§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Douglas Hurd)
I beg to move,That this House takes note of the Document containing the latest text of the German-Italian proposals on European Union.I want to make clear the status of the document that we are considering. The original proposals prepared by the German and Italian Foreign Ministers were submitted to the European Council in London in November 1981. The Council asked the Foreign Ministers, in collaboration with the Commission, to examine and clarify the proposals and report back to a future meeting of the European Council.
The original text of the proposals was deposited in the House, with an explanatory memorandum, on 15 January. The proposals were examined by the Scrutiny Committee, which recommended them for debate. The Belgian Presidency decided to set up a group of senior officials to examine the proposals. That group started work in January and it soon became clear that several member States had reservations about several parts of the proposals. Others needed clarification where the precise intention or meaning was not clear. Foreign Ministers asked officials to produce a revised text that took account of those points of view. That text is now before the House. It has the status of a working document and no Government are committed to it. It contains a number of passages in square brackets which show that agreement on those passages has not yet been reached. The text will be considered by Foreign Ministers at their meeting on 20 June.
For the Government, and I think for the House, an important part of that discussion will be the opportunity to discuss again the problem of decision making in the Community. This is crucial because of the overriding, at the Agriculture Council on 18 May, of our invocation of the Luxembourg compromise. We regard that action as plain wrong and our partners are in no doubt about that. We have arranged for a separate discussion of that issue at the meeting of the Council on Sunday.
§ Mr. Teddy Taylor (Southend, East)
If this is an unagreed working document on which there are many issues to discuss, why have my right hon. Friend and his colleagues put down a three-line Whip saying that we should take note of it?
§ Mr. Hurd
I should like to develop our attitude towards the document as I go through it in my speech. We welcome the general approach of the document but work remains on several of the proposals contained within it, and we have reservations which have not yet been taken into account. It seemed at this stage that a take-note motion would be appropriate. I know that some of my hon. Friends think that such a motion goes too far while others think that it does not go far enough. It seems to us to be about right at this stage.
§ Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)
My right hon. Friend says that the document is at a general stage at the moment and that the Government want to put forward their general approach to it. There is one significant point in the document in the preamble, which refers to the member States being 1102determined to achieve a comprehensive and coherent common political approach and reaffirming their will to transform the whole complex of relations between their States into a European Union.Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that the Government have no intention of allowing any such settlement to come in the final document?
§ Mr. Hurd
In about five minutes if I am allowed to proceed. It is possible that agreement will be reached on a final text at Sunday's meeting. That is possible but by no means certain. We thought it right and necessary to hold the debate today so that the House can have an opportunity to express its views on the proposals as they stand before any decisions are taken upon them. If agreement is reached at the Foreign Ministers' meeting this weekend, the Presidency hopes to submit the document for approval at the next summit of the European Council on 28–29 June. However, the disagreements may be such as to prevent agreement at this stage. In that event there will be a delay.
§ Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)
I am grateful to the Minister for giving way so often so early in his speech. However, my intervention is important on procedural grounds. The right hon. Gentleman said that if there is an agreement, the agreed document, whatever it may turn out to be, will be submitted to the next Heads of Government meeting. I understand that that is not within the treaty and is not part of the EEC's formal constitutional arrangements. Is he now telling us that it will be done at the Heads of Government meeting and will not go through the normal, proper, treaty-constitutional channels of the Community to which this document clearly refers and is clearly relevant?
§ Mr. Hurd
This is not Community legislation. It is a political, not a legal, text. Therefore, it is fitting, if sufficient progress is made, and that is by no means assured, for it to go to the next summit of the European Council at the end of the month.
It seems inevitable and right that right hon. and hon. Members should want rigorously to examine the document with a keen eye for anything that might have an effect on the interests of the United Kingdom or the rights of the House. I do not think that anything in the document justifies the language in the Opposition's amendment. I hope that that will emerge as I go through it. I have noted, of course, the amendment tabled—it is not called, but I think that it is in order for me to refer to it—by my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop). I shall try to deal with it when I reach the passage in my speech on the European Parliament.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will study carefully the views that are expressed this afternoon before he goes to the discussion that will take place during the weekend. My hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) is concerned about the title referring to European union. The objective of European union derives from the preamble to the Treaty of Rome, which states that the Governments of the member States of the Community are determined to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe. This 1103 commitment to European union has been reaffirmed at the summit conferences that have been held in Paris since 1972. It was reaffirmed in 1972, in the winter of 1974 and by the European Council in November 1976. It has thus been endorsed by both Conservative and Labour Governments. No precise definition of the meaning of "union" was laid down in the treaty and no one has attempted to do so subsequently. However, I shall set out the Government's view of what the term means.
In our view, "union" is not a commitment to a federal system or to the progressive erosion of national sovereignty. This is an important principle to grasp. In our view, "union" amounts to the development of an ever closer framework of co-operation between the sovereign States of the Community in all areas of their activity where this co-operation can be shown to be useful. European union will thus, in our view, be based on work already undertaken within the treaties and on political cooperation, which is concerned with co-ordinating foreign policy. It is not the creation of any new institution or increases in the formal powers of existing institutions.
The proposals that we are considering are intended by their authors as a further reaffirmation of the Community's commitment. The aim of the proposals is to achieve closer co-operation by a number of practical improvements in the way in which the institutions work and in the arrangements for co-operation outside the treaty. Neither the original nor the revised proposals that we are considering will involve treaty amendments or changes in the powers of institutions as laid down in the treaties. The Government emphasised the need for this principle to be clear from the outset, and that was accepted by our partners. For this reason—I come to one of the remaining points of difference—we have asked that the document be given a title other than "Act". This is one of the verbal problems that bedevil Community discussion. In English and under the British constitution the word "Act" is rather precise and means the culmination of our process of legislation. It is not the same in other countries where the word has a less precise meaning. We believe that there are other and better ways of describing a document of this sort. However, whatever title is chosen, there is no question of these proposals being encompassed within a legal instrument or having legislative force.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
If this document, or something like it, is approved at the Heads of Government meeting, which is to take place outside the Treaty of Rome, am I right in thinking that the resulting decision will not be Community law?
§ Mr. Hurd
I confirm the right hon. Gentleman's assumption. I shall go through the document in some detail. It is a long document and not in all places exciting. That may have some effect on my speech. I do not think that I need refer to the preamble again.
The section headed "objectives" stresses the importance, within the framework of progress towards an ever closer union, of achieving increasing solidarity and joint action. In effect, the authors want to achieve this by making the decision-making procedures more efficient. They want to promote greater coherence and co-ordination and we agree with this plan. One of the most important paragraphs in the section—it is one that we proposed and which we consider to be important—is the reaffirmation that 1104respect for and maintenance of representative democracy and human rights in each member State are essential elements of membership of the European Communities".The House has touched on this on several occasions over the years. It is useful and important to have it clear in this document.
The section on institutions begins by emphasising the need to increase co-ordination between existing structures and political co-operation. It makes it clear that each will continue to be based on existing arrangements.
§ Mr. Eric Deakins (Waltham Forest)
I take the Minister back to ' objectives" and to a small reference that he missed in paragraph 1.4.2. tocertain economic aspects of security.The right hon. Gentleman well knows that there is some feeling in the House on all sides that security should not be a matter for the European Community, and this seems to indicate a shill in that direction. Will the right hon. Gentleman please clarify?
§ Mr. Hurd
There is a blurred line about security and different definitions. The Commission has been chary of moving into this but there has been some agreement that where there is a clear link between the activity of the Communities under the treaties and political co-operation in security fields, it is reasonable to try to co-ordinate. That has happened from time to time but in a pretty cautious way. I do not think anyone will complain about the practical results to date.
I am talking now about the relationship between the community as such and political co-operation. There is no suggestion of a merger or an amalgamation of the two frameworks. None of the provisions in this section involves any increase in the powers of the institutions as laid down under the treaty.
§ Mr. Hurd
Let the hon. Member make his case if he is called.
I do not believe that there is anything in this document which justifies fie argument that this is a step, in its present form, in the direction of federalism or supra-nationalism. The composition of the European Council—that is, Heads of State or Government. Foreign Ministers, the President and a member of the Commission—is reaffirmed, and so are its functions. This section also provides that the President of the Council will appear before the European Parliament at least once during each Presidency. The Prime Minister set an example here when she went to speak to the European Parliament during our presence.
The next section for Council and ministerial meetings has alternative texts, to which I would simply draw the attention of the House and say that we would be prepared to accept either text. The first one, providing for the Council to deal with both Community business and political co-operation, seems acceptable to us. It marks a tidying up of present procedures, but it is acceptable and would make those procedures more effective. No change of substance is intended in the way in which Community and political co-operation business is handled.
May I come now to what is perhaps, from the point of view of the House and Government, the most important section of the document—paragraph 2.2.3, dealing with decision taking. The House will recall, as I have already recalled, that our insistence on 18 May in the Agriculture 1105 Council on the need for unanimity was set aside by a majority of our partners. Let me remind hon. Members briefly of the background. The Treaty of Rome laid down certain areas where decisions have to be taken by unanimity; and certain others where majority voting is to be the rule. Nothing that has happened, and nothing in this document, affects those articles of the treaty which require unanimity. They are in the treaty. No one has suggested that there should be anything other than unanimous voting on the matters covered by those articles. However, since the Luxembourg compromise in 1966, it has been the practice that decisions in other areas—those covered under the treaty by majority voting—are not taken by majority vote where a member State makes it clear that important national interests are involved. The Government have never been opposed to the proper use of majority voting where the treaties provide for it. Indeed, greater use of majority voting can help to speed up Community business in a way that can be useful. We attach importance to the safeguards that I have mentioned against the overriding of important national interests provided by the Luxembourg compromise. It was that safeguard that was wrongly overruled on 18 May, and that we would like to see restored.
In the text before us in square brackets the House will see that there are various alternative texts for Ministers to consider when they come to this matter on Sunday. A number of ideas have been put forward in addition to the familiar concepts of majority voting and the deferment of majority voting if an important national interest is involved. In considering these or any other texts the Government will be guided by their view that it is essential for members to be the judge of whether or not an important national interest is at stake, and that if they so judge then a vote should be deferred. Following what happened on 18 May, that needs to be clarified.
We shall therefore continue to work in this exercise—the Genscher-Colombo exercise—for a text that makes this clear. I am under no illusion. I do not think anyone in the House who has followed these matters will be; I do not think it will be at all easy. A number of States have never accepted the Luxembourg compromise. They have always made their objection to it clear, although for 16 years they allowed it to be the convention under which decisions were taken in those parts of the Community's work. Therefore, it has always been an agreement to disagree, and that makes it particularly difficult to put together again. It had not prevented it working as a procedure until last month, and it is how things work that matter to us.
The next section deals with political co-operation and emphasises the importance of the Community acting jointly in foreign policy matters. We have made a good deal of progress in this, not least under the British Presidency and as a result of the work of my noble Friend, Lord Carrington. The arrangements in this part of the document reflect the decisions taken in the London meeting over which he presided in October last year. This is an area which is less controversial in the House than some others, where we see the development and strengthening of political co-operation as being of real importance to this country and its influence in the world, and we wish to persevere with it.
1106 I now turn to paragraphs 2.2.5, 2.2.6 and 2.2.7 which profvide for ministerial meetings on culture, justice and other areas. I must apologise to the House for the fact that this paragraph came late. It was left out of the original version of the text circulated by the Presidency, but it was circulated the day before yesterday to the House, and I hope that hon. Members who are interested have it. There is one point of difference here that we need to continue to argue. These sections provide either for the establishment of new councils or for occasional ministerial meetings where necessary. We see no need for the establishment of new Councils of Ministers for either culture or justice. Occasional ministerial meetings are a different matter. They happen; they can be useful. We have no objection to them, but we see no reason for formalising this by setting up these new suggested councils.
