HC Deb 25 April 1984 vol 58 cc723-5
55. Dr. Godman

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs at what meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council proposals for increased political integration of the European Community have been discussed; and what has been the attitude of the Government to these proposals.

Mr. Rifkind

There has been no discussion of any proposals for increased political integration at recent meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council.

Dr. Godman

As a score or more of British Conservative MEPs recently voted in favour of the Spinelli proposals for closer political integration of the European states, is it now Government policy to work towards closer political integration of the EEC — in other words, a united states of Europe? If a closer political integration of the EEC takes place in future, which would include Spain, how would that affect the sovereignty of Gibraltar?

Mr. Rifkind

I understand that the vote to which the hon. Gentleman referred was a free vote among Conservative Members of the European Parliament and it is for individual Members of the European Parliament to take responsibility for the way in which they voted on that occasion. It is not the Government's policy to work towards a united states of Europe. We have made it clear that access between Spain and Gibraltar must be identical to that between Spain and other parts of the European Community when Spain joins the EEC.

Mr. Stokes

On the question of political integration in Europe, have we had any support at all from any of our partners in the EEC over the Libyan embassy episode?

Mr. Rifkind

I ask my hon. Friend to await the statement of my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary. He will be addressing the House shortly on that matter.

Mr. Rogers

How does the Minister reconcile his answer that the Government are not looking towards the political integration of Europe with the statements made by the Prime Minister on her return from various summit meetings at Dublin, Luxembourg, Stuttgart and Athens, which contain specific proposals and ideas for developing political integration in Europe? Is the Minister not now fully acquainted with what the Prime Minister is doing behind his back?

Mr. Rifkind

There are many areas in which we wish to work towards greater European unity. However, the Government have always made it clear that the concept of a federal Europe — which is what I think the hon. Gentleman's hon. Friend, the Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) was referring to—is not something that commends itself to them.

Mr. Forman

I understand that the prospect of a federal Europe may not be attractive to the Government, but will my hon. Friend tell the House exactly what form of increased political integration the Government do favour?

Mr. Rifkind

There are many areas of political co-operation where greater European unity can be of great value. For example, in many aspects of political co-operation over foreign policy the Community has been able to speak with a single voice. Wherever it is able to do so it carries that much greater authority than any individual Member state of the Community would be able to do on such issues. There may be other areas where closer political co-operation can be of value, not only to Britain, but to the interests of western Europe as a whole.

Mr. Skinner

Is the Minister aware that at this morning's meeting of the national executive committee of the Labour party we came out conclusively against any further moves towards political integration, especially on the ground that the Common Market has cost the British taxpayer £4,000 million in the last 10 years in contributions alone, it has now gone bankrupt, and it is asking for another £1,600 million? How on earth can he get integration when the whole thing is in a state of collapse?

Mr. Rifkind

When the hon. Gentleman refers to a state of collapse, I am not sure whether he is talking about the Community or the Labour party. Whatever problems the European Community may have in trying to achieve unity, they are nothing compared with the attempts of his own party.

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