also because the allowances were too high in relation to the duties—but also, as probably the right hon. Member for Blackburn will agree, despite the domestic nexus that she has in this connection, that the way in which the allowances system works in the existing European Parliament is positively to encourage excessive attendance in what is a part-time Assembly with only consultative powers and very limited legislative powers.
The built-in effect of the expenses system is conducive to an attendance which goes beyond the necessary attendance in what is now a part-time body. When the new directly elected Parliament is established, I suppose that the tendency will be for the work to be more intensive and for the attendance ratios each week to go up. That will naturally flow from whatever Parliament it is in due course, with its activities and functions.
§ Mr. Rooker
The hon. Gentleman has reminded us on at least three occasions that he was a Member of the European Assembly, and he has just commented on the unnecessary attendance there. As an hon. Member of this House, has he himself been guilty of the practice of attending unnecessarily in order to claim expenses? Secondly, bearing in mind the depths to which he has sunk in referring to the husband of my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), will he say whether he himself intends to be a candidate in any future election for the European Assembly?
§ Mr. Dykes
The hon. Gentleman asks two separate questions, and I shall deal with them in turn.
I may have been misunderstood. I meant not that Members deliberately sought to attend artificially, but that there was that unconscious effect, because of the way in which the expenses system had been constructed. However, I am making no allegations in respect of individual hon. Members. I suggest merely that it is a tendency given the present system, and I was going on to say that, whatever was done in the future, the system should be constructed in a different way. I should like to see more provided "in kind" on a strictly supervised basis. I believe, for example, that Members of the Bundestag in Federal Germany carry a plastic card or ticket which enables them to travel on trains throughout the Republic on a discretionary basis. That may be going too far, but perhaps it would be better to provide facilities of that kind rather than providing cash hand-outs.
I do not think that I was sinking to a new low in asking the question that I did. I was not asking it in any mischievous sense, and I assure the House that I was not making any direct criticism of the right hon. Member for Blackburn or of her distinguished husband. I think that it was a perfectly fair question, because it is important for this House to get these matters in perspective.
There is a dilemma in the Labour Party. The Socialist Group is now the largest group in the European Parliament, and it has a substantial contingent of British Labour Members who therefore use the existing system of expenses and allowances in the European Parliament. Not for any sinister reason, I find the existing system of allowances and the way that it is organised rather questionable. It is important for the House and the public to have that in mind and to know what the right hon. Member for Blackburn and other Labour Members think about it, especially when there is a specific domestic connection. I hope, too, that the basis for the future for expenses flowing from the decision of the Council of Ministers will be very strictly controlled, with some kind of body to act as an arbiter between the Council of 713 Ministers making future decisions on these matters and the European Parliament.
§ Mr. Dykes
I am coming to that.
That, therefore, poses very important constitutional problems for the future European Parliament, because it will be difficult for that directly elected Parliament to say as time goes on in the long-term future "Yes. The original sovereignty of the Council of Ministers on these matters still remains". That is a conflict which will have to be resolved.
The hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) may find his other question fascinating and interesting, and I have no doubt that it will be used as a ploy by Government supporters sitting below the Gangway. For all politicians the only answer is that the future in respect of these matters is unascertainable. I have already made it clear on a number of occasions that I am very attached to the House of Commons to the extent that my electors wish to continue to elect me. That is the only answer that I can give.
Who knows what the future may hold for the hon. Member for Perry Barr? He may be a distinguished Minister in 25 years, if ever a Labour Government are elected in the future. He may be defeated in Perry Barr and have to do something else. He may change his mind about Europe and decide to stand in the second direct elections under a PR system. He may even wish to emulate the husband of the right hon. Member for Blackburn and go to the other House. All sorts of possible consequences would follow from that both for him and for the Parliamentary Labour Party.
I am tempted to ask the hon. Gentle man, if he is defeated at the next General Election, which I expect, what he intends to do with himself. I shall be happy to give way if he is prepared to say. Apparently he prefers not to answer the question.
§ Mr. Brian Gould (Southampton, Test)
The hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) has given a number of instances which can only be described as matters of prediction. I think that my hon. Friend 714 the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) was asking about the hon. Gentleman's current intentions.
§ Mr. Dykes
As I said, I am deeply attached to the House of Commons. That does not contradict my equal attachment to British membership of the European Community. I think that the two go hand in hand. I hope that when he winds up the debate the Minister, in decisively rejecting this new clause which is ultra vires and cannot be operated in practical terms—
§ Mr. Dykes
My hon. Friend should not think that there is anything sinister or alarming in my calling the new clause ultra vires. Perhaps I used the wrong words—I am not a lawyer. I simply maintain that it cannot be operated in practical terms. When the Minister concludes the debate and rejects the idea of the new clause because of its inherent practical difficulties, I hope that he will not just say that the Council of Ministers is still considering these matters. I hope that he will give us the Government's views about the right kind of salary in the future, and the likely structure of expenses and allowances that they would like to see. That will help the House a great deal.
I believe that there will be far more interest in the European direct elections than many Labour Members will admit. They will be very fed up when campaigning and energetic politicians generate public interest, and indeed fascination in these elections. When the election campaign begins the candidates will have to answer questions about salaries and allowances. They will have to give answers that are decisive and reflect the facts when the Government come back with the decision of the Council of Ministers. The public will accept that. I do not see why Labour Members below the Gangway are so reluctant to accept it.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart
It seems generally agreed that the decision about salaries must be made unanimously by the Council of Ministers at the end of the day. [HON. MEMBERS: "Filibustering".] It is typical throughout these debates that the usual line of argument of those who oppose British membership of the EEC is that those of us who are in 715 favour are crooks who are acting for all the wrong motives. As I was saying, it seems generally agreed that the decision on salaries will be made unanimously by the Council of Ministers. Therefore, I am surprised that there should be any question about it. This is plain from the Treaty and other sources.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
I am sorry to interrupt my right hon. Friend, but he has just made a serious statement. I do not think that he is a crook. I think that he is wrong about the Common Market, but I have hardly suggested that because of that he is a crook. I do not know of any of my hon. Friends who have made such a suggestion. I do not think that that is the sort of emotive language that we should use in this House.
§ Mr. Stewart
I shall try to restrain my notoriously emotive language to the levels used by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer).
Practically everyone who has spoken dislikes this clause and has suggested that what we are interested in is the salary that Members of the European Parliament ultimately will draw. Hon. Members have suggested that I am filibustering. My hon. Friend the Member for Walton is trying to prolong my speech.
The decision on salaries will need the concurrence of the British Minister. That is a ministerial act, open to criticism and scrutiny in the House of Commons. One has only to look at the way in which the House controls Ministers. There is the ultimate sanction of defeating the Government. I can hardly see even a very indignant House of Commons defeating the Government on this issue. Also, very fierce criticism can be directed against a particular Minister over a particular act. In this case the act will be agreeing to a certain scale of salaries. If a criticism of that kind is made before the Minister has committed the act, this could have some effect.
There are a few instances in which a particular ministerial act could not be carried out without the express sanction of the House. These are very rare, for obvious reasons. If they were not, it would be impossible for Ministers to go about their business at all. Hon. Members may well ask whether this ministerial act of agreeing in the Council to a par- 716 ticular scale of salaries, should be one of those acts on which express approval of the House of Commons is required. Common sense and knowledge of administration dictate that the answer must be "no".
My right hon. Friend the Members for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) Pointed out that when a decision was made allowances at the United Nation there was no question of that decision requiring the express approval of the House. This is an important point. The United Nations and the EEC are only two of the international organizations to which we belong. All international organization incur expenses which are shared among the nations, part of which are borne by the British taxpayers. The British Minister has to take responsibility for helping to meet these expenses I do not know of a single case where anyone ever suggested that it was necessary that these should require the express approval of the House of Commons.
§ Mr. Stewart
The fact that they are elected means that this is less necessary. There is another area of criticism that can be piled upon them from their constituents.
§ Mr. Budgen
If the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) disapproves of this suggested method of control, does he think that there should be another method?
§ Mr. Stewart
This is not necessary because this is a ministerial act which, like other ministerial acts, is subject to criticism and comment in this House. It could be dealt with in the same way as the question of expenses of hon. Members attending other international organisations has been dealt with in the past. It has been quite satisfactory before, and I do not see the need for anything different now.
Suppose it were agreed that a salary scale should be paid to Members of the European Parliament. Candidates for that Parliament campaigning during the direct elections would get caustic comments from the public on this matter.
It is true that the Member of the European Parliament is, in a sense, a new kind of creature. Some of my hon. 717 Friends who are more to the Left of the party seem to have enormous difficulty in absorbing any idea that they have not heard before. I draw to their attention the fact that we are introducing a new kind of person in having direct elections. We shall see as time goes by how best to fit him into our institutions and to stretch our institutions to contain this new element. English institutions have always been elastic; that is why they have survived. They will have to stretch in order to contain the relationship between the new Member of the European Parliament and Members of this House. That problem still has to be solved, and a great deal of the solving will not be done by this House or by scrutinising the European Members' salaries. It will be done through the political parties.
The new creature, the Member of the European Parliament, will be a member of a political party. His actions, or lack of them, will be subject to examination by fellow members of his party, just as our actions are subject to examination by fellow members of his party, just as and that is quite right, too.
I shall not pursue that matter, because it is beyond the immediate purpose of the new clause. What the clause does is to pick out a particular ministerial act, that of agreeing to a scale of salaries, and to put it under an exceptionally heavy parliamentary sanction of a kind that we would never have dreamt of using in respect of any other act involving the payment of money to people in this House who serve in international organisations.
It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the real purpose of the amendment is simply to make the whole process of bringing the European Parliament into existence as cumbrous, laborious and as long as possible. Hon. Members who take that view are entitled to do so, but I wish that sometimes they would not dress it up with all this solemn stuff about defending the British constitution, when all they are trying to do is to obstruct British membership of the EEC. On that matter I remain implacably opposed to them.