I come to section 2.3 of the document which deals with the European Parliament. My hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) raises in his amendment—and has raised already—a long-standing argument about the name of the body. As the hon. Member says correctly, the treaties use the term "Assembly". So do we in legal texts, such as the Act of the last Parliament which enabled direct elections, but "European Parliament" has become accepted in general usage in the Community and has often been used in the House and from this Bench.
§ Mr. Hurd
My hon. Friend's memory is not entirely correct. When my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister reported to the House on the Summit in London at the end of November she referred to a proposal concerning the European Parliament and discussed that body in those terms.
I repeat what I have said; it is frequently used as a description. My hon. Friend has raised a legitimate and important point. The point I want to make to him and to other hon. Members, particularly on the Opposition side of the House who reflect that argument, is that whatever name is used for this body, it carries no implication about any change in its powers. That argument cannot be sustained and, lest there is any doubt, we see no need for such changes.
The document provides for some improvement in the Parliament's relations with the Council and Commission, but does not involve, in suggesting that, any increases in its powers.
§ Mr. Hurd
If the hon. Member catches your eye, Mr. Speaker, he can develop his case.
The Parliament's right to deliberate on all matters relating to the Community is reaffirmed. So is its right to submit written or oral questions to the Council and the Commission, as provided for in the treaties.
The text also provides for the Council to give reasons for departing from an opinion of the Parliament which is required under the treaties. We do not consider that the Council or the Foreign Ministers should be obliged to explain their reasons for not taking account of parliamentary resolutions which are not required under the treaties.
The Parliament is to be given the opportunity to make its views known, but not to be consulted, on the appointment of the President of the Commission.
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
My right hon. Friend skated over the words:it must therefore have the corresponding participatory powers and review functions".I thought I heard him say that it did not make provision for any new powers. What then do those words mean? How can he deny that that is endowing the Assembly with participatory powers and a review function that it has not already got?
§ Mr. Hurd
My hon. Friend is referring to a passage in square brackets that has not been agreed. I was explaining the view of the Government on the proposals as affecting the Parliament. If my hon. Friend looks at the earlier alternative passage in square brackets he will see that that reflects the view that we hold and shall argue. We do not believe that there is a case for increasing the formal powers of the Parliament—[Horn MEMBERS: "Accept the amendment."] No, because the amendment suggests that the document contains proposals which it does not contain. These are not such proposals. It is clear from the authors of the document that they do not intend to ask for any increased legal powers for the Parliament which would require an amendment of the treaties.
§ Mr. Hurd
There is nothing in this document which is legislative. There are several points in it, which I am going through one by one, where there are proposals which the Government do not think are right and which they will continue to oppose.
There will be a parliamentary debate on the programme that the Commission presents after its appointment. We do not think that this debate should be regarded as one of investiture or of confidence.
The section also deals with the Parliament's role in the conclusion of the Community's international agreements. The treaties provide for the Parliament to be consulted over the conclusion of association agreements but not on accession treaties or trade agreements concluded under article 113. An informal practice has developed, however, under which the Parliament is informed on a confidential basis about the progress of negotiations on trade agreements. The text will propose to extend this practice to cover all the Community's important international agreements. We are prepared to accept this. It does not give the Parliament a right of consultation where it does not already have one under the treaties.
§ Mr. John Browne (Winchester)
Will my right hon. Friend reconsider his point about the words "Parliament" and "Assembly"? It appears that the Government are skating over this as a matter of just one word or another. In the minds of many hon. Members, however, including myself who are for the idea of the European Community and the Common Market, the fact that that body has legislative powers is covered in the word "Parliament". The move that I see beginning is that we shall start surrendering more and more to this so-called Parliament. The word "Assembly" is important. Would he reconsider whether we call it an Assembly, as was agreed when we voted to go in, or whether we change the word to "Parliament", which I see as the thin end of the wedge?
§ Mr. Hurd
I do not think that my hon. Friend can sustain the argument. Various democratic bodies 1108 throughout the world have legislative powers; some are called Parliaments and some Assemblies. Speaking from memory, I think the title of the French parliament is "Assemblee Nationale"; it is called an Assembly. I repeat the assurance I have already given that whatever term is used to describe this body has no implications for its powers. In the explanatory memorandum we have simply used the term which is usually used inside the Community. But it does not have any implications about future powers. I have made clear our position about future powers.
Section 2.4 deals with the Commission and reaffirms its role as guardian of the treaties. It also refers to the desirability of making more frequent use of delegating powers to the Commission within the framework of the treaties. This would be under article 155 of the treaty. Successive Governments have always been prepared to consider delegation case by case—for example in responsibility for managing the regional development fund and in other similar matters, such as the supplementary measures introduced in October 1980 and under the May 1980 agreement.
§ Mr. Roger moate (Faversham)
Is my right hon. Friend saying that paragraph 2.4 is simply a repetition of the legal facts as they are today, and has no meaning apart from that, and that in no way does it give any new impetus to the powers of the Commission or to any further stages forward in European integration? If so, what is it there for? What does it mean? Anyone who reads it must see it as giving significant new impetus to the Commission.
§ Mr. Hurd
To some extent it sets out on paper changes in practice that have already occurred. In other cases it suggests a change in procedures. I have been through the points of procedure in detail. In neither case, whether declaratory or going forward, does it amount to a change in the legal powers under the treaty of the Parliament which could be achieved only through a change in the treaty. I think this is accepted. My hon. Friends who pursue this point should be aware that there is deep disappointment in many member States of the Community, and probably in the European Parliament as well, at the fact that these proposals have been so changed that they do not give the Parliament all that forward impetus for which it had hoped.
§ Sir Anthony Meyer (Flint, West)
Is it not a fact that the role of the Commission has been greatly reduced from what was envisaged when the treaty was originally signed and from what was when we acceded to it?
§ Mr. Hurd
What my hon. Friend says as to the way the role of the Commission has developed in practice is true.
Section 3 in regard to scope deals with activities within the framework of the Community's political co-operation and other areas outside the scope of the treaties and sets out the priorities for future work within the framework of the Community. Much of this will be familiar to the House because we have discussed it over many years as the proper priorities for Community policies. It is very important in the national interests that the Community develops its policies in sectors other than agriculture, as was agreed in the mandate guidelines following the agreement of 3C May 1980. Only in this way can the problem of unacceptable budgetary situations be resolved. So we welcome the emphasis on these developments in the text.
1109 The text also emphasises the provision of the necessary resources to finance the Community's policies. On this point—this will disappoint some of my hon. Friends—I must maintain our position on the 1 per cent. VAT ceiling that acts as a brake on the unlimited expansion of Community expenditure. We have had to make it clear that the text cannot imply any automatic commitment to increase Community resources.
I have already dealt with political co-operation, and that is covered in further detail in section 3.2 of the document. That is an area of work among the Ten that has gone ahead fast—we believe usefully—and it is very much in the interests of this country that it should continue.
§ Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills)
Will my right hon. Friend say something about the strength of the European monetary system and the Government's view on it?
§ Mr. Hurd
I have nothing new to say to my hon. Friend on that point. As he knows, we are members of the system, but not of the exchange rate mechanism part of it. We have nothing against the exchange rate mechanism, but so far we have not judged the conditions right for this country to join. The reference to the European monetary system causes us no difficulty. Our position is clear and it is understood by our partners.
§ Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East)
Does my right hon. Friend agree that it will be difficult in future if we achieve successful highly developed foreign policy co-ordination and political co-operation but not enough co-ordination in working together, particularly in economic policy, within the Community? The Community will get out of balance if we do not attend to the internal material as well as the external.
§ Mr. Hurd
I agree with my hon. Friend. We cannot regard the progress made on political co-operation as a substitute for solving the Community's problems. Because we have done reasonably well on the foreign policy side we cannot be satisfied with the whole. We must continue to tackle, as we are trying to do, the internal problems of the Community on which a great deal needs to be done.
I turn now to the approximation of laws. This is another well worn sphere in which the House has always been interested. It is dealt with in section 3.4 of the document. There have been several of what most of us regard as foolish proposals that gained much publicity. It is increasingly recognised that it is sensible and in the interests of this country—our industry in particular—to seek to reduce the non-tariff barriers to trade and bring technical standards together. We do not want trade constantly interrupted or reduced due to arguments about standards or non-tariff barriers. That principle is established in this part of the document and we support it.
The document also refers to the desirability of permitting approximation of laws in other areas outside the framework of the treaty. This section is worded in general terms and commits us to no more than approximation on a case-by-case basis where it seems to be desirable. This part of the text is for the most part acceptable, although we do not see what benefits could be achieved from an increased approximation of criminal law, given that there is a fundamental and continuing difference between our own and Continental legal systems.
1110 I come now to the final provisions. The last section stresses the link between membership of the European Community and participation in all the activities described elsewhere in the document. Another outstanding point where agreement has not been reached is the proposal for a review of the document after five years to take stock of the progress achieved. Some member States would like this review to lead to a treaty on European union, but we, together with some member States, have made it clear that we are not prepared to accept a commitment to a future treaty. This is not a legislative document; it does not have a binding legal effect. We are not prepared to accept a post-dated commitment and say that even if no progress is made over the next five years we will nevertheless agree to a treaty at the end. That is not a sensible way of tackling the problem. We do not, therefore, agree to that commitment. We prefer the formulation. Progress towards European union should continue to be pragmatic and evolutionary, as I said at the beginning of my speech.
I emphasise that we welcome the initiative taken by the German and Italian Foreign Ministers last year in putting forward proposals for a new poitical impetus. We are in sympathy with the basic idea of bringing together the work that member States of the Ten do together inside and outside the framework of the treaties. We see merit in consolidating these proposals in a single text carrying the authority of the Heads of Government.
The original proposals contained a number of ideas that caused difficulties for us and for others. Many of those first ideas formed the first approach of right hon. and hon. Members of the Opposition, and some of my hon. Friends. Many of those ideas have now been dropped or modified. We hope to secure acceptable texts on the remaining outstanding points.
I have emphasised the importance of the decision-taking part. This is crucial. Our partners are well aware that we need to be satisfied that in future there is a clear and accepted system for taking decisions in the Community.
Nothing in the text involves treaty amendment or will increase the powers of Community institutions. As the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) implied, it is a political, not a legal, text.
The Community remains a controversial but not stagnant institution. Its methods and policies develop like that of any other lively institution. It is natural and right that its members should from time to time look at the way in which it works and at changes in methods or procedure that have been taken or which, in their view, would be useful. That is what the document is about. There have been changes. The European Council has been established. There has been a steady growth in political cooperation. These changes have occurred piecemeal, step by step, since we joined. They are not controversial and it is useful to collate what has happened in a document of this kind and to have suggestions for future methods and procedure.
A great deal of work is needed before we reach agreement on the document. The passages in square brackets bear witness to that. I have stated the main changes that the British Government want to see in the text and the main choices that we would make among the alternatives listed in the text. However, we see the advantage of reaching agreement. It would be to this country's advantage to produce an acceptable document.
1111 It is in that spirit that my right hon. Friend will continue with his discussions next week, and if necessary thereafter.
Mr. Eric S. Heifer (Liverpool, Walton)
I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:'declines to approve the Document containing the latest text of the German-Italian proposals on European Union which would confer additional supra-national powers on the institutions of the EEC and further infringe the sovereignty of the United Kingdom and the powers of this House.'.
I have listened carefully to the Minister and he has undoubtedly done his best to put a good gloss on the situation, but later I shall return to many of the points that he made.
