HC Deb 15 June 1989 vol 154 cc1120-2
Q5. Mr. Leigh

To ask the Prime Minister if she has received representations regarding the European Commission.

The Prime Minister

I receive a number of such representations.

Mr. Leigh

Whatever else divides the two major parties, is not one thing crystal clear, and comes out in representations concerning the European Community? It is that the overwhelming majority of the House insists that this House, representing the people as it does, must retain its untrammelled power over taxation. Were we to subscribe to a central European bank or a common currency, the House would lose the right, uniquely sustained over many centuries, democratically to control economic policy. Is that not why public opinion in this country is so different from that in other parts of the Community?

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend that the ability to run monetary, economic and fiscal policy lies at the heart of what constitutes a sovereign state. I very much agree with him that the rights and powers of national Governments and Parliaments in these matters must be preserved. That is what this Parliament is for. We must resist the constant centralising tendency of the European Community.

Mr. Spearing

Is the Prime Minister aware that the House has made representations to the Government about the Commission's proposals for all-European television rules? is she aware also that at 3 am on Tuesday the House debated those rules, when it became clear that the decision whether a certain pornographic television channel which is transmitted in a member state, which I shall not name, becomes a legal transmission in Britain will be made by a majority vote? When the Prime Minister placed the Single European Act before the House, was she misled by others about its possible effects and potential? Was the right hon. Lady misled by the Commission or the Foreign Office, or is there some other explanation for this extraordinary state of affairs?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman knows full well that there is nothing misleading about the Single European Act. Greater majority voting in some spheres was clearly on the face of the Act, and he knows that. There is a question about interpretation with regard to one or two matters. Unanimous voting on certain matters was also clearly on the face of the Act. The hon. Gentleman knows that full well.

The hon. Gentleman knows that the Government have done more than any other to try to raise television quality standards, and hitherto we have had precious little help from the Opposition in so doing.

Sir Ian Lloyd

On 27 June nearly 40 years ago, the then Leader of the Opposition, in his matchless prose, made a declaration on behalf of the Conservative and Liberal parties that national sovereignty is not inviolable, and that it may be resolutely diminished for the sake of all the men in all the lands finding their way home together."—[Official Report, 27 June 1950; Vol. 476, c. 2159.] When my right hon. Friend discusses these extremely important matters with her colleagues in the Community, will she consider not the unregenerate idealism of someone such as myself, who matters little, but the important idealism of the young people of Britain and elsewhere in Europe, who should be inspired by the idealism of the founding fathers, who have far to travel and who have not yet found their way home?

The Prime Minister

Every time we sign a treaty of international agreement we are voluntarily engaging in a certain pooling of sovereignty. That has been so almost ever since Parliament began and the first treaty was signed. When we went into the Common Market we agreed to pool our sovereignty on such things as the common agricultural policy. Hitherto it was negotiated completely through Europe. We agreed to pool all our rights in trading with other nations and henceforth the Community conducted our trading negotiations through the Community and the Commission. There are other occasions where one pools one's sovereignty. To revert to what I was asked about earlier, taxation policy, economic policy and monetary policy go to the heart of the rights of this place, to the heart of representations by the people and to control of the Executive, and that is one of the reasons why the House exists.

Mr. Tony Banks

What pathetic, miserable and whingeing excuses is the Prime Minister going to offer the country for her party's humiliation in the Euro polls today?

The Prime Minister

I know that all our supporters will come out and vote strongly for our sort of Europe. I note that Opposition Members were not sufficiently confident in the results to come and question me in the House this afternoon. They had to run away. They felt that if they did not do so their supporters might not come out.

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