HC Deb 19 December 1991 vol 201 cc477-556

Order read for resuming adjourned debate on amendment to Question 18 December]: That this House congratulates the Prime Minister on achieving all the negotiating objectives set out in the motion that was supported by the House on 21st November; and warmly endorses the agreement secured by the Government at Maastricht.—[The Prime Minister.]

Which amendment was: to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: whilst welcoming the fact that the United Kingdom became a signatory at Maastricht to an agreement which represents an historic step towards a federal Europe, regrets that the Prime Minister, by insisting on opt-out arrangements for the United Kingdom on Economic and Monetary Union and the Social Chapter, rather than negotiating improvements, has left Britain semi-detached from Europe, obliged every citizen to pay a price for the divisions within the Conservative Party and damaged the prospects for Britain's long-term economic and political success."—[Mr. Ashdown.]

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

Mr. Speaker

Before we proceed to the debate, I should say to the House that there are over 60 right hon. and hon. Members seeking to participate, 11 of whom sat throughout yesterday's debate until 2 am. I hope that the House will feel it fair if I give precedence to those hon. Members in the debate today.

Mr. Andrew Rowe(Mid-Kent)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. This is about questions.

Mr. Speaker

Well, we have moved on.

Mr. Rowe

But you asked us to sit here until after the statements.

Mr. Speaker

Well, I will take it, but it takes time from the speeches of other hon. Members.

Mr. Rowe

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It appeared to me today in Question Time that there was a change in your practice and I wonder whether you would explain it.

Mr. Speaker

I would not be prepared to do that anyway, so we may deal with that in another location.

I should announce to the House that, sadly, I shall have to put a limit of 10 minutes on speeches between 7 and 9 o'clock. I urge hon. Members who are called before that time to bear that limit in mind, as happened last night. I am not in favour of an imposed 10-minute limit, as I think the whole House knows. I much prefer a voluntary discretion, and I hope that the limit will be observed throughout today.

4.53 pm
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Douglas Hurd)

Perhaps I am not entirely alone in feeling that the House has been debating Europe more or less continuously for 15 months. The discussion will go on, but I hope that tonight the House will come to a conclusion on the motion before it, as that will match in importance the conclusions, which some of us remember, that were reached in 1971 and 1972. I shall deal briefly with the three parts of the new treaty on which yesterday's debate concentrated—the single currency and the bank, the social chapter, and the common foreign and security policy. The House may like to know the Government's view on these before tonight's vote.

I shall first say a word about the vote tonight, and about a point on which my right hon. Friend the Lord President has already touched—the mystery of the missing amendment. I always thought that one of the main aims of the Labour party was to prevent the Liberal Democrats from being portrayed as the Opposition. However, tonight we shall be voting first on an amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown). Where, on the Order Paper, there was a place for the views of the official Opposition, there is a blank.

I am sure that they tried. I can imagine the scene around the shadow Cabinet table. It is not as if there is any shortage of policies for them to choose from—indeed, there is an embarrassment of riches. There would have been papers scattered all over the table and they would have been asking themselves, "Is it Gaitskell 1961 anti? Which of Lord Wilson's three policies should we choose—the pro, the anti or the pro? Shall we choose the anti policy of the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot)? Which of the policies of the present Leader of the Opposition shall we choose, the anti or the pro?"

If their filing system were any good. they would have found powerful speeches in favour of all these policies, all written by the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman). They reached the conclusion they did because today none of those policies would have attracted more than a fraction of the parliamentary Labour party. Therefore, any attempt to define what the Labour party stood for on the European question was doomed to failure.

In the past few weeks, we have seen our party come together. [HoN. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Did nobody listen to the speeches of my hon. Friends the Members for Thanet, South (Mr. Aitken) and for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor)? They show what I mean. However, as we came together, the official Opposition split apart. Only one thing could unite them tonight, and that is what they have—a summons to a completely empty, expressionless, negative vote advocated yesterday, as it no doubt will be today, with the maximum amount of noise.

The Leader of the Opposition learned yesterday from what we shall kindly call his disaster in the debate immediately before Maastricht. In that debate, as we clearly remember all too well, he was repeatedly torpedoed as he tried to analyse the negotiations. Yesterday, he reminded me of one of those warships in classical times that never ventured out of sight of land. He never ventured on to the substance of the negotiations, except once, when he was immediately mauled on the social chapter by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Employment. He scuttled back into the shallows after that, loudly applauded, as he is today, by his supporters, who are divided on every aspect of the European question except the need to applaud their leader and his noisy generalities.

I shall pick up the point that the Leader of the Opposition made yesterday about economic and monetary union. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor will deal with that issue tonight, but the Leader of the Opposition made an important point on it towards the end of his speech. In his peroration. talking about economic and monetary union and the social chapter, he said: British influence over both has now diminished; the gap has widened. After the passage of stage, Britain will he faced with a structure that others have fashioned. That cannot be in British interests."—[Official Report, 18 December 1991; Vol. 201, c. 297.] That shows that the right hon. Gentleman still does not understand one of the crucial points, perhaps the crucial point, of the negotiations and of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's achievement. We do, and we shall, take a full part in the preparation of stage 3 as well as stage 2. The ability to play a full part in the shaping of the future while preserving fully the freedom of the House to decide whether to join in stage 3 is one of the most significant achievements at Maastricht.

The Leader of the Opposition challenged my right hon. Friend the Chancellor to come to the House after convergence had been achieved and in any circumstances argue that Britain should stay out of the single bank and the single currency. He showed a touching faith in my right hon. Friend's length of tenure in his present office, which I am sure will be justified.

But the challenge makes no sense. It is not a bad rule of politics to take decisions at the right time if one can—when they have to be taken and when the facts are clear. It is better to take decisions then rather than six, seven or eight years earlier, when all that is known is that, in six, seven or eight years's time, the economic and political arguments will be different from those of today.

That was the point made by the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) in the "Walden" interview, about which the Leader of the Opposition was so extraordinarily defensive yesterday. That is the point that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor made repeatedly, and that is the point which British business has made. So far from criticising the Maastricht agreement on the grounds that the Leader of the Opposition criticised it, British business and the City have welcomed it. It is a remarkable negotiating achievement on the part of my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Chancellor—I can say this because I had no part in the negotiations—to have secured a full part for Britain in the shaping of the future of economic and monetary union and at the same time full freedom for the Government and the House in 1996, or whenever the right moment comes, to decide whether to take part.

Another theme that ran through yesterday's debate was that of the social chapter. I shall summarise, but I do not think that I shall in any way distort, the Leader of the Opposition's argument, in which he was followed considerably during the debate by those on the Benches behind him. He thought that the draft treaty, as it was before us at the beginning of last week, on the social chapter and the declaration which he read out, offered sufficient safeguards against the dangers which the Government and the leader of the Liberal Democrats feared, and which led us in the end to decide that we would not accept that chapter.

However, the right hon. Gentleman did not notice that the declaration that he was quoting covered only one of the methods of legislation provided. When that ace of trumps turned out to be a two of clubs, he simply charged on. But it is a crucial point.

The issue here is philosophical and practical. [ Interruption] I am trying to get to the heart of the disagreement between the two parties on the social chapter.

Mr. Frank Cook (Stockton, North)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hurd

I shall deal with the social chapter, then I shall give way.

Mr. Cook

On that point.

Mr. Hurd

In that case, the hon. Gentleman can wait until I have made my point; then I shall give way to him, and he can make his.

We were. faced in those paragraphs with a concept which we find unacceptable—that there should be a special status of some kind for discussions and agreements reached in a corporatist way between organised labour and organised management but purporting to cover the whole area of employment. It is said that we are in some way behind the times because we do not find that acceptable. Our difficulty is that the British people have visited and lived with that philosophy in the recent past—25, 20. 15 years ago. It may suit others—we are not saying that it does not—but it does not work here, and we do not like it.

The practical point flows from the philosophical point. The agreement of the 11. which the Leader of the Opposition praised, would cover a wide range of categories—working conditions and the consultation of workers. But when one sees what use or misuse the Commission makes of its present competence on health and safety matters, heaven knows what it would make of a wider competence on those matters if it got hold of them.

Having carefully studied yesterday's Hansard, I want to underline the point that my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Employment made. There is no provision or procedure for the proposed discussions between organised labour and management in what we declined to accept. There is certainly no requirement that conclusions should be unanimous.

Therefore, it is true, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said, that either British management or British workers, or British management and British workers, could be outvoted in the Community discussions, and the resulting measure under the proposal which the Leader of the Opposition would accept could be waved through the Council by qualified majority voting against the wishes of the British Government. Qualified majority voting could therefore result in measures within the area described, which could have been opposed by British management and trade unions and the Government, being imposed on Britain.

To summarise the argument, it follows that if, on Tuesday afternoon last week, we had swallowed paragraph 118 of the treaty before us, we would have threatened to undermine the responsibilities of British management and trade unions and the British Government, and therefore the House. The case made against that by the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues does not stand up against our experiences and the text with which we were confronted. In view of the history of the matter and the Government's sustained and successful policies, the decision that we took, although reluctantly, was inevitable.

Mr. Frank Cook

Would the Foreign Secretary care to tell the House and the nation this afternoon in words that the nation will understand why the much-vaunted level playing field which is to be so advantageous and beneficial to the captains of British industry should be denied to the other important members of the team, the British working man and woman?

Mr. Hurd

That simply illustrates the difference between the two parties. We do not believe that the interests of our constituents, the interests of British working people, are best served by giving organised management and labour a privileged position and asking them to take provisions to make suggestions across the whole area of employment. We believe in a more flexible system. Britain has more part-time workers, and we are moving towards more localised bargaining. That, we have learnt during the past 12 years, is the right way for Britain.

Successive Governments, Conservative and Labour, experimented in good faith with the kind of approach which was before us last Tuesday. Efforts in good faith were repeatedly made, but they repeatedly failed. The progress that we made over the past 12 years is undoubted, and we do not intend to put it at risk in the way that the right hon. Gentleman asks us to do.

Mr. Norman Tebbit (Chingford)


Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)


Mr. Henry Bellingham (Norfolk, North-West)


Mr. Hurd

I want to make a little progress, and then I will give way.—[Interruption.] I will give way to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Tebbit

I agree with every word that my right hon. Friend has just said, but he is relying on arguments of experience and points of view. Would he not be wise to rely also on the argument so brilliantly made by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn)—that it is not a matter of whether one would secure better maternity leave or creches from Madame Thatcher or from Madame Papandreou, but of whether one could sack Madame Thatcher or Madame Papandreou if one disagreed with their policies?

Mr. Hurd

I intended to give way to my right hon. Friend later, on foreign policy—but now I shall not be able to do that. I entirely agree with his point. Such matters do not need to be settled on a European or Community basis, but can—compatible with the level playing field—be settled on a national basis, in line with national traditions and experiences.

Mr. Bellingham

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, if employees in this country are to benefit, we should encourage inward investment? Will he remind the House of Jacques Delors's remark that the package resulted from the negotiations with the British Government?

Mr. Hurd

I do not know how far our 11 partners will go, in reaching agreements under the protocol that they agreed, in putting at risk their competitiveness with Japan and the United States. They are aware of that danger. I have just read a speech by the Spanish Prime Minister to the Cortes in which, in rebuking or calling into question the policy of Spanish trade unions, he referred rather enviously to the evident success of British policies in that regard.

I naturally took a particularly close interest in those speeches made yesterday that related to foreign policy. The treaty that we agreed provides, as now, for co-operation in foreign policy between Governments. It provides also, but still on the basis of work between Governments, for binding joint action where all Governments agree.

There is no restriction on the action of national Governments unless they agree to such a restriction by accepting joint action in a particular sphere. The decisions under that heading are unanimous, except in any cases where everybody agrees by unanimity that particular points could be settled by qualified majority voting.

That is a satisfactory outcome for the United Kingdom. We resisted strong pressures to bring the whole subject under Community competence and to have more general acceptance of qualified majority voting. Some speakers in yesterday's debate, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit), are sceptical and suspicious of that process. The case argued by my right hon. Friend, and also by the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), is, in a way, the most difficult from my point of view, because Monday's discussion was very difficult. However, I will cite Yugloslavia in order to illustrate my general point.

As to the recognition of Yugoslav republics, my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford was not correct. There is no reason why he should follow my statements and utterances on Yugoslavia, but if he had done so, he would know that there is no clash of principle. The argument was about timing. I said that in The Times on 3 December. and added that recognition of Croatia and Slovenia might not be far off. I dealt with the arguments of substance during Question Time yesterday, and I will not repeat them all.

From Monday's long and difficult discussion emerged a compromise based on conditional recognition of republics that apply for recognition and follow the conditions that we laid down, with an implementation date of 15 January 1992. There is no legal obligation involved, and certainly no majority voting. The alternative to that compromise among the Foreign Ministers of the Twelve was clear to all who sat around that table—the unconditional recognition of at least two republics by Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, and a number of countries outside the Community.

There was criticism of that compromise in yesterday's debate by right hon. and hon. Members who thought that recognition was being made too slowly, and by others who thought that it was coming too fast. Leaving aside the merits of timing, I ask the House to contemplate the alternative. The alternative would have been a step back to the old system, under which each European power of any size had in the east of our continent its rival clients in Governments, in the streets, and eventually on the battlefields of the Balkans. That system led to the most awful war in Europe's history.

Under the new system, we thrash out our differences around a table and agree, where we can reach agreement, to act jointly—and to hold to that action. I readily concede that it is not at all easy to operate, but it becomes easier as we learn from experience and accept the discipline of working together. I am certain that it is right to adopt and to strengthen that new system, and to do our utmost to make it work. That I so intend.

The next test is upon us immediately. It arises from the Soviet Union's daily disintegration.

Mr. William Cash (Stafford)

Bearing in mind the Community's hopeless record in respect of the Gulf war and the comments made yesterday by my hon. Friend the Minister of State about the United Nations Security Council, how does my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State reconcile the provisions of article 4e of the union treaty—which require Britain as a matter of duty to defend the position and interests of the union where a joint decision is adopted—with those of article 27 of the United Nations charter. which preserves to us absolute discretion, and in certain cases a duty. in exercising a veto?

Does not my right hon. Friend anticipate that confusion could arise, with the prospect of endangering world peace and stability? In similar circumstances, such confusion could have led to Saddam Hussein continuing to occupy Kuwait.

Mr. Hurd

I do not sec that happening at all. The French and ourselves worked carefully and thoroughly on that point. Article 4e makes a specific reference to the fact that the arrangements described therein must be compatible with our duties as permanent members of the Security Council. I do not see any difficulty about that.

As at present with the case of Yugoslavia, there are three EC members of the Security Council—two permanent and one elected. The line that we take in New York of course reflects the discussions and conclusions reached by the Twelve around the table. However, the statutory position of the British and French regarding the United Nations charter has been fully safeguarded. I do not see that there will he any difficulty in practice in that regard.

I refer again to the massive problems of the Soviet Union. The last days of that institution are clearly at hand. Since arriving at the House this afternoon, I have received reports that President Yeltsin has taken control of the Kremlin and has dissolved the Foreign Ministry of the Soviet Union. We are consulting our allies and partners. Because of the daily disintegration of the Soviet Union, NATO Ministers are meeting in Brussels today. I shall be going there tonight, and talking to the United States Secretary of State tomorrow.

The way in which things are moving suggests that we should proceed to the early recognition—as indepenent countries—of those Soviet republics that sort out their relations with each other. There is an important meeting in Kazakhstan this weekend to extend that process.

At their summit meeting in Rome last month, NATO's Heads of Government agreed that it was for the peoples of the Soviet Union to decide their future relationships, through peaceful and democratic means. The NATO leaders also underlined the importance of the international commitments of the Soviet Union and its republics over nuclear weapons and conventional forces, as well as human rights for the individual and for minority groups. We have received important assurances on those points, and we shall be looking for more.

As for the case of Russia, and the important issue—related to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash)—of the permanent seat on the Security Council, one possibility is for the seat to remain occupied by the representative from Moscow, on the basis that Russia is the continuation of the Soviet Union. That may he the most orderly solution—I stress the word "may". There is a precedent in the India of 1947: a country reduced in size, but, it was said, maintaining its international attributes.

The House will recognise that a huge set of problems is involved. This is not the occasion on which to debate them in detail. Today and tomorrow, we shall be acting together with our allies and our partners in the European Community. Clearly it is important that, as far as possible, solid and concerted action is taken, so that we can do what we can, first, to safeguard our own national, western and European interests, and, secondly, to exercise any influence that we can to pull the republics back from the abyss into which they will fall unless the new discussions and arrangements that are in hand mature and succeed.

Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)

May I make a point about the issue of the seat on the United Nations Security Council? The Foreign Secretary will be aware of the widespread suspicion in the non-Russian republics—from Kazakhstan to Ukraine—that Mr. Yeltsin is simply trying to substitute a Russian imperialism for the old Soviet imperialism. That is one reason that the republics have given for wishing to retain control of their nuclear weapons, at least for the time being, rather than sending them back to Russia or submitting them to sole control by that country.

Does not the Foreign Secretary agree that it would be absolutely disastrous for western Governments—without consulting the other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States—to recognise Russia as the inheritor of the Soviet seat, thereby nullifying the discussions that they have all said should take place on how the question should be resolved? Surely it is primarily a question for the member states in the CIS.

Mr. Hurd

Of course there will need to be consultation and discussion, but the right hon. Gentleman has not taken into account the importance of finding a solution. There are other possibilities: there is, for example, the possibility that the commonwealth of only three republics that was envisaged at the Minsk meeting could achieve some legal entity and, by itself, take over the seat on the Security Council. But, if the report that I have just given the House is true, there will be no Ministry of Foreign Affairs to back that up. The Soviet Ministry at the centre, which could have sustained that Security Council representative, will have evaporated.

Of course, the right hon. Member for Leeds, East is right. Consultation and discussion are needed inside the republics of the Soviet Union, and that is taking place. Ukraine is already a member of the United Nations, and our political director, Mr. Appleyard, has received reasonably promising assurances in the republics that he has visited in the past week; but, as I have said, much more discussion is needed before firm decisions can be reached.

Mr. Rowe

My right hon. Friend will know that the parliamentary assembly of the Western European Union is considerably frustrated by its anxiety to resolve the growing tensions between minorities throughout eastern Europe and its capacity to act. The assembly greatly welcomes the fact that European Community Ministers and others have got together.

Will my right hon. Friend explain his attitude to the real difficulty concerning boundaries? Many minorities would vote for independence within those minorities, but that would set at naught the policy of recognising existing boundaries. It is a difficult conflict. Would my right hon. Friend be kind enough to comment on it?

Mr. Hurd

It is indeed. That question runs through much of the argument about Yugoslavia—and not only Yugoslavia. I am sure that the right answer—the one to which we have all subscribed—is that we cannot accept the alteration of boundaries by force. Within the existing boundaries, clearer and stronger definitions of the rights of minority groups are needed. I believe that that combination of working within existing boundaries and guaranteeing the rights of minority groups offers a better hope than encouraging minorities to bring about boundary alterations by means of force. A great deal of bloodshed and anarchy lies down that second road.

Sir Michael McNair-Wilson (Newbury)

Is my right hon. Friend saying that there is no British foreign policy on Yugoslavia independent of Europe, or that our policy is so close to that of other Community members that we have decided to sublimate it?

Mr. Hurd

I am saying that, if we wish to influence for the better what happens in Yugoslavia, the Government have concluded that it is best to do so by seeking and then implementing agreements among the Twelve. There is no sensible prospect of British influence for good in Yugoslavia if that influence is in rivalry or contradiction with the influence of other European powers. That is a national conclusion. We were not bound to reach it by any treaty, let alone by any majority vote; it is simply a view, which I am sure is correct.

If we wish to do what we can to help forward peace in Yugoslavia and a lasting solution between its peoples, our best hope of doing so is to work with our Community partners. That is the view of the United States and the United Nations, and of others who are concentrating on the issue.

As the House recognises, the discussions and negotiations that took place at Maastricht represent the end of a long process—a long haul. I think that it is fair to say that we gained what we set out to gain. Hon. Members on both sides of the House see clearly, and accept without quibble, the need for Europeans to work together: that last exchange provides just one example. Europeans need to work together more intensively, across a growing range of subjects. We committed ourselves to that at Maastricht.

Through the treaty of Maastricht, we have established that that working together does not have to be within the institutions of the Community, with the Commission having the monopoly of initiative and with the results under the jurisdiction of the European Court. Now, we must prove the architecture of pillars—as it has often been described—that we have secured: in other words, we must prove to ourselves, our partners and the world that co-operation between Governments can be just as effective and just as European as action within the Community's institutions.

I have always believed, and have sometimes said in recent years, that there is a good majority for that policy in our party, in the House and in the country. What was uncertain was whether we could pull it off and bring that policy to a successful conclusion. Some hon. Members, including some of my hon. Friends, feared that we would be sucked into making immediate concessions or into postponed commitments to a centralised system. Others feared that, if we stuck to what we had said, we would not get an agreement. Certainly there were doubtful moments. I was not at all sure until late last Tuesday evening, on the second day of the Maastricht conference, that we would get an agreement.

I paid tribute in his absence to the negotiating skills of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but our success at Maastricht was due principally to the patient and courteous strength of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in his dealings with the House and our partners in Europe. We have to make the agreement work; we have the will to make it work; we have the wherewithal to make it work. British interests lie in the success of Europe. We want it to be enlarged, as the Prime Minister set out yesterday. Our commitment is to the success of Europe. It is as strong as the commitment of anyone else in the Community. I hope that the House will sustain and reinforce the Government in that commitment. I commend the motion to the House.

5.30 pm
Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton)

The Foreign Secretary referred to the situation in the Soviet Union. I put it to him that in the discussions as to who should take over the seat of the declining and departing Soviet Union in the Security Council, the Government. together with the other Governments who are permanent members of the Security Council, should be extremely cautious and not precipitate in coming to a conclusion. The right hon. Gentleman drew an analogy with the position in India in 1947, but it was not an exact analogy because India is not a permanent member of the Security Council. We are dealing with the question of accepting into the Security Council a permanent member with the right to veto. Again I put it to the right hon. Gentleman that hasty and precipitate action will not favour peace in the world and that we should take our time and consult our allies and partners.

The Foreign Secretary seemed to be a great deal more comfortable when dealing with the broader theme of the situation in the Soviet Union than he was when dealing with the precise subject of Maastricht. We always enjoy it when the Foreign Secretary makes one of his rare ventures into party politics. as he did at the beginning of his speech. However, having taken into account the nature, quality and substance of what he said. I would recommend him to return to the soporific tone that has made the House so fond of him.

The Foreign Secretary began by saying that the aim of the Labour party is to prevent the Liberal party from being portrayed as the real Opposition. However, the Labour party's intention is that within a matter of months the Opposition shall be the Conservative party.

Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Kaufman

In a little while. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to develop my theme. Then I shall give way to him.