The Labour Party believes that these proposals are totally irrelevant to the needs of our country. Nevertheless, they are important because they contain serious dangers for the future of our sovereignty. The proposals are, of course, open to interpretation and I listened carefully to what the Minister said. It is our view that if the proposals were adopted, even in the modified form now before us—they are somewhat different from those contained in the original text by Herr Genscher and Senor Colombo—they would further weaken the powers of the this House and, therefore, the sovereignty of our country and exacerbate the problems that we already face. [HoN. MEMBERS: "How?"] They would strengthen the role and powers of the so-called European Parliament—powers that undoubtedly go beyond the Treaty of Rome—and, whatever the Minister says, would take us a giant step along the road to a federal Europe. We should also bear in mind the suggestion that these proposals should be reviewed in five years. Who can say that in five years time we shall not go a further step along the road to a federal Europe?
I am sorry, but I shall not give way. When I last spoke on this subject I gave way a great deal, and I do not intend to do so today. I may perhaps give way once or twice, but no more.
I am sorry, but I am not giving way.
As the Minister said, the objectives are clearly defined in the preamble. Let me repeat what it says. There is acommitment to create a united Europe through the progressive construction of European Union".There is no question of anyone trying to get away from that commitment, yet when the EEC was sold to the British people as an organisation that we ought to join, we were always told that it was purely an economic union.
The explanatory memorandum issued with this text glosses over some of the more important aspects of the proposals, just as the Minister did. For example, there is the question of security. It is true that the proposals in this document are somewhat watered down from the original text, but it is important to understand that they exist.
The European Community's background report issued on 14 June, only three days ago, states:The most far reaching political innovation in the draft European Act is the inclusion of security matters within the scope of Community deliberations. The Rome Treaties make no reference to security and, hitherto the Community has been 1112 content to leave it to discussion in other fora such as NATO or the Western European Union. The draft Act, however, proposes the co-ordination o f security policy and the adoption of common European positions in this sphere in order to safeguard Europe's independence, protect its vital interests and strengthen its security. For these discussions the Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers may convene in a different composition if there is need to deal with matters of common interest in more detail, so presumably, allowing for the sensitivities of non-NATO countries, such as Ireland.
§ Mr. Heffer
There is also a section entitled "The Approximation of Laws" which in effect means, as the Minister has accepted, the harmonisation of laws in most spheres. It does not only cover company laws, because in the text in square brackets—some of which we shall have to knock out—is criminal law. That could mean the acceptance of laws that are alien to our legal concepts and attitudes.
§ Mr. Heffer
The memorandum says that the effect on British law is nil. It is perfectly true that there is no immediate question of any change in British law, but if the terms of this document are accepted, even in their modified form, stage by stage—by harmonization—we shall find that over a time our laws will be changed. The section headed "Scope" sees the strengthening of the European monetary systemas a key element in progress towards Economic and Monetary Union and the creation of a European Monetary Fund".
§ Mr. Heffer
The only thing that prevents me from going on is that time is limited, but I shall give one further example. It is suggested that there should bea clause conferring on the Court of Justice appropriate powers … securing compliance with, and development of, Community law".Yet the Minister comes to the House and tries to suggest that this will have not effect whatever on the laws of this country. That is not true. If these proposals are ultimately put into effect, they will have a very clear effect on the laws of this country. They are designed to bring everyone in the Community into line.
§ Mr. Heffer
If one takes the proposals as a whole, one can see just how much they are a step along the road to a more unified EEC, with greater powers to the Commission, the so-called European Parliament, the Heads of State and Ministers, the development of unified laws, a unified monetary system and much else, all of which add up to a real inroad into the rights and powers of the elected representatives of the people in their own countries, particularly here in Britain.
Let us look at the so-called European Parliament. The Commission's background report published only a few days ago, is more forthcoming on the extra powers it is likely to have than the Government's explanatory memorandum. It says:Where the Institutions are concerned, the Heads of State and Government would 'reaffirm the central importance of the European Parliament' while the European Council would itself take on a more formal role than hitherto as 'the source of political 1113 guidance of the European Community and of political cooperation'. Its Membership would be broadened to include Foreign Ministers as well as Heads of Government and State and the Council would report to Parliament every six months as well as submitting an annual report on progress towards European Union.The Act would also stress the importance of the European Commission as the 'Guardian of the Treaties' and 'as a driving force in the process of European integration.' The Commission would have the acknowledged right to attend meetings of the Council.Is it not clear that this is a first step towards a supranational Government with the European Assembly being transformed into a real Parliament with real powers, the Council of Ministers as the European council acting as an EEC cabinet, and in the end, majority voting becoming the general practice? That is what is involved in this document.
§ Sir Anthony Meyer
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way so graciously. The right hon. Gentleman is making our flesh creep with the idea of an inexorable advance towards federalism, but does he still adhere to the view that European Socialists should have as their objective a united Socialist Europe; and that European problems can be solved on a European Socialist basis? What kind of institution would bring that about?
§ Mr. Heffer
If the hon. Gentleman had continued to read what I said in the article to which he is referring, he would have realised that I also said that under no cirmustances would it be in the Common Market. That is not the same thing.
With regard to foreign policy—I am sure that we all agree with this—no one can be against all European nations from time to time trying to reach agreement on foreign affairs. Such an approach was useful over the Falklands. However, the support given by some EEC countries was grudging, to say the least.
It would also be a good thing if the European nations could express their horror at what is happening in the Lebanon, and ask Israel to do something about that, such as getting out. The European powers can do something and no one is saying that they should not express an opinion. However, such agreements do not require the strengthening of the Community institutions or a move to a federal EEC.
It will no doubt be argued that no one should become too worried about these proposals because there have been plenty of proposals before, such as those in the Tindemans report on European union in 1975. That was followed by the report of the so-called three wise men, one of whom was a former right hon. Member of the House, Edmund Dell. It is interesting to note that many of the proposals in the report of the three wise men found their way into the Genscher-Colombo plan.
In a European Assembly debate of 18 June 1980 M. Tindemans said:Are we perhaps in the process of building up a library of forgotten reports? If I was of the Mandarin class, I would propose writing a book entitled 'Remembrance of Past Reports', or perhaps publishing a dictionary of wasted 'European Ideas' .I am sure that the experience of hon. Members is similar to mine. In politics I have found that if a group of active 1114 people peddle their ideas long enough, and work assiduously enough, trying one route after another as each becomes blocked off, in the end they usually gain support for their ideas. The European union idea will be actively discussed by the Council of Ministers.
The explanatory memorandum says that the timetable is that the proposals will be discussed at the Foreign Ministers' meeting on 20 June in three days' time.
§ Mr. Teddy Taylor
The right hon. Gentleman is making an important point. Does he agree that, apart from the dangers of this European union propaganda, it is shameful, and probably unknown to the vast majority of people, that it is being done by organisations supported with taxpayers' money from European funds and from British Government funds?
§ Mr. Heffer
I agree with the hon. Gentleman. An interesting report has come out of the Common Market today about some of the expenses and other perks of Members of the Assembly. One is not too happy about hearing such reports.
§ Mr. Heffer
The hon. Gentleman has made some extremely rude remarks from a sedentary position, which have been most offensive. Under no circumstances will I give way to him.
§ Mr. Heffer
It has been said that if, on 20 June, agreement can be reached on the main outstanding points, which the Minister has said are in square brackets, they will be submitted for approval to the European Council meeting on 28 and 29 June. That is why it is important for the House today clearly to decline to give the proposals any support, and support the Opposition's amendment, which has been further developed by Conservative Members.
I accept that the original text, issued to us on 15 January, although it was issued much earlier, has been watered down. However, even if some of the proposals in square brackets were adopted, together with those not in square brackets, we should have gone a long way to further undermine the sovereignty of this House and therefore of our people.
The explanatory memorandum says that the Government are not prepared to accept a commitment to a future treaty. If that is so, they could have made that commitment clear by putting down a motion in similar terms to that tabled by the Opposition. One is entitled to ask the Government why they did not do so.
I note, again from the Commission's background report, that the European Democrats at the European Assembly, most of whom are the Conservatives, are on the side of the Genscher-Colombo plan. Does that mean that Conservative representatives are once again undermining the position of their Government, or is it that the Government are saying one thing here and another to their supporters over there? We have to know where we stand on that.
The issue of voting procedures is the most serious part of the immediate proposals, and is of great importance to us because of the recent events of 18 May, concerning the Luxembourg compromise. The Minister has been asked 1115 the question that 1 was about to ask him. That is, will these discussions take place separately from a discussion on this document? He says that an attempt will be made to do so.
I am glad that it has been agreed because I had a horrible feeling, which I still have, that there is likely to be a linkage or a trade-off, a bit more of the horse trading that we have become accustomed to in the Common Market—"You agree to that and we agree to that". We could end up worse off than we are.
Whichever of the four options in square brackets was accepted, the Luxembourg compromise would be weakened, if not entirely killed off. I am glad that the Government have said that they would resist any proposals that would put us in that position.
I urge the House to make its position clear. However, we must see what happens in practice. Statements have been made here before and it has afterwards been discovered that the Government have weakened and given way. In the interests of our people, our sovereignty and the rights of the House, the position should be made clear today.
To my knowledge, a federal Europe has never been the objective even of those hon. Members who are pro-EEC. The concept of a total European union has been rejected, except by a handful of what I would call Euro-fanatics. Even pro-EEC Members have argued that they never wanted a federal Europe.
European co-operation is one thing. Efforts for wider unity via foreign policy are right and understandable. However, moves towards a more unified Europe are something else. Most hon. Members and people in Britain would reject it. We must be able to control as far as possible our destinies as a people and our destiny in the House.
We obviously require international co-operation and agreement. We need to work through the United Nations and the Commonwealth. However, we must safeguard our democracy and freedom. In my view, that can be better done outside the so-called European pact, as is proposed in the Genscher-Colombo plan. I ask the House to support the Opposition's amendment.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)
Order. Before I call the first speaker, may I remind the House that this is a short debate and brief contributions are preferable today.
§ Mr. Jim Spicer (Dorset, West)
This debate, centring as it does on the many proposals contained in the Genscher-Colombo plan, could, and probably should, be wide-ranging. However, you have asked us to be brief, Mr. Deputy Speaker, so I shall focus my attention on the one area that seems to me of most importance to all hon. Members and that looms largest in the minds of most British people, namely, the problem that we now face against the background of the decision made by member States of the Community to break the Luxembourg compromise at the Council of Agriculture Ministers' meeting last month.
Throughout the negotiations for our entry into the Community, those in favour faced from every audience one major question which was put time and time 1116 again—will this mean a loss of British sovereignty? I, and everyone else who was in favour of entry into the Community at that time, said "No". The 1966 Luxembourg compromise was not enshrined within Community law or the treaty, but accepted by every member State and reaffirmed again in 1971. At the time of our entry, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr, Rippon) was reassured on this point. The late Mr. Pompidou affirmed this fact, as did many others at that time. We negotiated and worked on the basis of that veto being enshrined to safeguard our vital national interests.
The time may well come—many hon. Members would prefer it to be sooner rather than later— when the Community can move towards majority voting, but that time is not now. When it comes, it must be as a result of evolution and of complete agreement by all member States. We certainly do not have that at the moment.
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) pointed to the Government Benches when he said that there were some who were in favour of majority voting, implying that they were Conservative Members. I disagree entirely. There are few hon. Members who would accept majority voting now. In my view, they are confined mainly to the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party. They are in favour of that, as they are in many instances in favour of a move towards a federal state of Europe at an early date.
§ Mr. Nigel Spearing
Will the hon. Gentleman tell us how many of his colleagues—-who I believe, like him, are called European Democrats in the EEC Assembly—agree with majority voting? Does he?
§ Mr. Spicer
I certainly do not. I have already made that clear. When we debated this and voted on an amendment in the European Parliament only three weeks ago, 11 out of 63 members of our group voted in favour of such a motion and the rest either abstained or voted against. That is a fair indication that within the European Democratic group there is little support for a move to a system of majority voting. Certainly there is minimal support within our group; there may be more support within the Liberal group and the Socialist group of the European Parliament.