§ Sir Anthony Royle (Richmond, Surrey)
The right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. 718 Stewart) has put his finger on the pulse of this debate. The remarks of the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), which appeared to be steeped in an aura of envy and malice, were unnecessary and were not true. She seemed to imply that new Members of the European Parliament would be responsible to no constituents. She suggested that such Members, with constituencies of 500,000 people, would be useless in their efforts to influence events or to be responsible to their constituents.
I cannot accept that proposition. I believe that the Members of the European Parliament will be just as responsible to their constituencies as we are in the Westminster Parliament. My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) said that in the United States many constituencies are larger than the constituencies that we shall see in the European Parliament.
The fact is that each Member of Parliament will be responsible for his behaviour and attitudes to his own constituents In addition, the Council of Ministers will be responsible for agreeing the size of salaries and allowances granted to Members of the European Parliament. If the Westminster Parliament disapproves or dislikes the size of the salaries or allowances that are about to be agreed by the Council of Ministers in Brussels, it is able to bring to account in this Chamber the responsible Minister.
I feel as strongly as does the right hon. Member for Fulham that that is the place where the salaries of European Members of Parliament should be fixed.
I do not want to speak for too long, but I should like to raise one specific subject which has not been touched upon in the debate so far. I refer to the subject of taxation. It will be helpful to have the Minister's views on this matter when he replies to this debate.
Is it the Government's intention that when discussions take place in the Council of Ministers on the amount payable to the European Members of Parliament, that salary should be taxed at the national level of taxation in each individual country, or at the level at which European civil servants are taxed in the EEC, or should there be no tax at all? What is the Minister's view on this point? It is important. Members of the Westminster 719 Parliament receive a salary on which they are taxed at normal United Kingdom rates and emoluments from other sources are taken into account. They also receive allowances such as the London living allowance, and research assistant and secretarial allowances, which are not taxed. It may be that European Members of Parliament will also receive allowances on a similar or greater scale, but the point about taxation is important.
There will be considerable concern in this country if it is seen that a Member of a European Parliament is paid a large salary that is not subject to any taxation at all. There will also be concern if Members of the European Parliament receive salaries or remuneration taxed at low levels compared to those maintained in the equivalent national Parliaments. I hope that the Minister will deal with these points when he replies.
I am not prepared to support the new clause. I believe that it is wrong and ill-onceived—indeed, that it has been conceived merely as a means to make it more difficult to bring the European Parliament into being. I consider that the arrangement for deciding the level of salaries of European Members of Parliament should remain, as in the treaty, with the Council of Ministers, those Ministers being responsible to their national Parliaments for the results which they reach in Brussels.
§ Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, Central)
The hon. Member for Richmond, Surrey (Sir A. Royle) raised this debate from the somewhat squalid level to which it had been reduced in the last hour or so.
The remarks that I shall make will probably be more pointed because I am a Member for the present Assembly in Europe. I have increasing misgivings about the principle of direct elections. It appears that the original ideals which inspired the pioneers of the European Community have been steadily eroded by the harsh realities of national self-interest.
I do not know whether hon. Members have read a recent article by John Palmer in The Guardian. He dealt with the accusations that Britain was adopting a wrecking role in the Community. The author found that charge unjustified, and said in that article: 720The simple truth is that the Common Market is not, never has been, and probably never will be an international community which is somehow independent of national interests and national pressures.One sees that view justified on almost every day one sits in the Assembly.
I hope the House will forgive me if I give one or two recent examples. The first that comes to mind has appeared in our newspapers, and is what I regard as somewhat unseemly. It involves the inevitable competition between the Nine over the site of the permanent building for the directly elected Parliament.
Members of the Aseembly now commute between Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg simply because the Council of Ministers cannot agree on a single permanent site. There is a conflict—almost an insoluble conflict—of national interests. Hon. Members who have visited Strasbourg will remember the recently built super new building which cost the French taxpayers an awful lot of money. Yet in that magnificent building the refreshment facilities for staff and Members are worse than anything experienced in the British Army.
The simple reason is that the native restaurateurs have made it clear to the French Government that they want no competition in the Parliament building. Therefore, Members and staff have to eat like pigs in order for the restaurateurs outside the building to engage in a lucrative trade.
The same is true of the transport facilities to and from Strasbourg. They are on a par with the dining facilities. The building was opened with considerable panache by the French President as a prestige and virility symbol, indicating the determination of France to have the permanent site for the directly elected Assembly.
In an effort not to be outdone, the Luxembourg Government decided unilaterally, and without consulting anyone, to get in on the act. A month or two ago, I was surreptitiously shown plans for an enormous building adjoining the existing European Parliament building in Luxembourg. Some details were given in the official European Parliament Report, No. 43 for February 1978.
The building was designed by the French architect who engineered what I 721 inelegantly call the "cock-up" of the Olympic stadium in Montreal. There was no international architectural competition for the building, which is going up 500 feet in Luxembourg. There were plans, it is reputed, for individual offices for the 410 Members. It was rumoured that these lush apartments were to be rent-free, but I gather that they are to be available at commercial rents. The only people who will be able to afford them will be the top Eurocrats who receive very high, virtually tax-free, salaries. The rumoured cost of all this nonsense is between £60 million and £75 million and it will probably be double that by the time it is finished.
Who is going to pay for this building? How is the money to be raised? I asked these questions and was told that a consortium of Luxembourg banks was putting up the money on a speculative basis. I said that I could not believe that. Hon. Members can imagine the reaction of British banks if we suggested that they should put up a speculative parliamentary building on the site of the dockland slums. However, I had it on good authority that the banks were persuaded to cough up the cash.
My well-informed sources told me that banks in Luxembourg are licensed annually by the Ministry for the Middle Class. In a country with a population of fewer than 500,000, the middle class must all be bankers. The Ministry has an army of snoopers to see how the banks behave and to warn them that if they misbehave, their licences will be withdrawn. That threat has been used to extract the cash from the banks for the new building.
It is extremely difficult to get to the bottom of this sort of thing, because there is no controlling committee in the European Parliament to extract the information. If it happened here, I could ask the Public Accounts Committee, the Comptroller and Auditor General, or the Expenditure Committee, of which I used to be Chairman, to demand—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. We are discussing the expenses and salaries of Members of the European Assembly.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Nothing is more relevant to that than what I am saying. The machinery provided by this Parlia- 722 ment for the control of expenditure is, heaven knows, inadequate enough, but it is the acme of perfection compared with what we have in Europe. If that situation pertains with these scandals, it will also pertain to the expenses and allowances that will be given to Members of a directly elected Assembly.
The new clause underlines the fact that we want some control. It may not provide the right method of control, but I am wholly in sympathy with the principle underlying it. The Minister must not shoot it down because it proposes the wrong method. He must produce a way of giving this House accountability for these matters.
My hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Madden) made a rather mischievous speech, though I would probably have made the same speech in his position. The figures that he gave were substantially true. By Westminster standards, the expenses allowed for Members of the European Assembly are exceedingly generous. They are not yet on the scale of the Royal annuities, but they are getting on that way. However, the expenses are not generous by European standards and we must understand that if people from this country are to operate in the European Parliament, they must operate on European standards.
Nothing annoys me more than when this House puts on its hair shirt to discuss parliamentary salaries and expenses. We talk about them desperately in the privacy of the Tea Room and say that we want the Boyle recommendations implemented in full, but in the Chamber we vie with one another in being as mean as possible to each other because the Press are listening and reporting us. There is an element of hypocrisy in these matters.
I can add to the information given by my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby. In addition to the expenses and allowances which he mentioned, foreign travel is also available. Members of the Assembly have made several visits to the United States, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Scandinavia, Spain and Uruguay. In general, the more anti-Common Market the sentiments of the Member, the more enthusiastic he is to go on these travels. I could mention 723 names of Members of this House who are guilty of that.
However, this sort of thing happens here, too. Foreign travel is available to hon. Members and these facilities will be used or abused according to the inclinations and judgments of individual Members. We cannot avoid that.
The hon. Member for Harrow East (Mr. Dykes) talked about people getting cash by going on unnecessary journeys. The same sort of thing happens in this House. We know that there are malingerers and scroungers in this House. None is in the Chamber at present, but we all know them. But that should not condemn the whole place, and the same is true in Europe.
I agree that there will be people who will exploit the system, whether by not attending and drawing a salary, through their expenses, or in foreign travel. That is in the nature of a democratic organisation. The important thing is that they should be accountable to their electors or to the body that sponsored them in the first place.
We are trying to establish satisfactory machinery to give us some control and a method of regulating the expenses and salaries of the people that British electors send to the European Parliament. Because there are abuses, we should not condemn British Members, as has nearly been done in this debate, as being dishonest or unworthy. At the end of the day, their electors will find them out and kick them out. I have seen that happen in this House.
I agree with the main purpose of the new clause. The taxpayers of this country, through the House of Commons, should have some control over, or at least be able to comment on, the scale of salaries and other emoluments paid to European Members. I do not believe that it is practical or desirable to make them second-class citizens. There is a European scale of income and we must accept that, at present, we are bottom of the table. That may be a good or a bad thing, but one of the uses of the Common Market is to harmonise upwards and if that applies in one area, it must apply in others.
If we accepted the principle that it is desirable that our representatives should be second-class citizens, I do not believe 724 that many people would accept the justice of that.
The salary for European Members that has been commonly bandied around is £25,000 a year. That is roughly four times as much as our salary. If we get a dual mandate, how on earth can I or any of my hon. Friends—it may be that Opposition Members will be able to get away with it—campaign in the industrial belt of central Scotland, or in the North-East or North-West, on the basis "Elect me and I shall have a salary of £25,000 a year in Europe and £6,000 a year in the House of Commons, much of which will be tax free"? I can imagine the response of my electors. I hasten to say that I am not standing for election to the European Parliament. I have just outlined one of the reasons that leads me not to stand. I do not believe that any man is worth that amount of cash to represent ordinary working people.