The Foreign Secretary dealt with narrow points in those parts of his speech which he devoted to Maastricht, to which I shall return, but he did not deal with how we test the Government's success, or otherwise, at Maastricht. There are two tests by which to judge whether the outcome at Maastricht was a success. First, was the Maastricht agreement good for the European Community and, secondly, was the Maastricht agreement good for the United Kingdom? One could go further and say that the Maastricht agreement is good for Britain only if it is also good for Europe.

The United Kingdom is a country with many strengths, resources and talents. During the nearly 19 years that we have been a member of the European Community, our future has become indissolubly linked with that a the Community. We, the United Kingdom, cannot be strong if the Community is weak. We cannot claim to have achieved strength if our actions have weakened the Community or made the Community weaker than it might otherwise be.

There may have been many worthwhile achievements at Maastricht, but the summit cannot be counted an unqualified success for the Community. Agreements were made, often by compromise, as is the custom of the Community, but on some issues the Community did not reach what I would regard as completely desirable agreements—for example, on the Commission. It is a pity that full accountability of the Commission was neither proposed nor agreed at Maastricht. On two issues, one of the most important countries—the United Kingdom—opted out of the Maastricht outcome.

The Prime Minister came back claiming that he had won everything that he went to Maastricht to get. In his speech yesterday he said that he had achieved his goals in every respect. Game, set and match was his claim. In his speech today the Foreign Secretary said of what took place at Maastricht that we gained what we set out to gain. If one examines the Government's negotiating objectives, it is clear that, on issue after issue, the Government did not achieve what they went to Maastricht to achieve. Ministers—including the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary—have been incautious enough to set out criteria, conditions and even ultimata about what they wanted from Maastricht, yet on issue after issue what they wanted they did not get and what they got they did not want.

Mr. Marlow

The right hon. Gentleman criticises the Government for what he calls opting out of two areas of policy. The right hon. Gentleman is aware of the fact that under the health and safety competence we are going to be foisted with a 48-hour week, which has got nothing to do with health and safety. On that basis, the right hon. Gentleman will be aware that the social charter could make a snack of our industrial relations legislation. Is he naive, or does he want to see Arthur Scargill's tanks in Parliament square again?

Mr. Kaufman

I shall deal with those matters in the precise order that I believe it to be sensible to take them.

In our debate on the Community on 26 June this year, the Foreign Secretary expressed his opposition to new Community competencies. He said that he was against them, yet last week both he and the Prime Minister agreed to a treaty that includes numerous new competencies for the Community. They include education, public health, culture and something that the right hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) referred to yesterday as trans-European networks. That was a violation of what the Foreign Secretary told the House that he wanted in June.

The Prime Minister expressed his distaste for another item. In the debate on 20 November he said that immigration matters should be decided on an intergovernmental basis and should be outside the treaty, yet at Maastricht the Prime Minister agreed to a treaty article which includes conditions about visa qualifications and requirements. What is more, he agreed that some of those items should be decided by qualified majority voting. Game, set and match?

In that same speech the Prime Minister said that any blocking power for the European Parliamen must cover a far narrower range than that set out in the present Presidency text."—[Official Report, 20 November 1991; Vol. 199, c. 279.] Yet at Maastricht the Prime Minister signed a treaty article which was word for word the text that the Prime Minister had rejected only three weeks before. Game, set and match?

Ministers have a long record of rejecting extensions to qualified majority voting. In November last year the Foreign Secretary, speaking to the Confederation of British Industry, said that the Government were opposed to what he called significantly extended qualified majority voting. The Minister of State, the hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones), who was bobbing up and down like a yo-yo yesterday but is absent today, repeated that objection when he told the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs on 19 November that the Government opposed qualified majority voting on the environment.

On 3 December this year the Prime Minister told my hon. Friend the Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Enright) that he had "great difficulty" with co-operation being replaced by majority voting. Yet the Government have not only accepted majority voting on visa matters, but in the Maastricht agreement they accepted a treaty which includes qualified majority voting on the environment, to which the Minister of State said that the Government were opposed. They also accepted qualified majority voting on all the new competencies included in the treaty—those which the Prime Minister said that he did not want in the treaty. Game, set and match?

On no issue have the Government been firmer in rejecting qualified majority voting than on foreign policy. In the debate on 26 June the Foreign Secretary rejected what he called

mechanical or forced agreement through the use of majority voting in foreign policy."—[Official Report, 26 June 1991; Vol. 193, c. 1016.] In the debate on the Loyal Address the Foreign Secretary said: My clear instinct is that a weakening of co-operation would result from qualified majority voting on substantive foreign policy decisions, however qualified the voting may be."—[Official Report, 1 November 1991; Vol. 198, c. 124] On 21 November the Chancellor of the Exchequer repeated that foreign policy cannot be subject to mechanistic voting procedures".—[Official Report, 21 November 1991; Vol. 199 c. 512.] Yet at Maastricht the Government signed a treaty which includes specific provisions for qualified majority voting on foreign and security matters.

Mr. Quentin Davies (Stamford and Spalding)

The right hon. Gentleman has enumerated various so-called concessions by the Government. Has it ever occurred to him that, when one is conducting international negotiations and one wants some concessions from the other side, it is a good idea to play hard ball on some matters on which one is happy to give ground in order to gain the real concessions that one wants? If it had not occurred to the right hon. Gentleman that that is how one conducts international negotiations, he would not be a suitable person to conduct them.

Mr. Kaufman

Apart from the last comment, which I reject for personal reasons, I accept what the hon. Gentleman said. However, he did not explain why the Prime Minister said that he had achieved his goals in every respect and why the Foreign Secretary, a few minutes ago, said that the Government had gained what they set out to gain. It is one thing to be flexible in negotiations, but it is another, having given way on issue after issue, to claim that the Government have gained everything that they wanted to gain.

In our debate last month the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher)—I am sorry that she is not in her place today—devoted special attention to majority voting on foreign policy. She expressed her fears that the Foreign Secretary might be "going a bit wobbly" on the subject. Now, the Foreign Secretary has done a definite wobble. He has agreed to what the right hon. Lady feared that he might agree to, but was beginning to hope that he might not. Is the right hon. Lady still concerned? For a time it seemed that she was not. When the Prime Minister returned from Maastricht last week the right hon. Lady said that she was "absolutely thrilled" with the agreement—majority voting on foreign policy and all. I did not know that the right hon. Lady thrilled so easily. I thought that she was made of sterner stuff. I am sure that by now the right hon. Lady has become unthrilled again. When the right hon. Member for Chingford was speaking about foreign policy in yesterday's debate she was nodding her head like one of those dogs that people put on the ledge in the back of their car.

Mr. Hurd

My right hon. Friend the Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) might have studied the provisions of the treaty more carefully than the right hon. Gentleman, who has just given a misleading account of the matter to the House. He will know, and if he had listened to my speech he would have heard again, that qualified majority voting on foreign policy would be permitted only if all member states agreed by unanimity in advance. That is a double lock that is entirely consistent with what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I have told the House.

Mr. Kaufman

I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman studies a little more carefully the treaty to which he has put the country's name. I am referring to article c of Provisions on a common foreign and security policy", particularly to the declaration on page 106, which says: Member states will, with regard to Council decisions requiring unanimity, to the extent possible avoid to prevent a unanimous decision where a qualified majority exists in favour of that decision. That is what the right hon. Gentleman has put his name to.

If the right hon. Member for Finchley was concerned about Community competence on foreign policy, she was perhaps even more concerned about defence. On that subject she had the right to hope that the Government would not disappoint her. After all, in June the Foreign Secretary said: Defence should not be embraced by the European Community…any European defence identity must he distinct from the Community".—[Official Report, 26 June 1991; Vol. 193. c. 1011.] One of his ministerial colleagues told the House: We do not believe that the common foreign and security policy…should be expanded to include defence."—[Official Report, 19 March 1991; Vol. 188, c. 94.] Nothing could have been clearer. Yet, article d of the Maastricht treaty says: The common foreign and security policy shall include all questions related to the security of the European union. including the eventual framing of a common defence policy which might in time lead to a common defence. That is what the right hon. Gentleman signed after having told the House that Defence should not be embraced by the European Community. Game, set and match? That is what the Prime Minister signed and it is one of the objectives that he said he had achieved in every respect.

On one of the subjects on which the Government opted out, or, in the Chancellor's new phraseology, did not opt in or have not opted in so far, the Prime Minister caved in. Last month the Government made it clear that on the single currency they wanted at Maastricht a general opt-out clause for all 12 Community countries. No. 10 Downing street announced on 2 November: We think it is much more sensible to have a general opt out. That is what the Prime Minister wanted from Maastricht, and what he did not get.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister described that defeat in a peculiar way. He said that Britain had won a "unique right" not to join the single currency. The problem was that the right hon. Gentleman had set out for Maastricht determined not to have a "unique right" to opt out of the single currency. It is as though, at the declaration of the poll, the Tory candidate in Langbaurgh had said that his objective had been a "unique right" to come second. I do not know how much success of this kind any man can stand!

Mr. Roger Knapman (Stroud)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Kaufman


On Wednesday last week, after the conclusion of the Maastricht summit, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry declared: The Foreign Secretary's job this week has been to sell his grandmother—for the best possible price. It is true that the Foregin Secretary set out to sell, if not his grandmother, then another lady—much younger, of course. He sold her, but the price was not very good.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister boasted that he did not change his position. He said that we did not change our position at the very end of the negotiations."—[Official Report, 18 December 1991; Vol. 201, c. 276.] I cannot fault that—the Prime Minister changed his position time after time in the middle of the negotiations.

On all these issues, the Community survived the negative attitudes of the Government. It has emerged stronger from Maastricht. On economic and monetary union, it is Britain that has emerged vulnerable. On the social chapter, the Government have damaged the Community because, although the other 11 will proceed without us, a single market of 12 is inevitably flawed if only 11 agree to the protections for employed people that are required in all 12 countries. Those protections are certainly needed. A European Community report published this week shows that Britain has the highest proportion of low-paid workers in the whole Community. Although low pay itself may not be part of the social chapter, low standards are inevitable companions of low pay.

Sheer dogma drove the Prime Minister to opt out of the social chapter. Already, the Government have had to begin paying the price for that opt-out. The Prime Minister got the opt-out because of the grace and favour of Chancellor Kohl. On Monday this week, the German Government began cashing the cheques that the British Government owed them for that favour. That is why the Foreign Secretary—against his will and against his wiser instincts—was dragged along behind the German Government in agreeing a date for recognition of the Yugoslav republics.

Mr. Knapman

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Kaufman


In doing so, the right hon. Gentleman defied not only his own wiser instincts but the advice of the United Nations. As he reminded us today, we hold a permanent place on the Security Council.

In the run-up to Maastricht, the Foreign Secretary said that he was against qualified majority voting on foreign policy, although he has now accepted qualified majority voting on foreign policy. On Yugoslavia, there was no vote—qualified majority or otherwise. On Yugoslavia, the Foreign Secretary gave in to a minority view—the German view—in the ministerial council. That was his unwise pay-out in foreign policy for an unjustified opt-out on social policy.

The Foreign Secretary and his colleagues were aware that they could suffer serious political damage from their refusal to extend the protections of the social chapter to employed people. That is why the Government, including the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, have resorted to imaginative fiction in their efforts to avert political damage. First, they claimed that Britain's adherence to the social chapter would place jobs at risk. It is touching to find the Chancellor worried about losing jobs in Britain. He was the man who said that unemployment was a price well worth paying. Yesterday, the Prime Minister said: The Government will not support proposals that would destroy jobs".—[Offficial Report, 18 December 1991; Vol. 201, c. 280.] That is the man who, we learn today, has destroyed 806,900 jobs during his period of office at No. 10 Downing street. On unemployment, the tears shed by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer make a crocodile seem sincere.

Then, last week, came the next excuse. Yesterday, under pressure, the Prime Minister admitted that the right to strike was excluded from the provisions of the social chapter. That of course is true. It was equally true last week. Why, then, did the Prime Minister last week quote the number of days lost in strikes in 1979 and compare that figure with the number lost last year—a recession year, a John Major recession year—and why did he go on to say after Maastricht: I was not prepared to see that record"— the record on strikes— put in jeopardy"?—[Official Report, 11 December 1991; Vol. 200; c. 861.] If, as the Prime Minister admits, the right to strike is excluded from the social chapter, how could acceptance of the social chapter increase the number of strikes? Even by the Prime Minister's standards, the argument is totally illogical.

That is why the Government have been retreating on this issue, abandoning their claim that the social chapter would affect trade union legislation here while trying to leave an impression that it would. The latest form of words was provided in an address to Tory candidates last week by the Foreign Secretary—a master of obfuscation if ever there was one. The right hon. Gentleman told the Tory candidates: The trouble about the social chapter is not that it tells us to repeal our industrial relations legislation but that it once again edges industrial relations into that field. It's the way he tells 'em, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Adley

I do not know whether just Conservative Members have been wondering vainly whether the right hon. Gentleman will say something about his party's policy, or whether he will continue doing that at which he is best—waspish criticism of everything that the Government do.

A few days ago, I contemplated asking the right hon. Gentleman to give me a photograph of him to include in my election address, on the basis that it might help me. Having listened to his speech, I am sure that it would. Will the right hon. Gentleman be so kind as to let me have a photograph so that I can put it in my election address and so that the people of my constituency can see that the choice that they have to make at the next election is between the right hon. Gentleman and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary?

Mr. Kaufman

I have been in the House of Commons with the hon. Gentleman since we were elected on the same day and I must resist making the right response to what he said.

It is on flimsy derisory arguments such as that made by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary that the Government try to justify what, last Thursday, Sir Fred Catherwood, a Tory MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament, called "Britain's empty chair" on social policy. It is on the sheerest prejudice that the Prime Minister is jeopardising his party's chances of ending Tory MEPs' isolation in the European Parliament.

The Tories want to join up with the Euro Christian Democrat group—the European People's party—but Karl Von Wogau, the economic spokesman for that party, said of social policy this week: We believe very strongly in a model that leads to consensus. A social consensus is economically advantageous, as well. The Foreign Secretary said today that the social charter may suit others, but not this Government. The others whom the social charter suits include those Tories in Europe with whom the Government's MEPs are vainly trying to join.

The Government have lost all hope of running a competitive economy on the base of good working conditions and good pay. They do not seem to understand that the most successful industrial economies—Germany and Japan—thrive precisely because they provide their workers with good conditions and good pay, but Britain's economic success and prosperity are the last considerations in the Government's mind. The Government are ready to sacrifice the country's best interests inside the Community to buy off a few right-wing Tory Back Benchers.

At Maastricht the Prime Minister's preoccupation was not European unity but Tory party disunity. In our last debate before Maastricht the Foreign Secretary perorated about our constituents—"Our constituents want this" and "Our constituents want that". It is time that the Government enabled our constituents to say for themselves what they want in Europe and enabled them to vote in a general election for a Labour Government so that Britain can go forward in Europe and can get a new start.

6.2 pm

Sir Peter Blaker (Blackpool, South)

The kindest thing that I can say about the speech that the House has just heard from the spokesman for the official Opposition on an occasion of such importance is that it filled me with disgust. At the beginning of his speech the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) referred to a rare venture by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary into party politics. I had hoped that the right hon. Gentleman was going to venture out of party politics, but, once more, we found that that is the only subject on which he can speak.

It was perfectly clear to the House that the right hon. Gentleman had never gone through serious international negotiations. The way in which the Government have conducted the negotiations is as successful as any international negotiations that I have seen in nearly 40 years of experience of international affairs. I shall refer in particular to three British initiatives, which have not been much discussed by the House, but which were all successful—and they are just three of a number of successful British initiatives.

I have supported closer European unity for most of my life, but I wish to say something critical about the Commission. I believe that its actions over the years have been responsible, perhaps more than anything else, for the suspicions in the minds of many of our compatriots about the European Community. I believe that one of the Government's achievements has been to get an agreement which holds out the prospect of reducing the power of the Commission. The Commission has demonstrated an insatiable appetite for expanding its power. I will give the House some examples.

Why should the Commission think it right to legislate as to when British farmers may shoot pigeons which might ravage their crops? The Commission would allow them to shoot pigeons for only two months in the year—and the wrong two months. Why should the Commission wish to legislate to limit the amount of water in our lavatory cisterns? Why should it wish to legislate on the flavour of the potato crisps that we produce? Why should it wish to legislate about which side of one of our country towns a bypass should go—north or south?

Such matters have absolutely no relevance for other countries in the European Community. That is not federalism, but something much worse—it is centralism. In the United States, those matters would be subjects not for Washington, but for Wisconsin, Massachusetts or California. Here, however, in a Europe of 12 separate countries, the Commission is trying to legislate in a centralised fashion. If it were a question of migratory birds which visit many countries in Europe, or acid rain spreading from one country to another, that would be a proper case for Commission action.

The Government are to be congratulated on the successful insertion into the agreement of the reference to decisions being taken as close as possible to the citizen, and on the inclusion of article 3B which spells out the principle of subsidiarity.

I also congratulate the Government on establishing the concept of the three pillars in relation to action on foreign policy: crime, immigration and home affairs. I hate to think what would be the prospect if we had Community action on those subjects. There was at one time a proposal that that should be the case, but the Government succeeded in having it removed. In general, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary explained to the House, unanimity will be required in relation to foreign policy. The right hon. Member for Gorton clearly misunderstood the arrangements that have been made.

I believe that the agreement is better than the former proposal under which, in foreign affairs, decisions on policy would require unanimity but implementation would be subject to a qualified majority vote. I believe that that arrangement would have led to complete confusion. I draw the analogy with the understanding that has existed between my wife and me during 37 years of marriage as to who takes the decisions. I take the big decisions and she takes the little decisions, but we have still not decided after 37 years how we decide which are the big decisions and which are the little decisions. We are still working on that. On foreign policy we would have faced a similar situation under the original proposals in the earlier Dutch draft.

I believe that we have a satisfactory arrangement as a result of the Government's initiative. It is likely to be more effective in practice because in matters of foreign policy the major European countries would not have accepted foreign policy decided by majority voting if they had been in a minority. In addition, the agreement is more suitable if we wish in future years to see the accession of European Free Trade Association countries and the countries of eastern Europe.

The Government's third success deals with another factor which causes annoyance to an increasing number of our citizens, as they realise that while we obey the rules laid down by the European Community other member countries do not. It is significant that, at the end of 1989, only one out of 80 cases before the European Court of Justice affected this country. I refer to the agreement reached, on a British initiative, that in future the European Court will be able to levy fines on countries which fail to carry out their obligations.

Her Majesty's Government have been right on monetary union and the social chapter. They also deserve credit for the three achievements that I have mentioned—limiting the power of the Commission, the arrangements for foreign policy and Home Office affairs, and the European Court's ability to levy fines on errant member states. Those were all British initiatives, and I congratulate the Government on them.

6.11 pm
Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

The right hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Sir P. Blaker) gave us a touching example of partnership in his account of his relationship with his wife, but he may not have realized that in so doing he touched on one of the fundamentals of another matter that he mentioned—the question of subsidiarity.

I was privileged to be present at the congress—the so-called assize—in Rome a year ago and I related a well-known story about the very effective partnership between Mr. and Mrs Webb. A friend asked them, "How is it that you get on so well? What happens if you disagree?" Sidney Webb replied, "Very rarely do we disagree. If we do, we have a good rule: I decide on matters of principle and my wife decides on matters of execution." "Well," said the friend, "suppose you disagree about which is which? How do you decide then?" "Ah," replied Sidney, "That is a matter of principle."

The right hon. Member for Blackpool, South rightly raised the subject of subsidiarity. My charge is that the Prime Minister and the Government have, either advertently or inadvertently, misled themselves or misled the nation on the nature of article 3b of the treaty that we are being asked to approve. I raised the matter yesterday with the Prime Minister, because in his carefully prepared speech he referred to an article that specifically enshrines the crucial concept that the Community should undertake only those measures that could not be achieved at a national level". Then, in response to my intervention, he said: If it can better be done at national level, it ought not to he done at Community level."—[Official Report, 18 December 1991; Vol. 201, c. 278.] Few people would disagree with that.

I believe that the CBI and others interpret the whole concept of subsidiarity in the nutshell of the phrase that the Prime Minister used. Indeed, there has been a successful campaign—I shall not say a sales campaign, although it has been something of the—sort all round the world. It has gone so far that the right hon. Member for Selby (Mr. Alison) said last night: The ready and instinctive way in which our constituents reach out for rulings from the European Court illustrates the way in which the man in the street benefits from the principle of the separation of powers, of which the Community treaties are a manifestation. The right hon. Gentleman declined to give way to me at that point—understandably, in view of the 10-minute limit on speeches—and continued: The principle of the separation of powers, which is enshrined in what we are currently negotiating, gives real scope for not less but greater freedom."—[Official Report, 18 December 1991; Vol. 201, c. 341.] In other words, the right hon. Gentleman claimed that there was a principle of the separation of powers. I think that he was wrong, but many people outside the House hold the same view.

I shall quote from Mr. Baker—not the right hon. Member for Mole Valley, but the United States Secretary of State—as he was quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) last month: Thus, the architects of a united Europe have adopted the principle of `subsidiarity'—something like American 'federalism'—that is, the devolution of responsibility to the lowest level of government capable of performing it effectively."—[Official Report, 20 November 1991; Vol. 199, c. 380.] I put it to the House—and to anyone else who wishes to challenge me on the point—that that is not correct. Even the United States Secretary of State has either been misinformed or has not read the treaty.

There is no separation of powers in the treaty of Rome, in the Single European Act or in the treaty before us. There are, of course, provisions which permit powers and vires to be exercised, but there is no topic, "separation of powers", as there would be in a true federation.

Through some process which I cannot define, describe or analyse, many Conservative Members—several of whom have spoken in the debate—and the United States Secretary of State believe that a principle exists in the treaty, although that principle is not there.

I quoted from the treaty yesterday, but I shall do it again because this is such a crucial matter. In the words of article 3b, subsidiarity, such as it is, will apply only to areas which do not fall within its"— that is, the Community's— exclusive jurisdiction". When I asked the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones), last night if he could define or find out where the exclusive jurisdiction lay, he was unable to do so and quoted a broad part of the article. As the House will hear, he gave an ineffective reply. He quoted this passage: Any action by the Community shall not go beyond what is necessary to achieve the objectives of this Treaty. There lies the clue.

Article after article of the treaty says what should be decided centrally and that regulations relating to such topics which bypass Parliament entirely should be applied throughout the Community, including this country.

I am glad that the right hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Sir G. Howe) is with us tonight. I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) is not here. When those two were advocating our entry into the Community, the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup said that the Queen would not be affected. However, every central power and every regulation issued from Brussels bypasses Parliament. It does not go with the advice and consent of the Commons and the Lords Temporal; it does not go to the Crown for an initial. It is as though this place did not exist.

