HC Deb 30 March 1993 vol 222 cc160-327

Amendment proposed [25 March]: No. 227, in page 1, line 9, after 'II', insert 'except Article 238'.—[Mr. Richard Shepherd]

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

3.43 pm
The Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Michael Morris)

I remind the Committee that we are also considering the following: Amendment No. 231, in page 1, line 9, after 'II', insert 'except Article 228'.

Amendment No. 232, in page 1, line 9, after 'II', insert 'except Article 228a'.

Amendment No. 30, in page 1, line 9, leave out 'and IV' and insert 'IV and V.'.

Amendment (a) to amendment No. 30, in line 1, at end add '(except Article J.2 of Title V)'. Amendment (b) to amendment No. 30, in line 1, at end add '(except Article J.4 of Title V)'. Amendment (c) to amendment No. 30, in line 1, at end add 'but not Article J.1 in Title V thereof'. Amendment (d) to amendment No. 30, in line 1, at end add 'but not Article J.3 in Title V thereof'. Amendment (e) to amendment No. 30, in line 1, at end add 'but not Article J.5 in Title V thereof'. Amendment (f) to amendment No. 30, in line 1, at end add 'but not Article J.6 in Title V thereof'. Amendment (g) to amendment No. 30, in line 1, at end add 'but not Article J.7 in Title V thereof'. Amendment (h) to amendment No. 30, in line 1, at end add 'but not Article J.8 in Title V thereof'. Amendment (i) to amendment No. 30, in line 1, at end add 'but not Article J.9 in Title V thereof'. Amendment (j) to amendment No. 30, in line 1, at end add 'but not Article J.10 in Title V thereof'. Amendment (k) to amendment No. 30, in line 1, at end add 'but not Article J.11 in Title V thereof'. Amendment No. 224, in page 1, line 9, leave out 'and IV' and insert 'IV and V'.

New clause 5—Foreign, security and defence policy— 'The Secretary of State shall lay before Parliament a report of any case in which decisions taken, or proposed to be taken, by the Union in the course of implementing a common foreign, security and defence policy (pursuant to Article B in Title I of the Maastricht Treaty) arc in his opinion inimical to the best interests of the United Kingdom.'. I have two short statements to make.

First, I promised the Committee some time ago that I would announce in good time any changes that I made to my provisional—and I emphasise the word "provisional" —selection of amendments. Right hon. and hon. Members will see that I have selected for debate new clause 75 on transferred powers (commencement). As a corollary, I do not propose to select amendment No. 27 for debate or for separate Division.

Secondly, may I draw the Committee's attention to the omission of some eight columns from the Official Report of our previous sitting, at column 1103? I understand that the omission was due to an oversight at the printing stage. The Missing columns have been printed as a corrigendum in the Hansard report of proceedings on Monday 29 March, following column 138. For the convenience of hon. Members who may be collating the reports of the Committee's proceedings, the corrigendum will also be reprinted as a separate supplement, which will be available in the Vote Office tomorrow morning.

Mr. Ron Leighton (Newham, North-East)

On a point of order, Mr. Morris. I am obliged to you for making available your provisional selection of amendments. This is the first occasion on which we have had to find out whether our amendments have been selected, so may I draw your attention to amendment No. 458, tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore), by some other hon. Friends and by myself? The amendment relates to sub-paragraph 2—

The Chairman

Page number?

Mr. Leighton

I do not know the page number, Mr. Morris. I apologise for that.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

Page 3205.

Mr. Leighton

I am advised that the page number is 3205. The amendment relates to clause 1(2), which authorises further legislative powers for the European Parliament. Within the intergovernmental titles of the treaty the European Parliament is mentioned nearly a dozen times—for example, article J.7 requires the presidency to consult the Parliament on matters of foreign policy. In view of those enhanced powers in the intergovernmental part of the treaty, would it not be appropriate for the House to decide whether the Government should keep it fully informed, through six-monthly reports, of the activities of the European Parliament? That is what the amendment asks for, so may I request that you reconsider your selection, Mr. Morris?

