HC Deb 11 May 1983 vol 42 cc784-5
51. Mr. Dykes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he plans to meet his counterparts in the Community to discuss future powers for the European Parliament.

Mr. Hurd

No. The role of the European Parliament is covered by the Genscher-Colombo proposals which my right hon. Friend next expects to discuss with his Community colleagues at an informal meeting on 14 and 15 May. The declaration would not involve any change in the powers of the Parliament as laid down in the treaties.

Mr. Dykes

Can my right hon. Friend speculate—although it is not his direct responsibility — why the Labour party is so terrified and scared of the European Parliament and its future development? Does my right hon. Friend agree that, if the European Parliament is encouraged and built up, rather than denigrated, that will help it to work with Britain for the greater good of all, including the Community? The House should have the confidence and courage to give Members of the European Parliament greater official access to this place. That would be of great help.

Mr. Hurd

The last matter is not for me. The Government are in favour of encouraging the European Parliament and its Members to succeed in the job with the powers with which they are entrusted.

Mr. Deakins

Will the Minister confirm that for any extra powers to be given to the European assembly a change is required in the treaties, in accordance with the appropriate procedures set out in them?

Mr. Hurd

Yes, Sir.

Sir Dudley Smith

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the position might be improved if the MEPs of both main parties concentrated on their activities in Strasbourg rather than on seeking seats at Westminster?

Mr. Hurd

That is a matter for those individuals and for those who select and elect candidates.

Mr. Ioan Evans

As we have already handed over our trade and agricultural policies and much of our industrial policy to the Common Market commissioners, does the Minister agree that if the massive unemployment in this country is to be solved Britain must consider abandoning the Treaty of Rome and withdrawing from the EC?

Mr. Hurd

It would be a strange way to tackle unemployment by putting at risk the enormous number of jobs that depend upon our access to the Community.

Mr. Ogden

Will the Minister confirm that the essential purpose put forward by the founders of the European Community, and of our continuing membership of the European Community, is so to knit the peoples, the commonwealth of countries of Europe, together that never again will a world war start in Europe?

Mr. Hurd

The hon. Gentleman is right. The Government will have an opportunity in the next few weeks to remind the public of that truth.

Sir John Biggs-Davison

Is my right hon. Friend aware that he will have widespread support for what he has just said about the European assembly restricting itself to its functions under the treaty? Would it not destroy itself, or at least its reputation, if it tried to do too much and discuss everything under the sun?

Mr. Hurd

I have much sympathy with that remark. The European Parliament has functions and it has shown that it can exercise useful influence within those functions. If it tries to range too wide, it will undermine its reputation.

Mr. Spearing

Will the Minister confirm that, even if a rebate on Britain's budget contribution is offered at Stuttgart, that sum will be subject to the approval of the European assembly?

Mr. Hurd

All of these arrangements have to go through the normal procedures of the Community's institutions.