HC Deb 20 May 1981 vol 5 cc282-3
36. Mr. Knox

asked the Lord Privy Seal what progress has recently been made in attempts towards further integration within the European Economic Community.

Sir Ian Gilmour

As an integral member of the Community we have played a full part in all Community discussions. The House reviewed recent progress in the Community in the debate on 8 April on the White Paper on Developments in the European Community, July to December 1980.

Mr. Knox

Has my right hon. Friend read the recent outstanding speech by our right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in which he drew attention to the benefits that integration within the Community has already brought to this country? Will my right hon. Friend encourage his colleagues to make similar speeches, and does he agree that the greater the integration within the Community, the greater will be the benefits that accrue to this country?

Sir Ian Gilmour

I certainly agree with the final part of my hon. Friend's question. The speech of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was outstanding. [Interruption.] I hope that the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) will read it in full. It is not for me to encourage my colleagues as to what speeches they should make, but I am sure that they will have read my right hon. Friend's speech and profited from it.

Mr. Russell Johnston

How does the Lord Privy Seal see the future of European regional policy? Does he think that the regional fund is an important element in economic convergence and, if so, how can it be so without an increase in the budget?

Sir Ian Gilmour

I agree that the regional fund is important. It is difficult to say how I expect it to work out, because much will obviously depend on the progress that we make in restructuring.

Sir Derek Walker-Smith

Will my right hon. Friend use his high authority to seek to dissuade hon. Members from using words such as "integration" in this context, because they are not terms of art in constitutional law and practice and are merely cloudy generalisations which do not serve to illumine the matter? Is it not correct that the terms of reference of the EEC are drawn under the EEC Treaty and should they not so remain?

Sir Ian Gilmour

My right hon. and learned Friend is a very great authority on these matters and my colleagues and I will bear his wise remarks in mind.

Mr. Cryer

Will the Lord Privy Seal bear in mind that there is strong hostility to any integration with, or subjugation to, the Common Market, not least in the House, and that he has no authority for claiming that there is a general wish for fewer statements to be made to the House? Is he aware that such statements are a form of scrutiny and an opportunity for hon. Members to question Government action so that there is no back-door integration or subjugation?

Sir Ian Gilmour

The fact that the hon. Gentleman can use the words "integration" and "subjugation" as being almost interchangeable suggests that he does not understand the meaning of at least one of them. I take his point, but I do not believe that we suffer from lack of scrutiny or discussion of European issues.