Mr. Chairman

I shall consider the matter, without commitment. The hon. Gentleman will, of course, be aware that we have already debated that issue.

Dr. John Cunningham (Copeland)

On a point of order, Mr. Morris. I welcome your decision to allow a debate and vote on new clause 75; that will be widely welcomed. But I express some concern about the other part of your statement, in which you told the Committee that you did not now intend to allow amendment No. 27 to be formally moved, debated or even voted upon—I believe that that is what you implied.

Our case for a debate flows from the Attorney-General's statement at the time of the original debate on the group of amendments that included amendment No. 27. That statement purported to change totally the legal standing of the amendment and its possible impact on the legislation. The Attorney-General's statement was not universally approved, and ran contrary to the long-held view of the legal officers in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, let alone the long-held views of many legal and constitutional experts outside the House.

I put it to you, Mr. Morris, that that statement changed the whole nature of the circumstances that apply. That being so, the House is entitled to a further discussion about amendment No. 27. When I spoke in the original debate, I said that I intended to move that amendment and to ask for a vote upon it, and I believe that, notwithstanding our welcome for your decision on new clause 75, the Committee is entitled to that opportunity.

The Chairman

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for raising that point of order, but I must tell him, and all other hon. Members of the Committee, that I have come to my conclusion after a great deal of thought. I repeat what I have said all the way through—that hon. Members are most welcome to come to see me and discuss such matters. However, I should say that in the circumstances I attach great importance to our having a focused debate rather than a repetition of earlier and broader debates.

Dr. Cunningham

Further to that point of order, Mr. Morris. No one is opposed to the idea of a focused debate. The reality is that new clause 75 and amendment No. 27 are completely within the same focus and address the same point. Even if you say that we should not be allowed to reopen the discussion on amendment No. 27, surely that is different from preventing the Committee from having a vote on it. That is an entirely different point. As amendment No. 27 is clearly in order—there is no question of its not being in order—and as it has been debated, I find it strange that you should rule that the Committee should be denied the opportunity to vote on it.

The Chairman

As I have told the Committee several times, I am always happy to assist right hon. and hon. Members. However, it is not our practice to argue the merits or otherwise of my selection across the Committee Floor. I hope that we can leave it at that.

Sir Russell Johnston (Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber)

On a point of order, Mr. Morris. When you decided to select new clause 75, did you consider new clause 67? Did you consider whether, as it deals with the area of discussion relevant to new clause 75, it might be possible to link it with that new clause and to allow a vote on it?

The Chairman

I obviously take into consideration all new clauses that are in order. I come to a conclusion having considered them.

Mr. Spearing

On a point of order, Mr. Morris, concerning the group of amendments on which we are about to embark and especially amendment No. 30, to which is attached amendments (a) to (k). May we have a separate Division on amendment (h)? I hope that a Division can be called at the relevant point of the Bill. You will be aware —

The Chairman

The hon. Gentleman has been with us for almost every sitting of the Committee. He must know that the Chair must listen to the debate and then decide whether a Division is appropriate. It is not a matter for a point of order before we get to the debate.

Mr. Spearing

Further to that point of order, Mr. Morris. I apologise for breaking the rule. In Standing Committees, the convention has been as I described it. I apologise for breaking the convention if there are different rules for a Committee of the whole House.

The Chairman

The hon. Gentleman has registered his point. There is no point in arguing it now.

Mr. Stephen Byers (Wallsend)

On a point of order, Mr. Morris. As one of the authors of new clause 75, I clearly welcome your decision to select it. However, I am slightly surprised by your ruling on amendment No. 27. New clause 75 was specifically worded to be complementary to amendment No. 27. I wonder whether you would reconsider.

The Chairman

I have given a substantive answer to the right hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham), who raised that matter.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

On a point of order, Mr. Morris. I heard you say that there will be no debate on amendment No. 27 and that we shall not be able to vote on it. I can just about see the argument for not having a debate, but for the life of me I cannot understand why we —Back-Bench Members and the lot of us—cannot have a Division on amendment No. 27 in view of the fact that a Division takes only a quarter of an hour. The Government allow us to talk a donkey's hind leg off, but they are frightened of a vote that they may lose.