Those people who call for majority voting now do not reflect the view of the vast majority of people in Britain or in the House. If they persist in doing so, they bring down upon their heads and their party their deserts. In 1971, 1975 and 1976 it was said that the veto was there and it was accepted by everyone in good faith.
What has been wrong in the past has been abuse of the term "vital national interests". There is no doubt that we must tighten its definition to avoid such abuse. It is not the United Kingdom that has abused "vital national interest"; other countries have done so over trivial matters, and in so doing they have blocked the work of the Community.
§ Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East)
Who is to be the arbiter, other than the national Government, of what is its national interest?
§ Mr. Spicer
I turn to what I consider to be the most important part of the Genscher-Colombo plan which enables me to deal with that question.
What should we now do to redefine the Luxembourg compromise? I accept that there must be a restatement of the Luxembourg compromise or an alternative. It should 1117 be more closely defined. There were four choices in the Genscher-Colombo plan, as my right hon. Friend the Minister of State has already made quite clear. The first choice would mark an almost exact return to the Luxembourg compromise as it now stands. The second follows the same path but calls for such a view to be directly relevant to the subject under discussion. The third and fourth choices would be acceptable only to those who are in favour of majority voting now.
Our group in the European Parliament has discussed this. The vast majority of members within our group are in favour of the second choice, or something close to it, with additional safeguards built into it. It is my firmly held belief that any discussion on how the veto rights should be established for the future must centre around the second choice. However, one addition would reinforce the case for those declaring a vital national interest. At the end of the paragraph, instead of "confirmation in writing", it should readconfirmation and reasons in writing.It should be incumbent upon member States declaring a national interest to give reasons for so doing.
We face the prospect of further hard bargaining on the common fisheries policy, our budget contributions which have to be decided by November, and before long we shall be into discussions on next year's agricultural price fixing. There can be no question of delay in making a firm decision on re-establishing some guarantee along the lines of the Luxembourg compromise. If we do not have guarantees the present public apathy towards the Community will turn to anger and hostility. I am sad to say it but that reaction would be understandable.
I have always been a supporter of our membership of the Community, and I shall continue to be so. However, I cannot accept the seeming inability of the Community of 10 member States, soon to be 12, to adapt itself to the circumstances of the 1980s. If it is not prepared to do so in the next two or three years, the Community will stumble from one crisis to another and will, in the eyes of many citizens, become increasingly irrelevant in an ever-changing world.
§ Mr. Roy Jenkins (Glasgow, Hillhead)
The hon. Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Spicer) is a much respected Member of the European Parliament.
§ Mr. Jenkins
I said "Parliament". It is nonsense to go over that argument again. If one wants to go back to the treaty one must go back to majority voting and the Luxembourg compromise. Do not let us say that nothing can evolve after the treaty. The hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) would put the initials MEP after his name and not MEA if he were a Member. Let us not continue with that foolish argument.
The hon. Member for Dorset, West began with an intransigent attitude to sovereignty, but he came to a sensible and practical conclusion about what one can do in present circumstances. I endorse his view about the Community evolving and dealing with the problems of the 1980s.
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) painted a picture of a world which I found it almost 1118 impossible to recognise. He said that all the arguments for joining the Common Market were put in terms of its being an economic community and that politics were an extraneous inclusion.
I have been involved in the arguments in favour of joining for as long and, in a sense, as prominently as anyone. I have always said, as have former Heads of Government such as the right hon. Members for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) and Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) that the politics of the matter were at least as important a reason for our entry as the economics. I am sure that the hon. Member for Walton knows that.
The hon. Member for Walton paints a picture of M. Tindemans and M. Thorn and others as being the Brussels equivalents of members of the Militant Tendency in Liverpool, working away and moving erratically towards getting their way in a headlong rush towards a federal Europe. That picture is immensely different from the one which I see.
§ Mr. Jenkins
The hon. Member for Walton practised a sparing economy in giving way. I shall give way to him, but not too frequently.
Everyone knows that, rightly or wrongly, fortunately or unfortunately, the federal idea in Europe has receded greatly in the past 10 to 15 years. I have never taken a doctrinaire position on that. I do not believe that we shall see a federal Europe in the sense of a federal United States. Europe will evolve into something which is found in no political textbook but which is suited to the special form of Europe, with deeply entrenched nationalisms, and old nations with great histories, but still anxious and finding it necessary to work together. It will not be federalism or confederalism according to a textbook definition.
Anyone who looks objectively at the picture as it has developed must believe that the danger is of Europe going too slow, not of Europe going too fast. The danger is of Europe failing to make progress and of gumming up the channels of decision making, not of a Europe rushing headlong in a federal direction or any other direction.
§ Mr. Heffer
I wish to put the record straight. On this occasion I did not have the Militant Tendency in mind. I had in mind the right hon. Gentleman and his friends who consistently undermined Labour Party policies and acted contrary to the Labour Party in the final decision.
§ Mr. Jenkins
I do not think that we need to pursue that fairly lighthearted analogy too far.
I regard these proposals as relatively modest and sensible. Without any great change in balance and without any amendment to the treaty they are an attempt to make European institutions work better. Do we want that to happen? The hon. Member for Walton and many others on the Opposition Benches do not want that to happen. The same is true of some Conservative Members. They want Europe to work worse to buttress the arguments for Britain coming out. That is certainly true of some Opposition Members. That is neither a constructive nor a responsible attitude. I do not think that we will come out, but some hon. Members never wanted to go in and would like us to come out. [Interruption.] I do not wish to be provoked. I wish to be brief.
The proposals are made by two extremely responsible major Governments in the Community who, on the whole, 1119 have been good friends of Britain in past disputes. The Italians were certainly extremely good friends to us in the 1980 budgetary settlement. They were our best allies from that point of view.
§ Mr. Jenkins
The hon. Gentleman's approach to Europe seems to be that the Italy of today is the Italy of Mussolini and that the Germany of today is the Germany of Hitler. I do no know what the hon. Gentleman's idea of Socialist internationalism is—
§ Mr. Teddy Taylor
The right hon. Gentleman is hurling insults. He thinks that we should give more power to Community institutions. How does he think that that will make them work better?
§ Mr. Jenkins
I shall explain. The proposal is not to give more power, but to try to clear up some of the clogging in the decision-making process. The institutions worked more quickly and smoothly when 15 years ago the Commission had more power. Then the Council of Ministers took more responsibility for decisions, arriving at conclusions and seeing that they were implemented. I shall explain why it is in British interests, not in the interests of some abstract European—although there is nothing wrong with a little European idealism—that decisions should be taken firmly, clearly and expeditiously and that the institutions should work well.
Political co-operation is in the interests of Britain. It has been built up a great deal in the last few years. Lord Carrington played a major role in this respect and made a major contribution when he was Foreign Secretary. Political co-operation is a type of ship moored alongside the Community. It is sensible that its relationship with the Community should be made clearer and more sensible. The position has been nonsensical in the past. The French approached the idea of political co-operation cautiously. On one occasion they insisted on all the Ministers moving from Brussels to Copenhagen in order to have one meeting immediately following another to make clear the distinction between the Council of Ministers meeting as a council and the Foreign Ministers, the same people, meeting in political co-operation. I am sure that the House is against such a nonsense because it gives the Community a bad name.
Therefore, what has happened is thoroughly sensible. The proposals relating to the Parliament are also sensible. They involve no major change of powers and include nothing that would affect the treaty. The Minister was sensible in what he said but a little lukewarm and a little defensive. It is essential that the Government should realise how important it is to achieve a better working Community if we are to solve Britain's relationship with it and our underlying budget problems.
What is the nature of that problem? It is that the Community is a lopsided Community. Agriculture accounts for little more than 8 to 12 per cent. of the wealth of the Community yet 60 per cent. of the budget—
§ Mr. Jenkins
—fortunately reduced from 75 per cent. but still high—there may be problems in the future—goes to agriculture. That is not, as many people would like to believe, because Europe subsidises its agriculture to a markedly different extent from either the United States or 1120 Japan—the other major industrial groups. The preponderance in the Community budget is because the agricultural side of the Community has developed. Most of that expenditure is made through the Community while most other forms of expenditure are made through the national States—
§ Mr. Jenkins
I have given way a number of times, and we have been asked to be as brief as possible.
While the lopsidedness persists we shall always have to get special subventions—
§ Mr. Jenkins
We negotiated two financial arrangements. We asked for them to be renegotiated but we should have some idea of the proportions involved. In the budget dispute we are arguing about amounts of £150 million or at the most £200 million whereas the amount of trade at stake, our trade with the Community, is £30 billion.
§ Mr. Jenkins
The balance of trade is satisfactory from our point of view. It has improved steadily, but if the hon. Gentleman wishes to put 59 per cent. of our trade at risk—which is what it would be with the free trade countries around—that is an extremely dangerous and damaging thing to do.
§ Mr. Jenkins
If the hon. Gentleman will keep quiet and will not interrupt me, I shall not misrepresent him. That is a perfectly fair bargain to which I am sure he will be extremely glad to agree.
While that is the postion we will always have to ask for and get, after long arguments, limited amounts, special subventions, in order to make the budgetary position tolerable. We have twice renegotiated. There was the 1980 arrangement which was followed by the short-term arrangement a few weeks ago. We shall have to get another in a year's time. So it will go on. That is always an exacerbating factor even though our case may be fair. It puts us in a weak position. It makes us appear to be a suppliant. The sums involved are relatively small and are regarded as extras on the bill. There is no doubt that it makes our influence and position weaker than it should be.
We have no alternative but to seek such special solutions while the imbalance persists but the British interest is overwhelmingly to deal with the root cause of the imbalance. That means dealing with the lopsidedness of the Community and having a Community that is not so overwhelmingly agricultural but which also develops substantially the regional fund, the social fund and energy saving—
§ Mr. Jenkins
The right hon. Gentleman knows—we have been in government together—that I have never been in favour of extravagant public expenditure. We cannot solve all the problems by throwing money at them. Social, industrial, and energy policy and industrial innovation can be carried out but will cost money. The case is not that we would spend more but, as with agriculture, that the balance should be shifted from national budgets to Community budgets.
§ Mr. Jenkins
That can be done effectively only if two blades of the scissors are operated. We can try to get agricultural expenditure down, but it is a difficult task, as the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) as just said. It can be reduced somewhat. Some of it can be put back on to national budgets, but the underlying problem will not be solved unless a more constructive and imaginative view is taken of other aspects of Community policy.
It is ridiculous that a Community that is 90 per cent. industrial and commercial should spend so much on agriculture and so little on other aspects. The way for Britain to deal with the problem is to approach it from that point of view, but in order to reach solutions we must have an evolving Community, not a static and totally conservative Community which cannot move in any direction.
In order to do that, while it is not practical, possible, and perhaps not desirable to get away from the veto power, we have to roll back its excessive use and the use of the phrase "vital national interest" when that interest is not involved at all. We have to improve the decision-making process and to restrict the use of the veto as much as we can or we shall have a Community that does not move forward. While that is the position, we shall have the fundamental British problem. The position is different for those who wish to leave the Community but to anyone who believes, as I do, that British interests, British jobs, British trade and British political influence involve staying in the Community, the essential and necessary approach is to take a forward-looking and imaginative view about building up other aspects of the Community's work.
That is the only way for us to get away from negotiating these subventions from year to year or from two years to two years. It is the only way that British influence will be fully deployed in the Community.
§ Mr. Timothy Smith (Beaconsfield)
Although this is not my maiden speech, it is my first speech as Member for Beaconsfield. I hope that the House will allow me to observe two of the conventions that are normally associated with a maiden speech.