I have the deepest foreboding about this development. I have met and talked to several potential candidates on both sides of the House and to others outside the House. I shall quote a remark of one such candidate, and I think that it speaks for itself. I quote directly from the European Parliament Report. A few weeks ago a reverend gentleman from Northern Ireland visited the Assembly. The report of February 1978 reads:After the visit, Dr. Paisley told the Press that he was still opposed to the Community; but that would not stop him standing for the European Parliament.That speaks for itself.
§ Mr. Spearing
Does my hon. Friend agree that every potential candidate of whatever party should make it clear to his electorate whether, if a Member of this House, he is likely to seek candidature for the elections should they take place? Does he not think that it is the duty of every hon. Member to make that clear to the public and to the electorate?
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe)
The intervention of the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) underlines the point made earlier by the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) about the determination of some of the opponents of this measure to attribute to those 725 who support it the most unworthy personal motives. Before the hon. Member for Newham, South intervenes again, and before the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) rushes back into the Chamber to ask me about my position, I make it clear that I have no intention in the foreseeable future to stand as a candidate for the European Parliament.
I have no intention of following the interesting remarks of the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) about the extravagance of the buildings provided for the European Parliament and the housing of its Members. I accept that his comments were revelant.
I merely say that on my visits to the European Parliament I have been struck by the extravagance and the cost to public funds of the travelling backwards and forwards between Luxemburg and Strasbourg that is imposed on the European Parliament. There is the ridiculous position of the worthy burghers of those two cities, supported by their Governments, vying with each other to try to provide the Parliament's housing and accommodation. The sooner the Parliament is transferred to Brussels, where it will be alongside the other institutions of the Community, the better. That would also facilitate an increase in the powers of the European Parliament, which I believe is an important object of the Bill.
I deal with the main arguments of the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Madden) about the possible extravagance of Members' pay and allowances. Throughout our proceedings on the Bill I have rarely been in agreement with the hon. Gentleman and those of his hon. Friends who have put their names to the new clause. However, on this occasion I have considerable sympathy with the hon. Gentleman's argument.
I accept that there is genuine public concern about the possible level of pay and allowances that new Euro-Members will receive. It is important that hon. Members such as the hon. Member for Farnworth (Mr. Roper), my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) and myself should express our concern. That is because there is sometimes a deliberate attempt—sometimes it is accidental—to confuse the argument about whether we should have directly 726 elected European Members with arguments about their pay. That goes back to the business of trying to suggest that everyone who is in favour of direct elections is in favour of incredible pay and extravagance for himself or his friends out in the European Parliament.
Those are two separate issues. It is possible—it is my position—to be strongly in favour of directly elected Members but equally strongly of the view that it is wrong to pay them extravagant and absurd salaries once they are there.
The figures that we have so far dealt with, and certainly the figures that have appeared in the Press, which tends to be where the precise figures come from, are pure speculation. They are probably not totally unreal, although they are somewhat exaggerated compared with the expectations of some who are trying to be elected to the European Parliament.
The most spectacular figures are always arrived at by making a calculation of the payment of Members of the German Bundestag, the highest paid parliamentarians in Europe, assuming that Euro-Members will not be paid less than the Germans, and finally basing the calculation on the payment of Community tax, which is a low rate of direct taxation.
That sort of calculation produces absurd figures even compared with the pay of the Prime Minister and other Ministers in this place. It also produces absurd figures when we consider the actual earnings by way of pay and salary of almost anyone in any position in employment in this country.
Such comparisons lead one to reflect on the fantastically high levels of direct taxation that obtain in the United Kingdom. If Community levels of tax were applied, some of the Members of the European Parliament would be among the wealthiest individuals in the United Kingdom in terms of their earnings from employment. That would be unacceptable and would do great harm to the standing and prestige of the European Parliament in the eyes of the public.
§ Mr. Roger Moate (Faversham)
My hon. Friend asserted that Members of the European Parliament would pay Community tax. Will he give the ground for that assertion? I understand that we are still hoping to hear from the Minister whether that is the position.
§ Mr. Clarke
I was making that assumption, but I hope that the Minister will clarify the matter. I was making the assumption on the basis that other employees of the Community at present pay Community tax. I assume that the new Members of the European Parliament will be in the same position and that they will not pay national tax to any country. No doubt the Minister will make matters clear when he replies.
§ Sir Anthony Royle
I am puzzled by one remark made by my hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) concerning the employees of the Community. Surely the newly elected Members of the European Parliament could not in any way be described as employees of the Community. Did he mean to say that?
§ Mr. Clarke
I am making the supposition that they will be employees of the Community in the sense that we are employees of central Government. We are not actually employees, but we are paid out of central funds and we pay PAYE. For pay and tax purposes we treat ourselves as Government employees. The new Members of the European Parliament will be paid out of Community funds. I assume that their pay cheques will come from Community funds. Therefore, they will probably be treated as Community servants as regards liability to taxation, although they will in fact be answerable only to their electors.
The hon. Member for Famworth made a helpful contribution and emphasised that there is real ministerial responsibility for the level of pay. The debate will give us the opportunity of hearing the Minister put forward the Government's view on the approach that should be adopted to the pay of European Members.
To allow the Minister to deal with the matter, I repeat the suggestion that I made on Second Reading. I said that in the first few years the pay of European Members of Parliament should be linked directly to the pay of the Members of their national parliaments. I suggested that the British Members' pay should be linked to the pay of the Members of the House of Commons. With respect to my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser), I believe that 728 that is the best way of dealing with any link through pay with this House. The House will recall that my right hon. Friend suggested that salaries should be paid through the Fees Office. If the pay of British Members of the European Parliament were linked to the pay of Members of the House of Commons, they would have a more direct link with Members of this place and there would be a greater community of interest.
I believe that my suggestion would have other advantages. The first advantage, which is not far from my mind, is that it would help to underline the extremely low level of pay that the House of Commons, which is responsible for its own salaries, insists on imposing on itself.
The British Members of the European Parliament would be scandalously underpaid compared with the representatives of France and Germany. If that had the effect of finally stimulating the House of Commons, which is not able to look after its own salaries let alone those of others, to bring its salaries more into line with what should be regarded as the proper level, that would do no harm. It would also give us the best yardstick to hand to judge the value which we put on parliamentarians in this country anyway. It seems to me that it would be wholly wrong if the payment to European Members were completely out of line with the payment to British Members of Parliament.
Moreover, I hope that some comparisons would be made between the facilities available to Members of the European Parliament and facilities for Members of this House, since, again, I am certain that any comparisons would simply underline the quite disgraceful way in which we deprive ourselves of many of the basic facilities that a parliamentarian should have if he is to carry out the duties that the public expect of him. That is my specific proposal, and I await the Minister's response with interest.
My other reason for wanting the question of salaries for European Members cleared up is that, for so long as there remains even the speculation about massive salaries, the issue will be used by such people as the hon. Member for Sowerby—I know his views—as quite the best stick with which to beat the European 729 Parliament and the European Community—at least, for the purpose of getting reported in the tabloid Press. In my view, there is a heavier duty on Members who are enthusiastic about our membership of the Community to get rid of this red herring as soon as possible and ensure that we can demonstrate to the public that the level of salary is reasonable.
It has been clear from the debate that, as the right hon. Member for Fulham said, the amendment is far more directed to trying to put yet a nother stumbling block in the way of membership than it is to any genuine concern about the way the House of Commons controls salaries. Most hon. Members who have spoken would not vote European Members more than tuppence if the matter came before the House because they would use the occasion as another opportunity to try to stop the elections taking place.
As one listens to some hon. Members express their views about these salaries, it is interesting to note how the issue brings out in Socialist anti-Marketeers of the Left a unique combination of their bitterest feelings about wealth and about Europe and stimulates them to excesses in which they do not otherwise indulge. The idea that at one and the same time, on one amendment, one can attack Europe and attack high pay is found irresistible by some hon. Members on the Government Back Benches.
It was typical of the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle)—I am sorry that she has left us—that her one and only intervention in the entire proceedings on this major constitutional Bill was to come here and create a scene about the pay and expenses which other parliamentarians might get in Europe. She did not mince her words. It is not her practice to mince her words here or anywhere else. She described them, I think, as "wallowing in a gravy train", and she worked herself up into an ever greater frenzy about the wealthy life of ease which these Members will be able to enjoy.
The performance of the right hon. Lady shows how dangerous this issue can be in public campaigning, since it enables anti-Europeans to batten on to the envy and malice which motivate 730 rather too many of our people and to exploit those feelings in the manner which the right hon. Lady adopted in her speech. Indeed, the whole debate has been permeated by such notions as the allegation by the hon. Member for Sowerby, which he really ought not to make, that the present Members of the European Assembly are fiddling their expenses and that the same would continue if Memberes were directly elected under the arrangements proposed.
§ Mr. Marten
I think that there is a certain justification for the feeling that that sort of thing might happen. For example, the Commissioners, when they retire after having been in office for five years, on a salary of, I think £45,000 a year, receive for three years after they retire a transitional allowance of £20,000. It is that sort of thing which arouses peoples' suspicions that the same might happen after direct elections.
§ Mr. Clarke
The pay and conditions of senior managers, senior civil servants and politicians in Europe are totally unlike those in this country, and, while they may be extravagant, I think that our attitude towards the pay of responsible people in this country is thoroughly misguided. I suspect that, in any context other than European matters, my hon. Friend might well agree with me about that.
However, that intervention only underlines my point—I endorse what the right hon. Member for Fulham said—that it is an unfortunate feature of all our debates on European matters that many of the opponents of our membership constantly suggest that, for example, our Commissioners and others who have taken an enthusiastic interest in Europe are motivated by personal greed.