You, Mr. Morris, have selected new clause 75, but you have told us that we cannot vote on amendment No. 27. I ask myself which part of the Committee will be laughing about that. It is Tory Ministers. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not always."] It is on this issue. They are enamoured by the idea that there is to be no vote. Why can we not go through the Lobbies for a quarter of an hour on one of the most important issues on which the Government might well be defeated? We can have votes on everything else, but not on this. I smell a rat.

The Chairman

The hon. Gentleman can smell what he likes. Time is not a consideration. I suggest that he reads new clause 75 with a little more care.

Sir Teddy Taylor (Southend, East)

On a point of order, Mr. Morris. I think that you will know that, despite probably being a problem boy on this Bill; I have paid the highest tribute, both inside and outside the Chamber, to the way in which you have Conducted the proceedings, We should all like to pay tribute to you for the way in which you have done it.

My sole point of order is that amendment No. 27 is the only amendment to allow the Committee to determine the simple issue whether the British taxpayer should be obliged to pay a twelfth share of the costs of the social chapter for the 11. My constituents have views on that matter, and I think that the majority of Members of Parliament would probably take the view that the amendment should be passed so that we can determine whether it is fair to ask the British people to pay for something being undertaken by the other 11. What possible reason can there be for depriving us of the opportunity to express an opinion on whether our people should be obliged to pay those costs? I have been in the House of Commons for a long time and I genuinely cannot understand the argument against giving us that opportunity. Otherwise, how can we express our view as to whether it is right and proper for British taxpayers to pay someone else's costs?

The Chairman

I have given a substantive answer and made an offer to the right hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham). I suggest that the hon. Gentleman reads new clause 75 with a little more care.

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Morris. You rightly say that we should read the new clause with a great deal of care and I am sure that that will be done. Having read it again with even more care, and knowing that other hon. Members have read it with even more legal knowledge than care, one may well take the view that amendment No. 27 and new clause 75 are different and will have a very different impact on the progress of the Bill, which is obviously of great importance to many hon. Members. If that is the case, may I beseech you that, if a significant weight of Back-Bench opinion wants to vote on amendment No. 27, that can be done?

The Chairman

I listen to submissions.

Mr. Geoffrey Hoon (Ashfield)

The main security threat to western Europe is no longer the Soviet Union, or even any of its successors, but the dangers inherent in the economic, political and ethnic instabilities that have affected the continent of Europe as a result of the break-up of the Warsaw pact and the consequential growth of nationalism.

I was fortunate enough to be in Berlin on the day that the wall came down and I saw east Germans—mainly young east Germans—flooding through into west Berlin to begin the process of German unification. That process has been constitutionally completed, but economically the strains and tensions of reconciling two quite opposed systems have provoked the nationalism, racism and phobia redolent of a previous and more threatening era. That is why I believe that Germany and German unification must be the starting point for our debate on a common European foreign and security policy. Only by incorporating a united. Germany with in a developing,common and coherent European policy can we hope to avoid the instability, divisions and nationalism that have twice scarred western Europe this century.

In trying to understand what is being. attempted, it is worth. while thinking back to. the ideas underlying the treaty of Rome. Moves towards. European integration after the second world war sprang from two main factors: first, the realisation that strength lies in unity; secondly, the overriding need to avoid further military conflict in western Europe

The. European Community, however; is much more than an alliance of sovereign nations which happen to have common interests because of their common geographical location. The treaty of Rome emphasises mutual interdependence. One of the founding fathers of the Community, Jean Monnet, put it this way: Co-operation between nations, however important, does not solve anything. What we must seek is a pooling of interests of the peoples of Europe. Those words remind me of the words of Benjamin Franklin, who put the same idea in a simpler way when he warned the newly established American states that they must either hang together or they would surely hang separately. Interdependence has made it possible for the people of Europe, who have fought each other for centuries, to live together in peace and to continue the process of building political unity. Once political and economic destinies are linked, war becomes unthinkable. The end of the cold war gives a further opportunity to link the destinies of western Europe to those of eastern and central Europe.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

My hon. Friend has been talking about peace—and I am sure that he will agree that no one is keener than me to have a lasting peace in Europe. We should never again have the horrors of the two world wars that have cursed this century. Why does my hon. Friend believe that we cannot achieve peace on the terms that I have just outlined by retaining national independence and the closest co-operation? Is it not ironic that my hon. Friend should refer to a lasting peace at a time when there is a dispute between France and ourselves?