In 1973, the right hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East and I spent hours arguing in the House about section 2(1), which contained the words, "without further enactment". We heard yesterday from the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East (Mr. Paice), who had been involved with the common agricultural policy. I wonder whether he realised that from the moment the treaty came into effect on 1 January 1973 there was no longer a British agricultural policy. The drab uniformity and detailed regulations which he rightly criticised in his interesting speech last night applied from that moment on to the United Kingdom in the realm of agriculture—to the way in which man relates to the soil. That could hardly he more fundamental to our basic existence. It was as if a rural byway had been constructed round the House which was not noticed. Nor was it noticed that the control had gone, because after that qualified majority voting applied to all agricultural matters. The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food did not come back and say, "I am sorry, I was outvoted", but we are getting to that stage now. That is what happened in agriculture and fisheries negotiations from 1973 onwards.

The Single European Act continued the trend because the scope of central decision making was widened still further. In the debate on 21 November 1991, I charged the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) with misunderstanding the Act. I said that she may have misunderstood it, or she may have been misinformed, or she understood it and did not tell the House about it.

Perhaps we shall have some enlightenment from the right hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East, who was the Foreign Secretary at the time. He introduced the Single European Act at the Dispatch Box and spoke about streamlining and getting things through quicker. He knows that the criterion for the single market was the elimination of frontiers. If frontiers are eliminated in relation to any commercial matter, to any matter of specification or to any matter concerning markets, adjudication and the source of law are transferred from 12 centres to one.

I think that the right hon. Member for Finchley did not understand the importance and power of articles 8A and 100A. I must confess that, despite being a member of the Select Committee on European Legislation which studied the Act, I did not spot the explosive mixture of article 8A and article 100A. I charge the right hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East—I am glad that he is here tonight—first, with supporting the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup in saying that the Queen was not affected when in fact the Queen in Parliament was eliminated, and, secondly, with coming before the House with the Single European Act without either fully explaining it to us or, if he did, not knowing the effect of it.

We now come to the third instalment in the dismemberment of the United Kingdom Parliament and the power of its people—the so-called "treaty of union". The treaty of union may be called the Maastricht treaty, but, as the House may know, it should really be called the treaty of Rome-Maastricht because in the two green volumes containing the treaty of union and the treaty on economic and monetary union, almost all the articles relate to amendments to the treaty of Rome. We shall have one small treaty of Maastricht and one much enlarged, beefed-up and fundamental treaty of Rome which will really be a union treaty. It will be the treaty of the constitution of the European union which is why it refers to European union.

I come back to my earlier point about Sidney Webb. The treaty will have almost entire power over almost everything that we can think of which has been so far the ultimate responsibility of the House. One day we shall ask the Attorney-General where the scope of the treaty does not run. My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) efficiently gave us the list of areas affected which included culture, education and health. One can have reports on health and desirable standards, but how far does that go when it comes to voting money? In the Select Committee, we have seen what happens. We receive a report about the topic, then we get a programme of research, then a programme of co-operation and then legislation.

We see the assumption of powers to an unprecedented and unforeseen degree. Just as I believe that the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup misled us about the powers of the Crown and the constitution, and just as I think that the right hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East—I leave him to comment on this—may not have described fully and in a legal way the impact of the Single European Act, so I believe that the Prime Minister, either voluntarily or involuntarily, through bad briefing or through tactics, is trying to tell us that the magic word "subsidiarity" will save us from the final and absolute power which we shall now transfer to the European institutions.

When people come to us in our surgeries to ask about prospective legislation about which they have read in the newspapers, they will say, "What can you do about it?" We shall say, "We will go to the Scrutiny Committee and to European Standing Committees A and B. We will tell the Minister what we want, but there is qualified majority voting." They will say, "How can you stop it?" We shall say, "I am sorry. We cannot stop it." They will ask what they can do and some hon. Members will have to tell them to go to their MEP because in the new treaty there is a long-stop in co-decision. How many people will come to us when they have heard that? We all know that people will go where decisions are made.

We have here a treaty whose consequences I have tried to paint in a fair and objective way. However, just as in the past we have had two versions and the results have been unexpected, even by those who promoted the treaties, so it will be with this treaty, if it is endorsed. The House will lose its powers and so will the voters who sent us here.

6.26 pm
Mr. Quentin Davies (Stamford and Spalding)

It is always a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) in a European debate. As a member of European Standing Committee B, the material for which is supplied by the Select Committee on European Legislation of which he is Chairman, I take the opportunity to pay tribute to his tremendous work for us and for the House as a whole in that context.

I add my most sincere and warmest congratulations to the Prime Minister and to the Government on the extraordinary and remarkable treaty which they brought home from Maastricht. I cannot recall any major international negotiation on which one party came away with 100 per cent. of his desiderata. That appears to have happened on this occasion—

Mr. Giles Radice (Durham, North)

Come on!

Mr. Davies

I will demonstrate the truth of what I am saying if the hon. Gentleman will bear with me.

That great achievement is clearly the result of two factors. The first is the remarkable negotiating skill of the Prime Minister and of my right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The second, which is no less important, is the willingness of our European partners to go a long way to accommodate us. That in itself is a reflection of the tremendous success of the personal diplomacy in which the Prime Minister has been engaged in Europe since he took office a year ago.

As a result of those two factors, we have not only a treaty which allows us the two major derogations that have played such a major part in our debate so far, but a treaty whose architecture and contents have British fingerprints all over them. The architecture is the intergovernmental structure on which I know that the Government set so much store.

Let me take three important elements from the contents. The first is the convergence criteria for economic and monetary union, which is an extremely well worked out British proposal which has been accepted by our partners. The second is the proposal that, for the first time, non-compliers with Community directives should be fined for their non-compliance. That has also been accepted. That, incidentally, gives the lie to the suggestion that British proposals are always of a centrifugal nature when they are not deliberately obstructive. This is a very integrationist proposal, but one which, I am glad to say, is also characteristically pragmatic and sensible. The third is the concept of subsidiarity which we, as the whole world knows, were instrumental, together with the Germans, in bringing into the treaty.

I should like to highlight four aspects of the treaty, of which the first is subsidiarity. The subsidiarity clause establishes a new and promising basis for the evolution of the Community. One thing that will flow from that is that the institutions of the Community will he able to concentrate on their own extremely important jobs instead of feeling that they have to justify their existence by continuing to extend indefinitely the periphery of their activities and interfering in the competence of individual member states. I hope that we shall shortly see an end to the kind of nonsense with which European Standing Committee B had to cope yesterday morning when we were discussing draft resolutions and recommendations on sexual harassment. I cannot think of a less justifiable waste of the Commission's bureaucratic resources than that, or of a more inappropriate interference in the area of proper competence of nation states.

I hope that from now on we shall begin to get from the European Court of Justice what I call "negative jurisprudence" and that the court will feel able, on the basis of the subsidiarity clause, to throw out initiatives which are inappropriate to and inconsistent with subsidiarity. I hope that we shall then not only have the existing positive jurisprudence, but negative jurisprudence also, with clear guidelines to remove the possibilities for mutual suspicion and disagreement between the member states and the European Community and its institutions, from which we have already suffered too much.

In that context, I hope also that subsidiarity will begin to reduce the suspicion that some hon. Members of all parties continue to have about everything that comes out of Brussels. I hope especially that that will help people to see that there is no fundamental conflict between our role and our constitutional importance and those of the European Parliament.

Under subsidiarity, it is clear that we, the individual member states, decide what functions should be devolved to the Community and what functions should be properly exercised by it because they can be exercised more effectively at Community level. Once the essential decision on giving a certain function to the Community has been made, the question of the weightings between the different institutions of the Community in the way in which they take decisions and carry out responsibilities within their area of competence is not a matter involving any further loss of competence or sovereignty of this House. We and the European Parliament exist on separate planes. We each have our own roles. It is fundamental nonsense to believe that there is some kind of zero sum game between ourselves and the European Parliament and that an increase in its powers is made necessarily at the expense of ours, and vice versa. I hope that we shall be able to discard that illusion.

The second aspect that I should like to highlight is foreign policy. That must be the pre-eminent area in which we can be most effective as a Community. As an individual country, our scope for bringing our influence to bear and affecting the future course of events in different parts of the world is minimal and, in many cases, non-existent. However, as a Community we are enormously powerful. We are potentially one of the world's superpowers. If anybody came to this globe from Mars to study human affairs, especially in the political area, he would be enormously struck by the contrast between the economic Community which has been an economic superpower for some time, and the fact that, as a political power, the Community remains a minnow. That can and must change.

In the next century, I should like to see the European Community or the European Union—as we may come to call it—become one of the world's superpowers. Along with the United States and Japan, it should form one of the three essential poles of stability, prosperity and civilisation on this earth. To me, that is a noble and worthwhile goal, but we can achieve it only by developing effective mechanisms for a common foreign policy.

I do not pretend that I am totally satisfied with what is in the treaty on that subject or that I regard it as the last word. I am not totally confident that the Presidency acting alone will, in all cases, be able to provide either the resources or the continuity to enable us to develop that effective and coherent foreign policy. Although the Commission is not totally excluded from that area of the treaty, its restricted role introduces an element of artificiality. In foreign policy, it is unnatural to distinguish between the political and the diplomatic on the one hand and the economic on the other. Given that the Commission has responsibility for economic and trade policy and, if need be, for trade sanctions, it cannot be sensible to keep it out of the formulation of a common foreign policy. However, one must be grateful for the substantial step forward that has been taken, and I am.

I hope that we can celebrate the introduction of limited qualified majority voting by overriding the unacceptable Danish veto which, at present, is preventing the European Community from lifting its sanctions on South Africa.

Through my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary, who is now on the Treasury Bench, I should like to express to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary my hope that we can inaugurate a common foreign policy by bringing our influence to bear on the events in Yugoslavia rather more effectively than we have up to now. Serbian aggression against Croatia has, up to now, been unrestrained and unsanctioned. Tens of thousands of people have already been killed. If it continues, the figure may be hundreds of thousands before long. The cities of Croatia have been destroyed, including Split and Dubrovnik, which are among the most historic in Europe.

The third aspect that I wish to highlight is the social chapter. I believe that the 11 have scored an own goal and that we have scored a remarkable coup—[Laughter.] I have great regard for the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice); he laughs, but I hope that he will listen to what I am about to say, with which I believe that he will find it difficult to take issue. I shall outline three simple propositions and should like to know with which one, in practice, he or any of his right hon. and hon. Friends wish to take issue. The first proposition is that one cannot regulate oneself into prosperity. The second is that if one starts to regulate the conditions and the maximum hours of work, one starts to affect the cost of labour, the demand for labour and how competitive one's businesses are. By definition, if one reduces working hours, one also reduces productivity, output, the demand for labour and, therefore, the country's level of employment. Those are simple propositions.

My third proposition is that if the Community as a whole decides to reduce its average productivity it will be less competitive than not only the other industrialised countries, such as Japan and North America, but the newly industrialised countries, and investment, whether from foreign or Community investors, will tend to go to other places. We shall thus undermine the basis of our future jobs and prosperity.

Sir Russell Johnston (Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber)

Could one not argue that Germany regulated itself into prosperity? By making generous social provisions, Germany created the industrial climate that has enabled it to be highly competitive.

Mr. Davies

The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. Germany achieved, through free market policies—policies which this country began to implement only in the 1980s—the highest productivity levels in Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. It then decided to appropriate some of those productivity gains by means of social legislation. I accept that Germany has the least to fear from the introduction of the social chapter. The Germans, Dutch and other northern European countries are imposing on the rest of the Community the industrial costs which they have already accepted and which they can withstand because of their high productivity.

Anyone who seriously wants the Community to move forward to monetary union and a single currency must think seriously about the consequences of the social chapter on the potential viability of a single currency regime. Once a country denies itself the weapon of devaluation to compensate for lower average productivity, it is particularly important that economies within the Community with lower average productivity should be able to compensate by using their natural advantages. If those advantages are in the form of cheaper or more flexible labour, they should be allowed to utilise them. An effective integrated economy cannot exist without more flexible prices, markets and labour markets. History will pay great tribute to the judgment and resolution of the Government in fighting the nonsense of the social chapter which, in retrospect, will be considered a mistake.

I shall not list the potential advantages of a single currency because I spoke in the House three years ago about the advantages for trade and business and, therefore, output and wealth creation, and the advantages in terms of beating inflation. Those are now generally accepted. I had some difficulty following the Government when they said that there were political disadvantages. I see no threat to the sovereignty of the House through having a single currency or common monetary institution—far from it. After all, the fight for the sovereignty of the House in the 17th century was about this place being able to determine not monetary policy, but fiscal policy, which I shall continue to defend. Monetary policy was always a matter for the King and the responsibility of the executive branch. I pay tribute to the executive branch in this country because it has already given up the devaluation weapon and said that it is a self-defeating way of compensating for failure in the economy. Therefore, we lose nothing by enshrining that policy.

Mr. Gerald Howarth (Cannock and Burntwood)

My hon. Friend is quite wrong on this. The Government may have decided that membership of the exchange rate mechanism should be managed in such a way that we do not devalue, but if we wish to devalue, we can. My hon. Friend's remarks about a single currency alarm me greatly because I much admire his intellect, not to mention the fluency of his speech. But I urge him to accept that a single currency, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) made clear the other day, means a massive transfer of political and economic power to the centre.

Mr. Davies

My hon. Friend and I share many ideas, including, I believe, those on monetary policy. Although the gold standard is no longer practical, it was not a bad thing. It was not a destructive episode in the monetary history of humanity. When we adhered to the gold standard, the House had no say in monetary policy because the money supply was dictated arbitrarily and objectively by the volume of gold discovered in the world. I doubt whether our predecessors in this place before 1914 thought that the powers of the House were compromised or undermined as a result.

If we are to adopt a single currency, we must achieve the theoretical advantages which are there to be grasped. If we are to achieve those in practice, we must first prepare the ground carefully. I pay tribute to the convergence criteria, which were largely a British proposal. Secondly, we should consider carefully the statutes of the monetary institution. The document before us goes a long way towards providing for the independence of the monetary institution, which will be a crucial element in the success of a single currency. However, I should like to go further and suggest that the minimum term of appointment of the governors of the institution should be eight rather than five years, to ensure that it goes way beyond the electoral cycle of any member state. I should prefer that the appointments are not given to the governors of the banks of individual member states. It would be undesirable if governors from the central banks of member states felt that they had, in some way, to be the advocates of the interests of their own member states. If the project is to be successful, it is vital that, as with the Swiss national bank, when the board of that monetary institution meets, it has only one consideration in mind—how to reconcile the requirements of price stability and liquidity in the Community as a whole.

Having achieved this excellent treaty of Maastricht and secured the derogation on monetary policy, by which the Government have set so much store, may I make a plea to them? In the morrow of great victory, will they show some equanimity and, above all, not give business in this country or abroad the impression that in practice we are any less committed to a single currency than any of the Twelve or that we are any less likely to be a part of it? If that impression were unfortunately given—I am sure that it will not be—investment from both British and international investors, would be deflected from this country and it would go to the continent to other areas likely to adopt the single currency. Moreover, in that event, it might become difficult to manage our parity in the years leading up to 1996–97. Those currencies which currently belong to the exchange rate mechanism and are not perceived by the markets as likely to join at least the first echelon of a single currency may come under pressure in the market. People will be reluctant to hold them, and that would have unfortunate consequences in the form of higher interest rates.

It is also important for the City to ensure that the central bank and monetary institution come here. I totally accept the assurances that I have received that the derogation negotiated at Maastricht does not reduce our chances of having the central bank in the City of London. I take great comfort from that assurance.

I look forward to this country being in the vanguard of the single currency because of the advantages that it will bring us and the Community. We shall be there thanks to the excellent monetary and economic management that we have enjoyed in the 1980s and will continue to enjoy for the rest of the 1990s under a Conservative Government.

6.48 pm
Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South)

I shall mention some of the issues to which the hon. Member for Stamford and Spalding (Mr. Davies) referred, although there seemed to be a lack of logic in his remarks because he cheered the Government on while encouraging them to be careful.

Unlike the Labour party, my party was at least prepared to table an amendment to the motion, so I welcome the opportunity to speak in this debate. People sometimes think of Northern Ireland Members as isolationists, but we have always played a role within the United Kingdom. Although the United Kingdom is on the continental shelf, it has played a positive part in Europe's history. Our people have regularly rallied to save Europe from military and political dictatorships.

Religiously, to go to the other extreme, we were partners in giving Europe a living Christian faith. Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom, shared in that significantly as the old Celtic Christian church sent missionaries throughout the continent, and there were Ulstermen in the Napoleonic war and both world wars. We are not isolationist, but we question whether incipient integration is actually the way forward.

Reference has been made to economic and monetary union, which have played a role in the discussions. Closet federal Europeans earlier maintained that the EC was merely a gigantic free trade area; now they boldly affirm that political and monetary union were always at the heart of the treaty of Rome. The Prime Minister has returned from Maastricht and claimed that federalism and the opening of the door to a delayed decision on monetary union is the successful result of his able negotiations. What is the reality? Although the countries of the European Free Trade Association had worked out trade arrangements with the Community, recent decisions of the European Court ruled them to be incompatible with the treaty of Rome.

I shall take up some of the comments of the hon. Member for Stamford and Spalding on a single currency. I do not believe that it will necessarily enhance trade opportunities; I think that those who have argued that have done so superficially. Japan has not found the fluctuations of the yen against the dollar and European currencies a serious barrier to its ability to increase exports. The United Kingdom sharply increased its volume of exports to the United States in the 1980s, when the dollar gyrated wildly.

Let us compare that with our experience in the EC. I am glad that two Treasury Ministers are present. Perhaps the Chancellor, when he winds up, will he confirm that we have maintained a huge, if diminishing, trade deficit with the EC, amounting to a total loss since 1978—if my figures are correct—of £54,270 million, as against a profit in trade with the rest of the world of £75,186 million. Therefore, is it surprising that the Ulster Unionist party pleads for a wider vision and a clear protection of our interests and those of the old Commonwealth countries in any new European arrangements?

During those 23 years, what one might term our membership fees in Europe have shown net outflow of at least £15,036 million according to the 1991 HMSO Pink Book. The Government regularly claim that they want value for money. Are we obtaining that in Europe? The Confederation of British Industry has stated that the agreement is good for business. British business and industry must sell itself better, certainly in Europe, and maintain its markets with the rest of the world, which may turn away from us as we turn more towards Europe.

Some might well say, "Ask not what Europe can do for the United Kingdom, but what the United Kingdom can do for Europe." However, it might be more salutary to ask: what part of Europe? Perhaps we can be of greater help by standing further apart from the new colossus, bridging the world with our American, African and Asian connections, as well as greater European contacts.

We should bear in mind one narrower aspect: the principle of subsidiarity, through which democratic processes should be devolved to Northern Ireland—and I also echo the cries from Scotland and Wales. The European grants, correctly assigned to Northern Ireland due to its isolation within the market and its relative poverty, should not be gobbled up by parsimonious Treasury Ministers as they hide behind the concept of additionality.

I have for a long time been suspicious of the doctrine of gradualism in politics and the foibles of the Foreign Office, which uses the double-speak of diplomacy, as I saw in the Anglo-Irish diktat and now smell in Maastricht. We have been assured that major European policy decisions, especially on foreign affairs, will have to be unanimous. However, as has already been mentioned, Germany quickly broke ranks with the rest of the EC and the world over Croatia, which led, in the words of our Foreign Secretary, to "an acceptable compromise".

Perhaps we can find some hidden logic if we compare Chancellor Kohl's statement of 28 November when he said: European economic and political union is irreversible." His headlong flight to recognise Croatian independence also helped lead to the fragmentation of Yugoslavia—a part of Europe. Will other "acceptable compromises" be imposed? What is the Government's view within the European family on those countries that have accepted and signed the treaty of Rome and the Helsinki agreement? Those treaties accept the territorial boundaries of member states, yet the countries that sign them blithely ignore their undertakings. Gibraltar is one such glaring example and, nearer home, the false claim of the Irish Republic is another. It broke the international agreement of 1925 and, in its 1937 constitution, made de jure claim over Northern Ireland. For years, that was shrugged off merely as an aspiration or dismissed as Unionist propaganda, not to be taken literally or seriously. Now the Belfast newspaper, the Irish News, argues for the retention of such a claim in articles 2 and 3, while the Dublin Supreme Court described the matter as a "constitutional imperative".

We have referred to promises and understandings given in the European context. Promises were given at Sunningdale in 1973 that articles 2 and 3 were to be withdrawn and were repeated before Hillsborough in 1985. The improper claim remains as a spur to terrorists, proxy bombers for those who see the claim as a "constitutional imperative".

What is the position in Europe, where we recognise each other as partners? I believe that the Irish Republic should join the democratic countries in the new Europe and renounce such a claim, as Germany did over Alsace and Lorraine. The reunited east and west Germany had to endorse the Oder-Neisse line before it was recognised. The Ulster Unionist position on that is clear from our amendment. We maintain the integrity of our nation as we promote better relations between neighbours. At this season of the year we should remind ourselves of the parable that neighbours are not simply the people who live next door, rich friends, or even merely those with whom we agree. In that context, I trust that we as a nation will continue to maintain our integrity and influence.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

It is now almost 7 o'clock and the Standing Order limiting speeches to 10 minutes must be applied.

6.58 pm
Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills)

It is an honour to follow the remarks addressed to the House by the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth). Like him, I am a member of a union. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is formed by people with one language, with sentiments in common and by their feeling and will to make it work. That is the union that I understand.

Today we are considering a union of Europe, and I do not know how to relate to it. I listened with interest to my hon. Friend the Member for Stamford and Spalding (Mr. Davies), who almost conveyed the impression that he had been parachuted in to an Amazonian jungle in which democratic accountability plays no role, and that we needed the benefit of a judgment on arbitrage and merger policy from New York city. Ours is a democratic country, in which democratic accountability lies at the heart of the relationship between the citizen and the state.

The House will have noticed how assiduous the Leader of the Opposition was yesterday in not speaking one word about democracy and how the peoples of this land hold their Governments to account. Nor did he raise one word about the history of his own great movement, about the fact that the working people of this country were urged to organise and to use their vote, through which they could change the policies under which they lived. In our democratic age, that is essential to the concept of our rule of law. We expect the law to be enforced, we expect it to be held because every citizen who lives under that law may change it.

In the treaty of union, where is the mechanism by which we may change the law? Where is the mechanism whereby we may hold Ministers accountable? We have witnessed the reduction of a great Department of State—the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food—to a branch office in Whitehall. Our farmers, seeking retribution or justice, and our consumers, who are equally seeking those concepts, now have to go to Brussels, for there is no way in which we may satisfy their aspirations. We have handed over that power.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Surrey, East (Sir G. Howe), the former Foreign Secretary, advanced some curious concepts of constitutional independence. If constitutional independence is what sovereignty is, I do not know how one can reduce it by pooling it. That is a contradiction in terms. Sovereignty says nothing about the state one lives in, whether it is a democracy or an autocracy, but it means constitutional independence. That is what has been at issue since the Single European Act—I was not here before that—and today with the treaty of union.