I should like to start by paying tribute to my predecessor, the late Sir Ronald Bell. As I travelled around the constituency in the recent by-election I found many 1122 electors who respected Sir Ronald Bell not only for his independent views but for the tremendous work that he did for his constituents. He was an assiduous constituency Member. His constituents respected him for his independent views. He was a great libertarian, who had a tremendous sense of the concept of nation, and I pay tribute to him.
I should also like to say a few words about my constituency, which is in a delightful part of Buckinghamshire. Many people go there to live because it is a charming and delightful environment. As Member for the Beaconsfield constituency, I hope that I shall be able to protect the interests of the constituency and defend it against the attacks that it will inevitably come under from various environmental intrusions such as aircraft noise and gravel extraction.
One of the underlying themes of the recent by-election in Beaconsfield was Britain's role in the Common Market. The Falklands crisis raised difficult questions in people's minds about Britain's role in the world. One thing became clear to me, and it was that now only a vocal minority questions Britain's membership of the European Community as such. I was interested to see a recent report—I think in the Financial Times— that the TUC campaign for withdrawal from the EEC has had an apathetic response from most of the unions which were called upon to make constructive proposals about what Britain might do were it to withdraw. The most positive response to the TUC's request for helpful comments came from its own steel committee, which said that its members saw no realistic alternative to membership of the Common Market. It said that the present relationship between the United Kingdom and other EEC members should be maintained. We never hear precisely what the Labour Party, the TUC and others who propose that we should leave think we should do if we left.
Recent events have highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the European Community. On the plus side, we have the positive support that we have received from most of our partners in the Common Market during the Falklands crisis. There is no doubt that, had we not been members, we should not have received their support, and our job in the South Atlantic would have been that much more difficult. Also on the plus side, I pay tribute to the recent British Presidency, which my right hon. Friend the Minister of State mentioned in his speech, and to the work of my noble Friend Lord Carrington at that time.
On the minus side, we have had the majority decision on farm prices. This is a difficult question and it is one to which this document addresses itself. However, I do not understand why the Opposition are making so much of this document. It is a modest document. It does not propose any changes in the treaties, or any changes in our legal relationship with the rest of the Community. It is a political document, and its object is simply to give the development of the Community some further impetus. As my right hon. Friend the Minister of State said, the object is to ensure that that development is both pragmatic and evolutionary. That is the Government's objective, and I support it.
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) said that the entire document is irrelevant. He thinks, I suppose, that the Community's objective of an overall economic strategy to combat unemployment and inflation is irrelevant, and that the priority which is to be given to encourage productive investment and improve competitiveness as a basis for creating durable jobs is also 1123 irrelevant. In my opinion, those proposals in the document are relevant, not just to Britain but to the rest of the Community.
Three major questions will have to be resolved if we are to make further progress towards European co-operation. First, there is the budget, about which the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins) spoke. Secondly, there is Britain's budget contribution. Thirdly, there is the Luxembourg compromise. In my opinion, all three are connected, because it would be difficult to make progress on the budget if we could not first make progress on the Luxembourg compromise.
Farm prices would perhaps not loom so large if we were in a position to deal with the difficult problems of the budget and the fact that the whole budget is dominated by the CAP. The object in the budget must be to agree arrangements which place less emphasis on agriculture and more on industrial and regional policies, and thus design something which constitutes a fairer reflection of the needs and aspirations of all members of the Community.
§ Mr. Barry Porter (Bebington and Ellesmere Port)
I apologise if the speech of the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Smith) is meant to be a maiden speech, but in my opinion it is a retread, and I have taken advice in that connection. It is some 10 years since we entered the Community, and those of us who are enthusiastic about European unity had that query about the amount of the budget that was spent on agriculture. We had the same argument 10 years ago, and everyone said that it had to be changed. However, nothing has happened during the past 10 years. Perhaps my hon. Friend would address himself to what might happen, not 10 years hence, but next year or next month.
§ Mr. Smith
I said that I hope that progress will be made. I hope that I shall not be standing here in 10 years' time saying exactly the same thing. I feel frustrated that we have not made the progress that I should have liked, but that is not a reason for suggesting that we should do nothing about the problem, or ignore it. It will not go away, and we must address ourselves to it.
We must also address ourselves to the United Kingdom budget contribution. We need some permanent agreement as soon as possible. That agreement should be based, not on an attempt to relate our contributions to what we get out of the Community, but on the ability of each of the Community members to contribute. On that basis, it is quite wrong that Britain, which is not one of the richest members, should pay one of the largest contributions, as it does at present. Only if we can resolve these two questions satisfactorily are we likely to make any real progress on political co-operation and towards European union.
The immediate objective in this respect must be to reinstate the Luxembourg compromise. I support the Government's position here, as outlined by the Minister. If it was right for six members in 1966, it must be right for 10 members in 1982. We should recognise that when Britain joined the Community in 1972 this was an important element in the arrangements which were taken into account at that time.
On 24 May 1971, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) told the House that he and President Pompidouwere in agreement that the maintenance and strengthening of the fabric of co-operation in such a Community requires that 1124 decisions in practice should be taken by unanimous agreement when vital national interests of any one or more members are at stake."—[Official Report, 24 May 1971; Vol. 818, c. 32.]That is quite correct. While that should remain the constitutional convention, the longer-term objective should be to ensure that such economic harmonisation is achieved that member States perceive their vital national interests to be at stake. That is more likely to come about if we can achieve economic co-operation and harmonisation.
In the long run, our objective should be majority voting, except where vital national interests are involved. I agree that member States should continue to determine what their vital national interests are. I also agree that that right should not be abused. The political reality is that the legal framework of the European Communities will not function unless the political reality on which it is based is respected. That political reality is that the Community is an association of sovereign nations, on none of which can decisions affecting their vital national interest be imposed.
In the Financial Times last Friday, Malcolm Rutherford asked:Will Britain react to the Argentine invasion and its aftermath by becoming more nationalist or will it draw the quite different conclusion that it is necessary to strengthen international alliances and international order?One has only to pose that question to realise the answer. International order and international alliances must be strengthened, and in my view the first international alliance that we must strengthen is the European Community.
§ Mr. Marlow
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not the normal courtesy in the House that when a right hon. or hon. Member has spoken he remains in the Chamber until the hon. Member who speaks after him has finished his speech? Is it not a grave discourtesy that the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins) left in the middle of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield. (Mr. Smith)?
§ Sir Anthony Meyer
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) has been absent for most of the debate, except when he has been acting like a hooligan on the terraces—
§ Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)
I welcome back the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Smith). He is joining a select club of hon. Members who have had the privilege of representing two or more constituencies in this House. If I recall circumstances correctly, the result of the remarkable by-election in which he participated—it has been played down by some commentators—had something to do with the Common Market. I can concur with his comments on the Common Market in regard to his tribute to his predecessor, Sir Ronald Bell. I disagreed with Sir Ronald on many issues but, happily, we cooperated on issues pertaining to the Common Market. I thought that he was right. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Beaconsfield appears not to be quite so right. Indeed, he may be wrong.
I should like to take issue with the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins) whose absence I also 1125 deplore, as one of the duties of hon. Members is to debate and listen to opposite points of view. The right hon. Gentleman did not favour us with his view of the document. He made an interesting speech but did not refer to the point at issue. He said that he envisaged Europe evolving, not into a federal State such as the United States but into something unique and European. He knows that the Treaty of Rome is a unitary document and the superstate there foreseen is unitary, not federal. That is the right hon. Gentleman's view as far as I understand it. He did not tell us what he thought about the document. We can only assume that he concurs with it. He said that it would enable the evolution to proceed a little quicker, enable Britain to get from Europe what is its due and enable institutions to work more closely. He forgot to say that any enlargement of the Community budget means less power to the House, because more money would go to Brussels and less would come here.
The right hon. Gentleman advocated a reduction in the use of the Luxembourg arrangement although the "Yes" pamphlet that he supported at the referendum said:All decisions of any importance must be agreed by every member.The pamphlet also said:The position of the Queen is not affected.Of course Her Majesty's role is affected because until 1973 legislation came only from the Houses of Parliament, through Her Majesty. Now it comes direct from Brussels, not through Westminster or Buckingham Palace. It is directed by Her Majesty's courts although Her Majesty has had nothing to do with the legislation there administered. The right hon. Gentleman must explain some matters. Some of his argument is illogical.
The hon. Member for Beaconsfield dismissed the document as simply giving more impetus to the Community. Impetus to where and for what purpose? To many of us, the document is clearly trying to produce a movement towards a unitary superstate in Europe without there being any formal changes to the treaties. Every point at issue here is to give greater practical competence to the institutions and personalities of the EEC and, therefore, by definition, less choice and competence to Her Majesty's Ministers, the House and the electorate.
The Minister shakes his head. I shall gladly give way if he wishes to contest that point. If one gives more power, influence and opportunity to some people, one must take them away from someone else. That means taking them away from Whitehall, Her Majesty's Ministers, the House and the British people. No Conservative Member who has advocated acceptance of the document has produced any evidence to the contrary.
Perhaps there will be no legal change, just as we do not have to amend the Parliament Act to determine the powers and influence of Government and Opposition. If we change the standing order to do away with Supply days, the power of Parliament vis-a-vis the Government and of Back Benchers would be seriously reduced at a stroke. The same can be done to procedures of the Community without changing the treaties. That is what the document does time and again.
The Minister referred to the document carrying the authority of Heads of State in the future. In the early days of Britain's membership there was no Council of Ministers in the sense of the summit and the Heads of State. It is still 1126 an extra-treaty body. Yet by examining the document and trying to sort out other matters, one sees that it has effectively become an extremely important meeting. That is an example of the way in which influence and power can move without there being any formal change of treaty powers. We know that power in the House can move in that way.
The same applies to the powers of the EEC Assembly. I dissented from a sedentary position when the Minister suggested that the Assembly was not being given any more powers. Paragraph 2.3.2. of the explanatory memorandum states:If Parliament asks for a reply from the Council (from ministerial meetings) and from the Commission in keeping with their respective powers, to the resolutions giving an Opinion or a recommendation, the latter shall comply with this request.In other words the document agreement specifically encourages the Assembly to make motions that are passed to the Council and requires the Council to reply. A dialogue will then result between the so-called elected Assembly or Parliament as some insist on calling it and the proto-Government. That is precisely what happened in this House in its relationship with the Crown. That is the way in which legislative elected bodies gain power over the executive. I challenge the Minister to say that he believes that the document will not effectively give the Assembly greater power. As far as I am aware there is nothing that will make the Council comply with any approach from the Assembly in the way that is advocated by the document.
§ Mr. Tom Ellis (Wrexham)
I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. He talks about the powers of Ministers being reduced as a result of Britain's membership of the Community. Perhaps he does not live in the same world as I do. How much power does he think that Ministers would have in respect of, say, GATT negotiations if Britain were not a member of the Community?
§ Mr. Spearing
I shall give the example of fishing. Only about an hour ago we saw the abject spectacle of the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food saying that he would try to get the best arrangement that he could. We know that those who went into the Community on the present arrangement have achieved no protection for fisheries. The Minister has no power. He protected himself as well as he could by saying that he would present the House with nothing of which the industry does not approve. We all know that the industry must accept the best deal that it believes that the Minister can get. It will not necessarily be good. He even said that he would discuss matters of detail with the industry. He is not able to discuss it with the House. That is just one example of how a Minister is entirely in the hands of the rest of the Council and other members of the Community on a vitally important issue.
§ Mr. Deakins
The Minister said in opening that the aspect of paragraph 2.3.2 to which he took exeption, and to which I also take exeption, is that it imposes an obligation on the Council to give replies to the Assembly, which must be an accretion to the powers of the Assembly compared with the present position. The Minister said that that was not Government policy. As both alternative versions in paragraph 2.3.2 contain the same phrase, however, if the Government wish things to be otherwise, they must submit their own version.