We should also consider what is happening in the rest of Europe, with the continued bloodshed and horror in the former Yugoslavian state. The sort of remedy that we want is not the false sort of unity of a federal Europe about which Jean Monnet was concerned, but the closest co-operation between states that remain independent.

4 pm

Mr. Hoon

My hon. Friend has been a Member of the House much longer than I have, and I know that in the course of his experience he will have seen the various steps towards that greater unity and understanding among the peoples of Europe. That is a delicate and difficult process that involves proceeding in a pragmatic way, step by step. The results will not be achieved overnight, but eventually the peoples of Europe will, together, build that confidence —which is what I suspect both sides of the Committee are seeking to achieve.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)

Would not my hon. Friend consider that the basic difference between the creation of the United States of America and a united states of Europe is simple? Initially, there was a strong belief in a unilingual unit and in the need to build the United States, whereas we face a different prospect. We face the imposition from above of a machinery that has not been agreed by the people involved.

It is plain, even from the small difficulties that we currently have with France, that, if there is no general agreement among the peoples on their wish to be governed by machinery that they do not believe represents them, those people will take direct action outside parliamentary institutions, and the results will be unpleasant, and certainly unhelpful.

Mr. Hoon

I concede, frankly and openly, that historical parallels are always dangerous. I am not suggesting that there is an exact parallel between the United States of America and the present situation in the European Community. I hope that nothing that I am saying is likely to cause great alarm to my hon. Friend.

At present, independent nations are working together, particularly in the context of a common foreign policy association which is building on successes, to try to achieve still greater co-operation. I am not suggesting the imposition of anything from the top down—for the exercise to work, the independent countries must agree to share various approaches. I do not think that that is such a remarkable phenomenon.

Mr. Leighton

My hon. Friend is being extremely generous in giving way—his speech is arousing great interest in the House. He mentioned that he was in Berlin on the day that the wall came down. Does he not agree that the Maastricht treaty was conceived before the wall came down, so it is in a time warp and is old-fashioned? The most important event to have happened in Europe is that the wall has come down and the totalitarian regimes have gone—Maastricht does nothing to enhance that.

The Maastricht treaty erects new economic barriers where there was once a physical barrier. If it is difficult for countries such as Britain to achieve the convergence criteria and for the pound to stay in the exchange rate mechanism, what chance do the zloty or the rouble have of staying in the ERM? Surely we want a wider arrangement to take in the whole of Europe, not the old-fashioned Maastricht treaty, which was conceived in the circumstances that prevailed before the wall came down.

Mr. Hoon

Some of the early ideas which led to the Maastricht treaty might have been thought of before the removal of the Berlin wall, but undoubtedly the treaty was negotiated in detail and agreed well after that period. I am not going to be tempted to comment on the economic implications of my hon. Friend's question; I should probably be ruled out of order if I did.

In the context of the debate about a common foreign policy, I do not understand my hon. Friend's objections. What we are trying to do is build together a process of greater understanding within the European Community and, in the context of my hon. Friend's question, beyond into central and eastern Europe. I cannot see why anyone should object to that process.

Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East)

If the hon. Gentleman is going to avoid economics, could he at least urge his hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) not only to read the treaty more closely but to study the history? From the beginning, there was no question but that the United States was going to be unilingual, as is obvious from the various debates that took place at the time. The process of developing common institutions so that the rivalry between various states would be reduced, if not eliminated, is the same as the basis on which the Community developed.