I cannot give over any of the powers that I, as a Member of Parliament, elected by the citizens of Aldridge-Brownhills—and each of us elected by our respective constituents—was given when I came to this Parliament. Yet every leading member of the Government and the Opposition talks as if we were merely bankers. Our country, as a nation, has a spirit and will—it is much bigger than merely the mechanisms of markets. We are humbled and brought low by them, but the spirit of man—and I now have to say woman—and the freedoms that we enjoy lie within our grasp as long as we hold this House.

That is what we have lost, in the sense that the people scorn us because of the way we march to tunes through the Lobby. We can no longer represent their wills or their expression. Of course we scorn that. We came here knowing that, if injustice existed, we could set it right.

The Leader of the Labour party—of all parties—yesterday stood there and talked about passing away the power to redress the grievances of our citizens. The speed limit on our motorways was reduced the other day, and I give a cheer for that. For years, I have wanted the Government to reduce the speeds of lorries and buses going down the M 1 and the M6, but Europe did it. It imposed it on our system of government, and now we cannot change it, whether it was right or wrong.

Since John Locke and the formation of our constitution through the late 18th and the 19th centuries, the question has been, where does authority lie? We do not have sovereignty in this House; it is a shorthand for the sovereignty of the people. That is who we represent, and those are the arguments that we have to judge.

Is it not shaming that the leaders of great parties cannot tell us that they are asking us to set aside our ability to live under laws that we set? Hitherto, when they asked us to obey those laws, we have known that we could change them, but hereafter a combination of people with different languages, understandings and cultures can set, and are by combination setting, upon us standards, rules and laws which may be suitable for Greece, central or northern Europe, France or Spain but which are not right for us. We have a choice.

So many hon. Members have poured scorn, but what makes a political society work? The greatest level of polity—political organisation—is democratic self-government. There is no higher form of government. One can expand the boundaries, and because it is the sentiment of the people that one should expand the boundaries, it has manifestly worked for nearly two centuries in the United Kingdom. We break that trust by handing over power to unelected people without any mechanism for changing their decisions. How can people have faith in us if vie hold our job to redress the grievances of those who set us here as unimportant?

I urge those on both Front Benches to reflect on how they can make up for that democratic lack. The great Labour party—which brought together militants, because it thought that they knew what they could do for the working people of this country—is scornfully setting democracy aside. I watched its bemused leader struggling with economic concepts which he can barely grasp. I say this with scorn, because the leader of the Labour party can no longer hold out to his people the prospect that they may change the law through this place.

Were the Labour party to have the trust of its people, it could legislate for every item in the social chapter tomorrow. It could make that the central point of its election manifesto if it is so profoundly excited by it. Then it could justify to the people the costs and benefits associated with it.

Why does the Labour party want others to introduce those measures? Is it because the Labour party does not believe that it could convince the people, on its own terms, that those are meritorious things to do? We must ask the question, why? Is it because the Labour party feels that it could not convince the people but could achieve its objectives through a centralist bureaucracy in Europe—rather than through argument and persuading its own people?

Mr. Quentin Davies


Mr. Shepherd

No, I shall not give way.

How do we control that process? No one is tackling that. Ministers are saying, "We good fellows will talk together, and we'll come up with a decision." What will happen? Let us assume that 100 per cent. of the people in this country dislike or profoundly object to a law. What do they do?

Let us think back to the proposition of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), who reminded us of our history. We changed law by riot. That is not the way. That is not the sort of society that I would wish to belong to. The tensions of racism and fascism are rising in Europe—all the things which we resolutely moved armies to defeat in the past. By holding on to that possession, the people of this country would be able to hold on to the banners of freedom.

We have watched eastern Europe grapple for freedom and the liberty that we enjoy, yet I have heard the House of Commons talk solemnly as if this were merely a question of a pile of money at one end of a table or the issuing of financial intruments. It is not—it is about the spirit and life of a nation. I cannot let this go down—sinking—without leastways an exclamation mark and a cry, "It is wrong."

7.7 pm

Mr. Bruce George (Walsall, South)

It is an honour to follow the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd), who is a near neighbour. I hope that the Hansard writers will be able to capture the spirit in which his speech was given. It struck me as being very 19th century in its oratory, and I compliment him.

In many ways the hon. Gentleman's speech was 20 years too late, because the horse has bolted. The arguments about whether to join the European Community were won or lost two decades ago. I campaigned against continuing British membership in 1975, and we lost. I am not an enthusiastic European, but we cannot turn back.

We must try to meet many of the objections made by the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills. Clearly the Community is not a democratic institution. However, the cry for a return to an era of independence and economic autonomy for Britain is not an available option, so we must make the best deals possible in the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

It was an interesting debate even before the speech by the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills. The introduction by the Foreign Secretary—the thinking man's Jeremy Beadle—was exceptional. Once he got over the task of being his own warm-up man, he settled down to a logical and persuasive speech. He commented on the Opposition's silence in terms of tabling an amendment, but there has been a far greater and more dramatic silence from the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher).

I am delighted to participate in the debate, which is not part of the ratification process. There will be no treaty to sign for a couple of months, and I hope that the Government do not assume that, having won this debate, the task of getting Parliament to ratify is over, because we have not even begun the process. There is much life left in people who wish to argue further. This legislature does little to impress its views on the process of declaring war or peace or ratifying treaties. We probably have the least effective role of any western legislature. We shall have a greater role to play in the Community, but that role is not being exercised now.

This year has been epoch-making for the European Community at Maastricht, NATO at the Rome summit, and we are now witnessing the collapse of the Soviet Union. We were told that Maastricht was a victory for everyone and that for Britain it was game, set and match. A Conservative Member pleaded for magnanimity by the Government. Having won so brilliantly, perhaps we should throw a few crumbs to those whom we crushed yet again—the French and the Germans who need the solace of being able to tell their electorates that perhaps they got a little from the treaty.

Listening to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, and reading the deferential sycophantic press after Maastricht, I was reminded of an imaginary conversation between Napoleon and Stalin about who had the better newspapers. Stalin said that Pravda was better. Napoleon concurred, saying that if he had had Pravda he might have been able to convince Europe that he had won at Waterloo. The Prime Minister had more than Pravda at his disposal to convince the British public—I am not sure how successfully—that he had won the debate.

Maastricht was a benchmark because after 12 years of Conservative government—the Conservatives have been in power for 50 of the past 65 years—we have finally been confirmed as a minor power. At one time we failed to cut a dash in the international arena, which caused a senior American politician to say that we had lost an empire and not yet found a role. We still do not cut a dash in international relations, and we are lucky if we can now cut a dash in European relations. That is probably the result of a failing economy.

The Prime Minister dug out Eisenhower to support his negotiating style. I looked at Stephen Ambrose's biography of Eisenhower and the Eisenhower diaries, and I urge the Prime Minister to read what Eisenhower thought of the British negotiating style in 1956. I suspect that these versions are rather less charitable than the one that the Prime Minister expressed yesterday. I applaud the Prime Minister for his success in maintaining the Atlanticist tradition of Europe. As the Foreign Secretary said, it was a damned near-run thing.

Two models were on offer at Maastricht. One was the Atlanticist model, in which NATO is the prime security organ for western Europe and north America. That is not a cold war NATO but a reformed, rebalanced NATO with new defence and arms control strategies involving the cutting of our forces and a reaching out to eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

The alternative model, proposed by France with the connivance of Germany, involved a gradual move towards the European Community being the security organ for Europe. Thankfully, in Maastricht the Europeanists took second place and the Atlanticists won. However, it was not game, set and match because the French achieved many of their objectives. The issue will arise again in a few years when the Western European treaty is renegotiated. Having sustained NATO as the primary security organ, we must not allow those who are unsuccessful this time to win by stealth. We must not allow salami slicing of NATO powers gradually to transfer them to the Western European Union so that the WEU does not function, as we hope, as a bridge between NATO and the European Community. We must prevent the WEU from becoming the executive and military arm of the Community until such time as may emerge in future when we require Europe to be responsible for its own security. That time is not yet.

The French are basically wrong in seeking to embroil Europe in preventing Germany from reasserting its economic and military power. That strategy is bound to fail because it flies in the face of logic and history. History has shown that Germany has been constrained not by Europe, but by external powers—notably the United States. I am not making an anti-German speech—merely pointing to the lessons of history. For military and political reasons, it is vital not to push the Americans out of Europe by over-accentuating the Europeanness of defence. We must keep north America involved in European security because we are kith and kin and belong to the same political traditions as Canada and the United States. It is pivotal to western security and interests that the United States should maintain its commitment to the security of the European continent. Eastern Europeans and the Soviets, or whatever we call them now, see far more clearly than many Frenchmen or Germans the great importance of NATO surviving for the foreseeable future. It is important not to allow what might be a temporary victory at Maastricht to be lost to those who do not want to attack NATO frontally but want to attack it by the back door. Such people have not necessarily lost.

NATO was satisfied with what happened at Maastricht, but the game is not over. NATO must formulate a proper relationship with the WEU. There was a meeting of Foreign Ministers today at which our Foreign Secretary was present. I hope that he was not in the frivolous mood with which he made his speech in this debate. As a result of that meeting, NATO has greater flexibility. It can attend meetings of the CSCE and has an advanced role in humanitarian assistance and emergency aid. I welcome that, because NATO has great relevance to the future. Tomorrow there will be a meeting of the North Atlantic Co-operation Council. It is a NATO meeting not of the 16, but of the 25. The power in security must lie with NATO and not with the European Community.

7.18 pm
Sir Geoffrey Howe (Surrey, East)

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) on the quality of his speech, which was filled with passion. We all have a great deal of respect for my hon. Friend. Whatever our views on the matter, we are speaking for our people, for those whom we represent, and in that spirit I congratulate my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary on their achievement at the Maastricht summit. They obtained a result which was in the best interests of all the people of the nation, those in Aldridge-Brownhills as everywhere else. The result was also in the best interests of Europe as a whole. One is essential to the other and the Maastricht outcome is the fruit of the well-balanced and committed approach to Europe which is the hallmark of the Conservative Government.

While the principal virtues of Maastricht continue, apparently, to cause alarm in some parts of the country—Bethnal Green, Chingford and now AldridgeBrownhills—they happily command support, as they should, much more widely. The first achievement is the establishment of a stronger framework for a common European foreign and security policy, on the basis that unanimity rather than majority voting should be the norm. The second—the point made by the hon. Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George)—is the strengthening of a European defence identity. For the very reasons that he gave, we need to anchor a stronger Germany in a stronger Europe, with the Western European Union as an integral part of the defence component of the new European union, acting in conformity with the position adopted by the Atlantic alliance. I agree with him that we have secured the result that we need there.

Maastricht also strikes the right balance in increasing the democratic legitimacy of the European Community by expanding the legislative and non-legislative powers of the European Parliament because, rather than being in competition with those of this House, they are supplementary to them. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stamford and Spalding (Mr. Davies) said, the House can take pleasure in the success of my right hon. Friend in securing a place for a number of important British ideas. They include the European ombudsman, the enhanced role of the Community Court of Auditors, the greater powers of the European Court of Justice to compel obedience to Community law, and a worthwhile subsidiarity clause. I agree with the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) about the importance of that at the beginning of the new treaty.

Connoisseurs of these debates will relish the way in which these last two changes represent two different strands of British wisdom over the misleadingly simple and sometimes foolishly simplified concept of federalism. In the first place, the scope of potential federal activity has been limited, exactly as European enthusiasts would wish, by a tighter definition of subsidiarity. On the other hand, the power of the centre, the authority of Community law—probably the most federal feature of the unique Community constitution—has been substantially and rightly increased, exactly as insisted upon by the Euro-sceptics.

I come next to what is by far the most important component of the Maastricht agreement—the acceptance that Europe, with or without this country, will have moved to a single currency by, at the latest, 1999. I say "will" although I agree with the hon. Members who say that nobody can be sure of that. I also agree with what was said by the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), which was endorsed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit)—that if things go well, a single currency embracing at least Germany, France, Benelux, Denmark and the EFTA countries is very likely by the earlier date of 1997. To establish a legally binding process leading to full EMU, backed by a clear end date, is a truly historic development and if it comes about, it will do more to build Europe as a concrete reality in people's lives than any other policy or initiative since 1958.

The truth is that, for all our rhetoric on either side of the House, Britain's destiny is crucially linked to the success or failure of the new monetary order that has been emerging since the mid-1980s in continental Europe. With every year that passes, those monetary arrangements have become more solid and, with that, Britain has become ever-more dependent on an economic system that lies beyond our immediate control. It is that which should have dictated our early entry into the exchange rate mechanism. Five years too late, we joined.

I am glad to say that, over the past 12 months, we have been more and more effectively engaged in the vital EMU negotiations. My right hon. Friends have been shrewd, pragmatic and effective in their pursuit of an EMU deal that would be acceptable not just to 11 but to 12 members. The form of EMU that has emerged from Maastricht bears the important imprint of United Kingdom priorities in a number of key respects. Making common cause, as we have, with Bonn and Frankfurt and thus forging a powerful alliance, we have ensured that full EMU will be open only to countries that meet strict convergence criteria, that monetary policy will be transferred only in stage 3, that price stability will be the overriding objective of the system, that the European central bank will be politically independent of all outside control, that there will be no EC-wide macro policy administered by what the French called a European economic government.

On all those points, EMU is clearly a project of Anglo-German design. It is difficult to believe that, in due time, an EMU that is good enough to attract a share of German sovereignty, as I believe it will, will not be good enough to attract a share of British sovereignty as well.

Central to our position over several years has been the insistence that Britain should not be obliged to commit itself at too early a stage to take part in the final move to a single currency. The Prime Minister's success in retaining in the treaty an emergency exit arrangement of that sort—the right to take, at the appropriate moment, a separate decision on that point—has been and remains an important reassurance for opinion both inside and outside the House.

However, we must not delude ourselves into thinking that making use of that exit, by deciding not to opt in as it is more comfortably put, would be a cost-free option. Far from it—realistically, opting out may not be an option at all. Economic reality and employment opportunities have long established powerful counter-pressures in the other direction. As 23 prominent business and financial leaders, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger), wrote in The Times last week: We recognise that there are those, including some in Parliament, who have doubts as to the economic and monetary union agreed at Maastricht. We are in no doubt that it is crucial for Britain's economic prosperity that it be approved. I agree. Outside an EMU of the core deutschmark bloc countries, the British economy would be vulnerable indeed. With no EMS left to provide a coherent framework of monetary discipline, the pound would have two options—either to attach itself, as a kind of non-playing member, to the ECU-zone, or else to drift aimlessly on the high seas. Either way, United Kingdom interest rates would need to be higher, as a risk premium would attach to holding sterling.

Our prospects of success against inflation, and of economic growth, would be prejudiced. Our factories and firms would suffer the double disadvantage of having to trade in a different currency from that of our partners and of finding that the United Kingdom was no longer an attractive site for inward investment. Whatever employment benefits might accrue from opting out of the social chapter would be more than offset, many times over, by opting out of EMU.

The last date for EMU is 1999, at which point it will now happen automatically. The first key date is December 1996, when the initial votes by qualified majority in the European Council occur. Theoretically, that vote could he taken as early as 1994. Under the treaty, Britain must decide, before the crucial vote takes place, whether it wishes to opt in or to opt out. We are dealing with what may be a compressed time scale. Therefore, it is by no means too early to address directly the central question of whether we want to be part of what is very likely to become the world's largest currency.

We have to make an important choice. Let me pose it again. On the assumption that the conditions for EMU that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has done so much to hammer out are fulfilled, do we help to create an ecu that will probably be the currency of the world's largest trading bloc, the most conservatively managed of the major currencies, and likely to displace the dollar as the denominator of world trade, or do we want to plough a lonely furrow, on the outside looking in, losing our practical influence, in the name of a sovereignty that no longer exists, locked on to a conveyor belt, not to federalism, but to economic outer space? The choice that will face us is an important one. I have no doubt what decisions should be taken in the interests of this country.

I am reasonably confident that the Prime Minister knows the answer as well. As he told my right hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen): If and when the decision is made to move forward, it would be desirable for as many members of the Community as possible to move collectively."—[Official Report, 11 December 1991; Vol. 200, c. 866.] I agree whole-heartedly with that. The Maastricht agreement is the first proof of the Prime Minister's determination in that direction, and the decision that will follow will be the next logical step.

Several Hon. Members


Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. I would appreciate it if hon. Members would assist the Chair by upholding the Standing Order which has been agreed.

7.29 pm
Sir Russell Johnston (Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber)

It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Sir G. Howe), the former Foreign Secretary, who, as always, made a constructive, wise speech. His quiet approach and manner rather belied what he was saying, which was basically that one could not opt out of the single currency and economic and monetary union and that one should not opt out of the social charter.

However, I shall not follow the right hon. and learned Gentleman because I wish to direct a couple of words to the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd), who has just left the Chamber but who, I think all will agree, made an exceptionally powerful and passionate speech. But he is not the only person who is entitled to passion on these questions.

I am a Scotsman. Despite the fact that Her Majesty's Government are but poorly represented in Scotland, Scotland had the poll tax imposed upon it and we could do nothing about it. Secondly, I am a Liberal, and I do not accept that the form of electoral representation that we have in Britain is right for all time or the fairest. I have seen the time when we in the Liberal party had 20 per cent. of votes but no representation in the European Parliament. That is not being particularly democratic. The hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills was splendid in his rhetoric, but there is another argument that can be put in another way.

Apart from the arguments in favour of the amendment in the name of the Liberal Democrats, on which we shall shortly vote, the amendment also has the intrinsic merit of presenting the House in the clearest terms with the basic choice that Britain faces about the sort of European Community that we want. Across the House and across the parties we are already agreed that there is a range of matters, financial, economic, environmental and social—we need not go over them all—on which it is not just advantageous but necessary for Britain to act in conjunction with its partners in the EC if the people are to retain some say in how the issues are influenced, decided and regulated. They do not have all that much say now in many of those areas.

Liberal Democrats take the view that that is best done by creating institutions of a federal nature which derive their authority directly from all the peoples of the Community, across borders, supranationally. That is a concept of open decision making. It is also a concept which, in accepting the diversity of our peoples, about which I have no agrument, looks beyond the borders of existing nation states to the ancient regions of Europe, such as Wales, Catalonia, Yorkshire, Scotland and Bavaria, and wishes to work for a decentralised structure which is the characteristic of federal structures and entrenches their rights to their cultural identities and the maximum control over their own lives.

"Europe des regions" will not happen quickly, but that is our goal and the decision at Maastricht to establish a council of the regions is a start which we applaud. As against that approach, there is the intergovernmental approach favoured by the Government, the Prime Minister and, I take it, by the Minister for Overseas Development, who is sitting on the Government Front Bench, which wishes to reserve the decisions that the Community makes to intergovernmental negotiation through the Council of Ministers and continues, even in the face of fundamental changes in scale—which they seem simultaneously to accept and reject—to cling to notions of national sovereignty which we contend are now simply unreal.

That was brought out rather well in a short exchange when an hon. Member asked the Foreign Secretary for clarification but did not get terribly much. The hon. Member asked whether our policy on what was Yugoslavia is our policy because it is our policy or because we have agreed with others that we will accept their view. The Foreign Secretary said that it is our policy to agree with other people what our view is. It was all quite interesting. The Minister may shake her head, but we shall go through such a hoop many times in the future. The idea that we must never decide foreign affairs matters by a majority vote is simply not the case.

The Government are seeking to retain the exclusive power of Governments, backed by national bureaucracies, to make decisions in secret, which is what they do now. An advertisement placed in The Times last month by the European Movement sums that up succinctly and well. It said: There is at present no genuine parliamentary control over Community legislation, either by the European Parliament or by member states' parliaments. Democratic accountability requires that Community laws be approved by the European Parliament as well as the Council of Ministers and that the Commission be clearly responsible to the Parliament. The procedures for unanimous voting and the use of the veto in Council must be reduced to a minimum … The traditional concept of national sovereignty can no longer serve the interests of the people of Britain or of other member states. The British Government should promote a sharing of sovereignty through democratic Community institutions in those policy areas which require a common approach while retaining responsibility for matters best handled nationally. That was signed by a broad cross-section of British society and public opinion, including hon. Members from both sides of the House.

Many hon. Members agree with the Liberal Democrat amendment but feel that they cannot step outside the confines of party, especially since the Front-Bench spokesmen, as we heard yesterday and today, perceive these debates more as demonstrations of unity and occasions for inter-party criticism—leavened, one hopes, by a few good jokes—than as opportunities to examine issues openly and frankly. The Foreign Secretary found how dangerous it was to fall for a moment into frankness when he began to muse on the future of what was the Soviet Union because he was immediately pounced on. But we should be able to do that in a mature democracy.

Sadly, Maastricht widened rather than reduced the democratic deficit, but, paradoxically, at the same time, by the nature of the decisions made and by the depth of common purpose evident among the other 11, it clearly represented an historic commitment to ever-closer union which, if it is to function with democratic acceptance, will in the end be federal.

Yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown), the leader of the Liberal Democrats, set out plainly and unequivocally why we are so profoundly unhappy about the opt-out arrangements for EMU and the social chapter, arguments underlined by the right hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East. I shall not go over those arguments again. We have gained nothing and on the way have lost, for example, effective involvement in the central bank. We do not accept that investment is best bought by clinging to lower social standards.

I am sure that I speak for many when I say that I did not like seeing my country isolated at Maastricht. It need not have been. Nor, as far as I can see, did it achieve any particular advantages. On the contrary, it produced unnecessary uncertainties and roused old sleeping nationalist attitudes—beware the Germans, watch the French, perfidious Albion.

With great respect to the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills, the solution to our problems lies not in nationalism or mystic notions of sovereignty, but in constructive bridge building between our similar-sized powers in Europe. Maastricht took that forward, but more despite us than because of us.

7.39 pm
Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)

The hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston) will be glad to hear that I do not intend to follow him. I will comment only that I find some divergence between his claim that he is worried about his country, and his advocacy of totally surrendering its sovereignty to Europe.

Yesterday, the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume), the leader of the Social Democratic and Labour party, gave the House a potted history of the bad deeds of England and the United Kingdom in the history of Ireland. Speaking to the hon. Gentleman outside the House, I told him that I regretted that he had not started at the beginning.

The beginning of England's interference in Ireland, if one may call it that, began at the invitation of Pope Adrian, who gave Ireland to the English monarch Henry II at the price of Peter's pence, telling the King to bring the church of St. Patrick into line with the Church of Rome. I regret that the hon. Member for Foyle, who is not in his place, did not start at the beginning. As an Ulster Protestant and planter, I have no apology to make for the presence of the Protestant people in the island of Ireland, or for Britain within Ireland. The most peaceful years in Ireland were those lived under the authority of the United Kingdom Parliament.