§ Mr. Spearing
I am obliged to my hon. Friend. His intervention brings me to my next point.
It is no use the Minister telling us that the Government do not like this, that or the other provision of the draft proposal, because we do not know how it will turn out. We know that the Minister cannot entirely determine what we shall get in a couple of months. Some new Luxembourg arrangement will have to be negotiated. Everyone wants that, and the Community may also want it, but it will be difficult to negotiate even that as a separate discussion from that relative to this document. There may be no formal linkage, but the mere fact that the Luxembourg arrangement is dealt with in the document makes that inescapable. Moreover, we all know that because these matters go together the Government will have to give way on certain aspects of the document if they wish to maintain the position as best they can with regard to the Luxembourg arrangement.
In the document, the Luxembourg arrangement is left wide open. There are four options, ranging from reversion to neat or treaty procedure to something described as postponement of the vote. We do not even know whether that means leaving the matter on the table indefinitely or simply postponement until the next meeting. The original Luxembourg communiqué, to which reference has already been made, did not even refer to unanimity. It merely said that the parties would endeavour to reach agreement as soon as practically possible, so in this respect there is no protection even under the original Luxembourg communiqué.
Britain will always be on the downhill side of the argument on almost any issue of significance in the EEC. The right hon. Member for Hillhead agreed, although it did not seem to worry him in 1975, that the imbalance on agriculture always put us on the receiving end of the argument. We shall always be a client State in respect of the EEC unless the CAP is changed—and we know that it will not be changed, because of the political position in France, Germany and Italy. There will always be a budget imbalance. The Prime Minister or the Chancellor will always be going back to Brussels to renew the annual lease of the repayments and be told how much is involved and how it will be spent.
In those respects, Britain will always be a client State and we cannot easily change the Community in a direction that would suit us because the Luxembourg veto protects the interests of the other nations. Therefore, to say that strengthening the institutions or tidying up the procedures on the lines suggested in the document will help us in the EEC is not correct. Indeed, the reverse is true. It will make our negotiating weakness even more difficult to overcome.
The aims of political union on a unitary basis will receive a shot in the arm from this document. The formal means to amend the treaties may be avoided, but the effect of the proposals is to seek EEC approval and to show that we agree with the arrangements. The Minister says that they have evolved over time, but some are already happening and that others .are proposed, but we are now being asked to endorse both stages in a far more formal way then we were asked to endorse the Luxembourg arrangement. If that arrangement can become as important as it has without any document or agreement, simply through a vague communiqué and through practice, how much more important will the entrenched arrangement be if any Government assent to the proposals before us.?
1128 The proposals clearly prejudice the powers of this House. By that definition, they prejudice the powers of any British Government and, most important, the sovereignty of the. United Kingdom and the power of the British people to decide for themselves matters which are properly theirs to decide.
§ Mr. Teddy Taylor (Southend, East)
Those of us who are regular attenders of European debates feel a great loss in not having the presence of the late Sir Ronald Bell. I am sure, however, that if he is in a position to be aware of what is happening here today, although he may have reservations about some of the sentiments expressed by the new hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Smith), he will be proud and delighted at the eloquence and concern shown in his successor's excellent speech.
The right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins), in a good, clear and basically honest speech, spotlighted the basic issue between the two groups in the House today. He accepts that there is a real, permanent problem for Britain in the Common Market because of the budget imbalance, that the agriculture policy inevitably means that we have to go back every year or every few years to ask for a better deal, and that we shall always get a bad budget deal so long as the CAP remains. We all know that. We know that the CAP is nonsense and that the consequences for Britain are high food prices and high budget contributions. The question is how we can solve that problem.
The right hon. Member for Hillhead and those who believe in the sentiments expressed in the document before us say that the answer is to create more and different types of common policy. For instance, there might be such a policy for cars whereby we could all produce as many cars as we liked and sell them at a very high price, those that could not be sold being disposed of to the Russians at a very low price. Such a scheme would mean that more cash would come to Britain. I believe, however, that sensible people would say that if the basic problem of the Common Market is a nonsensical CAP, the right approach must be to scrap it—to suggest to our partners that we should all look after our own agriculture and get rid of this monstrosity which not only creates a serious budget imbalance but involves horrendous expenditure and does great damage to underdeveloped countries.
The basic divide in the House is thus between those who see the answer to Europe's problems as further movement towards European union, federalism, or whatever one calls it, and those who advocate a different approach. I find it difficult to understand why the Government believe that Parliament should offer no opinion on a European document which sets out a pattern for the creation of an integrated union from the present Common Market in place of the association of sovereign nation States that I had always believed to be the Conservative Party's concept of the EEC.
As the Minister implied in his delightful and courteous speech, it might be possible to regard the German and Italian proposals as lofty but basically meaningless words which will achieve nothing in practice in terms of changing powers but which will do no harm. It would be quite wrong, however, for Parliament to agree even to lofty but meaningless sentiments if they do not conform with the views of Parliament and of the British people.
1129 A good example of this is contained in paragraph 3.1.8 which calls for the establishment of a European industrial strategy to create productive jobs. So long as the nation States retain their freedom to elect Governments committed to either interventionist Socialist or noninterventionist Conservative Governments, this paragraph is either a meaningless form of words or designed to pave the way towards supranational economic policies.
Apart from those general sentiments, it would be wrong for us to offer no comment on a plan that envisages greater union and a European identity when there appear to be overwhelming arguments for Britain investigating a looser and less binding relationship with the Common Market. The total failure of the EEC in recent times to reform its obvious absurdities, some of which greatly damage us, demonstrates that we must either accept the present structure of the Common Market or seek a relationship that is materially different from the present full membership. Alternatively, we should be using our many bargaining assets, such as our consumption of food, our supply of oil, and our negative balance of payments of trade in manufactures, to press for major structural reforms.
The economic case for our membership that was widely supported at the time of our joining the Community, and certainly at the time of the referendum, has been eroded simply by experience. More recently, those who claimed that Britain was a member for political and not economic reasons have had their illusions shattered by the manner in which, for example, the Common Market dealt with sanctions against Argentina. The attitude of other Common Market members compared unfavourably with that of our traditional friends such as New Zealand, which gave unrestricted support without seeking any price. Many people who had no strong views on the Common Market were surprised that when British territory was invaded by a foreign Fascist aggressor we found our European partners insisting that sanctions should exclude all continuing contracts—a major slice of the trade—and should be approved in weekly or two-weekly bursts at the last moment until higher farm prices were obtained.
That is not the sort of European unity that some people envisage and certainly not the political co-operation that many people believe exists in the Common Market. Nor can we offer no opinion on a plan that gives greater powers of consultation and supervision to the European Assembly. Without being unfair, we all know that the financial excesses of this rather absurd body, whose elections two-thirds of the voters boycotted, have given democracy a bad name. It would be wrong to judge the Assembly solely on one or two stories of how money is wasted, but most people are beginning to doubt whether it serves any useful purpose. I believe that if it disappeared tomorrow, no one would notice.
We should seriously consider whether the Assembly should be wound up instead of giving it more silly powers of consultation when in practice it has none. The document sets out a path that is exactly the opposite of the one that we should choose in our interests. The official Opposition amendment does not go as far as I believe it should, but it sets out what I believe Conservative policy was or should be.
1130 For those reasons, having confined my speech to five and a half minutes so that others may speak, I shall be voting for the Opposition amendment. I believe that every Conservative Member should do the same.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I understand that the winding-up speeches will begin at ten minutes to seven. If other hon. Members follow the excellent example of the hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor), many more hon. Members will be able to speak.
§ Mr. Eric Deakins (Waltham Forest)
I share the suspicions of the hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) about the document before us, despite the reassurance in the Minister's opening speech, which went much further than previous ministerial statements on the attitude to federalism and the European union. We are merely being invited to take note of this document—if, as one assumes, the Opposition amendment is defeated. We are not being asked to approve the document, and I wonder why. After all, this is not the normal "take note" motion that we have on European Community debates when we may be discussing lorry weights or fishing. There is a major constitutional matter in the document before us.
What is the Government's authority for committing Britain to the document, either in its present or a suitably amended form, in the next few weeks? It will not receive parliamentary approval because we are simply being invited to take note of it. It will certainly not have the approval of the British people. In 1967, the White Paper on the legal and constitutional implications of joining the EEC made it clear that the implications did not include a European union. There was no mention of a European union in the 1971 White Paper, paragraph 29 of which stated that there was no question oferosion of essential national sovereigntyand referred to sovereign States. The impression given to the British people then and in the European Communities Act debates in 1972 by the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon)—who said that the constitutional position had not changed since 1967—up to and including the referendum, and in the documents issued by the "Yes" campaign and by the Government, also asking the people to vote "Yes", was that European union was not on the cards.
Where is the basis of popular support for going ahead with the proposition, even if amended? There is no parliamentary approval and there had been no popular approval either in elections or in referendums. Will the document be put through under article 235 of the Treaty of Rome or article 236? The Minister did not deal with that question.
The Minister said that this was a European Act but that the Government did not like the wording. I am asking him to define not what the document will be called—no doubt the legal department of the Foreign Office will have advised him—but the precise constitutional status within the EEC of the document, suitably amended and perhaps retitled, that we are currently considering. All that we are told by the Minister is that it will not have the force of law and that there are no legal implications. However, there are profound constitutional implications.
Many hon. Members have asked about the provision of the European Assembly or so-called Parliament. The point 1131 about "Assembly" as against "Parliament" is not simply semantics, because the word "Parliament" conjures up an image of our Parliament and people who will invest it automatically with the sort of powers that they know their parliaments and similar bodies to have in the democratic world. There has been a major change. It is not just a change of words and it is wrong for the Minister to be disingenuous and to say "What's in a word? Parliament means the same thing as Assembly". Technically, it does not mean the same thing and in this document the Assembly will be given extra powers, as my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) said, unless the Government put their foot down. The Minister said that he was opposed to making the council responsible to the Assembly and I hope that he will stick to that, but the Government have not yet proposed alternative wording for the House to consider.
I also take issue with the Minister who signed the explanatory memorandum on the document, which many hon. Members will have read without labouring through the detail of the document. The purpose of that memorandum is to imply that there is nothing to worry about in the so-called European Act. However, since we have been a member of the Community, we are aware of the notion of creeping competence, whereby institutions invested with powers gradually take on more and more powers without having to redefine or reword the original treaties of the Community.
§ Mr. Deakins
This document refers to the fact that in future the status of Council meetings in dealing with European Community business under the basic treaties shall be formalised. Instead of having a formal Council dealing with EEC legislation and a Council of Ministers meeting in political co-operation outside the basic treaties, there is now a positive suggestion—we do not know how the Government will react as we were not told by the Minister—that there is to be a formal Council procedure for dealing with political co-operation and many other matters. We need to know more about that before we can give approval to the document.
What is to be the constitutional status of the new formal councils as compared to the existing formal councils set up under the appropriate provisions of the Treaty of Rome and the other basic treaties? If the formal councils are merely to be examples of practical co-operation—no one can object to that while we are in the Community—why is there any need to formalise their status? They work perfectly well at present.
Under this document the European Assembly is being given extra powers. I hope that the Minister will make it clear that the Government will strongly resist any further accretion of powers to the European Assembly either inside or outside the basic treaty.
§ Sir Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)
I should like to add my congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Smith). They are perhaps somewhat stronger than those of my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) as I regard my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield as a powerful addition to the pro-European force in this House.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East, I have been rather worried about the status of the 1132 document. I was glad to hear from the powerful speech of my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office that the word "Act" is not a suitable title. An act in French has nothing to do with statute. An acte gratuit is a useless gesture. Hon. Members might like to contemplate the significance of that translation. It would make my right hon. Friend's submission more powerful if he were to suggest a proper title for the document. There is nothing in the document to suggest what the correct translation should be.