§ Mr. Clarke
I do not agree with many of the actions of our present Prime Minister, but I have never sought to attack him for any action which he takes on the ground that he does it to draw an excessive salary. In my view, no such attitude should underlie our political discussions either on the present subject or on anything else.
§ Mr. Clarke
I hope that no one will accuse me of filibustering if I give way to the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Madden
Far be it from me to accuse the hon. Gentleman of filibustering. I wish merely to ask him whether, on reflection, he will withdraw his charge against me. My concern, as I demonstrated in my speech, was against the payment of the flat-rate allowances which are made to the present Members of the European Assembly—which will be made to future Members—and the very loose monitoring arrangement over the payment of allowances.
Does the hon. Gentleman know that the present budget of the Assembly is £28 million, and it is estimated to increase by 50 per cent. in the first year? That amount is considerably greater than the amount involved in the abuse of our social security system which his hon. Friends daily condemn. My remarks shade into nothing compared with the condemnation which we hear from his Benches about the abuse of social security.
§ Mr. Clarke
I do not want to go into that with the hon. Gentleman now, but as it happens, I agree that the present monitoring arrangements are unsatisfactory. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I did not make any specific charge against him, but I thought that his speech consisted of a long series of illustrations of the way that Members are drawing travelling expenses for journeys which do not cost the amount which they are able to claim, which seemed to me to be a suggestion that there was widespread fiddling in the ordinary layman's sense of that term. I do not regard that as helpful.
As regards an increase in Assembly expenditure, since there is to be a dramatic increase in the number of Members following the introduction of direct elections, one can only regard a dramatic upsurge in the planned budget as rather prudent budgeting and not very remarkable.
I return directly to the amendment, having stressed that I share much of the concern about the potential pay of Members of the European Parliament. It does not seem to me to serve the purpose which has been constantly reiterated throughout the debate that Members of this Parliament should have a continuing response- 732 bility It would have only a once-and-for-all effect and it is significant that it would require only another resolution to be passed on one ocasion before the Bill came into effect.
That seems to me to be an example of the inordinate length to which their objection is taken by those who are opposed to the Bill in any case. It is solemnly suggested that the entire direct election arrangements, which have been approved by the House on massive majorities, should be held up until the House of Commons has finalised its view on salaries.
§ Mr. Clarke
I have expressed my strong concern on this subject, but I think it paranoid to suggest that a major constitutional measure should be held up for the House of Commons to give its view on the first salaries to be paid to Members, involving a sum which, compared with the public expenditure which goes through on the nod here on so many occasions, is no substantial piece of public expenditure. It cannot be said that we are discussing the most significant constitutional point at stake in the Bill.
That leads me to the conclusion—it is easily reached when one looks at the amendments which have been put down by the particular collection of Members whose names have appeared on the Paper—
§ Mr. Clarke
—that what we are really doing under the guillotine is conducting the same debate as we have had throughout the entire proceedings on the Bill, with the same arguments, sometimes presented in not very different words, to try to stop the clear majority of the House of Commons from having its way and improving the European Parliament by allowing Members to be directly elected.
§ Mr. David Stoddart (Swindon)
I have been surprised at the number of Members, including the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke), who have criticised the motives of those who support the new clause. Supporters of the new clause have been accused of introducing a clause designed to wreck the Bill. Members making that allegation have 733 obviously not been following the Order Paper. It is a pity that the hon. Member for Rushcliffe is not listening, but is merely nattering when I am referring to him.
§ Mr. Stoddart
I am getting on with it, Mr. Deputy Speaker. But the hon. Member for Rushcliffe made certain allegations about the motives of those whose names appear in support of the new clause. I want him to hear the facts.
The hon. Member for Rushcliff e got it all wrong. Had he been following the Order Paper, he would have seen that the new clause had been on it for a number of weeks with only one name on it—my own. I make no pretence to being other than an anti-Marketeer, but I assure the hon. Member for Rushcliffe and, indeed, my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) and others who have criticised our motives, that the new clause was put down for very good reasons quite unconnected with wanting to wreck the Bill.
First, I still believe—indeed, during the debate, that belief has been strenghened—that the House of Commons must maintain and be seen to maintain its supremacy. The best way for it to do that is to ensure that it has a say in and, indeed, decides the salaries of United Kingdom representatives at the European Assembly. In other words, he who pays the piper calls the tune. That is an entirely good reason for tabling the new clause.
Secondly, I felt that it was essential, before any election took place, that the electors should know exactly how much was to be paid to the people they were to elect. That is an entirely reasonable demand. It is a reasonable expectation on the part not only of myself and my right hon. and hon. Friends whose names appear on the new clause, but of the electorate.
Thirdly, it is desirable that those standing for election should know exactly how much they will be paid and what their expenses will be. I am sure that the hon. Member for Rushcliffe will be only too glad to agree with that reasoning.
734 Those are three of the major reasons for putting down the new clause. I hope that, with that explanation, those who have accused my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself of trying to wreck the Bill will withdraw that accusation.
I have to confess that when I tabled the new clause I had heard a good deal of disquiet expressed about reports that had been circulated regarding the levels of salaries being considered by the working group in Europe. It is entirely reasonable that hon. Members and people throughout the country should express disquiet at these very high salaries which are expected to be paid to Members of the directly elected European Assembly. When we consider the salaries that have been mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Madden), who so ably introduced the new clause, it is understandable that people should express concern about them.
Let us consider some of the comparisons. We are told that an Assemblyman will receive between £25,000 and £30,000 per annum, plus expenses. That compares with only £6,270 for Members of this House. What is more—this is perhaps even more serious—we are proposing to pay those high salaries to Assemblymen in Europe, but we pay Members in the other place only £13.50 per day or, if they stay overnight, £16.50 for doing a legislative job.
§ Mr. Stoddart
I do not seek to disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton), but I should point out that Members in the other place have a legislative function. On Second Reading, the Minister of State said that the powers of the Assembly would be advisory and consultative only. Yet some people are proposing that Assemblymen should be paid very high salaries. At least, the House of Lords has some legislative function. I suggest that if these figures turn out to be correct, we should be paying the Members of the European Assembly far too much for doing far too little.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, who has expressed his views on this subject, certainly led me to believe 735 that the salaries of Members of the European Assembly would be fixed not by the Assembly but by the Council of Ministers. That matter has been raised several times today. I think that the House should have an authoritative statement on this subject. I sincerely hope that my hon. Friend the Minister of State, who I believe may seek to intervene in the debate, will give us his view and reasoning on this aspect of the matter. I am sure that the House will be eager to hear from him.
§ Mr. Farr
Before commenting on the new clause, I should like to refer to what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke). I thought that he was guilty of exaggeration when, in seeking to justify the high level of salaries for EEC parliamentarians, he said that Westminster does not have facilities comparable with those in the capitals of the other eight nations. I assure the House that is not so. I have visited nearly all of those capitals. From what I have seen, the atmosphere and attitude in most of those august centres is far more akin to a museum than to a working House of Parliament. Certainly the facilities here are superior to what I have seen elsewhere within the Community.
My hon. Friend suggested that the salaries of House of Commons Members were so out of line with the proposed salaries for the new European parliamentarians that there was, therefore, a good argument for increasing Westminster salaries. But what he did not take into account was that, although until 15 or 20 years ago a Member of Parliament here might have been thought occasionally to have other sources of income and possibly another occupation, he is now more or less full-time just as his counterpart elsewhere in the EEC is full-time.
Another factor that my hon. Friend forgot to mention, or probably did not know, was that prices in the other capitals of the EEC are almost double what they are in the United Kingdom. Therefore, the purchasing power of our parliamentary salary is almost equivalent to that of parliamentary salaries in other EEC nations.
§ Mr. Dykes
Would my hon. Friend reconsider that, because I think that the doubling of equivalent costs in other 736 capital cities might be regarded as an exaggeration? Even if that were so, the British parliamentary salary would be the equivalent of £12,000-plus which would compare with the German salary, with an expenses element in it, of £25,000.
§ Mr. Farr
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his intervention. I do not consider my remark to be exaggerated simply because I have made specific tests myself. Last week, after having served for five years as a member of the Council of Europe, during which I have had ample opportunities of making these tests and examinations very carefully in all 19 capitals—not just seven or eight—I gave it up. I acquired a bit of information in the course of my travels, and I can assure my hon. Friend that if he were to go to Denmark today he should have to spend nearly £10 in Danish currency to buy the equivalent of £5-worth of groceries or household articles today in the shops of London.
I wanted to refer to what the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) said when he rather loosely referred to European standards and said on more than one occasion that Britain was at the bottom of what he called the European tax league. He went on to refer to Britain as being in the European league and at the bottom of the European pay league so far as parliamentarians were concerned. That is not so, because in an uncharacteristic way he referred to Europe when presumably he meant not Western Europe but EEC Europe, which is a very narrow Europe. EEC Europe comprises nine nations. The Council of Europe is 20 nations. The Europe referred to on more than one occasion by the hon. Member for Fife, Central, who is not here now, is over 40 nations. It is a gross exaggeration and slipshod, to say the least, continually to refer to our Members of Parliament here as being at the bottom of what he termed the European remuneration league—not tax league—as parliamentarians, when on any assessment we are in the top half-dozen.
My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) also wondered why, in his very interesting remarks, in this country we had, I think he said, the only major party which desired Britain to break with Europe. I can supply him 737 with the answer to that question. We have a sizeable element of the party in Government who wish Britain to withdraw or to weaken her associations with the EEC, but I can say why that is the only party of any major size within the Nine, though I stand to be corrected. For instance, in any of the five what I shall call minor countries, such as Denmark, Holland, the Republic of Ireland, they have never had it so good. They are tiny countries but they have a say in a big set-up within the EEC. Periodically the Ministers from those tiny countries assume positions of supreme responsibility in running the affairs of the EEC. Therefore, they have nothing very much to lose by leaving and a lot to gain by staying in.