Right hon. and hon. Members should take a look at the European Parliament and European Committees, and ask whether they would like to commit their future to that Parliament. I invite them to read the resolutions that were tabled and debated in the European Parliament during the Gulf crisis, and to note the outcome. Resolution after resolution was carried but then thrown out on a consequential vote, yet we are asked to give away our future to the institutions of Europe.

Everyone has something to say about Maastricht, but Jacques Delors has the most to say about it. He claims that the blueprint drawn up by his ad hoc group and tabled at the start of the discussions has taken a great step forward. One Labour Member said that we ought to be careful that gradualism was not pushed by Jacques Delors and his friends in such a way as to release the pressure on any of the brakes that were applied at Maastricht. From the documents before us, it appears that the basis of that gradualism has already been written into the treaty.

The House had a great debate on the social chapter. The rights of the working classes should be defended, and the House ought to legislate in their defence. This is where such legislation should be enacted. We should not hand over that responsibility to some European institution, and let it legislate for better conditions for the working classes of this country.

The House has a record second to none compared with Europe in respect of the battles that it has fought and won in deciding the best way forward for working class people. Powers are given in the treaty to our 11 European partners to use the institutions, procedures, and mechanisms of the treaty to carry forward their own social policies. We were told at the time that they had a treaty outside the Maastricht treaty. When one reads the small print, one discovers the concealed powers that lie beneath its surface.

We are all concerned about national security, but the treaty makes it clear in article D that the common foreign and security policy shall include all questions related to the security of the European Union, including the eventual framing of a common defence policy, which might in time lead to a common defence. The platform has been built for further developments along those lines. That article also states: The Union requests the Western European Union, which is an integral part of the development of the European Union, to elaborate and implement decisions and actions of the Union which have defence implications. That gradual process and vision of a federal Europe is clearly set out.

I was struck by Chancellor Kohl's remarks that the people of Europe must decide whether they want a European Germany or a German Europe. That kind of language should set alarm bells ringing in the ears of the whole of Europe. Yesterday, Chancellor Kohl returned home to celebrate the fact that he had led the Council of Ministers by the nose, in gaining recognition for Croatia. The platform for implementing Jacques Delors' directive is to be found already in the treaty.

As to foreign affairs, I am sure that we all feel concern about the majority voting system. If we had asked for a firm decision from Europe during the Gulf crisis, we would not have received one. I have for years been a member of the European Parliament's political committee, and when I attended one of its weekly meetings during the Gulf crisis, I witnessed nothing but confusion and attacks on those who were fighting to give freedom to the disputed territories. There was nothing but criticism of the allied forces' actions, yet today we are asked at least to say that the treaty is all right.

I admire the Prime Minister's achievements, but he was fighting a losing battle because the Single European Act had already been passed—and thus it leaves no room for any Prime Minister to get something good out of Europe. Perhaps now that the brakes have been put on and warning voices have been raised Europe will proceed a little more slowly. However, if any right hon. or hon. Members believe that Europe has changed course, they have another think coming. They will soon see by Europe's actions what it intends to do in future.

I appreciate the spirit and passion displayed by the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd). As he said, we are being asked today to kill the spirit of our nation, and to say to its people, "Your nationalism, sovereignty, and status as a nation have ended: we will give you a new future which does not take into consideration your glorious past."

7.48 pm
Mr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East)

The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) will understand if I do not follow him on the part played by Pope Adrian in Irish history.

I do not accept that the European Community's development means suffocating Britain as a nation—if it is a nation. My nation is Scotland. We have been part of the Westminster Parliament for a long time, but that does not alter the reality of Scottish history and culture, and of our nationhood. I doubt that the development of European institutions will threaten England's nationhood, undermine the logic of maintaining the United Kingdom, or of this Parliament taking important decisions—at least for the rest of our lifetimes.

Much of the debate—especially yesterday's opening speeches by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition—focused, understandably, on the development of a single currency and the question of the social chapter and the social charter. I shall not say much about those issues, but this evening's speech by a former Foreign Secretary—the right hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Sir G. Howe)—struck me as a powerful demonstration of the extent to which the Government's efforts and their negotiating strength have been wasted in the argument about securing an opportunity to opt out.

The Chancellor's refusal to respond to the challenge issued by the Leader of the Opposition, who asked him whether he could envisage joining a common currency if Germany, France, Italy and other countries went ahead with it—and this morning's television interview—made it clear that he is not prepared to say that, in such circumstances, Britain would not join. Each of us knows in his heart of hearts that Britain would have to participate. It will damage our economy enormously if, in the run-up to the development of a common currency, many years go by in which it is thought that we will not be in there from the beginning.

The hon. Member for Antrim, North spoke of the development of a common foreign, security and defence policy. The draft treaty is an historic document, which lays down important ways in which the European institutions will develop in the years—probably decades—that lie ahead. It covers a wide range of important issues in addition to the social charter and the single currency.

I was glad to hear the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George). I do not regard NATO as the holy grail; for years, Labour's policy has been the mutual dissolution of NATO and the Warsaw pact. Now, however, we are faced with the dissolution of the Warsaw pact, along with the elevation of NATO to an important role in the Europe of the future.

No one is suggesting that NATO should be wound up or disbanded in the short run, but we must recognise that events have moved on. There is a logic in developing the Western European Union. Only three members of the European Community are not WEU members. One is Greece, which the Maastricht summit decided will join; that leaves only the Danes—who may well join—and Ireland. According to Prime Minister Haughey, Ireland too will eventually join.

The Western European Union is, in effect, a collective defence treaty. It constitutes a clear agreement that, if one member country is attacked, the others are obliged to help it to resist that attack. Surely it makes sense for us to face up to the logic of current developments. The WEU will develop and grow. Defence policy exists to defend our peoples from attack, but it is also the servant of foreign policy: it is unrealistic to believe that common foreign and security policies can be developed in the Community without implications for European defence policy. We should participate in the relevant discussions, and recognise that the WEU has an increasing role to play.

The Community budget was not discussed at Maastricht, but its distribution is surely important to the Community's future. If, post-Maastricht, the Government do nothing else, they must put reform of the common agricultural policy at the heart of the negotiations in Europe. The matter will not be settled by the Agriculture Ministers; it will have to be settled by the European Council.

Last year, the CAP cost the Community £23,000 million. That is nonsense: 60 per cent. of the Community budget went on agriculture. The CAP has failed the producers, who are in dire straits—particularly in this country. It has raised the price of food above its necessary level, in this country and others; it has caused real damage to the developing countries, and to world trade; it is hugely costly. All in all, it is a disaster, and it should be resolved before anything else is discussed in Europe.

Mr. Nicholas Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)

Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition said that it would be possible to find the money for increased convergence from the reform of the CAP. Does the hon. Gentleman share that view?

Mr. Strang

Yes. I believe that we must shift the budget, and spend more on regional policy. In 1991, our expenditure on the social fund constituted 7.3 per cent. of the total social fund budget. Four per cent. was spent on development aid, and only I I per cent. was devoted to the regional fund. As I have said, 60 per cent. was spent on an agricultural policy that has been a complete disaster.

The common agricultural policy—originally developed by the Six as a vehicle for European integration—has become the Community's albatross. It must be radically transformed.

Mr. Budgen


Mr. Strang

By collective decision-making; by the European Council. The CAP is not even serving producers in Europe, let alone those in this country.

Now is the time for us to stand back and look at the development of the European Community. We are part of that Community: we shall not withdraw from it. Our future lies in working with other Community member states. We must consider, then, what attributes we want the Community to develop. In my view, the most desirable quality is a fundamental respect for human rights and democracy: we must enshrine that quality in the Community for the long-term future.

The Maastricht treaty makes a start along that road. According to its preamble, The Union shall respect fundamental rights as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States as general principles of Community law … The Union shall provide itself with the means necessary to attain its objectives and carry through its policies. The European Convention on Human Rights is, of course, a Council of Europe declaration; it has its own Commission, Council of Ministers and court. However, it has not the authority to enforce its decisions. The Community needs to develop an institution that will make it impossible for a member state to remain a member if it departs from the conventions governing human rights and our democratic traditions.

It is no accident that it was Spain that advanced the idea of European citizenship—the right of free movement and, above all, the right to defend those human rights and democratic traditions. Turkey must not be allowed into the European Community: countries cannot be accepted as member states unless they respect fundamental human rights, and operate the democratic system enjoyed by this and other European countries.

That is especially important in a long-term context, in regard to the possible accession of eastern European countries. The history of such countries as Romania shows us that, above all, we must ensure that any country that joins the Community and then abandons its democratic tradition must be excluded from the Community and its political institutions. Such a ruling would constitute a firm sanction, and would prevent that from happening.

7.58 pm
Mr. John Butcher (Coventry, South-West)

Earlier I gave an undertaking not to detain the House for more than three minutes. If my language is a little attenuated as a result, I apologise.

I wish to make three points. Maastricht, with its mechanistic considerations, did not address the two most serious questions now facing Europe with sufficient gravity and in sufficient detail. What it did address in considerable detail was the movement towards European monetary union; but that may, in due course, become an irrelevance.

First, let me deal with the two questions that were not dealt with in sufficient detail at Maastricht, although they were mentioned in peripheral communiqués. I refer, in the first instance, to the recession that is now worldwide. A growing number of commentators now say that it may become a world depression. We know what is going on in north America; we can all see what is happening in Japan. Moreover, there is the repatriation of capital in the middle east. In addition, there are terrible problems in western Europe and the awesome tragedy that is now unfolding in eastern Europe. Faced with such world pressures, we should be committing an act of supreme folly if the Group of Seven did not take measures to eliminate the possibility of the recession becoming a depression.

On Black Monday, the Group of Seven decided to reduce interest rates at a time when, as we now know, it was important to reduce interest rates. Although the western European, northern European and Pacific basin economies are screaming for a co-ordinated reduction in interest rates, we are, apparently, doing nothing. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has a good track record in identifying key international issues and getting people together to deal with them. I hope that in the very near future he will convene a Group of Seven meeting in London to tackle that question. He is well equipped to do so and London is the place to begin that process.

In addition, we still underestimate the speed with which the tragedy in Russia, Byelorussia and the Ukraine is unfolding. In 1946 the Marshall plan was put together—an act of supreme generosity on the part of the people of north America to help the people of western Europe to put their war-ravaged economies back on their feet. The problems that face us, in putting together an aid programme for eastern Europe, are much more complex than ones of mere generosity. The people of eastern Europe are proud and talented, but they have never had the opportunity to develop the enterprise culture. They have neither the banking systems nor the infrastructure to deal with aid programmes on the scale that is required now.

Western Europe has surplus manpower and woman-power. Compared with eastern Europe, we have immense resources, skills and all the talents that are required to help our brethren in eastern Europe, yet we are more or less silent. Now is the time, while there is still time, to put together a sophisticated programme, on the scale of the Marshall plan, so that we can help to reduce the awful social problems in other parts of Europe.

Let me give the House an example of just how clever we shall need to be. There is no point in sending large food convoys to Russia unless we ensure that the food is distributed in the hamlets, not in the cities. We must keep the farmers on the land. If we put the food into the big cities, the farmers will be pulled off the land. We shall destroy their capability to feed themselves in the months and years to come. If we are to solve that problem, a tremendous management effort will be required. Now is the time to begin it.

My last point is that economic and monetary union will not happen. It cannot happen. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) referred to the scandal of the common agricultural policy. If we are to achieve economic and industrial cohesion between northern and southern Europe, we shall need scores of billions of ecu to pay the poor economies of southern Europe not to do the things that they could do without economic and monetary union. The concept is flawed at its very heart. We shall see evidence of that in the next few months.

It may be that the pressures on the exchange rate mechanism, starting right now with today's 0.5 per cent. hike in German interest rates at a time of world recession, will pull apart the mechanism which, in effect, is the first stage of the whole movement towards economic and monetary union. The exchange rate mechanism is nonsense. Jacques Delors says that floating exchange rates are the grit in the oil. Floating exchange rates are the oil. They take the strain. It is like the differential gear on the back axle of a car: it allows the vehicle to manoeuvre without tearing itself apart on the back axle.

Within the three minutes that you have allowed me tonight, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the one issue upon which a great deal of time was spent at Maastricht may prove to be an irrelevance, while insufficient consideration was given to the two issues upon which a great deal of time should have been spent.

8.4 pm

Mr. Giles Radice (Durham, North)

Harold Wilson once said that a week is a long time in politics. Last week the Prime Minister returned from Maastricht in a blaze of media hype. If we believed what we read in Conservative newspapers, particularly the popular press, we would have thought that it was the greatest British victory since Waterloo. The Prime Minister referred to the result of the Maastricht negotiations as game, set and match for Britain. It was a completely inappropriate metaphor. Many might wonder why the Prime Minister chose to use that metaphor, since the British are notoriously bad tennis players. It was, moreover, an inappropriate metaphor as it conjured up the inappropriate image of Britain as a doughty defender besieged by marauding continentals.

It was the right hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Sir G. Howe) who reminded the Commons in his resignation statement—it was good to hear him again today—that Europe is not a zero sum game in which we can only win or lose and that a good European settlement is one in which the interests of all European Community members are taken into account. Above all, it was foolish to use the language of triumphalism when it is so obviously at variance with the facts.

The reality is that the United Kingdom's negotiating strategy at Maastricht was against the best interests of the nation. To opt out once can be put down to misfortune; to opt out twice is not merely carelessness—it is a major disaster for the British people. The first opt-out is the right to opt out of the third stage of economic and monetary union, an achievement of which the Government say that they are proud. It is abundantly clear that the right to opt out of EMU is a device to unite the Conservative party. That is clear not just to the Opposition but, according to the opinion polls, to the British people.

If one talks to most Government Ministers one finds that, whatever they say in public, they accept privately that if the single currency goes ahead Britain will have to join, but that the opt-out protocol was needed to secure the support of the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) and her friends in the Lobby.

The weakness of having the right to opt out as one's major bargaining objective is that one cannot influence other, more crucial decisions. In particular, the British Government's negotiators were unable to affect the crucial decision on the timing of the third stage. The one real surprise of the EMU treaty, and the great achievement of the French negotiators, was to secure that the final date for the start of the third stage is 1 January 1999. The Chancellor had always said that he was against a fixed final date, but because the whole of Britain's credit had been used up in securing the right to opt out, the Government were unable to influence that decision.

In private briefings, Ministers tell journalists that the fact that the opt-out clause has been secured does not prevent us from joining the single currency at some time in the future. The problem with that argument, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock) pointed out yesterday in a notable speech, is that it creates very considerable uncertainty—uncertainty about the intentions of foreign investors and inward investment, uncertainty about domestic investment in this country and uncertainty in the City about whether it will retain its predominant position. I agree with the right hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East that it would have been far better for this country if the Government had accepted the objective of a single currency. Such a decision by the British at Maastricht would have lent credibility to our anti-inflation policies, it would have provided the economic and monetary framework within which it would have become possible to promote economic change and convergence and, above all, it would have shown that we were serious about economic and monetary union.

The second opt-out decision was to opt out of the social arrangements. There are two things wrong with that decision. First, it appears to say that Britain, alone of the 12 members of the EC, could not afford the minimum social and labour market arrangements that the other 11 say that they can afford. It also appears to say that British employees, alone among European employees, should not have a stake in the single market. That is an extraordinary thing for the Government to say. Also, the idea that Britain, of all nations, can survive and prosper as the sweatshop of Europe is absurd.

Secondly, that decision is wrong because it goes some way towards creating a two-tier Europe, with the United Kingdom in the second division. Jean Monnet, architect of the European Community, warned against giving the British a special position in the Community. He said: Their national character inclines them to seek a special position which will save them from having to change. It would have been better for Britain if the Government had not, for party reasons, sought opt-outs at Maastricht. In words which seem increasingly hollow today, the Prime Minister once said that he wanted us to be where we belong—at the heart of Europe. He went on to say that we should be working with our partners to build a future. Instead of working with our partners at Maastricht, the Government opted out. At Maastricht, as so often in the past, the British were the reluctant Europeans. We need a new Government—a Labour Government—who are genuinely and without ambiguity ready to participate constructively in the building of the European Community.

8.12 pm
Sir Geoffrey Pattie (Chertsey and Walton)

In the past 18 months I have been privileged to be the vice-chairman (Europe) of the Conservative party. In that capacity I have had dealings with our Members of the European Parliament. I have watched the negotiations that are proceeding to join the European People's party. I have had dealings with centre-right parties in the EFTA countries—in Finland, Norway, Sweden and Austria. It has been particularly interesting to develop our relations with centre-right parties in central and eastern Europe and in the former Soviet Union.

During all those discussions and contacts, various things have become clear. First, the so-called debate that is supposed to go on about whether the Community should be broadened or deepened is a sham. Both processes must happen simultaneously. As many people have pointed out in the debate, the European Community was designed for six countries and now has 12. Manifestly, it does not work as efficiently as it might. Therefore, deepening in the sense of improving the process is essential.

As the process moves forward, the greatest need is to inject the necessary accountability. On that I have a great deal of sympathy with the remarks made in the excellent speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd). We must not just drive forward without improving the degree of accountability to the public. The Commission must be constrained and accountable to the European Parliament, at the very least in budgetary matters. As an instrument of accountability, the Council of Ministers has been shown to be increasingly insufficient. Therefore, deepening in that sense is essential.

During the debate we have heard a great deal about opt out. As was pointed out by Sir John Killick in a letter to The Times a few days ago, we do not need any lessons on that from France. France has managed to opt out of NATO in a semi-detached way for the past 25 years. We should bear that in mind.

On broadening, I come to the one overriding problem that I have in the entire debate. While we in the European Community continue to argue, debate and refine, our new friends in central and eastern Europe become progressively disillusioned and, with that, comes a threat to their democracies. In the past year I have been privileged to visit almost all the capital cities of central and eastern Europe and many of those in the former Soviet Union. We must remind ourselves, particularly in western Europe, that, with the exception of Czechoslovakia, in central and eastern Europe there is hardly any democratic tradition and there is none in the Soviet Union. Even in this House we must remember that democracy is not an entirely natural state, however much we might like to think that it is.

On 2 January, the Russian Government plan to release controls on prices. It will mean that prices will rise by about 200 per cent. I understand that, at the same time, they will increase state wages and benefits by about 100 per cent. I have been told from similar sources in Moscow that that could mean that by the spring virtually everybody in Russia will be living below the poverty line.

In the recent elections in Poland there was a turnout of 40 per cent., with a proliferation of small parties and no outcome. A 40 per cent. turnout in the first genuinely free election in Poland for 45 years must raise serious questions for us in the west about whether we are doing the job that we should be doing, as my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-West (Mr. Butcher) reminded us.

The revolutions in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria are under threat from a rather potent combination of disillusion and a feeling of hopelessness. Many people in those countries still look to the EC as a possible saviour or, at least, an organisation to be associated with and, in due course, to join. Security considerations are important. All those countries were former members of the Warsaw pact and they feel naked and bereft now that they have no collective security arrangements. I hope that the NATO co-operation council will assist in that process.

We can welcome the association agreements announced the other day for three of the countries to which I referred. However, the Government have been a long time in arriving at those agreements. They have been rather grudging and we should accept that, in all those cases, trade is better than aid, even though it will be politically uncomfortable for us. It will mean less expensive products coming into our markets. If we cannot cope with that, given the degree of political maturity that we have in the west, I shall be disappointed. We are not getting this right and it is posing a major political problem in central and eastern Europe.

Our new friends in that region can see that, behind the vision and the rhetoric that is so involved with the European Community, there is horse-trading and deals are being done. They are becoming increasingly cynical. That will be a problem.

If the European Community stands for anything, it is a wider outreach to all those peoples throughout Europe who look to it as the best hope of safeguarding their democracies and improving their economies. If we fail them, we shall be held to account by history and our failure will be very serious.

8.19 pm
Mr. Edward O'Hara (Knowsley, South)

I wish to address my remarks to the Prime Minister's failures of vision and duty in the negotiations at Maastricht—the hat trick of failures in economic policy, social policy and foreign policy.

The Prime Minister boasts of his achievement in winning the opt-out concession in respect of economic and monetary union. I see it rather as the opportunity for us to press our noses to the window, from the outside looking in, while the other 11 forge ahead without us.

The Prime Minister was in fact telling the other 11 and the rest of the world that he did not have the confidence in the future of the British economy to commit himself. If that is so, he can kiss goodbye to any prospect of London becoming the financial centre of the unified European Community under EMU. What concept, what factor is more important than confidence in determining the location of that financial centre? We shall be seen as an offshore island, semi-detached from the mainstream of European development. That is the only message that the Prime Minister is sending to our partners in the European Community.

I make no apology for personalising these matters. The Conservative party and its partners in the press were happy to build a platform for what they were determined to present as the Prime Minister's eventual victory at Maastricht. In fact, they were predetermined to report it as such—as can be seen from the way in which they wrote up the conference in the days and weeks before.

I understand why. The Prime Minister is the only asset that the Government and the Tory party have, in an Administration that is collapsing around their ears. The Prime Minister, although intimately implicated in the policies that have proved so disastrous, must be distanced from any failure and coated with the teflon of gesture after gesture. This week, we have had the definitive example in respect of mortgage repossessions. I have my theory of why the Prime Minister's image is said to be growing greyer by the day—he is now covered from head to toe in teflon.

I was talking about the message that the Prime Minister sends to our European Community partners. He also sends a message to potential inward investors, such as the United States and Japan. During the past week, there has been much accusation and counter-accusation about sweatshop investment. Looking to the future, where will the quality investment, the high-tech investment, be—high-tech or coolie-powered operations? Will they be inside or outside the EMU bloc? The answer is obvious: inside the EMU bloc, which will not include us.

The Prime Minister boasts about the restructuring of the British economy. Well, they tried it in the early 1980s, and in my part of the country—in the north-west and in Merseyside in particular—they created an industrial wasteland. I am reminded of Tacitus who, referring to the Roman empire, put the following words into the mouth of a Briton: "Solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant"—"They make a wilderness and call it peace". Throughout the 1980s, the Conservative Government have twice created an industrial desert and called it industrial restructuring.

Certainly, the Government are set on restructuring our industrial economy for the 21st century so that it has the status of a developing world economy. Fortunately, that will not happen, because a Labour Government will set us on the right road of participation in developing the economy of the European Community in its world context.

The "will we, won't we" stance of the Government on Europe is like that of a man debating with himself—no dialogue with the other 11, of course—whether to get off a ship in mid-Atlantic; or like a balloon debate with different rules, the object being to get the chance to bail out of the balloon.

The Government have always been out of step with Europe. They have never begun to understand, for example, the concept of regionalism. The big deception of the 1980s has been the accusation that the European Community is centralist—when, during that period, ours has become the most centralised administration, while the European Community does not just pay lip service to regionalism but offers structural funds to develop or regenerate economically depressed regions.

