HC Deb 25 January 1978 vol 942 cc1382-4
54. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Euro-passports and Euro-driving licences.

Mr. Judd

The European Uniform Passport remains under discussion in the Community. There have been no recent developments.

As regards Community driving licences, I have nothing to add to the statement of 11th January made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Tranport in response to a Question from my hon. Friend, the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead).

Mr. Marten

Does the Minister agree that the proposal for a Euro-passport is only a cosmetic manifestation of a federal State? Scandinavia has a passport union while still using perfectly ordinary national passports. Therefore, this seems to be a question of setting up an unnecessary bureaucracy. The same applies in regard to driving licences. Will the Minister give an assurance that no decision will be taken by the Council of Ministers without the full consent of this House?

Mr. Judd

The hon. Gentleman will be reassured to know that this is not a high priority in the meetings and consultations of the Community. I see no immediate prospect of the Community moving forward on this front, as we have reassured the hon. Gentleman and those who feel as he does. There will certainly be a case for full debate in the House before we move forward.

Mr. Mike Thomas

Could not my hon. Friend manage to sound just a trifle more positive? Is he not aware that it is in measures of this kind, rather than in some of the grand stratagems and schemes—EMU, for example—that the British public can have benefits from the Community? Cannot he push on a bit on these simple matters, which should be capable of agreement?

Mr. Judd

There are very strongly held views on all sides about this passport, but I agree with those who argue that at least initially its real significance would be purely symbolic. In the time available to us, we want to concentrate on issues which will be of practical and meaningful significance to the people we represent.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Does the reference to symbolic significance mean that the passport would retain the Royal Arms and the traditional and comforting words that the Minister's right hon. Friend the Principal Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs writes into each of our passports?

Mr. Judd

I can certainly put the hon. Gentleman's mind completely at ease. It would retain almost all the most important features of the traditional passport. It would just make some genuflexions in the direction of the European Economic Community.

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