Mr. Hoon

I accept that, although I repeat my earlier caution about historical parallels.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

I thank my hon. Friend for giving way. As to his analogy with the United States, does he not remember that the rather brutal establishment of the United States was the result of a mixture of a colonial rebellion against an imperial power and the genocide of the native Americans?

If my hon. Friend is now envisaging the establishment of a federal Europe, will he not reflect that the Maastricht treaty does not take us in the direction of the checks and balances contained in the American federal constitution? It takes us in the opposite direction of an unelected legislative body—the Commission—and, in the case of foreign policy, a policy Commission that will be, in effect, imposing foreign policy on nation states that have fought for their own democratic accountability.

Mr. Hoon

I included the quotation from Benjamin Franklin because it quite nicely covered the point that I wished to make. I now regret that, because it has provoked an historical debate which is not strictly relevant to our discussions.

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

I thank my hon. Friend for giving way. It is intriguing to sit next to my very dear friend the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) and hear him praise the role of the nation state.

I put it to my hon. Friend that my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) has made some very good points about the question of the necessary democratisation and making the European Community responsive to the wishes and needs of people as a whole, in this country and elsewhere. Surely the argument must be entered that one should look at those institutions within the European Community and make them responsive and more democratic, and not argue for isolationism?

Mr. Hoon

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. That is the direction in which I hope to continue.

Mr. Peter Mandelson (Hartlepool)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Hoon

No, I should make some progress.

I am strongly convinced that, if we are to achieve a common foreign policy, it will be on the basis of a series of pragmatic steps. A step-by-step approach is the only way in which we can transfer relevant competences from member states to the European Community. The present European Community and Atlantic alliance will continue to be the solid foundations of the common efforts in the foreseeable future.

Even those who would oppose the deliberate development of any common policy must recognise that the European Community has, over the years, developed pragmatically policies which are, in effect, the outlines of a common foreign policy. Sanctions against South Africa, action in the middle east and statements about Salman Rushdie are indications of the way in which the European Community is reacting collectively to the pressure of events. That may or may not be the outline of an emerging common foreign policy but, whether or not hon. Members approve, it is happening and we must take account of it.

Mr. Mandelson

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Hoon

No. I had better continue my speech.

The implementation of a common foreign and security policy will allow the European Community and its member states to maintain their role on the world stage. It will contribute to the transition from confrontation to a more common approach. These policies need to be based on agreed principles. The implementation of those principles should have clear objectives.

First, peace and security should be maintained. Secondly, disputes should be settled peacefully, and international law respected. Thirdly, there should be a mutual, balanced and verifiable reduction of armed forces and armaments. Fourthly, an international order should be promoted, based on respect for human rights. As the European Community develops those policies—

Mr. Marlow

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hoon

In a moment.

As the European Community develops those policies, consistent with the step-by-step philosophy that I have already outlined, we need to develop priorities for joint action.

Mr. Mandelson

rose

Mr. Hoon

I shall now give way to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Mandelson

It is important, given the instances of joint action and statements to which my hon. Friend referred, to make it clear that they were jointly entered into by the respective Governments and member states. Those decisions were not made for, by or on behalf of member states by the Commission.

It is wrong for my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), who I notice, having made his point, has left the Chamber, to suggest that it is the Commission that will conduct foreign policy on our behalf. Article J of the treaty specifically precludes that, and says that it will be—and it should be, in my view—a matter for intergovernmental machinery.

Mr. Hoon

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I should have given way to him earlier. He has made the point much more clearly than I have done. Therefore, I thank him for his comments.

Mr. Marlow

rose

Mr. Hoon

I shall now give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Marlow

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, courteous as always, for giving way. He listed four principles upon which European foreign policy cooperation should be based. Could I suggest a fifth: that it should apply to all member states equally? How confident and convinced is the hon. Gentleman that Greece will apply sanctions on Serbia?

Mr. Hoon

That is precisely the issue that we need to develop. We must achieve mutual confidence. If we are to persuade all 12 sovereign states to take the action that the hon. Gentleman and I agree is necessary, they will do so only on the basis of the step-by-step approach that I have outlined. I hope that, for once, we shall be able to agree that action will be taken only if together we take those steps.