It is impressive to see the results of that policy. I have seen it in, for example, Lille in the Nord-Pas de Calais—grasping that assistance with a philosophy of "go, go, go". I mention Nord-Pas de Calais because it is at the other end of the channel tunnel. There are ambitious infrastructure developments designed, for example, to take full advantage of Lille's position at the end of the route from the tunnel and on the transport routes to be developed between Copenhagen and Barcelona. What a contrast with the philosophy and practice on this side of the channel tunnel. If the train grand vitesse came through the tunnel, it would fall off the rails, because they could not cope with it. That is the two-speed Europe.

What about the structural funds, which are put at risk by the Government's refusal to apply the rules of additionality, to which they signed up? I refer particularly to the withholding of the RECHAR funding, in which my region has an interest. My region suffers as a consequence. What answer did we get the last time that that matter was mentioned in my presence in the House? We were told, "It is our money, and we want it back"—a beggar-my-neighbour policy. That shows that the Government has no commitment to the development of the regions of Europe.

The neighbours being beggared are not in Portugal, Greece or even in Ireland; they are the north-west, the north-east, the north, Scotland and my region of Merseyside. They are the beggars, and they are being beggared by a region in this country—the colonial region of the south-east. We Scouses are used to our city being called the capital of Ireland as a benevolent joke. Believe me, in the light of the Government's attitude to regional policy, in a national and a European context we are a Celtic fringe in the twilight of decline and neglect.

I wish to address myself to social policy, referring first to another great deception—a wilful perversion of the intentions and extension of the social chapter in respect of union rights. The social chapter specifically refers to individual rights, not collective rights, and, indeed, there is the safeguard of the veto in respect of them.

There is another wilful perversion—a deliberate confusion of the failed and discredited democratic centralism of the eastern bloc with the great European tradition of democratic socialism, with which I am proud to associate myself and which underlies the social chapter. The Prime Minister referred to the critical question whether our social policies are made here or in Brussels. The people I represent would be far better off if they were protected from the social implications of unbridled capitalism.

Topically, this week we have seen the casualisation of labour, the destabilisation of an economy based on credit, the effects of that on the housing market—that was an important factor in the great repossession crisis—the fact that the typical mortgage is no longer based on a regular income, and the wider effects throughout the economy.

Who are the first victims? They are the economically vulnerable, who include many of those whom I represent. They lose their jobs, homes, services and welfare benefits. When one is in a hole such as the one in which they find themselves, one looks for another place. There is a better one available, in Europe, with its social dimension to the single market, outside of which we have no future. I refer not just to the people of my region but to people nationally, to the young whose future in the 21st century is our responsibility now. They are in no doubt which is the better place to which to go.

On foreign policy, I agree with the Government—as my party agrees—that we must avoid immediate dislocating effects in terms of NATO in the short and, perhaps, the medium term. God knows there have been enough dislocating developments outside NATO, the EC and the Western European Union. Surely we must look to the longer term, to the converging economic interests of the European Community combined with the megalithic—one might even say megatonic—scale of the EC economic bloc, especially when it is enlarged.

That will bring with it needs and responsibilities commensurate with the influence and power that it will have on a worldwide scale, dwarfing our national significance. We do no good to our people if we ignore that. The vaunting cries of victory over the other 11 in respect of foreign policy at Maastricht did not outlast the week, as Chancellor Kohl demonstrated with his determination over the recognition of the states in Yugoslavia.

There is a new edifice of foreign policy for the 21st century which needs to be set in place. It demands 20/20 vision—a clear vision of the future and not a myopia which can see no further than the narrow electoral advantage of the Tory party in an election campaign which can last no more than four and a half months.

In reverse order, I see the outcome of Maastricht as purblindness to the realpolitik of the 21st century; in social policy, a betrayal of the rights to a decent quality of working life for our people—unless the Government deny that right—and in economic policy, an admission that the net result of 12 years of Conservative government is abject failure. For all the hurt, it has not worked.

8.29 pm
Mr. Patrick Ground (Fel tham and Heston)

This debate seems to have a quite different character from the debate that we had before the Maastricht conference. In that debate many hon. Members who are not standing for re-election expressed strong doubts and reservations about the countries of the European Community moving more closely together. In this debate, the majority of hon. Members who have been called to speak and who are standing for re-election—the hon. Member for Knowsley, South (Mr. O'Hara) is no exception—appear to have far fewer reservations and far less serious doubts about the process of closer union.

I certainly count myself among those who welcome steps towards closer unity in Europe, not because I believe that there is no hope for this country outside the European Community, but because I believe that by becoming part of a partnership in Europe we lose some of our independence but gain greatly in influence over a wider area. I believe that the deal is in this country's interest.

In party political terms, I am not sorry that the agreement that has been reached is one which largely unites the Conservative party and divides the Opposition so much that they could not even agree on an amendment to the Government motion but left it to the Liberal Democrats to table one.

I welcome the fact that the agreement that has been reached will prove acceptable to the overwhelming majority of hon. Members. I shall make three brief points about the terms of the agreement. First, I especially welcome the fact that the terms of the agreement with regard to foreign affairs leave this country free when necessary to take its own initiatives, but also serve to encourage the development of a common European Community policy when that is possible.

Secondly, I welcome the fact that a framework has been found which will retain American involvement in the defence of Europe and, thirdly, I greatly welcome the further powers that are being given to the European Parliament. A sensible use of the powers of this House is to ensure that more useful powers are given to the European Parliament so that it can exercise functions different from those of the House but which will serve to keep the Commission more democratically accountable.

One of the principal criticisms that I have heard from the Opposition about the terms of the agreement relates to the monetary union provisions. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling)—and the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) when he wound up for the Opposition last night—implied that this country was likely to be left out of monetary matters as a result of our right not to move to a single currency. That is not so. All the obligations relating to monetary policy and economic convergence up to stage 3 will apply to us just as much as to other members and there is no reason to suppose that we are any less likely than other members to be ready to go ahead with a single currency in 1997. It requires a decision of the United Kingdom Government and of the United Kingdom Parliament if it is intended to move to stage 3 and notification of the decision to the Council places us in the same position as all the other members.

The hon. Member for Hamilton said that a decision was required by this Parliament after the Maastricht treaty was drawn up next year and that that should serve as sufficient ratification by the House of the monetary union arrangements. I believe that Parliament is likely to make a much better-informed decision in 1996, if it is in a position to discuss the matter, than it is in 1992. That is a thoroughly sensible and justifiable way for a mature democracy to proceed.

The other main criticism advanced by the Opposition relates to the social chapter. The legislation extending over 150 years which has been passed by the House has shown our concern for all matters listed in article 118—the improvement of the working environment to protect workers' health and safety, better working conditions, equal opportunities for men and women and so on. This Parliament has shown as great a concern as any Parliament in Europe about such matters.

On the difficulties of the social chapter, article 117 recognises the need to maintain the competitiveness of the economy and to take account of the diverse forms of national practices. Article 118 recognises that directives should avoid imposing administrative, financial and legal constraints in a way that would hold back the creation and development of small and medium-sized undertakings. Therefore, many of the Government's objections are in some way recognised in the drafting of the articles, but I believe that the Government's position was carefully considered and based on this country's bitter experience in the late 1960s and 1970s.

I do not believe that a British Government with the experience of trade union activities which we had in the 1960s and 1970s could be expected to sign an agreement consigning the task of agreeing such matters to an arrangement at European level between management and labour. I regret that the Commission failed to grasp the depth and strength of the Government's objections to such provisions.

It is difficult to believe that other countries would wish to be involved in the troubles that we had in the 1960s and 1970s. It is difficult to believe that Communitywide discussions between management and labour should be the only way to resolve such matters for the purposes of the social chapter. It is clear that small businesses would be left out and that the competitiveness of individual countries could never be assessed if such agreements were the basis for future action. I believe that the 11 countries which have decided to go in a separate direction would not necessarily wish to proceed separately in such matters and I should like the Government to make a further attempt to repeat the argument to the 11 to explain their deep objections to those provisions and try to reach a formula for agreement about the social chapter. Such an agreement should not be impossible given the considerable achievements and negotiations that have succeeded on the rest of the treaty.

I believe that the agreement as a whole marks a new step towards closer European union and that it represents acceptable and sustainable progress towards closer union of the countries of the European Community. I am pleased to note from the debate that the cause of closer union appears to be shared by most Members of the House.

8.39 pm
Ms. Marjorie Mowlam (Redcar)

I begin by disagreeing with the description by the hon. and learned Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Ground) of the Opposition's two major objections. My hon. Friends the Members for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) and for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling) were not talking about the discussions on the opt-outs, but were saying that we would not be able to participate in the same way as the other 11 countries, because of the position that the Government have adopted.

Mr. Ground


Ms. Mowlam

No, I shall not give way, because I have only 10 minutes.

On the social chapter, it is no use the hon. and learned Gentleman saying that the Government can introduce the changes. We have waited 12 years. To take one simple example, working women in this country do not have the maternity benefits that women working in other European countries consider a basic right. We have waited 12 years —[interruption.] You don't get pregnant, sweetheart. We have waited 12 years for that change, and it has not come. What the Prime Minister said in the Chamber yesterday was inaccurate—we are arguing not about the length of maternity leave, but about maternity benefits. As female Conservative hon. Members know, about 50 per cent. of women who apply for maternity benefit do not get it, because of the stringent qualifications. The social chapter could achieve such basic rights for women. That is why we are pushing for it, and that is why the other 11 countries are in a different position from this country.

Similarly, on the 48-hour limit on working hours, the Secretary of State for Employment has again misled the House with inaccurate statements. The argument is not that everybody should work for 48 hours. There are clear exemptions—for contracts, emergency services and so on. It simply says that people cannot be forced.

Early-day motion 426, which several hon. Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Langbaurgh (Dr. Kumar), have signed, describes how a butcher in my constituency was sacked because he did not want to work more than 12 hours' overtime a week—he wanted to spend more time with his family. That would not happen if the directive were in place. That, and not anything else, is the meaning of such directives.

I shall concentrate on the impact of the decisions made at Maastricht on the financial services industry of this country. Hon. Members on both sides of the House know that financial services are a crucial part of our economy—17.5 per cent. of the invisible earnings in our GDP result from financial services, and 2.5 million people are employed in the industry. That is the highest number in any country in Europe, and it means that 11.5 per cent. of people work in financial services in this country.

I am not talking about the square mile alone, but about Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, north Yorkshire and elsewhere. Financial services are a major part of our economy—a part which has managed to keep some vibrancy during the two recessions that the Government have created.

The Government's decision not to opt into the EMU has put a question mark over confidence in the future of London as the leading financial centre. I assure the House that we want to keep the City of London as the lead financial centre. By opting out of the EMU the Government have imposed a backward-looking perspective. They have made the British economy more vulnerable and the future role of the City of London more questionable—not only this year, but for the next decade.

The Opposition still want to fight to bring the European central bank to the United Kingdom, but the Government have played this very badly. They took the European bank for reconstruction and development—that was bad chess playing by any definition. We have that, with a French president, which makes it more difficult for us to argue that we should have the European central bank—but we must do it.

A Conservative Member and several of my hon. Friends argued earlier that a shift is taking place as the EFTA countries come into the Community, locating the centre further away from the east and back towards the north. We hope that that will help to keep the focus on London as a central player within Europe. The Government will have to push for that, but their record on financial services, both at and before Maastricht, is appalling. I will give two or three examples. There is the investment services directive and the capital adequacy directive. The United Kingdom asked for that directive. We tried again on Monday, but Department of Trade and Industry Ministers again failed to secure agreement. Having asked for it, they failed to deliver it. That ruins our credibility and any standing that we have in such negotiations. Such a history makes it difficult for us to argue our corner in Europe.

The insurance industry is another good example. The Government's ideological blinkers for the free market are worn at the expense of that industry. They talk about a level playing field, but our industry has to fight uphill in both halves, so it has its back against the wall, and will have for the next five years.

Takeover policy is another example. The Government care about the free market, at the expense of our industry. We should consider the poison pill in France, the structural relationship of banking to the financial sector and to industry, and the interplay in Europe. That leaves our industry unfairly exposed.

That is what the Government's negotiations in Europe have done, against a backdrop of decisions that have tied the hands of our financial services industry. The example of TAURUS—the transfer and automated registration of uncertificated stock—illustrates the point. It has taken the Government nearly 10 years and they still move the goal posts on TAURUS every three months. France dematerialised in a number of years. The DTI blames the stock exchange; the stock exchange blames the DTI. The outcome is that our stock exchange is working at a disadvantage compared with those in the rest of Europe.

Regulation does not protect the consumer; it is costly to the industry. The record of regulation in this country is appalling. We have regulations, but we do not use them. The Government could have acted on many of the frauds that have taken place, but they have sat back and let those frauds continue. What do we see in the Financial Times today? We see Maxwell, Levitt, Polly Peck and Blue Arrow—they are all still up and running. We have regulations, such as the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986, but the Government have not used them.

When other people in Europe look at London, they see a host of regulations and a Government who are not prepared to implement them—a cost without any consumer protection. Who would want to use London? This week there was the London futures and options case. There were six people involved, four of them on the board, and they were fined only £60,000 because, as it said in one of the papers, if they had been charged any more the financial hardship would have been too much for them. With that kind of performance, how can we hope that our futures and options can compete against the Deutsche TerminbÖrse and other markets in Europe?

If we are serious about our financial services, we have to introduce some changes. The Department of Trade and Industry—with the set of Ministers that it has had year in and year out—has not had the leadership or implemented the infrastructure that our financial services industry needs.

As the next Government, we shall introduce a consumer protection directive during our European presidency in the second half of the year. We shall implement and use the regulations already on the statute book. As we have said elsewhere, we shall make certain auditing and accounting changes. But above all, we shall fight in Europe for our financial services industry, as the French do for Paris and the Germans for Frankfurt. The Government have left our industry exposed in a way that has lost 400,000 jobs in the past two years and will lose more jobs and more of the focus of the industry if it is left to the post-Maastricht attitude that the Government have manifested.

8.48 pm
Mr. Gerald Howarth (Cannock and Burntwood)

Substantial achievements have come out of the Maastricht agreement which are the result of the considerable skills deployed by my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Foreign Secretary. The first is the exclusion of the social chapter, in which the hand of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Employment was so evident. That is undoubtedly a great fillip for British industry, as has been widely recognised throughout Europe. Far more importantly, the agreement has established the valuable precedent that, when some member states want to increase Community power, they do not need to dragoon other, unwilling member states to join them but can form an agreement outwith the treaty of Rome and beyond the reach of the European Court.

Secondly, establishing the right of the United Kingdom to decide whether it wants to join the single currency was the result of the stern resolve of my right hon. Friends, especially the Chancellor of the Exchequer, not to be browbeaten or to give in on the issue and risk the accusations of isolation and all the other nonsense.

Before my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister went to Maastricht, he said that he would only bring back to the House a deal that he could recommend and that he would not sign otherwise. Yesterday, quoting Eisenhower, he acknowledged that we in Britain study the fine print before signing. As he and I worked at Standard Chartered Bank and I was involved in international lending, he will readily recall that we did not sign loan agreements until they had been meticulously examined. In the same spirit, I know that he would consider it right and proper—indeed, the bounden duty of every hon. Member—to study the treaties that he has brought back.

That duty is even greater, given that the British public are denied access to the documentation. My secretary has been told today by the Foreign Office—I am pleased to see that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is here—that only one copy is available, and that the only way our constituents can obtain copies is by writing to the printer in Brussels. The House is more fortunate, as my right hon. Friends have ensured that a copy is available in the Library. It is most unsatisfactory that the general public are not clear about the precise technical details that we are called on to study, and the onus on us is great.

I have always been concerned about what my right hon. Friend the Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) described so accurately as the "conveyor belt" to federalism. I have opposed almost every Euro-measure before the House since I was elected in 1983, including the Single European Act. Some may, therefore, describe me as a Euro-sceptic.

I have read the treaties and I have a number of profound reservations. I told my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Ground) that I will stand again at the next election and that I do have reservations. Although I applaud the determination of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to keep options open to allow latitude to a future Parliament to decide whether to join a single currency, I have difficulty in sharing his view that we shall not be compelled by economic pressure to join when the time comes. Our membership of the exchange rate mechanism was partly occasioned by that same relentless pressure. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Surrey, East (Sir G. Howe) made it clear that he would be part of that relentless pressure. I regard our management of membership of the ERM as having prolonged the recession quite unnecessarily.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) made clear last month, a single currency would be the quickest way to a federal Europe, requiring the most massive transfer of political and economic power from Westminster to Brussels. My right hon. Friends may be gambling on convergence not taking place and/or the German people waking up and refusing to act as the principal European paymasters. That is a dangerous policy and I wish that my right hon. Friends would spell out that they oppose the principle of a single currency.

The cohesion fund to be established under article 130d by the end of 1993 is intended to help out our Spanish friends. However, that same article permits the Council to define the tasks, priority, objectives and the organisation of the structural funds and could become another vehicle for providing United Kingdom taxpayers' money to assist our Spanish friends in taking business away from the United Kingdom.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) referred yesterday to the powers to be vested in the presidency. Under article E of the common foreign and security policy: The Presidency shall be responsible for the implementation of common measures; in that capacity it shall in principle express the position of the Union in international organisations and international conferences. Furthermore, there will be an obligation on member states that are members of the United Nations Security Council—ourselves and France—to ensure the defence of the positions and the interests of the Union while accepting the responsibilities of ourselves and France under the provisions of the United Nations charter. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) pointed out in an intervention in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, there is at least a recipe for confusion there. The article seems to require the United Kingdom and France to act as agents for other European countries, and in the long run it can only lead to pressure for the removal of France and ourselves from the Security Council, to be replaced by whichever nation happens to hold the six months' presidency of the union.

Above all, there are two other issues about which I feel profoundly unhappy. The treaty on European union provides for the introduction of "citizenship of the Union". I thought that all Conservative Members were against anything other than voluntary membership of unions. Whatever my right hon. Friends say, that seems to mark a clear intention to establish a federal Europe. I am not a citizen of the union, and I do not wish to become a citizen of the union. I shall remain a citizen of the United Kingdom, a status which, I suspect, the vast majority of my fellow countrymen wish to maintain.

Ms. Mowlam

It is not a union.

Mr. Howarth

It is indeed a union. I will explain how a union works, and why I am opposed to federalism. I will quote Professor A. V. Dicey. He said that two conditions were required for federalism to work. He said that there must first exist a body of countries … so closely connected by locality, by history, by race, or the like, as to be capable of bearing, in the eyes of their inhabitants, an impress of common nationality. That seems as true today as it was in the 1880s.

Another important issue is subsidiarity. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary says that there has been a sea change in Europe. Would that he were right. It is common ground that in this country we want to limit the power of the Eurpoean Commission severely, but given that the definition of subsidiarity will most probably be tested in the European Court, which has a record of seeking to extend Community competence, what assurances can my right hon. Friend give us about the advice that he has received as to how the European Court would be likely to construe what is at best a very vague clause?

My right hon. Friends have done well to remove the word "federal" from the text of the treaty, but we should delude ourselves if we believed that we had stopped federalism in its tracks. Many of our continental partners have made it clear that their federal ambitions remain undiminished, and they will simply come back at the next opportunity to gain some of the territory that they failed to take at Maastricht.

Most people in this country are happy to go along with a Common Market in which the United Kingdom has led the way. However, seeing the break-up of the Soviet Union, and seeing what is happening in Yugoslavia, they ask themselves what on earth is the merit in the nations of Europe trying to put themselves into a similar straitjacket, which could lead to all the difficulties to which Conservative and Opposition Members have drawn attention.

The people of Britain will not accept a United States of Europe. My fear is that we are still on the European conveyor belt and that each attempt to deepen the Community will frustrate my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's admirable determination to widen it. My own view has consistently been, "thus far and no further". We have nothing to gain from the new treaties and we should, in my humble opinion, have been better off rejecting them totally. In so far as we have not been able to do that, I much regret that I shall not be able to support the Government in the Lobby tonight, but in recognition of my right hon. Friends' undoubted efforts I shall not vote with the Labour party, whose intellectual dishonesty is apparent in its repeated U-turns on Europe and in its fawning subservience to every socialist measure emanating from Brussels.

The House and the country will be most interested to see that there is no amendment on the Order Paper tabled by the Leader of the Opposition. The Labour party cannot get its own people united in the Lobby, so it has not had the guts to table an amendment. The people of Britain should be warned: the Labour party is so supine and devoid of policy that, if elected to office in this place, it would probably hand over the rights of this Parliament without a whimper.

8.58 pm
Mr. Andrew Hargreaves (Birmingham, Hall Green)

In the two minutes that have been allotted to me before the Front-Bench spokesmen reply to the debate, I should like to make a few points. I hope that I shall not work over the same territory as other hon. Members have explored.

Despite all the party politics, many hon. Members of all parties are deeply concerned about some elements relating to the concept behind this debate. Although many hon. Members have touched on the fear of a deficit of democracy, I have not heard any hon. Member refer to how Britain will try to do something in the new Europe to correct that deficit. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) will say something about their ideas for correcting that deficit of democracy.

There is perhaps a common purpose in the House in that we all feel that minority groups in the new Europe of institutions may face danger. I speak about minority groups because I represent a Birmingham constituency, as does the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, who will reply on behalf of the Opposition. Minority groups in this country might have something to fear, because I do not get the impression that the new Europe is becoming more tolerant. In fact, I get the reverse impression—that as a result of proportional representation, racially intolerant parties are now emerging in Germany, France, Denmark and Belgium. Although we all need to guard against that intolerance, that result leads me to take issue with Liberal Democrat Members on the subject of proportional representation.

I turn now to the concept of the two models of Europe, to what has been referred to as the "Atlanticist Europe" on the defence side and to the concept of "Fortress Europe". I am glad that we have adopted the Atlanticist approach because, despite the impression that one gets from Paris, all attempts to convert us into Fortress Europe will lead to disaster.

The Commission has distorted some of the better aims of the European Community. Its gradualist and centralist approach has converted the idea of a federation into something with which many of my hon. Friends take grave issue. However, as some hon. Members recognise, other parts of Europe have a totally different understanding of the word "federal".

Turning to the concept of subsidiarity, I should like to outline the benefits of the pillared structure or approach. That is a safety valve for the impetus to centralism. If individual Governments feel that pressure points are building up, the pillared structure enables them to do something concrete about it within a framework that is co-operative rather than compulsory or based on coercion. Many of my hon. Friends are worried about much of what we are being "persuaded"—on the basis of coercion—to adopt in Europe. The pillared structure would lead to greater co-operation, not coercion. In that respect also, subsidiarity acts as a safety valve for those who seriously doubt—

Mr. Derek Enright (Hemsworth)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hargreaves

I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman because I have only a little time and wish to conclude on this point.

Subsidiarity acts as a safety valve for matters about which many of us have serious doubts. Despite those doubts, I feel that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has achieved a masterly stroke at Maastricht by providing us with those structures.