My hon. Friend the Member for Harlow, East wonders why there is not a major party in France. Germany or Italy that wishes its country to withdraw from the EEC. In Italy we have a very funny situation, as my hon. Friend knows probably as well as I do, in which there is a very large Communist Party. That Communist Party cannot be characterised as wishing to see the Community continue.
The number of Communist delegates and senators in Italy today, is nearly equivalent to that of the governing Christian and Social Democratic coalition in Italy. When the time comes—I hope it does not—when the Communists are democratically elected with a majority in Italy, we shall see a very different tune whistled by the Communist Party in Italy. One of the first things that that party will do if it becomes the Government will be to withdraw that country from the EEC. Why should any political party in France wish to withdraw from the EEC or wish its country to withdraw?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I fail to see what the question of future withdrawal of members from the EEC has to do with New Clause 2. I hope that the hon. Member will show me how he can relate it to the purposes of New Clause 2.
§ Mr. Farr
I am most grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. However, with respect, I do not think that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, were here when my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East 738 referred to the different countries who were members of the EEC. He made the point that there was no other country which possessed a party with a large number of persons in it who wished that country to withdraw from membership of the EEC. I was trying to follow up that argument, which your predecessor, Mr. Deputy Speaker, found perfectly acceptable, by saying, possibly very briefly, what I thought was the reason for that.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I accept the hon. Member's submission that my predecessor in the Chair allowed that discussion. As the occupants of the Chair are never wrong, I agree with what he allowed.
§ Mr. Farr
I was going to say that there is no earthly reason why any party in the Republic of France should wish that country to withdraw from the EEC. In the last five years as a Member of the Council of Europe, I spent a total of about 250 days in Europe, most of them being in France. Sitting in the middle of the EEC geographically, France is literally sitting pretty. To any political party in France is would be suicide to advocate that country's withdrawal.
I can see you getting restive, Mr. Deputy Speaker, so I will conclude by saying that Germany has become the industrial heart of the EEC and is unlikely to wish withdrawal either.
Coming back to the new clause, I should like to say a few words in favour of it. There is a great deal to be said for having a clause of this nature in the Bill. It is right that we should consider what would happen if, for instance, the clause was no concluded. Even if it is included, how will the House of Commons be informed of the proposed salaries and expenses? Does the information for our consideration also include, before we come to a decision on it, the hours and days of work that the European Members of Parliament are going to put in for this remuneration?
My hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Surrey (Sir A. Royle), who is not here at the moment, mentioned a fundamental point relating to income tax. It is vital that we also note before we consider this sort of matter what the rate of tax would be on the salary of the European parliamentarian, because it is take-home pay that counts.
739 Another point that I think could possibly be cleared up by the clause being accepted in the Bill, adding possibly a schedule to it in another place, is the question of what will happen if changes are proposed. Should we not have to have a system in which, if any changes in the salaries or expenses were proposed within the European Parliament, we had a chance to scrutinise such changes? It is no use the House putting in this clause and saying "This is the EEC Bill now" if within a week of doing that there has been a change in the proposed remuneration of a European parliamentarian, and we should have to have machinery established whereby we could possibly approve, by order or otherwise, or by some other form of mechanism, any proposed changes.
I favour the idea which my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser) put forward earlier when he said that the Fees Office should have a big say in the remuneration of European Members of Parliament. There is a great deal to be said for European parliamentarians having salaries and expenses identical to those of their colleagues in Westminster. If the European Member was paid more than his Westminster counterpart, or if more was due to him from the European Parliament authorities, the surplus could be creamed off and placed into the Fees Office fund. If, by any means, the European Member were due to a lesser amount as a result of EEC directives, the deficit would be made up by our Fees Office.
I suggest that this system ought to be subject to the approval of this House, which could be brought about by adding a schedule to the Bill and subsequently introducing an order. It is nonsense to suggest that the European Member of Parliament should be paid any more than his Westminster colleague, since it cannot be said that he is doing a job which is of any more consequence than that which is done by Members of the House of Commons.
§ Mr. Roderick MacFarquhar (Belper)
Having had experience of the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) during the Committee proceedings of my Private Member's Bill, I know that he is both a lover of nature and someone who likes 740 to explore the highways and byways of legislation. I shall not follow him on this occasion on any of the highways that you allowed him to explore, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. Stoddart), who originally tabled this new clause, is not present in the Chamber. He has raised an important issue concerning the reason why he tabled the clause. His action was no doubt due to the need, as he saw it, for this House to be able to control a directly elected European Assembly. He felt that the only way to do this was by control of salaries because, to use his own words, he who pays the piper calls the tune. Despite his long experience in this House, my hon. Friend has clearly failed to realise what those of us who are pro-European have repeatedly said, namely that there will be no constitutional way in which this House can control the directly-elected Assembly, which will be responsible, like any elected body, to its own electorate. This new clause, or any other device, would be unable to achieve that constitutional position.
The hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) made a strong point about the importance of this issue to those who are not and never will be in favour of our membership of the Common Market. The Machiavellian anti-European strategy on this issue would surely have been to allow the matter to fester and not to discuss it in great detail during the passage of this Bill. The strategy would have been to allow it to come to the fore during the first elections to the Parliament, because there is no question that had it been suddenly sprung upon the British people that the salary of a European Member of Parliament might be about £25,000 there would certainly have been a feeling of revulsion towards the whole idea of European elections and those taking part in them.
In that sense my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon and those who have put their names to the new clause have to be given credit for bringing forward this matter well in time so that those of us in favour of the European Parliament can deal with the issue as frankly as possible. As someone who is in favour of the Common Market, I am naturally anxious that the directly elected Members should have maximum credibility and 741 that the directly elected Assembly should not be seen to be awash in the gravy train, to use he phrase of my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle). That is a vital prerequisite if this first directly elected European Parliament, which I am looking forward to seeing on the European scene, is to get off to a proper start and not be surrounded with the squalor of allegation and envy.
My hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Madden) raised two issues in his opening speech—those of salaries and expenses. They have to be taken separately. I do not know whether the allegations or the hints that my hon. Friend was making about the expenses currently paid to Members of the European Parliament or the Council of Europe can be confirmed by the hon. Member for Harborough who has told us that he has been a Member of the Council of Europe for some years. Where I would agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby—and I think all hon. Members, irrespective of their views on Europe, would also agree—is that it is absolutely vital that expenses or allowances should be tightly monitored. In some respects they are not sufficiently tightly monitored in this House. The system in this House at least seems to be a great improvement on that currently prevailing in Europe—as I understand it, never having been a delegate to any of the European bodies. There must be tight monitoring of expenses. I feel sure that that point will get through to the Minister, from all sides and all opinions, and that the Government will be responsive on this issue.
We are faced with a different question when we come to the salary issue. The salary must be relevant to two items. First, it must be relevant to the salaries paid in this country, particularly to hon. Members of this House. Second, it must be relevant to Continental costs. Here I am not talking about costs which will normally be covered by legitimate expenses, but the costs of living on the Continent on a semi-regular or even regular basis. If we select these two criteria we shall be approaching the right kind of determination.
The only issue remaining does not concern any quarrel between the pro-or anti-Marketeers about the level of salary or 742 even what the salary should be related to. The only remaining question is how the issue is to be determined. The effect of this new clause would be that the House of Commons would have to "consider and approve" the salaries and expenses to be paid to Members of the European Assembly before the Act came into force.
Whatever the intentions of my right hon. and hon. Friends who support the clause, however legitimate those intentions may be—and I accept what they say about that—there is no question but that if we accepted the clause there would be a considerable delay in the passing of the Bill. I think that even my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby would agree that it would not be sufficient merely as a shot in the dark to say "Let's just set the salary at the same level as that of the present British Member of Parliament." That would not be satisfactory. It would not be realistic, and it would not be clear to those who will be standing for the European Parliament.
Therefore, it seems to me far more important that the Government should take from the House today the message that they are expected to negotiate a sensible level of salary for British Members of the European Parliament. As my hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Roper) suggested, this need not be exactly the same as the salary of Members from other European countries. As long as the message gets through to the Government that that is what they are supposed to negotiate, I think that the whole question of expenses, the cost of living in Brussels or wherever, can be debated in an atmosphere far removed from that in this Chamber, where more emotive language is sometimes used on this matter.
I put one final suggestion to my hon. Friend the Minister, who is not lacking in suggestions today. He is here to listen to suggestions. We all know that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is personally very concerned about this matter. I believe that it would be possible for the British Government to suggest that a provisional level of salary and expenses should be fixed for the first two years of this totally new type of body. We do not know how the Members of the European Parliament will be able to 743 service their vast constituencies. We do not know what regular travelling they will have to do, whether they will be spending most of their time in Europe, as one would expect, or over here, consulting constituents. There are all sorts of unknown factors.
It should be possible to suggest a provisional salary and expense level, to be carefully monitored for the first two years of the Parliament. There would then have to be consultation with the directly elected Parliament to decide on a final level consistent with what had been discovered to be the costs of the job, after two years of practical experience.
§ Mr. Moate
I suspect that this will be the only occasion during the progress of the Bill when I find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Belper (Mr. MacFarquhar) to a considerable degree.
There have been many allegations during the debate that one's approach to the argument about salaries depends simply on whether one is in favour of direct elections or against, on whether one is a pro-Marketeer or an anti-Marketeer. I have no doubt that those factors have crept into the speeches, but despite that there has been a surprising degree of consensus about the need to resist what have been described as excessive salaries. Many hon. Members who have spoken against the new clause have nevertheless expressed their view that it would be bad for the Common Market and for its image in this country if excessive salaries and excessive expenses were paid. The hon. Gentleman endorsed that.
I like to think that if I were a supporter of the Common Market, which I am not, I would still be very concerned to ensure that salaries were not excessive and that the direct elections were not fought around the issue of how much a Member should be paid. That would be a most unfortunate atmosphere in which to fight an election.