Action will be taken only as the result of success in other areas. That will lead to the confidence that is required for action to be taken later. There is no good reason why the European Community should not reach agreements concerning non-European Community nations. The remainder of Europe ought to be capable of being approached by the European Community in a consistent manner—as should the United States and Japan. Relations between the European Community and those countries ought to be the subject of a common rather than an individual nation state approach.

Mr. Spearing

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Hoon

In a moment.

Similarly, participation in the conference on security and co-operation in Europe and the contribution that we can make together towards strengthening the United Nations ought to be policies that we are capable of developing together rather than as separate nation states.

Mr. Spearing

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend, who has been most generous in giving way. I think that he is going a little far in suggesting that all these matters will come within the ambit of the European Community. Has not the Foreign Secretary attempted time and again to make a distinction between the European Community and the articles in the treaty that we are discussing that relate to it, and the wider union under which a common foreign policy is required?

Despite that distinction, I think that my hon. Friend may be correct. Despite what my hon. Friend the Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Mandelson) said, article J.8 provides the Commission with powers of initiation. As that is a corporate body, strong in muscle, I have no doubt that its initiative will be important.

Mr. Hoon

Having had a number of years of experience of the European Commission, I do not find it quite so frightening as my hon. Friend appears to do.

Mr. Spearing

He was part of the machinery.

4.15 pm
Mr. Hoon

The reason why I have less concern than my hon. Friend appears to have is clear in the terms of his own question: the Commission may have the powers of initiation. Why should we be afraid of the powers of initiation?

Mr. Spearing

Because they are non-elected.

Mr. Hoon

They have the power to put forward ideas. It is then, even under the existing arrangement, for the member states to decide what should be the conclusion. I cannot see why that should be such a frightening prospect.

The essentially pragmatic development of a foreign policy, in my view, resembles the way in which the Community already deals with the GATT issue, external trade negotiations—issues that we are already, in effect, comfortable with. Therefore, having built on those successes, we can look into these other areas for the development of a policy.

The Community cannot allow itself to be isolated from other states in the world community as an enclave of prosperous industrialised nations. The Community has an obligation to contribute worldwide to overcoming poverty and underdevelopment, implementing human and civil rights, containing conflicts and guaranteeing peace. A European Community foreign and security policy is the prerequisite for meeting those obligations effectively.

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

As the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Hoon) explained in his interesting speech, this group of amendments deals with European co-operation on a common foreign and security policy. I underline the word co-operation. From experience in the past three years, I must say that I am strongly in favour of such co-operation as it is at present practised and as it is laid down for the future in the treaty. I and others have been trying to work the system for three years and I believe that I have some knowledge of both its strengths and its limitations.

The principle is, and will remain, a simple one. Where we can work together as Europeans, we do so; where we cannot work together, for lack of agreement or where there is no need to do so, we are free to go our own way.

I am quite clear in my own mind that this system of co-operation, although not magic, adds to the effectiveness of British foreign policy without reducing our ability to protect our own British interests. As the hon. Member for Ashfield illustrated, there is a massive flow of diplomatic business already through this channel of European co-operation. Much of this activity is relatively uncontroversial, so it does not find a place in the newspapers, but I will give one or two examples that right hon. and hon. Members may recall.

The concept of safe havens for the Kurds in northern Iraq is much on my mind today, because I saw the delegation of the Iraq national conference this morning. This concept of safe havens for the Kurds was originally a British proposal, but it gave immediate and decisive impetus once it was adopted by the European Council at the urging of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. It was a clear example of how a decisive move at the European level achieves worldwide acceptance.

Dr. Cunningham

There are reports, which the right hon. Gentleman probably heard this morning, of some apparent change in the position of Her Majesty's Government with respect to Iraq. Can the Foreign Secretary clarify this for us? Does he stand by what he said, for example, at the Scottish Conservative party conference in Perth on 10 May 1991? He said then: There can be no question of any relaxation in sanctions whilst Saddam Hussein's bloody persecution of minorities continues. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine that Saddam Hussein's government could fulfil all the conditions laid down by the United Nations for the removal of sanctions. Only a new government will enable Iraq to be re-admitted to the community of nations. Is that still the position of Her Majesty's Government or has it changed?