9.3 pm

Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

Until my act of brief but uncharacteristic generosity to my neighbour, the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Hargreaves), I had hoped to speak immediately after the hon. Member for Cannock and Burntwood (Mr. Howarth) because I wanted to make two comments about his speech. First, I was touched by his faith in the communication of the media when he said that every person in the country would be speculating tonight why the Labour party had not tabled an amendment. They are worried about inflation, unemployment, the collapse of the manufacturing industry, bankruptcies and mortgage foreclosures and the hon. Gentleman thinks that they will be worried about why the Labour party has not tabled an amendment. Secondly and more importantly, I wanted to reminisce with the hon. Gentleman a little. He concluded by saying that it would have been better if the Prime Minister had not put his signature to the treaty. When I acted as a PPS—admittedly some years ago—I always considered it my duty to reflect the views of the senior Minister on whose behalf I ran the errands. I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman was doing exactly the same.

May I apologise first on behalf of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith), who should have wound up the debate but who, regrettably, must attend a family funeral. My second apology is more personal—it is for my influenza, which makes me sound almost as much like my "Spitting Image" puppet as the Home Secretary behaves and looks like his. I may fail to convert Ministers this evening, but I shall almost certainly infect a few.

The Prime Minister went to Maastricht with a single ambition—to paper over the cracks in the Tory party. In the pursuit of that aim, the national interest was neglected, the real chance to be at the heart of Europe was thrown away and the right to influence the inevitable progress towards monetary union was sacrificed. All that mattered was preserving the illusion of Conservative party unity. The Prime Minister has failed to achieve even that sad little objective. That is not surprising, for any sensible person would have realised that the right hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) would glory in biting the pathetic hand that tried to feed him. Anyone who watched him gesticulating when the Home Secretary spoke about the unity now sweeping through the Conservative party would have realised that, for reasons of psychology rather than ideology, he was bound to do what he will do this evening. Yet to obtain a few extra votes, the opportunities were missed and Britain was voluntarily relegated to Europe's second division.

The Prime Minister went to extraordinary lengths to accommodate the ungenerous little Englanders in the Conservative party. His most disreputable tactic was to attempt to make their flesh creep with the pretence that to join their partners in Europe in endorsing the social chapter would promote disputes over pay and encourage strikes. That was his clear message to the country on at least two occasions. It was his clear message to the House on 12 December, recorded at column 982 of Hansard,and when he was tackled on it by my right hon. Friends he wrote back saying that he did not mean strikes or disputes, but objected to other aspects of the social chapter—mainly the increase in costs that it would impose on British industry.

A week ago the Prime Minister spoke in the House about strikes and implied that they would be promoted by the social chapter, so he must have known that article 118(6) of the protocol makes that impossible. I shall read it to the House in case the Prime Minister has another lapse of memory, as he does when they suit his political convenience. It says: The provisions of this Article shall not apply to pay, the right of association, the right to strike or the right to impose lock-outs. Had the Prime Minister had the courtesy to attend the winding-up of the debate, he would no doubt have tried to justify why, only a week ago, he intentionally pretended something quite different.

No doubt when the Chancellor of the Exchequer winds up he will summon up all the sincerity of which he is capable—[ Laughter.] I make no comment on how much that is. No doubt the Chancellor will say that what was done last week was all for Britain. If he wants to convince us of the Government's integrity, he had better begin by answering the question which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition asked him yesterday and which he so shamelessly refused to answer. The Chancellor has had 26 hours to think of a reply that should take only a few seconds, for all that he has to say is yes or no.

I shall repeat the question in exactly the form that it was put to him yesterday and ask whether there are circumstances in which, despite the achievements of convergence, despite the establishment of monetary union by our neighbours, he would come to the House and recommend that we still stayed out?"—[Official Report, 18 December 1991; Vol. 201, c. 291.] Earlier today, in the absence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Foreign Secretary essayed an excuse and said that it was only sensible to decide at the time and that we should make up our mind when the time comes. If that is the Chancellor's position, we should be told what the test will be when we get to 1995, 1997 or 1999. The Chancellor should explain the criteria against which he would personally measure the question: do we go in or stay out?

We already know the four criteria of convergence. What are the additional ones that the Chancellor has in mind and that lead him to believe that he should make up his mind then rather than now? If his answer is that, yes, there are circumstances that might lead him to say that Britain should remain outside despite the union being created and the single currency being in place, I hope that he will explain those circumstances.

The Chancellor might oppose our entry in principle—an honourable and plausible position. I do not hold it myself, but if the Chancellor were to say that we must stay out whatever the price and whatever the cost to Britain's prosperity, as a matter of principle, we could at least applaud his frankness. He might even be suggesting that, at the end of the decade, even if convergence had been achieved, the economy would be so weak that we dare not join the monetary union. I understand why the Chancellor might take that view.

One of the measures of convergence, article 1, is the requirement of price stability. The Government are pursuing that objective by collapsing the real economy. Unemployment has increased massively according to today's figures. Manufacturing output is 5.3 per cent. down, and manufacturing investment 12 per cent. down, on last year. There have been 110,000 company liquidations this year—more than ever before and more than the number of new companies created. I understand that that decline has been confirmed in a report of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development published at 6 o'clock this evening. If the Chancellor is really saying that he needs time to worry and wonder about membership as, after 12 years of Conservatism, the economy cannot stand it, he had better tell that to the country and the House here and now.

I suspect that the Chancellor's honest answer to the question of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition is no. I suspect that there are no circumstances in which, despite the achievement of convergence and despite the establishment of monetary union by our neighbours, he would come to the House and recommend that we still stayed out. However, to admit that would not only alienate some Conservative Back-Bench Members, but expose the Maastricht negotiations as a pathetic sham.

The Chancellor must know—of course he knows; he admitted it yesterday—that there is no question of our going in before convergence has been attained. If we would or should go in when convergence has been attained, the opt-out becomes wholly meaningless and the pretence of negotiating success cobbled together to impress the gullible 1922 Committee has no meaning. Selected newspapers declared it a triumph, but none of us should be surprised by that. It struck me as I read some of those newspapers that some hon. Members might like to play a word game with their families during the coming Christmas recess: describe the circumstances which could make the Daily Mail and the Daily Express turn against the Prime Minister. Those who fear that the answer is too horrible to contemplate may accept my answer—he could revoke the editors' knighthoods.

Sir Peter Tapsell (East Lindsey)

Would the right hon. Gentleman care to describe the circumstances in which the Daily Mirror might turn against the Labour party?

Mr. Hattersley

No, 1 cannot. I cannot recall the circumstances in which genuinely independent editors of any political persuasion have thought it right to accept knighthoods from Governments, because it means that they no longer occupy that position.

I am pleased to welcome the Prime Minister to the debate with the news, which I was about to give to the House in his absence, that when the election comes, as long as he can still blink the Daily Express and the Daily Mail will be on his side.

The way in which the newspapers behaved after Maastricht demonstrates how shoddy the whole operation was. I take my example from the Daily Mail simply because I welcome any excuse to quote its headline of 9 June last year—the day after the Prime Minister made his daytrip to Saudi Arabia, an event heralded in the Daily Mail with the headline, "The grey fox of the desert". The Prime Minister is many things, but Lawrence of Arabia he is not. Last week the Daily Mail told us, "Major wins a knockout." That reminded me of an earlier Daily Mail recording of an international triumph on 9 April, "Major's plan saves Kurds." I hope that that headline is a comfort to the refugees who are now dying of cold, disease and hunger.

The reason why the Prime Minister triumphed in those achievements is that he lives for the moment. He has no vision of the Britain or the Europe that he wants to build. When he used the word "vision" at the end of his speech yesterday, it had no credibility and carried no conviction. He talks about being at the heart of Europe, not because the idea inspires him, but because his advisers have told him that it is a profitable thing to say.

Yet one day the United Kingdom will join the single currency: I have no doubt about that. Tory dissident after Tory dissident has warned of it. In the past two days Government supporters have predicted that Britain will join. Now that the Eleven have signed the treaty, progress towards a single currency is inevitable and I rejoice in that. The tragedy is that, as the others make progress, we shall not go with them but shall be dragged along behind.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)

Can my right hon. Friend envisage no situation in which a Labour Government might have reservations about a single currency and a central bank and about economic decisions being taken which might be inimical to their interests?

Mr. Hattersley

I made my position clear and I am happy to repeat it. I rejoice in the progress towards a single currency and in a few moments I shall talk about the sort of system that I want and that will benefit the country.

Earlier the Foeign Secretary said that it was wrong to suggest that by opting out of the single currency we would not continue to influence policy. Is he suggesting that the Eleven, committed to making progress, will even contemplate the bank or the institution coming to Britain? As my hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) said in a notable speech, we have already lost the chance to determine the date on which stage 3 will be implemented and we are losing influence all the time.

By committing ourselves to the objective that I have described, we will not reduce or lose our sovereignty. I do not want to add to the Chancellor's problems, which seem to come not singly but in battalions, and with that in mind I ask him whether he was totally unmoved by today's announcement of an increase in the German base rate, or did he feel that somehow that increase might be of concern to us, might influence us or might have a determining effect on some of our economic policy? I have no doubt that, formally or informally, we are now locked into the European economic system. That is why we should be part of the process that brings about the single currency. We should have chosen to influence the inevitable union in a way that benefits Britain, but instead of that we have abdicated.

The cliché is that we missed the bus, but that is only part of the problem. The real tragedy is that we are destined to run along behind it and one day scramble on board even if it is then deviating from the route that we would have chosen. We should have learnt the mistake of that posture from the common agricultural policy. Now that the tyrannies of eastern Europe have collapsed, the CAP is perhaps the world's worst example of the centrally managed market. This year it will cost Britain £1.225 billion net. If we had joined the EC earlier and had been signatories to the treaty of Rome, when the CAP proposal came along I have no doubt that we would have been able to moderate the absurdities which cost this country so much money and which so discredit the whole operation of the Community. We are making the same mistake again by letting others take the decisions and then following on later.

The Prime Minister should have gone to Maastricht with a positive message for his European colleagues. The message should not have been that we would sign up for a single currency at any price. He should have made it clear that Britain would join when the Community co-operated in creating the conditions that made the single currency an unqualified benefit for this country. In a phrase, that means the ability of all member states to sustain adequate rates of growth and employment without incurring unsustainable current account deficits.

Among other things, that requires the Community to develop and adopt a more positive regional policy. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said yesterday, it should do that in part by financing it from the funds that now subsidise incompetent and inefficient agriculture. But there are other funds available in Europe, some of which we understand the Government are refusing to accept. If the Secretary of State for the Environment is to be believed—and who in the world ever doubts a word that he says—the Government have rejected £100 million of regional aid in what the Secretary of State for the Environment calls a monumental own goal. The Government have rejected that money for wholly doctrinaire reasons. I understand that other EC grants are likely to be withheld until the Government respect the rules that they agreed in 1988—until they stop treating Community money like Government income to be set against rather than added to additional expenditure.

Will the Chancellor tell us when this silly squabble among Ministers will be over? When will the Government accept the rules that they signed and when will the Chancellor be able to accept the grants which the Community wants to pay to the hard-hit regions but which, for reasons of pathetic dogma, the Government refuse to accept?

The Prime Minister should have gone to Maastricht arguing for a positive union policy. Unfortunately, he went to Maastricht arguing for nothing. He had a clear idea of what he was against, but no idea of what he was for. For reasons which combined a lack of faith in British industry with party political prejudice, he was against the social charter.

No honest person now pretends that the social chapter would supersede domestic industrial relations legislation. However, it would promote a wide range of social benefits, many of them vital to part-time workers and women workers. How does the Prime Minister defend himself against the charge that he has missed an opportunity? He says that the costs of the social chapter are too great for British companies to bear. We are entitled to ask, and the country is entitled to know, why, after 13 years of Tory Government, and constant claims of a recurring economic miracle, we cannot afford for our workers what Germany, France and Belgium can afford for theirs.

The truth is that the Government regard the provisions in the social chapter—improved maternity benefits, which have been referred to, and the extension of redundancy payments, which are equally important—as, in the words of the previous Prime Minister, "socialism by the back door". It happens to be the sort of socialism which appeals to Helmut Kohl and every European Conservative leader with the exception of the Prime Minister. That is why the Prime Minister was excluded from the meeting of European Conservatives which preceded Maastricht. He was allowed to tag along at the end. The tragedy is that tagging along at the end has become the Prime Minister's habit and his preferred position.

By opting out of the social chapter and offering as an excuse for this that it is too expensive, the Prime Minister has designated this country as a low-cost economy which tries to attract investment by promising minimum labour costs. Fortunately, Britain cannot succeed in that role. If we try to attract investment by talking about low labour costs, other countries will do it better than we will do, will undercut us and beat us at that game.

Mr. Michael Colvin (Romsey and Waterside)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hattersley

No, I have only two minutes left and I must go on.

Our pitch should be not for low costs, but for high skills of labour. Fifteen years ago, when the Ford motor company established a new plant in south Wales, Henry Ford told Ministers in the Labour Government who had helped in those negotiations that what he was looking for was not low wages but high skills and highly skilled workers who expect, for instance, decent redundancy rates. They even expect decent maternity leave because, whether Conservative Members know it or not, some highly skilled workers happen to be women.

The other thing about the social chapter that the Prime Minister does not understand, which means that he may never speak for Europe in the way that we need someone to speak for Europe, is that the social chapter has given the Community some meaning, some importance, some relevance for the typical family and the average citizen. It has meant that the Community is no longer simply the bankers' and brokers' Europe; it is not simply a Community of unrestrained free enterprise which does not care for living standards and employment opportunities. It has given it a meaning and to sacrifice that importance is to do the Community untold damage in the eyes of the typical British family and worker.

We have heard a great deal, this evening and yesterday, about the importance of widening the Community rather than deepening it. Let me make my position clear. I want to see the EFTA countries as members. I want to see the new democracies, as they emerge in eastern Europe, pass through association status into full membership, but if that is going to happen, and if the Community of 12 is to become a community of 18, there has to be a deepening and strengthening of institutions or the Community will disappear under the weight of numbers.

Some Conservative Members may want to recreate Europe in terms of a free trade area. I believe that Europe is something more creative, more positive and more dynamic than that. If it is to be more than a free trade area with Austria, Sweden, Switzerland and Hungary in it, the institutions have to be strengthened. That is why every European leader with the exception of the Prime Minister believes that strengthening the institutions and accepting new members are two related processes which must go on at the same time.

We have heard a great deal this evening about democracy. I dare say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will tell us that he cannot commit himself now to even the principles of monetary union in the third stage because of the democratic necessity to obey and respect the House of Commons. Because of changes in the world and the way in which the world has evolved, Britain has, during the past 25 years, whether we like it or not, lost a great deal of its independent sovereignty. By joining a democratic Europe we can regain a great deal of our influence and that is what I want to see.

The idea that a man, an honourable Gentleman, who has been a Minister for the past 12 years should tell the House that the Government cannot tell it what they want to about Europe because of their respect for parliamentary institutions and the votes of the House of Commons is ludicrous. Britain has seen 12 years of what Lord Hailsham called an elective dictatorship before he joined one by becoming Lord Chancellor to the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher). The idea that the Government should hide behind that excuse shows their pathetic inability to mount a credible case for what happened last week. It may have impressed the Daily Express and the Daily Mail, but the more people think about it the more shoddy it seems, and the price will be paid in April, May or June.

9.31 pm
The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Norman Lamont)

I listened carefully and with interest to the first part of the speech of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley). After having heard half of it, I was going to say that, although I disagreed with it, the right hon. Gentleman had at least set out a clear position; a clear difference between the Labour party and the Conservative party.

The right hon. Gentleman said that he was prepared to commit the Labour party to move to a single currency provided that convergence was achieved, that he would give that commitment irrevocably now and that he did not understand why we would not. The difference was crystal clear—black and white.

Then the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) intervened to ask whether there were any circumstances in which the Opposition would not move to a single currency. Those of my hon. Friends who were present will know that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook was completely unable to give a straight answer. The right hon. Gentleman started off pretending that he was clear about the single currency, but then he could not answer his hon. Friend. He then went on to attach many more conditions which he thought should be included in the treaty amendments, making his attitude to a single currency even less clear.

Four weeks ago, the Government came to the House and set out their objectives in the negotiations. We were clear about what we would propose, what we would agree to and what we would reject. Now we are able to return to the House with an agreed set of treaty amendments that accords exactly with the objectives that we set out.

The agreements reached by the 12 member states of the Community at Maastricht are widely recognised as an historic step forward. They point the way for the future of the Community. But, as the right hon. Gentleman acknowledged, the development of the Community must not stop at Maastricht. More and more over the past few months, people have come to realise that Europe is not just the Twelve. The challenge for the Community over the years to come is to extend prosperity and the benefits of Community membership across Europe.

That is why we have strongly supported the creation of the European economic area, but we have made it clear that in years to come the Community must embrace not just the well-off countries which may be able to join and whose entry will pose few problems for the Community, but the countries of eastern Europe.

I am glad that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook confirmed that he supports Community membership for eastern European countries, but he did not mention that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was the first leader of a Community country publicly to say that he wanted that to happen.

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman at least that the association agreements with Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia are just the first step. The countries of eastern Europe made it clear that they see full Community membership as their ultimate objective, and we must all work for that.

In last month's debate, I pointed out that the individual countries of the Community and their foreign policies have different interests—and that, for that reason, we had to retain the freedom to act alone. The agreement that my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs reached on defence and foreign policy does just that. At the same time, it provides the right framework for European foreign and security policy in the 1990s.

I certainly want to respond to some of the points raised by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, and I will answer more frankly and directly than he did when responding to the question posed by the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich.

I will focus my remarks on economic and monetary union and on the agreement reached at Maastricht. In the last debate, I set out our four key objectives in the negotiations. First, Britain should not be committed to move to a single currency without a decision at the appropriate time by the United Kingdom Government and Parliament.

Secondly, in the next stage of monetary union, responsibility for monetary and fiscal policy in the second stage should remain firmly with member states—something that was pressed on me by right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House, but not of course by members of Labour's Front Bench.

Thirdly, any future monetary union should be soundly based and should rest firmly on durable economic convergence.

Fourthly, even within any monetary union—even when a single currency was established—member states should have the maximum possible freedom to make their own economic policies, including fiscal policy. That point is important to this side of the House and to some Opposition Back Benchers, but apparently it is not in any way important to members of Labour's Front Bench.

I am glad to tell the House that, after the negotiations at Maastricht—difficult and intensive though they were—the agreement reached met all the objectives laid down in our last debate. First and foremost, Britain is not committed to move to a single monetary policy or to a single currency. That is clearly spelt out by the United Kingdom protocol, which is an integral part of the treaty. It was drafted by the United Kingdom to meet our specific concerns, and was agreed by the 11 other member states.

Not just the United Kingdom but all 12 member states clearly stated: the United Kingdom shall not be obliged or committed to move to the third stage of economic and monetary union without a separate decision to do so by its government and Parliament. That was our objective, and we achieved it.

Mr. Paddy Ashdown (Yeovil)

Personally, I cannot envisage any circumstances in which, were a single currency to be formed, Britain would not want to be part of it. However, the Chancellor's case is that only the opt-out clause provides that option. Surely it is the case that nothing in the treaty compels Britain to join economic and monetary union. Assume the case in which it went ahead on one or other of the prescriptive dates, and in which Britain fulfilled the convergence conditions. Surely there is nothing in the treaty that compels us to join at that moment—is there?

Mr. Lamont

I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman misses the point. As a result of the changes made between the last text presented to the House and the final text, it is now agreed that people are committed—provided that they meet the convergence conditions—to move, irrevocably and without a separate choice, to a single currency. That is there. The right hon. Gentleman, who takes a close interest in those matters, ought to look more closely at what was agreed.

For us, the main point was that this country should be given a choice. The House will recall that, earlier in the negotiations, the Dutch presidency circulated a text that would have permitted every member state to enjoy the same right—a general exemption clause. The right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) attempted to make out that that represented some great reversal for the Government; the important point, however, is having that choice, not the form in which the text exists.

While the general exemption clause was acceptable to us, other member states made it clear that they had difficulties with it. I must say that I am sometimes puzzled by the fact that other countries do not want to consult their Parliaments. It is not for me to speculate about the reason—it is a matter for them—but, in our opinion, that is not an acceptable route for the present Government to take, even if it is acceptable to the Opposition. We feel that this is a profound and important decision which should be made by the House of Commons.

Mr. Hattersley

I am distressed to find myself suspecting that the Chancellor imagines that he has answered the question that he was asked yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. We all believe that this is a profound and important decision, and one that the House must make. The question is this: if convergence had been achieved by this country, and if the other countries had moved to stage 3 and the single currency, can the Chancellor imagine himself recommending that we stay out of it? I cannot imagine myself doing so.

Mr. Lamont

I believe that there are certain conditions—[Interruption.] Let me make two points. First, I believe that we are discussing a matter of principle which ought to be decided by the House. Secondly, let us suppose that only three member states met the convergence conditions. In fact, only three Community countries meet them at present. Suppose that three small countries were irrevocably committed to a single currency, as they have to be under the treaty.

Germany does not meet the convergence conditions at present. Suppose that we had a proposed monetary union of three small countries—or of three countries, excluding Germany. Does the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook think that we should have signed a treaty committing ourselves now, irrevocably, to becoming a party to monetary union? [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook asked me a direct question. I have given him an answer; why does he not answer my question?

Mr. Hattersley

I am glad to see that the Chancellor has learnt at least one thing from my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

The answer is that the right hon. Gentleman's question is too stupid to need an answer. He knows perfectly well that to hypothesise that monetary union could be built around Ireland, Belgium and Luxembourg is simply ridiculous. The fact that he used that example shows how defensive the right hon. Gentleman is about his failures yesterday.

Mr. Lamont

The right hon. Gentleman—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] Of course I will answer: I am rather better at answering questions than the right hon. Gentleman seems to be.

The right hon. Gentleman invited me to hypothesise, and then refused to answer a question, saying that he would not hypothesise. What he apparently does not realise is that, as I have said to him, as of this moment only three countries qualify for the four convergence criteria that are laid down. They are Denmark—

Mr. Kaufman

Nineteen ninety-seven.

Mr. Lamont

The hon. Gentleman clearly does not understand the treaty. He says that a mass of seven countries is required. The whole point is—[interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman said that, and the whole House heard him say it. The point is that, under the amendments to the treaty, we do not need to have a minimum of seven countries.

Mr. Kaufman

Will the Chancellor give way?

Mr. Lamont

I will give way in a minute.

It is perfectly possible that the monetary union of only three countries could take place in 1999. Only three countries meet the conditions now. Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that we should irrevocably commit ourselves to joining a currency union, however many countries there are in it and regardless of the conditions? The right hon. Gentleman will not answer that question, but I shall answer it for him. He wants to say yes. That is his policy. He wants to commit this country irrevocably to joining monetary union. Our position is clear: that we wish this House of Commons, this Parliament, to have the say at that time. I believe that that is right.