But where the opponents of the new clause have fallen down is in failing to propose any mechanism whereby control of the salaries will be exercised. If this is not our last opportunity, it is nearly the last opportunity for the House to introduce any element of control over the salaries and expenses in the future.
Even those of us who support the new clause should not shirk the fact that there 744 is a real problem, simply because even those of us who favour low salaries for the Members of the European Parliament must understand that it will be hard to have different classes of Members in Luxembourg, Strasbourg or wherever the Parliament is situated. It will be hard to have a German Member paid £25,000 and a British Member paid £10,000 to £12,000 or whatever.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Moate
That is fair enough.
I also accept that Members will have to live in a capital city where expenses will be much higher than in this country. It will be hard to reconcile the differences. But the new clause does not say that Members should be paid at British levels. It says simply that in future the House of Commons should have the final say on what the salary should be.
That would presumably be on a Government motion. The Government and the House would be able to take into account the differences in the cost of living and the need for a sensible level of salaries applying to all Members of the European Parliament. We are saying only that the House should exercise control in future. That need not necessarily be a major deterrent or obstacle to direct elections. The new clause provides a mechanism for control, and I believe that to be very much in the interests of the House and of those that favour direct elections.
We have been told on a number of occasions that control exists. Emphasis has been placed on two particular means of control. We are told that we have power over the Minister, that the decision will be taken in the Council of Ministers and that if he agrees to something of which the House disapproves he will be answerable to the House. We have been told this over and over again, but I have not yet seen any Minister resign over a decision in Brussels to which he agreed. I have seen no decision taken in Brussels overturned because it is unpopular.
The fact is that in the bargaining process in the Council of Ministers a deal is done. It is a fait accompli. When the Minister concerned returns to the House, protests can be ignored. That is 745 what will happen in this case. It may be the Prime Minister who goes to Brussels, saying in advance that he will not agree to salaries of £25,000 a year, which would be most unreasonable and very unpopular. But he will probably be discussing the matter on the same day as he is bargaining over fisheries and other matters and find that he must concede on the question to win a point on something else. When he returns, all those hon. Members who said that £25,000 or £30,000 was excessive will have to lump it. The Prime Minister will say "I disagree with it, and I am on record as having disapproved of it, but it is done".
The hon. Member for Belper says "Let us have an agreement for a couple of years, just as a paving arrangement". But what happens thereafter? The matter is then out of our control and we shall face what almost everyone would regard as a deplorable position.
I am glad that the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) has returned to the Chamber, because I wish to refer to a point that he made. He said that Members of the directly elected Assembly would be answerable to the electors and that if excessive salaries and excessive expenses were paid, the public would express their outrage in the usual way, bringing pressure to bear on Members in their constituencies. How do the public do that? Do they say "We totally disapprove of the fact that you are paid £25,000 or £30,000 a year and therefore we shall not re-elect you"? That would mean that they elect someone else to receive £25,000 or £30,000 a year. That is no means of control. Even if one accepted that the constituencies were meaningful, that there was a direct relationship between the elected Member and the future constituencies, which I do not accept for a moment, I should be very surprised if individual electors made a final decision on the basis of salaries, no matter what anger they expressed.
I return to the point that there has been a surprising degree of consensus about the need to exercise some control to avoid excesses. My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) said it and my hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) said it. Almost all those in favour of direct elec- 746 tions have said that we must somehow prevent excesses. But they have not told us how they intend to do it. They should be as good as their word. They should support the new clause, because it provides simply for future House of Commons control. They should ask the Government to introduce at a later stage here or in another place an amendment to provide reasonable and sensible control in the future. Unless they do that, their words are empty phrases, pious hopes and expectations. I will not go further than that, but they should be as good as their word and ask for some mechanism to give them the control that they say they believe in.
§ Dr. Colin Phipps (Dudley, West)
I believe that I am about to break up the happy consensus referred to by the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. Moate), because I am totally opposed to New Clause 2 for many of the reasons that he has given for his support of it.
First, the idea that the control is in some way coming either from this House or the European Parliament seems to me to be nonsense. The body that will be putting forward these salaries is the Council of Ministers. It will not be the European Parliament. I begin to believe that we here would be better off if we had a Council of Ministers deciding our salaries. When it is left to us to decide our salaries, far from going sky high they are appallingly low—so low that we look ludicrous in comparison with most of our European colleagues.
The reason for the new clause is emotive—"Look how much they are going to get in comparison with what we are already getting". It is our own fault that we are getting what we are getting. That is a fair point to make. The only thing that would persuade me to vote for the new clause would be if it proposed some control stemming from a body outside this House. Such a body might look at the problem sensibly and objectively and come up with sensible and objective salaries.
I fear that if the European Parliament were in the same position over its salaries as this House is over ours, it would do the same. It would always be frightened to put them up. It might start them at a reasonable level, but that would certainly be the level at which they would stay 747 historically. Far from being frightened, as the hon. Member for Faversham and my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. Stoddart) appear to be, that the Members of the European Parliament are somehow going to get on an enormous gravy train, putting up their salaries year by year by huge amounts, I expect the contrary to occur.
I would prefer to see a system devised by its Members for their own causes but tied, as we in this House are trying to tie it, to some exterior basis. When that basis rose, so would the salaries. I would have the decision made not by Members of the European Parliament, nor by the Commission, nor by the Council of Ministers. I would have it tied to some level. I am sure that within the European Civil Service there is an objective level which could be matched to the salaries of the European Parliament.
Expenses for Europe have not been put up. I have been a Member of the Assembly of the Council of Europe for two years, and in that period the level of expenses has remained static. They have not even changed as the exchange rates have changed. They are 280 French francs a day, expenses, and 70 French francs a day for incidental expenses, making a grand total of 350. I believe that total to be adequate for Strasbourg but inadequate for Paris. I have no doubt that such a situation will apply throughout Europe, and what will be a splendid expense account in one town will prove deplorably low in another. But that kind of thing can surely be managed by a body outside the European Parliament itself.
I come to the fundamental issue. It is one of control. My reason for opposing the new clause is precisely the same as the reason given by the hon. Member for Faversham for supporting it. I wish the European Parliament to have autonomy. I do not wish it to be tied to this body. I accept that those hon. Members who wish it to be tied to this body have wanted many other amendments beside this one. In practice, my view that the European Parliament should have some control over the Commission is no different in principle from the view of those who seek to have some form of control in this House over the Parliament. I fervently hope that the European 748 Parliament will not only be autonomous but will use that autonomy to establish its own power over the Commission. Therefore, I resist any measures that will give this House or another place measures of control over the European Parliament, and I resist New Clause 2 for that reason, reason.
§ Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)
I must apologise to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the House for having attended the debate for only a short time. I speak now only because I intended to interrupt my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr), but he sat down before I had time to get it out.
I want to make a comment to which perhaps the two Front Benches may make a gliding reference if they feel like it. It is important that the British delegates, wherever they go, should not always be poor relations. It does not do the country any good if they are. Secondly, I do not know what salary figures are being suggested for a Member of the European Parliament, but his salary has to be enormously higher than that of a British Member of Parliament if he is to be able to keep up even the same standard of living as a Member of this House may be able to afford if he has a constituency in the country and tries to have his wife and family in London with him during working time.
If the European Parliament is to meet often in Brussels and Strasbourg, one imagines that the hon. Member who is married, and any Member who has children under school age, or even over school age, will need some pretty hefty allowances in order to enable him to survive in view of the accommodation costs in Brussels and Strasbourg.
Also, of course, it will be much more difficult for such a Member to be able to make the same sort of economies as we make here, bringing up the end of the loaf of bread and half the joint left over on Sunday to gnaw in our lonely accommodation on Monday evening. I think that one would look rather stupid carrying a carrier-bag of odds and ends in the aircraft on the Sunday night.
I also wonder whether any serious thought has been given to the fares of wives and families in joining the Members of the European Parliament. I am sure that it would not be the wish of the House 749 that Members of this House who are Members of the European Parliament should be led into any temptations of loneliness or celibacy—if that is the right word—during their evenings abroad. Surely, however much these chaps are going to be paid, they will not make a bomb out of it. Perhaps we can have some comments on this matter from our hon. and learned Friends on the Front Benches.
§ Mr. David Howell (Guildford)
Now that my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Page) has, in his own terms, got it out, I will make a glancing reference to his comments, because they bring our debate down, or up, whichever way one likes to put it, to the precise problem which will confront the person who is elected and asked to go to the European Parliament, whether in Luxembourg or Strasbourg, return to his constituency, come to London, and the rest. It raises all sorts of problems and he has rightly said that these all generate certain costs.
I fully recognise that there is public concern, and rightly so, about some of the figures which have been bandied about for the salaries of Members of the European Assembly. I welcome the opportunity that we have had today to debate this issue. The new clause links the whole fortunes of the Bill to a decision about salaries, and that is certainly one reason why I would not favour the new clause, and nor would some of my right hon. and hon. Friends.
There is another reason why we would not favour it, and it has been put by a number of right hon. and hon. Members. It is that this is surely a decision—as the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) rightly and clearly said—for the Council of Ministers. As I understand it—the Minister of State will be able to confirm this—that is also the view of the Government. It is a decision which should be taken under the auspices of the Council of Ministers. I will come in a moment to the way in which, as I understand it, that decision will be taken, but the ultimate decision must be for the Council of Ministers. This House can discuss it and debate it, and we may need to consider and hear from the Minister 750 about opportunities for debate, but our view clearly is that it is a decision for the Council of Ministers, and that is why I would not recommend support for the new clause.