The words, as we know from the rumbling argument about "Parliament" and "Assembly" that reverberates around this Chamber, show how sensitive the Foreign Office should be to translation. We had a bad example the other day in a different statute in which the French word "domicile" was translated "domicile". The Government insisted on retaining the mistranslation up to and including the Royal Assent. One of the lessons to be learnt is that these fauz amis, the direct translations, are enormously dangerous. The word "parlement" is quite different from the word "Parliament" and the word "Act" is different from its French equivalent.
We are assured by my right hon. Friend that this is not a legislative document or legal instrument. He repeated that and I accept it from him. It is his thesis that. where the document appears to make alterations, they are mere alterations in procedure and every Assembly, Parliament or machine—whatever one Likes to call it—is generally master of its own procedure. Some of the alterations seem important. I do not object to them. A new form of question time is to be instituted under which the European Parliament will have the power to question the Council both in writing and orally. Presumably that will include the power to put supplementary questions to the Council. I should like to be a fly on the wall at the first of such encounters to see how they go. All that, however, is within the competence of the EEC as the treaties are constituted. It is misconceived to regard that as new legislation.
I should like my right hon. Friend to reassure me about a matter included in the addendum. Paragraph 2.5 appears to extend the power of the European Court of Justice. At present the powers of the European Court of Justice are carefully confined and defined by the treaties. When I was an MEP it was a matter of great debate whether the Court of Justice, without an amendment to the treaties, had the power to sit in two or more divisions or whether it had always to sit as a full court. A small matter of procedure like that merely requires an amendment to the treaty.
As I understand paragraph 2.5, the Court of Justice is being given some additional jurisdiction. I do not know what that additional jurisdiction is. Presumably it is to allow the court to decide some matter that it does not now have the power to decide. What would be the point of paragraph 2.5 if the court already had that power? I quote:The Heads of State or Government agree to consider, on a case-by-case basis, bearing in mind the respective constitutional arrangements of their States, including international conventions between the Member States, (provided for by the Treaty of Rome) a clause conferring on the Court of Justice appropriate powers regarding the interpretation of texts.That is obscure language, and it is difficult to know its purpose. A power is to be conferred upon the court that it does not have. That implies—I may be wrong about that—an alteration to the treaties, in the sense of conferring upon the Court of Justice a power which no 1133 doubt it is probably important or desirable that it should have. That is difficult to do without any amendment to the treaties.
Perhaps that is a niggling lawyer's point. Apart from that, I welcome the document even though it is couched in terms that do not always fall happily on English ears. It gives the impetus to streamline procedures which have, as the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins) rightly said, become clogged and need to be made more speedy and effective.
One cannot altogether dismiss the fear, or hope, as the case may be, that the document will have a binding effect. It may not have a purely legal effect, but we know from our discussions on the Canada Bill that the conventions are often as legally important as the substantive law. The Supreme Court of Canada so decided—not merely advised—by six judges to three in its great case on that subject. The whole point of the Luxembourg compromise is that it shall have a binding effect.
We joined this body on the understanding that it had a binding effect. We joined on the strength of the theory—I think that it was a correct one—that there are things in the Community that are binding outside the treaties. It is what is called the patrimony of the Community. It is a difficult legal concept for the British lawyer, but it is something that all new member States are obliged to accept. It is not only a treaty but a right to invoke the patrimony. If ever there were a part of the patrimony, it is the Luxembourg compromise, which is to be incorporated in some form in the document that we are discussing.
It is not right—I do not wish this personally—that the document should be dismissed as unimportant because it does not have legal effect in the strict technical sense. As a keen supporter of the Community, I welcome it because it will give the rights and obligations of member States a definite push in one direction. That is its intention. If it were not, why should we need to have it? Therefore, I do not think that there can be any pretence that it is of no consequence and merely a piece of foreigners' froth, a piece of sublime mysticism and nonsense, as Castlereagh once said. It will have a definite and, I hope, binding effect. Therefore, I hope that we shall get the crux of it, the repetition of the Luxembourg compromise, as strongly as we can in the direction that my right hon. Friend suggested.
I regard the third alternative to the proposals as totally inadequate. I accept the proposals of my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Spicer) who as usual put his finger on the right solution, including the giving of reasons as well as confirmation in writing. I am sure that that is correct. We cannot get any more. We joined the organisation on the basis of the Luxembourg compromise. We cannot insist on more than that, but we should accept no less.
§ Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Edge Hill)
Like the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Sir C. Fletcher-Cooke), I welcome the publication of the document. However, unlike him, I wish that the original proposals, which were submitted by Colombo-Genscher, had been accepted in their original form. If those proposals had been accepted, the document would have gone much further. Unlike the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), I do not 1134 take the view that the joining of the EEC was "always regarded as an economic union". That was the expression he used. The Community has never been an attraction to me on that ground. However angry we might be with the common agricultural policy, wine lakes and butter mountains, the overriding vision of the European Community has always attracted me to membership of the Community. I am disappointed by the nitpicking and pedantic approach, and lack of vision, which is displayed by so many both inside and outside the Chamber. The lack of commitment to the Community over the past 10 years is one of the reasons why it has not succeeded to the extent that many of us wish.
Despite the anger and frustration that we may sometimes have about the workings of individual institutions within the Community, we must bear in mind that twice during the century young men and women have given their lives on front lines in Europe. That possibility is now out of the question for any two Western European democracies. That in itself surely speaks volumes for our membership of the Community. I prefer to argue about wine lakes and butter mountains than to see British men and women losing their lives again in world wars in Europe.
There are also more tangible benefits to be gained from membership of the Community. For example, trade with our European partners since we joined the Community has increased by 560 per cent. That is a remarkable achievement. The benefits that have accrued despite minimal commitment and involvement in the EEC, are seen by many British people to be great. They are disappointed when they hear others such as the hon. Member for Walton and his colleagues speaking about the need to withdraw from the Community.
The Leader of the Opposition wrote in an article in The Times in 1975, at the time of the referendum:We accept, of course, the democratic verdict of the people.That is no longer his position. It is no wonder that the public become cynical with politicians. They hear them say one thing one year and watch them do something else when they get their hands on some power, or when they have the opportunity of getting some power within their grasp.
§ Mr. Heffer
I must point out to the hon. Gentleman that in the previous Labour Government I was a Minister of State and earning quite a lot of money. I resigned on a basic principle and allowed power to go out of my hands merely because I did not agree with what was happening in the Common Market.
§ Mr. Alton
I apologise to the hon. Gentleman. That was not my understanding of his resignation. However, if I am wrong, I unreservedly withdraw what I said.
It is quite wrong that the Labour Party should seek to take Britain out of the Community when only a small percentage of the British people support that policy. During the lifetime of the previous Parliament only 29 per cent. of the electorate had supported Labour, yet they now have a policy to overturn the decision of about two-thirds of the British people who voted to retain membership of the Community. Many of us regard our commitment to the 1135 Community as half-hearted and reluctant since we became a full member. It has been characterised by the nitpicking and pedantic approach to which I have referred.
The original Colombo-Genscher proposals referred to a weakening of the Luxembourg convention and, implicitly, the curse of the veto. Far too often we exercise purely nationalistic reasoning and talk far too much about individual sovereignty, therefore using, or threatening to use, our veto in a way that is not in the best interests of furthering the cause of European unity and co-operation. That is sad and unproductive.
Secondly, the original proposals suggested greater power for the European Parliament. Tonight, there have been those such as the hon. Member for Walton who talk about "so-called representatives" and other hon. Members have talked about "so-called assemblies" and "so-called parliaments". They are referring to bodies and people who have been democratically elected as a result of another democratic decision, taken in this place. That is how the Assembly was established. To talk about other democratically elected people as "so-called representatives" is gratuitous. I should like to see the powers of the Assembly extended and far greater co-operation with our European Community neighbours. That offers the best possible opportunity for peace within Europe and the world in the long term.
Thirdly, in the original document there was a reference to the way towards European union. It is a great disappointment that the Government have done so much today to hack-pedal from something to which Conservatives were committed during the lifetime of the Government led by the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath).
The document in its present form is a skeleton of the original proposals. Discussions on a mountain have given birth to a mouse. There will be profound disappointment in the document. Liberals have always been committed to the Community. If others had listened to us we could have joined at its inception. We would have become leading members of the Community and would have played a major part in laying foundations for the future. Instead, we were Johnnies-come-lately.
There are five reforms that Liberals would like to see in the reform of the European Assembly's institutions: first of all, stronger powers for the European Parliament; secondly, more political co-operation; thirdly, closer economic integration; fourthly, the harmonisation of laws; fifthly, majority voting.
If such proposals were accepted, then the European Community would not be seen in the discredited light that it is today. People would see some point in going out and voting in European elections. It is time that this Parliament was committed to the furtherance and pursuance of European co-operation, and indeed long-term European unity.
§ Mr. Moate
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I understand that the business is to be concluded at 7 o'clock, or interrupted for private business on the direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means; and at 10 o'clock there will be a business motion moved to deal with other business. If business is to be interrupted, does that not mean that we could resume debate on this matter, which no one will deny is of the utmost importance, either at 10 o'clock or when the private business is concluded if that 1136 occurs before 10 o'clock—or, indeed, after the other business is taken which will go on until 1 o'clock? I would be grateful for your guidance.
If it is not wished to debate the matter further, could we defer deciding the question at 7 o'clock so that we can continue with this debate on another occasion?
§ Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. What is the procedure for ensuring that a vote is either taken or deferred? How does the House act if it wishes to ensure that the vote is deferred?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The business will be interrupted at 7 o'clock unless a motion is moved before 7 o'clock.
§ Mr. Hurd
Everyone enjoyed listening to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), but it cannot have escaped notice that the hon. Member did not attempt to substantiate the Opposition amendment to this motion. The hon. Member talked of a giant step towards federalism, but he did not even attempt to argue that case in terms of the document before the House. He did not go through the document; he simply confined himself to some general observations. He was very reluctant to give way to anyone who questioned those general observations. He told us, for example, in terms of mounting horror, about the European Council. He read a passage from the document which said that the European Council brings together the Heath of State or Government, Foreign Ministers, the President, and members of the Commission, as if this were the giant step towards federalism. What does he think has been happening for years past? That is the European Council. Anyone who supposes that the European Council is a federalist institution should go and see the Heads of State and Government arguing fiercely about national interests.
Similarly, the hon. Member attempted to deal with security and he quoted from a document, which must be a background document put out by the Commission in London. This background document dealt with the original proposals of Genscher-Colombo and the passage on security that the hon. Genteman criticised does not appear on the document before us. That is in no way a sufficient substantiation, making general rhetorical remarks and then seeking evidence from documents that have clearly and obviously been amended since they were tabled.
The Opposition Front Bench really did not attempt to substantiate its case.
My hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) did a better job of that, but even he did not really attempt—except in rhetorical terms in what was a very clear speech—to substantiate the case that we are required to answer. The only points where an attempt was made to substantiate this case were during interruptions at the beginning of my speech and in the speeches of the hon.. Members for Waltham Forest (Mr. Deakins) and Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) regarding the European Parliament. That is point 2.3, and it is important to get it right.
Under questioning during my speech I said that we preferred the first version of the introduction, which clearly does not deal with powers. It was suggested from 1137 behind me that the second version, if accepted, might confer new powers, but paragraph 2.3.1, about which there is no dispute—it is not in square brackets—makes it perfectly clear that all of this is in accordance with the provisions and procedures laid down in the treaty. So that argument collapses.