Mr. Kaufman

No doubt because of the noise in the House, the right hon. Gentleman misheard what I said, so I shall now tell him what I said and ask him to answer my question. I said nothing about seven countries. What I spoke about was the year 1997. Has the Chancellor, together with the Prime Minister, signed up to transition to the third stage of economic and monetary union, which they accept is irreversible and irrevocable, by the end of 1997, the date of the beginning of the third stage? That is what we want to know. Of course convergence has not been reached in 1991, but what about 1997? What would his answer be then?

Mr. Lamont

The right hon. Gentleman has totally missed the point: that if the European Council cannot set the date for stage 3 in 1997, it happens automatically in 1999. As a result of the clause that we have negotiated. to which the Opposition are opposed, we have a choice. We and Denmark are the only two countries in Europe that will not move automatically to a single currency. I am afraid that the Opposition do not understand that.

Mr. Kaufman

It is the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister who do not understand what it is that they have signed. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor have signed a protocol on the transition to the third stage of economic and monetary union in which they, not just the other 11, declare the irreversible character of the Community's movement to a single currency. They agreed that the Community shall enter the third stage irrevocably. That is what the British Government have signed up for.

Mr. Lamont

The right hon. Gentleman should know—[HON. MEMBERS: "Tebbit knows."] I know that the right hon. Gentleman does not want to hear the answer, because he has got it all wrong and his party is in an impossible position, but the answer is that our protocol takes precedence over the language in the main treaty amendment. [Interruption.] Of course that is absolutely right. That is why this country has the option to opt out. That is why, as a result of our negotiations, we have the choice—rightly, I believe—to decide whether to move to a single currency.

The Leader of the Opposition made a very forceful and good speech yesterday. [Interruption.] Yes, it was a very good speech indeed, but I think that he was a little bit inebriated with his own enthusiasm. In his brilliant speech yesterday, he seemed to forget what he had said four weeks ago. On 20 November, he said: there is no possibility of any Government … certainly no British Government and certainly no Labour Government, not referring to their Parliament for a mandate before taking a step into entering monetary union".—[Official Report, 20 November 1991: Vol. 199, c. 284.] Yesterday, the right hon. Gentleman was so carried away that he reneged on that. He made it crystal clear—the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook has made it clear again today—that, if the United Kingdom met the four convergence conditions set out in the treaty, that would be the end of the matter.

The Leader of the Opposition should explain why, had he been Prime Minister, he would have given one undertaking on 20 November and gone back on it three weeks later. Will he explain why he is prepared to see a single currency automatically imposed on this country regardless of the wishes of the House? That is an abdication of responsibility that Conservative Members are not prepared to make.

The Labour party wants to put the future of Britain's currency on auto-pilot. It wants to sacrifice for no gain Parliament's right to take the final decision about a single currency. That is also what the Labour party would like to do on the social chapter, as the debate has demonstrated all too well. Nothing separates our attitude to this treaty more clearly from that of the Labour party than its willingness to sacrifice the rights of the House.

As the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) so rightly said last month, that is the real issue. It is not whether their social policies or our social policies are right. It is more profound than that. The issue is whether the Community should have the right to impose social policy measures on this country or whether the way we work should remain primarily a matter for the House. It is whether measures opposed by the Government and the House can be imposed on this country by qualified majority voting.

The Labour party's attitude is an illustration of its lack of confidence in its ability to persuade the British people at the polls. Why does it have so little confidence in its ability to win the argument or to win an election that it wants to chuck the power away and give it to Brussels?

If the Community is to have a social dimension, the top priority must be job creation—[interruption.]Our policies in the 1980s gave us a job creation record as good as any in Europe. Between 1983 and 1989, the United Kingdom created more jobs than any other member state. The OECD has recently noted that, between 1984 and 1990, the United Kingdom—[interruption.]We all heard the Labour party's ritual demonstration about today's unemployment figures. It does not seem to know by how much unemployment is rising in France.

The social chapter proposed at Maastricht had nothing to do with job creation. We know from experience that an inch of Community competence means a mile of red tape. We know that our attitude is supported by British business. We know that British business men know that what we are doing is right for Britain. Six leading business men said in a letter to The Times that Britain must strive to prevent the excesses of regulation in Europe.

The Association of British Chambers of Commerce said: The Government was quite right to stick out for an exclusion on the Social Chapter. All 800 Chambers of Commerce in Europe have rejected the Commission's plans to legislate in areas such as hours of work. There will be many continental businesses today envying their UK competitors for the comparative flexibility in labour costs". Because we have a more flexible labour market and because of the reforms of the 1980s, this country has attracted inward investment in Europe far more than France and Germany.

What was depressing about the debate was the emptiness of the speech of the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman). He did not make a single constructive suggestion. He did not give the faintest outline of the Labour party's policy—30 minutes and no suggestion whatsoever of the way in which the Labour party believed that it would have handled the negotiations.

The revealing feature of today's debate is the Order Paper, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock and Burntwood (Mr. Howarth) said. Where is the Labour party's amendment spelling out its attitude to the negotiations? We have a Liberal Democrat amendment, a Welsh nationalist amendment, a Scottish nationalist amendment and even an amendment from my hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Mr. Browne), the longest amendment of them all. But we do not have an amendment from the Labour party.

Labour's policy is a blank sheet of paper. Labour Members are not usually at a loss for words. Perhaps they lost their amendment; perhaps they were at a Christmas party; perhaps even at this late stage they will table a manuscript amendment; or did the Labour party just calculate that, after its failure in the last debate to get its members in the Lobby, it was best not to spell out any policy? A blank sheet of paper is the only way to unite the Labour party. There is no doubt that the federalist views of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook are not shared by Labour Back Benchers. He felt that the only way that he could unite his party was by not tabling an amendment.

We returned from Maastricht having met all the objectives which we set ourselves. We said that we would secure defence arrangements compatible with NATO, and we did. We said that we would preserve the freedom to act alone in foreign policy, and we did. We said that we would retain the right to decide whether, as well as when, to move to a single currency. We did, and we believe that we were right to maintain that condition.

We said that we would persuade our partners that monetary and fiscal policy in stage 2 should remain with member states, and we did. We said that we would create a treaty which, even in the event of monetary union, left each country with the maximum freedom to conduct its own economic policy, and we did just that. We said that we would require improved enforcement of the implementation of Community agreements, and we obtained it. We made it clear that this country could not accept the so-called "social chapter" in the treaty, and we secured its removal.

The Government have done exactly what they said they would do. The result is a treaty that strikes the right balance between European co-operation and national independence. It is a treaty that allows the Community to progress while opening the door to the expansion of its membership. It is a treaty that this country has played the fullest role in shaping.

The key difference between the two sides of the House in this debate is that we are absolutely determined to retain for the House the right to decide whether to move to a currency union. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, speaking for the Labour Front Bench but not supported by his Back Benchers, seems prepared to commit his party irrevocably to moving to a single currency regardless of the circumstances. We reject that approach.

Our success has been the reward for pursuing practical proposals and consistent objectives. That approach is in the sharpest possible contrast to an Opposition—and especially the right hon. Member for Gorton—whose attitude to Europe has been inconsistent, impractical and dictated first by blanket hostility to the Community and then by fanatical adherence to every proposal which comes from it.

We have protected the rights of this Parliament, which the Opposition would have signed away. We have secured the best possible agreement for Britain, whereas they would not have bothered to try. That is why it is this Prime Minister and this Government who enjoy the confidence of the country and who should have the confidence and support of the House in the Lobbies.

9.59 pm
Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West)

When the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary returned from Maastricht, they—

Mr. Tim Boswell (Daventry)

rose in his place, and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the amendment he made:—

The House divided: Ayes 18,Noes 364.

Division No. 32] [10 pm
Alton, David Kennedy, Charles
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Livsey, Richard
Beith, A. J. Maclennan, Robert
Bellotti, David Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Stephen, Nicol
Carr, Michael Taylor, Matthew (Truro
Fearn, Ronald
Howells, Geraint Tellers for tbe Ayes:
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Mr. James Wallace and
Johnston, Sir Russell Mr. Archy Kirkwood.
Adley, Robert Arbuthnot, James
Aitken, Jonathan Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)
Alexander, Richard Arnold, Sir Thomas
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Ashby, David
Allason, Rupert Aspinwall, Jack
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Atkins, Robert
Amess, David Atkinson, David
Amos, Alan Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Favell, Tony
Baldry, Tony Fenner, Dame Peggy
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Batiste, Spencer Fishburn, John Dudley
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Fookes, Dame Janet
Beggs, Roy Forman, Nigel
Bellingham, Henry Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bendall, Vivian Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Forth, Eric
Benyon, W. Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Bevan, David Gilroy Fox, Sir Marcus
Biffen, Rt Hon John Franks, Cecil
Blackburn, Dr John G. Freeman, Roger
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter French, Douglas
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fry, Peter
Boscawen, Hon Robert Gale, Roger
Boswell, Tim Gardiner, Sir George
Bottomley, Peter Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Gill, Christopher
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'pto'n) Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Glyn, Dr Sir Alan
Bowis, John Goodhart, Sir Philip
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Goodlad, Alastair
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Brazier, Julian Gorst, John
Bright, Graham Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Greenway, Harry (Eating N)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Browne, John (Winchester) Gregory, Conal
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')
Buck, Sir Antony Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Budgen, Nicholas Grist, Ian
Burns, Simon Ground, Patrick
Burt, Alistair Grylls, Michael
Butcher, John Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Butler, Chris Hague, William
Butterfill, John Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hampson, Dr Keith
Carrington, Matthew Hanley, Jeremy
Carttiss, Michael Hannam,John
Cash, William Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Harris, David
Chapman, Sydney Haselhurst, Alan
Chope, Christopher Hawkins, Christopher
Churchill, Mr Hayes, Jerry
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Plymouth) Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hayward, Robert
Clark, Rt Hon Sir William Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Colvin, Michael Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Cormack, Patrick Hill, James
Couchman, James Hind, Kenneth
Cran, James Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Hordern, Sir Peter
Curry, David Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Day, Stephen Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Devlin, Tim Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Dickens, Geoffrey Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Dicks, Terry Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Dorrell, Stephen Hunt, Rt Hon David
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Dover, Den Hunter, Andrew
Dunn, Bob Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Durant, Sir Anthony Irvine, Michael
Dykes, Hugh Irving, Sir Charles
Eggar, Tim Jack, Michael
Emery, Sir Peter Janman, Tim
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Jessel, Toby
Evennett, David Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Fallon, Michael Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Farr, Sir John Jones, Robert B ( Herts W)
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Page, Richard
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Paice, James
Key, Robert Paisley, Rev Ian
Kilfedder, James Patnick, Irvine
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Patten, Rt Hon John
Kirkhope, Timothy Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Knapman, Roger Pawsey, James
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Knowles, Michael Porter, David (Waveney)
Knox, David Portillo, Michael
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Powell, William (Corby)
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Price, Sir David
Latham, Michael Raison, Rt Hon Sir Timothy
Lawrence, Ivan Rathbone, Tim
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Redwood, John
Lee, John (Pendle) Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Rhodes James, Sir Robert
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Riddick, Graham
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Roe, Mrs Marion
Lord, Michael Ross, William (Londonderry E)
Luce, Rt Hon Sir Richard Rossi, Sir Hugh
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Rost, Peter
McCrindle, Sir Robert Rowe, Andrew
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Rumbold, Rt Hon Mrs Angela
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Sackville, Hon Tom
Maclean, David Sainsbury, Hon Tim
McLoughlin, Patrick Sayeed, Jonathan
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Shaw, David (Dover)
Madel, David Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Maginnis, Ken Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Major, Rt Hon John Shelton, Sir William
Malins, Humfrey Shephard, Mrs G, (Norfolk SW)
Mans, Keith Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Maples, John Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Marland, Paul Shersby, Michael
Marlow, Tony Sims, Roger
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel) Skinner, Dennis
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Mates, Michael Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Maude, Hon Francis Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Soames, Hon Nicholas
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Speed, Keith
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Speller, Tony
Mellor, Rt Hon David Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Squire, Robin
Miller, Sir Hal Stanbrook, Ivor
Mills, Iain Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Miscampbell, Norman Steen, Anthony
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Stern, Michael
Mitchell, Sir David Stevens, Lewis
Moate, Roger Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Monro, Sir Hector Stewart, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Stokes, Sir John
Moore, Rt Hon John Sumberg, David
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Summerson, Hugo
Morrison, Sir Charles Tapsell, Sir Peter
Morrison, Rt Hon Sir Peter Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Moss, Malcolm Taylor, Sir Teddy
Moynihan, Hon Colin Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Neale, Sir Gerrard Temple-Morris, Peter
Needham, Richard Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Nelson, Anthony Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Neubert, Sir Michael Thorne, Neil
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Thornton, Malcolm
Nicholls, Patrick Thurnham, Peter
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Norris, Steve Tracey, Richard
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Tredinnick, David
Oppenheim, Phillip Trimble, David
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Trippier, David
Trotter, Neville Wheeler, Sir John
Twinn, Dr Ian Whitney, Ray
Vaughan, Sir Gerard Widdecombe, Ann
Viggers, Peter Wiggin, Jerry
Wakeham, Rt Hon John Wilkinson, John
Waldegrave, Rt Hon William Wilshire, David
Walden, George Wolfson, Mark
Walker, Bill (T'side North) Wood, Timothy
Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester) Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Waller, Gary Yeo, Tim
Walters, Sir Dennis Young, Sir George (Acton)
Ward, John Younger, Rt Hon George
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Warren, Kenneth Tellers for the Noes:
Watts, John Mr. David Lightbown and
Wells, Bowen Mr. John M. Taylor.

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 339,Noes 253.

Division No.33] [10.14 pm
Adley, Robert Chapman, Sydney
Aitken, Jonathan Chope, Christopher
Alexander, Richard Churchill, Mr
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Plymouth)
Allason, Rupert Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Clark, Rt Hon Sir William
Amess, David Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Amos, Alan Colvin, Michael
Arbuthnot, James Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Arnold, Sir Thomas Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Ashby, David Cormack, Patrick
Aspinwall, Jack Couchman, James
Atkins, Robert Currie, Mrs Edwina
Atkinson, David Curry, David
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Davis, David (Boothferry)
Baldry, Tony Day, Stephen
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Devlin, Tim
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Dickens, Geoffrey
Batiste, Spencer Dicks, Terry
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Dorrell, Stephen
Bellingham, Henry Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Bendall, Vivian Dover, Den
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Dunn, Bob
Benyon, W. Durant, Sir Anthony
Bevan, David Gilroy Dykes, Hugh
Blackburn, Dr John G. Eggar, Tim
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Emery, Sir Peter
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfd)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Evennett, David
Boswell, Tim Fallon, Michael
Bottomley, Peter Fenner, Dame Peggy
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'pto'n) Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Fishburn, John Dudley
Bowis, John Fookes, Dame Janet
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Forman, Nigel
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Forth, Eric
Brazier, Julian Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Bright, Graham Fox, Sir Marcus
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Franks, Cecil
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Freeman, Roger
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) French, Douglas
Buck, Sir Antony Fry, Peter
Burns, Simon Gale, Roger
Burt, Alistair Gardiner, Sir George
Butcher, John Garel-Jones, Tristan
Butterfill, John Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Glyn, Dr Sir Alan
Carrington, Matthew Goodhart, Sir Philip
Carttiss, Michael Goodlad, Alastair
Cartwright, John Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda Gorst, John
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Greenway, Harry (Eating N) McLoughlin, Patrick
Greenway, John (Ryedale) McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Gregory, Conal McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Madel, David
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Major, Rt Hon John
Grist, Ian Malins, Humfrey
Ground, Patrick Mans, Keith
Grylls, Michael Maples, John
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Marland, Paul
Hague, William Marlow, Tony
Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Hampson, Dr Keith Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Hanley, Jeremy Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Hannam, John Mates, Michael
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Maude, Hon Francis
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Harris, David Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Haselhurst, Alan Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Hawkins, Christopher Mellor, Rt Hon David
Hayes, Jerry Meyer, Sir Anthony
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Miller, Sir Hal
Hayward, Robert Miscampbell, Norman
Heath, Rt Hon Edward Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Heathcoat-Amory, David Mitchell, Sir David
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Moate, Roger
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Monro, Sir Hector
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Moore, Rt Hon John
Hill, James Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Hind, Kenneth Morrison, Sir Charles
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Morrison, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Hordern, Sir Peter Moss, Malcolm
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Moynihan, Hon Colin
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Neale, Sir Gerrard
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Needham, Richard
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Nelson, Anthony
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Neubert, Sir Michael
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Hunt, Rt Hon David Nicholls, Patrick
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hunter, Andrew Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Norris, Steve
Irvine, Michael Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Irving, Sir Charles Oppenheim, Phillip
Jack, Michael Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Page, Richard
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Paice, James
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Patnick, Irvine
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Patten, Rt Hon John
Key, Robert Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Kilfedder, James Pawsey, James
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Kirkhope, Timothy Porter, David (Waveney)
Knapman, Roger Portillo, Michael
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Powell, William (Corby)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Price, Sir David
Knowles, Michael Raison, Rt Hon Sir Timothy
Knox, David Rathbone, Tim
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Redwood, John
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Latham, Michael Rhodes James, Sir Robert
Lawrence, Ivan Riddick, Graham
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Lee, John (Pendle) Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Roe, Mrs Marion
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Rossi, Sir Hugh
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Rost, Peter
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Rowe, Andrew
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Rumbold, Rt Hon Mrs Angela
Lord, Michael Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Luce, Rt Hon Sir Richard Sackville, Hon Tom
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Sainsbury, Hon Tim
McCrindle, Sir Robert Sayeed, Jonathan
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Shaw, David (Dover)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Maclean, David Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Shelton, Sir William Tracey, Richard
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Tredinnick, David
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Trippier, David
Shersby, Michael Trotter, Neville
Sims, Roger Twinn, Dr Ian
Skeet, Sir Trevor Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Viggers, Peter
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Soames, Hon Nicholas Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Speed, Keith Walden, George
Speller, Tony Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W) Waller, Gary
Squire, Robin Walters, Sir Dennis
Stanbrook, Ivor Ward, John
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Steen, Anthony Warren, Kenneth
Stern, Michael Watts, John
Stevens, Lewis Wells, Bowen
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Wheeler, Sir John
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood) Whitney, Ray
Stewart, Rt Hon Sir Ian Widdecombe, Ann
Stokes, Sir John Wiggin, Jerry
Sumberg, David Wilkinson, John
Summerson, Hugo Wilshire, David
Tapsell, Sir Peter Wolfson, Mark
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Wood, Timothy
Taylor, Sir Teddy Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Temple-Morris, Peter Yeo, Tim
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Younger, Rt Hon George
Thorne, Neil
Thornton, Malcolm Tellers for the Ayes:
Thurnham, Peter Mr. David Lightbown and
Townend, John (Bridlington) Mr. John M. Taylor.
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley, N.) Clay, Bob
Allen, Graham Clelland, David
Alton, David Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Anderson, Donald Cohen, Harry
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Armstrong, Hilary Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Corbett, Robin
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Corbyn, Jeremy
Ashton, Joe Cousins, Jim
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Cox, Tom
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Crowther, Stan
Barron, Kevin Cryer, Bob
Battle, John Cummings, John
Beckett, Margaret Cunliffe, Lawrence
Beggs, Roy Cunningham, Dr John
Beith, A. J. Dalyell, Tarn
Bell, Stuart Darling, Alistair
Bellotti, David Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Benton, Joseph Dewar, Donald
Bermingham, Gerald Dixon, Don
Biffen, Rt Hon John Dobson, Frank
Blair, Tony Doran, Frank
Blunkett, David Douglas, Dick
Boateng, Paul Duffy, Sir A. E. P.
Boyes, Roland Dunnachie, Jimmy
Bray, Dr Jeremy Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Eadie, Alexander
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Edwards, Huw
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Enright, Derek
Browne, John (Winchester) Evans, John (St Helens N)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Budgen, Nicholas Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Caborn, Richard Fatchett, Derek
Callaghan, Jim Faulds, Andrew
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Favell, Tony
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Fearn, Ronald
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Canavan, Dennis Fisher, Mark
Carr, Michael Flannery, Martin
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Flynn, Paul
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)
Foster, Derek Martlew, Eric
Foulkes, George Maxton, John
Fraser, John Meacher, Michael
Fyfe, Maria Meale, Alan
Galbraith, Sam Michael, Alun
Galloway, George Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend) Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
George, Bruce Moonie, Dr Lewis
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Morgan, Rhodri
Godman, Dr Norman A. Morley, Elliot
Golding, Mrs Llin Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Gordon, Mildred Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Gould, Bryan Mowlam, Marjorie
Graham, Thomas Mullin, Chris
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Murphy, Paul
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Nellist, Dave
Grocott, Bruce O'Brien, William
Hardy, Peter O'Hara, Edward
Harman, Ms Harriet O'Neill, Martin
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Paisley, Rev Ian
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Parry, Robert
Henderson, Doug Patchett, Terry
Hinchliffe, David Pendry, Tom
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall) Pike, Peter L.
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Home Robertson, John Prescott, John
Hood, Jimmy Primarolo, Dawn
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Quin, Ms Joyce
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Radice, Giles
Howells, Geraint Randall, Stuart
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Redmond, Martin
Hoyle, Doug Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Reid, Dr John
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Robertson, George
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Robinson, Geoffrey
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Rogers, Allan
Hume, John Rooker, Jeff
Illsley, Eric Rooney, Terence
Ingram, Adam Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Janner, Greville Ross, William (Londonderry E)
Johnston, Sir Russell Rowlands, Ted
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Ruddock, Joan
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Salmond, Alex
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Sedgemore, Brian
Kennedy, Charles Sheerman, Barry
Kilfoyle, Peter Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Kirkwood, Archy Short, Clare
Kumar, Dr. Ashok Sillars, Jim
Lambie, David Skinner, Dennis
Lamond, James Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Leighton, Ron Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Lewis, Terry Snape, Peter
Litherland, Robert Soley, Clive
Livingstone, Ken Spearing, Nigel
Livsey, Richard Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Steinberg, Gerry
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Stephen, Nicol
Loyden, Eddie Stott, Roger
McAllion, John Strang, Gavin
McAvoy, Thomas Straw, Jack
Macdonald, Calum A. Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
McGrady, Eddie Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
McKelvey, William Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
McLeish, Henry Trimble, David
Maclennan, Robert Turner, Dennis
McMaster, Gordon Vaz, Keith
McNamara, Kevin Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
McWilliam, John Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Maginnis, Ken Wallace, James
Mahon, Mrs Alice Walley, Joan
Mallon, Seamus Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Marek, Dr John Wareing, Robert N.
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David Tellers for the Noes:
Wise, Mrs Audrey Mr. Frank Haynes and
Worthington, Tony Mr. Ken Eastham.
Wray, Jimmy

Question accordingly agreed to.


That this House congratulates the Prime Minister on achieving all the negotiating objectives set out in the motion that was supported by the House on 21st November; and warmly endorses the agreement secured by the Government at Maastricht.

  1. STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS, &c. 18 words
    1. c555
    2. RATING 45 words
    3. cc555-6
    1. c556
    2. MEN AND WOMEN AT WORK 94 words
  4. c556