A number of very important questions have been raised. I should like to underline some of them and perhaps add to others. The first question—it is one on which I am not altogether clear—relates to how the Council of Ministers addresses itself to this issue. Is there a proposal put forward to the Council of Ministers? If it from whom? Is it from the old Assembly, the one which exists now? If it were to be from the new Assembly, the implication of that would be that the whole election would have to be fought without this matter being cleared up, and that would be entirely wrong. I agree, therefore, with my hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) that the sooner we clarify and decide the matter the better. From where does the proposal come for the Council of Ministers to decide—or does the Council just gather together and conceive and manufacture a proposal itself? That is the first question.
The next question is, what happens to that proposal in relation to this House? As hon. Members know very well, the proposals of the Commission, in going to the Council of Ministers, pass through the scrutiny procedure of this House, and in some cases are recommended for debate and criticism and are debated and criticised. Will the proposal concerning the salaries of Members of the European Assembly be subject to the Scrutiny Committee procedure? Our view would be that that is probably the right way for it to go. If there is a clear proposal coming forward, that is what would happen anyway, but if it is a unique form of proposal, a new procedure, with the Council of Ministers bringing forward its own idea or proposition, could we be assured that nevertheless it will come, through the scrutiny procedure, before this House? That is what we would favour.
My hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Surrey (Sir A. Royle) referred to taxation. I agree with those who say that this is a very important subject. We shall need to know from the Minister—and to know now, because it influences our views about the worth of the salary 751 after tax—how the taxation regime will be applied. The first and obvious question is whether national tax rates are to be applied. Will the British Members pay United Kingdom tax? If they do, how will they be affected by Schedule 7 to the Finance Act 1977, which governs work done abroad? Presumably, they will be abroad for more than 30 days, therefore presumably, although regarded as residing here, they will get a 25 per cent. reduction in tax on the whole of that part of their salary which arises abroad. We would need to know exactly how that is to work, and even more what is the Minister's view about the tax regime.
My own preference—and I think that of some of my hon. Friends—would be that national tax rates should apply, and that it would be wrong to go down the path that some hon. Members have suggested and to have either a Community tax rate or no tax rate applied. We think that that would be wrong and the national tax rates should apply, in which case the provisions of Schedule 7 to the Finance Act 1977 would also apply. Perhaps the Minister will confirm that.
As to the size of salary, it is difficult to take any precise figures. The range of salaries in the Parliaments of the Member States of the EEC is very wide indeed, as hon. Members on both sides have pointed out. My own preference would be for a common salary. In saying that, at the same time I ask hon. Members to bear in mind the view I have about national tax rates applying. There should be a common salary for common work done, and it should probably be in the middle of the lower end of the full range of existing salaries in Parliaments throughout the Community.
§ Mr. Roper
The hon. Gentleman has said that he favours a common salary. Will he also accept the same principle as applies to members of the Commission staff? In their case there is a weighting between different countries according to the cost of living in different countries. Will he agree that this should also apply to such a common salary?
§ Mr. Howell
I am not necessarily sure that I would accept that. I have emphasised that with the different national tax rates the take-home pay will vary 752 considerably. Certainly it will be lower in this country, as we have the highest rate of personal tax within the EEC.
It has been pointed out, quite rightly, that a good deal of the expense involved in this kind of job, in living and coping with family problems, will arise not in the United Kingdom but possibly in Strasbourg or Luxembourg or wherever the Parliament may be sitting. I would not rule out the hon. Gentleman's suggestion at this stage, but I am not sure that it is necessarily the right answer. I think that I would stick to the idea of a common salary. As I have said, if we go along that path and if we stick to the idea of national tax rates applying, this will produce a situation—it is not one that I particularly welcome—in which the net salary of the Member of the European Assembly sent from Britain will be rather lower than that of any Member from any other EEC country. That is obviously something that I should like to see changed, and my hon. Friends have made no secret about that. But the net effect at present of applying our very high personal tax rates would be to produce that result. Those are the views that we have on salaries and the questions on which we need answers.
I would agree with those who say that the system of allowances clearly needs tightening up, that the monitoring is not satisfactory, and that in any new arrangements which are agreed by the Council of Ministers, and which are discussed in this House—as I believe they must be—new proposals for allowances and for monitoring them ought to be included. I hope that the Minister of State will be able to reassure us on that.
Our basic feeling on this matter is that expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe, that the sooner we clear this up the better. We are serving nobody's interests by allowing very large figures to be knocked around, unrelated to the outgoings involved and often unrelated to any facts at all. I think that it is in the interests of the Government and of all those who want to see direct elections take place—and that includes the majority of my right hon. and hon. Friends—that we get this matter to a decision rather soon. We should like the Minister of State's assurance that he also sees the matter in that light.
§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Frank Judd)
I believe that the House and, indeed, the country should be grateful to my hon. Friends for having put forward the new clause for our consideration, because the question of salaries and payments which United Kingdom representatives in the Assembly will receive is important. It is right that in the course of the passage of the Bill it should be considered and debated.
This House certainly has a very legitimate interest in the levels of salary and allowances that the United Kingdom representatives should receive. The question we have to consider is whether the House should seek to assume some specific statutory authority over them or whether the Community decision on salaries can be effectively controlled by the House in ways other than by making provision in our elections legislation. There is no argument between the Government and right hon. and hon. Members who have spoken in the debate about the need for control. The salary of Assembly representatives will be paid from Community funds. In our submission, it will therefore have to be determined at Community level. Discussions on this subject among the Governments of the Nine have already taken place under the aegis of the Council of Ministers. I confirm that it is the Council of Ministers acting unanimously which will have the final say on the level of salaries.
There has been some appropriate questioning about the authority for this view. The legal basis of the Council's authority with regard to salaries is, of course, Article 13 of the Act annexed to the decision of the Council of Ministers of 10th September 1976. This empowers the Council acting unanimously on a proposal from the Assembly, and after consulting the Commission, to adopt measures to implement the Act. Salaries of representatives fall within this article.
I should like to assure hon. Members that it will be our objective—it very much is our objective that the old Assembly should put forward the proposal, because we believe that this needs to be made clear before the elections take place. In this context the point has also been raised about legislation on an increase in salaries.
§ Mr. Marten
Can we have an assurance that this matter will come to the Scrutiny Committee and be debated in this House before it is agreed by the Council of Ministers? This sort of thing does not come from the Assembly. It usually comes from the Commission.
§ Mr. Judd
I always admire the hon. Gentleman's eagerness. I hope to deal fully with that point during the course of my remarks.
If the level of salaries is fixed in the regulations, any increase in the level of salaries will require amendment to the regulations. Such amendments will also be subject to the scrutiny procedures of this House and arrangements can be made to debate such increases if the House wishes. The Scrutiny Committee certainly has a key role to play in this respect.
Therefore, the decision on the fixing of salaries—and this is clear—will ultimately be political. Whatever rumours or counter-statements have appeared in the Press, it will be for the Council to take this decision. In that body, we shall be able to withhold our consent to any proposals on salaries about which we are unhappy. We have made it clear that we shall not accept inflated figures.
Some of the Press speculation has mentioned figures which, frankly, if adopted, could only be regarded as grotesque. I believe that it was wholly proper for my right hon. Friend the Member for Black-burn (Mrs. Castle) to use the language which she used to draw attention to some of the problems that would result. If some of these grotesque proposals were adopted it would do incalculable damage to the credibility of representative democracy and positively provoke public cynicism about the body politic in general.
§ Mr. Budgen
Does not the Minister agree that if there is conflict between the Council of Ministers and the Assembly over matters other than the remuneration of the Assembly Members, in some sort of deal which occurs when the conflict has to be resolved there will be a tendancy for the Council to say "Let us settle this other issue in our favour and we shall give you the money to keep you quiet"?
§ Mr. Judd
The hon. Gentleman is referring to the conciliation procedures. 755 But one has to remember that the final decision is the decision of the Council of Ministers. Ministers can be held accountable to this House of Commons. In that sense, there is the power of the House of Commons to deal with that situation. I shall deal more fully with this point as we go forward.
I am glad that the House has put its views on record with regard to what would happen if salaries went berserk. Let me deal with some of the specific points that have been raised surrounding the detail of this issue.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Judd
If my right hon. Friend can contain himself, I am sure that I shall be able to satisfy him completely about that before I sit down.
First, there is the issue whether there have been any proposals from the Assembly as such which might be taken as verging towards the irresponsible with regard to salary levels. I should like to clear up this point. The position is that a working group of the European Assembly last year did some preliminary work on salary levels for directly elected Members. A German parliamentarian within that working group advocated that the salaries should be as high as those for the German Parliament. That would be about £25,000, including expenses, but most of it is salary.
However, no proposals have been submitted by the working group to the Assembly itself, nor have any proposals on salaries been communicated to the Council of Ministers. The President of the Assembly informed the Belgian President-in-Office at the Council of Ministers in July last year that although a working party had discussed the status of Members and exchanged ideas on salary proposals, the salaries of the Assembly had yet to be formulated. I understand that the position has not changed since then.
Points have also been rightly raised about taxation. I am sure that the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Howell) will agree that I shall have to draw some of 756 them to the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But I think I can answer some of the main thrusts of the hon. Gentleman's questioning.
Members of the European Assembly are at present subject to national taxation. To exempt them from national taxation and subject them to, for example, Community taxation would require amendments to the protocol on privileges and immunities, which does not at present give them any special tax status. Amendments to this protocol would require ratification by all member States. I assure the hon. Gentleman that there are no proposals of which I know to change the position.
There is also the point about taxation on surpluses, as it were, paid in the way of allowances to Members of the European Assembly. I am assured that the Inland Revenue has never accepted that the allowances paid to Members of the Assembly should be tax free. They will be taxed on any excess of these allowances above accountable expenses.
In that context, I was also asked—I am glad that I was—about what could be done to improve the monitoring of this area of the Community's work. Several hon. Members have mentioned financial control and suggested that there are no adequate arrangements in the Community at present for ensuring that allowances and the like are not—to use a familiar phrase—fiddled. If that were so, it would indeed be disgraceful. But, in fact, the Community has always had its own independent audit system with the authority to deal with any abuses in the handling of Community money.