Two Opposition Members dealt with paragraph 2.3.2 and suggested that the Parliament would now have the right to require comment or a reply from Ministers. I concede that. That is the only point that has been argued in defence of the suggestion that this is a step toward federalism. Ministers will not have to agree with the Parliament. They will not have to accept the Parliament's argument. They may simply say that they entirely disagree. They will be required to give some kind of comment or reply. That is the only point, and if that is the only specific point produced throughout this debate arguing that this is a giant step towards federalism, then the case does not exist.
§ Mr. Heffer
The Minister of State has made the Statement that the Opposition Front Bench did not outline the Opposition's real case. I hope that tomorrow morning the hon. Gentleman will read what I said, where I give example after example. I could have gone on giving examples, but because of the time factor and because I wanted all hon. Members to get in on the debate as far as possible, I sat down.
§ Mr. Hurd
The House will read the record and will judge, especially the reference of the hon. Member for Walton to a completely out-of-date document. We are discussing a political document, not a constitutional one. It is not a treaty. It is not a document with legal status. It does not change the powers of the institution.
The European union, in the sense in which I rather carefully defined it at the beginning, as the hon. Member recognised, is in the Treaty of Rome and has been accepted in that sense in the summit meetings of 1972, 1974 and 1976.
My hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Spicer) gave a thoughtful and helpful analysis of the key points of decision taking. I am not sure that I agree with him that the second proposal would quite meet our needs, but I note what he said about it. We would greatly prefer the first. I am not sure that the second one as at present worded would really deal with the point we are trying to make.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Sir C. Fletcher-Cooke) raised a point that was in my speech but which, stupidly, I omitted because it seemed to me that I was going on for a long time. I refer to paragraph 2.5, on the European Court of Justice. The point here—and it certainly needs exposition—is that if a new international convention is being negotiated between member States, then under these proposals it would be possible to include in that convention a role of interpretation for the European Court. It would be an option open to the contracting parties to include that if they decided that it was appropriate and fitting. So it is an option the use of which would depend upon the decision at the time member States were negotiating a particular convention.
I would like to join in the congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Smith). We 1138 were glad to have him with us before, and after listening to his speech, we are now even more glad that he has returned. I agreed with every word he said about our membership of the Community, the pluses and the minuses, and what we should try to achieve. I would underline a point that my hon. Friend made. It is difficult to imagine us getting the kind of immediate helpful reaction from the European States that we did over the Falklands if we had not been a member of the Community. If it had not been for our membership of the Community we would not have had the solidarity that was so effective.
The Community to which we belong has shifted away from federalism.
§ Mr. Roger Moate (Faversham)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I apologise for interrupting my right hon. Friend when he has so little time left, but I am concerned for the convenience of the House. I would appreciate your further guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker. When I rose earlier you did say that, all things being equal, my previous supposition was correct and that there would be an opportunity for the House to continue this debate later in the proceedings. I appreciate that the Chair is always reluctant to rule on hypothetical situations and it may well be that a motion will not be moved at 7 o'clock so that we could continue later.
Assuming that a motion is moved at 7 o'clock, will you, for the convenience of the House, indicate at what point during the proceedings this evening the debate could be resumed? I am particularly concerned about the alternatives that are available to the House. I appreciate your guidance on this matter because we have private business later which may well not run until 10 o'clock. That being so, would it then be open to the House to resume debate—
§ Mr. Harrison
rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.
The House proceeded to a Division:—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
A point of order cannot interrupt a closure. I will listen to the hon. Member's point of order when this Division is complete.
§ Mr. Moate (seated and covered)
On a serious matter, I was speaking on a point of order. As I understand it, the closure motion moved by the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Harrison) was, in fact, itself a point of order. As you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I was myself on my feet making a point of order. I submit to you that it is not permissible on a point of order to interrupt another point of order. I am therefore asking you to rule that the motion should not be accepted.
Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.
Question put accordingly, That the amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 185, Noes 290.1142
|Division No. 227]||[7.05 pm|
|Adams,Allen||Archer, Rt Hon Peter|
|Altken,Jonathan||Ashley, Rt Hon Jack|
|Ashton,Joe||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas|
|Bagier, Gordon A.T.||Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda)|
|Barnett,Guy(Greernwich)||Kilfedder, James A.|
|Barnett, Rt HonJoel (H'wd)||Kilroy-Silk, Robert|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Lewis, Arthur (N'ham NW)|
|Bottomley,Rt HonA.(M'b'ro)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Litherland, Robert|
|Brown, R. C.(N'castle W)||Lofthouse,Geoffrey|
|Buchan,Norman||McKay, Allen (Penistone)|
|Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n&P)||McKelvey,William|
|Campbell,Ian||MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor|
|Cant, R. B.||Marks,Kenneth|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M.(B'stol S)||Marshall, DrEdmund (Goole)|
|Coleman,Donald||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.||Maxton,John|
|Cook, Robin F.||Maxwell-Hyslop,Robin|
|Cowans, Harry||Mellish, Rt Hon Robert|
|Craigen, J. M. (G'gow, M'hill)||Mikardo,Ian|
|Crowther,Stan||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Cunningham, DrJ. (W'h'n)||Moate, Roger|
|Davidson,Arthur||Morris, Rt Hon A.(W'shawe)|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)||Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)||Moyle, Rt Hon Roland|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, Stechf'd)||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Douglas,Dick||Powell, Rt Hon J.E. (S Down)|
|Dubs,Alfred||Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.||Prescott,John|
|Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)||Price, C. (Lewisham W)|
|Ennals, Rt Hon David||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Evans, loan (Aberdare)||Race, Reg|
|Evans, John (Newton)||Radice, Giles|
|Ewing,Harry||Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)|
|Field, Frank||Roberts, Allan (Bootle)|
|Flannery,Martin||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Fletcher,Ted (Darlington)||Roberts,Gwilym (Cannock)|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)|
|Ford, Ben||Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)|
|Forrester,John||Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)|
|Foster, Derek||Sever, John|
|Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh||Sheldon, Rt Hon R.|
|Fraser, J.(Lamb'th, N'w'd)||Shepherd,Richard|
|Freeson,Rt Hon Reginald||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Garrett, John (NorwichS)||Silkin.Rt Hon J.(Deptford)|
|Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Hamilton, W. W.(C'tral Fife)||Snape, Peter|
|Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Soley, Clive|
|Healey, Rt Hon Denis||Spearing,Nigel|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Spriggs,Leslie|
|Hogg, N.(EDunb't'nshire)||Stallard, A. W.|
|Holland,S.(L'b'th.Vauxh'll)||Stewart, Rt Hon D.(W Isles)|
|Howell, Rt Hon D.||Summerskill,HonDrShirley|
|Hoyle,Douglas||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)|
|Huckfield,Les||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Thorne,Sten(Preston South)|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Tilley,John|
|Torney,Tom||Williams, Rt Hon A.(S'sea W)|
|Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.||Wilson, Rt Hon Sir H.(H'ton)|
|Wainwright,E.(DearneV,)||Wilson, William (C'trySE)|
|Walker, Rt Hon H.(D'caster)||Winnick,David|
|Welsh,Michael||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|White, Frank R.|
|White, J.(G'gow Pollok)||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Whitehead,Phillip||Mr. Frank Haynes and|
|Whitlock,William||Mr. George Morton.|
|Willey,Rt Hon Frederick|
|Alexander, Richard||Douglas-Hamilton,Lord J.|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Dover,Denshore|
|Alton,David||du Cann, Rt Hon Edward|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Dunn, James A.|
|Aspinwall,Jack||Eden, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (S'thorne)||Eggar,Tim|
|Alkins,Robert(PrestonN)||Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)|
|Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)||Emery, Sir Peter|
|Beaumont-Dark,Anthony||Faith, Mrs Sheila|
|Bendall, Vivian||Fell,Sir Anthony|
|Benyon,W. (Buckingham)||Fisher,Sir Nigel|
|Bevan,David Gilroy||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Biffen,Rt Hon John||Forman, Nigel|
|Biggs-Davison,SirJohn||Fowler, Rt Hon Norman|
|Blaker, Peter||Fraser, Peter (South Angus)|
|Bottomley, Peter(W'wich W)||Gardner, Edward (SFylde)|
|Boyson,DrRhodes||Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian|
|Brittan,Rt. Hon. Leon||Gorst,John|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Gow, Ian|
|Brown, Michael(Brigg&Sc'n)||Grant, John (Islington C)|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Griffiths, E.(B'y St. Edm'ds)|
|Buchanan-Smith, Rt. Hon. A.||Griffiths, Peter Portsm'thN)|
|Butcher,John||Hamilton, Hon A.|
|Butler, Hon Adam||Hamilton,Michael(Salisbury)|
|Carlisle, John (Luton West)||Hannam,John|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon M.(R'c'n)||Hastings,Stephen|
|Cartwright,John||Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael|
|Chalker, Mrs. Lynda||Hayhoe, Barney|
|Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul||Heath, Rt Hon Edward|
|Clark, Sir W.(CroydonS)||Heseltine,Rt HonMichael|
|Clarke, Kenneth(Rushcliffe)||Hicks, Robert|
|Clegg,Sir Walter||Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.|
|Cockeram,Eric||Hogg, Hon Douglas(Gr'th'm)|
|Costain,Sir Albert||Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey|
|Cranborne,Viscount||Howell,Rt Hon D.(G'ldf'd)|
|Critchley,Julian||Howell, Ralph (NNorfolk)|
|Crouch,David||Hunt, David (Wirral)|
|Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas||Mawhinney,DrBnan|
|Irvine, BryantGodman||May hew, Patrick|
|Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick||Meyer,SirAnthony|
|Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillhead)||Miller, Hal (B'grove)|
|Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)|
|Kershaw,Sir Anthony||Mitchell, R. C. (Sotonltchen)|
|King, Rt Hon Tom||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Knox, David||Morris, M. (N'hamptonS)|
|Lamont,Norman||Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)|
|Lang, Ian||Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)|
|Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel||Needham,Richard|
|Lester, Jim (Beeston)||Nott, Rt Hon John|
|Lewis,Kenneth (Rutland)||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo)||Onslow,Cranley|
|Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Oppenheim, Rt Hon MrsS.|
|Loveridge,John||Page, Richard (SWHerts)|
|Luce,Richard||Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil|
|Lyons, Edward (Bradf'dW)||Patten, John (Oxford)|
|MacKay, John (Argyll)||Penhaligon,David|
|Macmillan, Rt Hon M.||Percival,Sirlan|
|McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)||Porter,Barry|
|McQuarrie,Albert||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg|
|Madel, David||Price,SirDavid (Eastleigh)|
|Major,John||Pym, Rt Hon Francis|
|Marshall, Michael (Arunctel)||Rathbone,Tim|
|Marten, Rt Hon Neil||Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)|
|Mates,Michael||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus||Rentom,Tim|
|Mawby, Ray||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Ridley,HonNicholas||Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.|
|Ridsdale,SirJulian||Thomas, Rt Hon Peter|
|Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)||Thompson,Donald|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Thome, Hett(llfordSouth)|
|Rodgers, Rt Hon William||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Rossi, Hugh||Townsend,Cyril D,(B'heath)|
|Royle,SirAnthony||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Rumbold, Mrs A. C. R.||Vaughan,Dr Gerard|
|St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.||Waddington, David|
|Sandelson, Neville||Wainwright,R.(Colne V)|
|Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Wakeham,John|
|Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')||Waldegrave,HonWilliam|
|Shelton,William(Streatham)||Walker, Rt Hon P.(Wcester)|
|Skeet, T. H. H.||Wellbeloved,James|
|Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)||Whitelaw, Rt Hon William|
|Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)||Whitney,Raymond|
|Stewart, A. (ERenfrewshire)||Young, SirGeorge(Acton)|
|Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Stradling Thomas.J.||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Tapsell, Peter||Mr. Anthony Berry and|
|Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman||Mr. Carol Mather.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Main Question put and argeed to.
That this House take note of the Document containing the latest text of the German-Italian proposals on European Union.