Only recently this Community audit function moved from the hands of an audit board and separate ECSC auditor to the newly constituted audit court. The British Government have always been to the fore in pressing for a strengthening of the system. It was largely at our initiative that the European Assembly decided to set up a sub-committee under the Budgets Committee to exercise a PAC-type function of financial control.
We were the first to ratify the 22nd July 1975 treaty which provided that a new and stronger European audit court be set up in place of the audit board. Last October the members of the audit court were appointed and it started work in 757 November. The 1975 treaty gives the court the power to examine the revenue and the expenditure of all the other institutions, including the Assembly, with a view to establishing whether all revenue has been received and all expenditure incurred in a lawful and regular manner and whether the financial management has been sound. I am sure the House will agree that this is a pretty strong and clear mandate. There is good cause to hope that it will be carried out—
§ Mr. Dykes
Will the Minister also comment on the fact that in order to achieve a more effective degree of control, one solution might be to provide expenses not by way of cash distributions but by way of facilities or vouchers—in other words, not the cash for an air fare but a voucher to provide the wherewithal for making the journey?
§ Mr. Judd
This is an interesting idea, and we shall look at it together with the other suggestions made in the debate.
Dealing with the issue of salary levels, any examination of current salary levels shows a wide variation across Europe in the salaries of national Parliaments, and it will not be easy to reach common agreement. My hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Roper) spelt out some of this.
Some representatives to the Assembly might like to have their salaries fixed at the highest rates enjoyed by, say, the parliamentarians of West Germany. Some hon. Members of this House might prefer that the scale was fixed at the lowest possible rate available, which is that enjoyed by Members of the Irish Parliament. There are other alternatives to simply fixing a flat rate. It might be possible to have a relatively low salary 758 coupled with allowances which took into account the time spent by the representative either in his country of origin or at his place of work at the European Assembly and of the cost of living in these various places, although it is clear from what has been said in the debate that if that kind of course were taken there would have to be very careful monitoring of the expense system. Another possibility is that a substantial salary might be fixed according to national circumstances and national parliamentary salaries, with a fixed system of expense allowances added to that.
These are matters which only the Council of Ministers may determine. However, I must underline our determination as a Government on no account to agree to a salary scale which would be inflationary by Westminster standards.
The new clause proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. Stoddart), which was moved very effectively by my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Madden), is designed to prevent direct elections taking place until this House has approved the salaries and expenses of Members of the European Assembly.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
I thought that the hon. Gentleman just gave a clear description of the Government's likely attitude to the level of salaries, about which we are all concerned. He said that the Government would be against any level which might be inflationary by Westminster standards. Will he enlighten us about precisely what that means? How can the salaries of Euro-Members be inflationary, and does he mean inflationary by comparison with the salaries paid to Members of Parliament here?
§ Mr. Judd
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for probing this matter. I think that what I said is clear. We are taking Westminster levels as a model, and we do not embrace any concept of salaries which are impossible or out of all relation to the kind of salaries which we believe to be reasonable in the Westminster setting. We are determined to stand firm on that.
However, it is not clear from the new clause whether those who support it are referring to United Kingdom representatives or to all Assembly Members. I 759 am sure that the House will recognise that the latter are beyond the scope of the competence of this Parliament. But even if those who support the clause wish only the former meaning, I put it to them that their provision would still be unnecessary.
This Parliament, through the accountability of Ministers, can exercise its control in the Council of Ministers, but ultimately it must be a political decision at Community level. I can give my right hon. and hon. Friends the assurance that the House will be able to debate the level of salaries before they are finally fixed by the Council. But this general point about the policy having to be arranged at Community level is why the Government feel unable to accept the clause.
The clause seeks to assume an authority which is neither present nor necessary. It is far better that we should seek a satisfactory agreement in the Council of Ministers to pay a reasonable rate for the job which representatives to the Assembly will he required to undertake.
Although the Government understand and sympathise with the principle and purpose of and the motivation behind the new clause, we feel unable to endorse it, and we must therefore ask the House to reject it.
§ Mrs. Castle
In saying, as my hon. Friend did just now, that the Government's guiding principle was that the salaries must be fixed at the Community level, was he saying that there was no power in the Council of Ministers to decide otherwise? In other words, is my hon. Friend pre-empting a decision on the matter which, according to the reply which he gave to my Question on 26th January is within the British Government's power to fight for in the Council of Ministers—that is, not a common salary but a national salary?
§ Mr. Judd
Based on Article 13 of the Treaty, any decision at the Council level has to be unanimous. That is quite clear. However, I want to confirm to the House what I have already underlined, which is that there will be a firm opportunity for debate here at Westminster before Ministers at Council level make any final decisions.
§ Mr. Spearing
My hon. Friend said said that the Government's preference would be for the existing Assembly to make a proposal, referred to in Article 13. Can he tell us whether Her Majesty's Government have the approval of their colleagues on the Council? Have they any means of ensuring that such a stage would be reached before direct elections took place, and does he agree that, despite the unanimity rule in Article 13, the conciliation procedure set out there means that in effect there would be three parties to this—the national Parliaments, the Council of Ministers and the Assemby itself?
§ Mr. Judd
I know that my hon. Friend is a jealous guardian of the rights of this House, and I believe that he will find a place in history for his role in this respect. But I must make the point to him that, although the conciliation procedure is there, it is firmly and clearly established that the final decision is the Council's. The Council will make up its mind. On the wider aspect, I assure the House that we have done a great deal of work on this already and that we are determined to pursue with all the weapons at our disposal this principle of getting the matter cleared up properly before the elections take place.
§ Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 58, Noes 166.761
|Division No. 117]||AYES||[7.58 p.m.|
|Bain, Mrs Margaret||Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)||Hughes, Roberts (Aberdeen N)|
|Bell, Ronald||Dunlop, John||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas|
|Biffen, John||Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||Lamond, James|
|Bradford, Rev Robert||Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Buchan, Norman||Farr, John||Lee, John|
|Budgen, Nick||Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.||Litterick, Tom|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Flannery, Martin||McCusker, H.|
|Canavan, Dennis||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Madden, Max|
|Carson, John||Fraser, Rt Hon (Stafford & St)||Marten, Neil|
|Castle, Rt Hon Barbara||Garrett, W. E (Wallsend)||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Clemitson, Ivor||Gould, Bryan||Mendelson, John|
|Cowans, Harry||Heffer, Eric S.||Mikardo Ian|
|Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)||Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)||Molyneaux, James|
|Newens, Stanley||Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Paisley, Rev Ian||Skinner, Dennis||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch||Spearing, Nigel||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Richardson, Miss Jo||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Roberts Gwilym (cannock)||Stoddart, David||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Rodgers George (Chorley)||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)||Mr. John Ellis and|
|Rooker, J. W.||Whitlock, William||Mr. Roger Moate|
|Ross, William (Londonderry)||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Alison, Michael||Grant, John (Islington C)||Parker, John|
|Anderson, Donald||Griffiths, Eldon||Pendry, Tom|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Phipps, Dr Colin|
|Atkinson, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Hampson, Dr Keith||Prior, Rt Hon James|
|Bates, Alf||Hardy, Peter||Radice, Giles|
|Beith A. J.||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Rathbone, Tim|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael||Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)|
|Bishop, Rt Hon Edward||Hayhoe, Barney||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Henderson, Douglas||Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Hicks, Roberts||Roberts Wyn, (Conway)|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Hooson, Emlyn||Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur||Howell, David (Guildford)||Roper, John|
|Bottomley, Peter||Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Weight)|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown)||Howell Ralph, (North, Norfolk)||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)||Rowlands, Ted|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Hunter, Adam||Royle, Sir Anthony|
|Brooke, Peter||Hurd, Douglas||Sandelson, Neville|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)||Janner, Greville||Sever, John|
|Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)||John, Brynmor||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|Buchanan, Richard||Johnson, James (Hull West)||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)||Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)||Jones, Alec (Rhondda)||Snape, Peter|
|Carter, Ray||Jones, Barry (East Flint)||Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)|
|Cartwright, John||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Stallard, A. W.|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Judd, Frank||Stanley, John|
|Clegg, Walter||Kaufman, Gerald||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)|
|Coleman, Donald||Knox, David||Stott, Roger|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Lamborn, Harry||Stradling, Thomas, J.|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Lawrence, Ivan||Strang, Gavin|
|Cunningham, Dr. J. (Whiteh)||Le, Marchant, Spencer||Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley|
|Davidson, Arthur||Lester, Jim (Beeston)||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)|
|Davis Clinton, (Hackney C)||Luard, Evan||Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)||Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)|
|Dodsworth, Geoffrey||McElhone, Frank||Thompson, George|
|Dormand, J. D.||Macfarlane, Neil||Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||MacFarquhar, Roderick||Tinn, James|
|Dunn, James A.||MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor||Urwin, T. W.|
|Dunnett, Jack||Maclennan, Robert||Varley, Rt Hon, Eric G.|
|Dykes, Hugh||Marks, Kenneth||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)|
|Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|English, Michael||Mayhew, Patrick||Ward, Michael|
|Ennals, Rt Hon David||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Watkins, David|
|Ennals, Harry (Stirling)||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Watkinson, John|
|Faulds, Andrew||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral||Watt, Hamish|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Weatherill Bernard|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Ford, Ben||Normanton, Tom||Whitelaw, Rt Hon William|
|Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)||Ogden, Eric||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||O'Halloran, Michael||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Freud, Clement||Osborn, John|
|George, Bruce||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||Page, John (Harrow West)||Mr. Ted Graham and|
|Golding, John||Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)||Mr. Joseph Harper|
|Goodhart, Philip||Palmer, Arthur|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ It being after Eight o'clock, Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to Order [26th January], to put forthwith the Question necessary for the disposal of the Business to be concluded at Eight o'clock.