Mr. Hurd

The requirements of the Security Council have not changed in any important sense since that time. Those are the requirements with which Iraq has to comply before there can be any question of lifting sanctions. What I and others said around that time in 1991 is that it is hard —indeed, it is still impossible—to imagine Saddam Hussein being able or willing to comply with those Security Council requirements. Those are the requirements, and compliance with those requirements was and remains the test.

Mr. Marlow

My right hon. Friend said as he opened his remarks that we can run our policies where we need to, but where they are better run at European level and where we should co-ordinate and co-operate we should do so; nobody would disagree with that. However, with respect, that is not what it says in the treaty. Paragraph 1 of article J1 states: The Union and its Member States shall"— not "can"— define and implement a foreign and security policy…covering all areas of foreign and security policy. That says something totally different from what my right hon. Friend said.

Mr. Hurd

The treaty goes on to explain how that is to be done, and I shall do the same. It explains how common positions and joint actions are to be decided. They are to be decided by unanimity and I shall come to that in a moment.

Mr. Tony Banks

Will the Foreign Secretary give way?

Mr. Hurd

I should rather get on. I was going to give another example at a lower level following the example of Iraq.

Last summer, I went with Ministers of the EC troika to South Africa and, as a result of that visit, we now have a team of EC observers in the townships of South Africa alongside those from the Commonwealth and the United Nations, to help deter and prevent the violence which has caused so much misery and distrust among those trying to negotiate for a new South Africa.

In the world of today, it is welcomed by all concerned in South Africa that the European Community, alongside others, should take such a responsibility, with Britain sending individuals to the European and Commonwealth teams.

Equally, it was as a member of the European Community that we joined in the multilateral talks now going on in the Arab-Israel peace process. It would be regarded as frivolous or bizarre by Arabs, Israelis, Americans, Russians and everybody else if, instead of joining in as Europeans, we began to shove and push for individual national representation in such talks. There would be no point and it would be regarded as bizarre and ridiculous.

Mrs. Dunwoody

Does the Foreign Secretary accept that those of us who have long experience of dealing inside the Community with the question of the middle east have found that there was a clear division between countries that had direct involvement in the Masraq and Maghreb and those that were prepared to take a more even-handed attitude? Does he accept that the suggestion that Britain can adopt an attitude towards the middle east only if it works through the Community begs the question of those nations that have already entered negotiations carrying the baggage of their long Arab-Israeli connections?

Mr. Hurd

I do not agree with the hon. Lady. Of course, as a matter of law we could do that. Each of the 12 countries could pursue and elaborate its own policy towards the middle east, but that makes no sense in today's world.

In the past few years, we have managed—not without difficulty—to work out a whole series of statements and positions among the 12, and it is on that basis that we take part in the multilateral part of the Arab-Israeli peace process. That is a good thing; it is better than if we, the Germans, the French and the Italians all worked out our own policies and then scrapped for priority in putting them forward.

The process of co-operation already in being is now elaborated and defined more closely in the treaty to which the Bill relates under the heading that we are discussing. It is natural that the House should look carefully to see whether the character of the system is being changed. Nobody is seriously challenging what we are doing, but the House will want to see whether the character is being changed and whether we are being penned into a new system which would deprive us of essential rights. My right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. Howell), in his shrewd and perceptive speech on 25 March, included some cautionary remarks on the subject.

Those are exactly the concerns that the British Government had at the front of their mind when we negotiated this part of the treaty, on which a huge amount of time was rightly spent. We wanted to preserve the advantage of co-operation in foreign policy without depriving ourselves of freedom in cases where cooperation was not necessary or not possible. I believe that we have succeeded and I should like to explain why.

Mr. William Cash (Stafford)

My right hon. Friend talks, rightly, about the need for co-operation and, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. Howell) said, it is important to make sure that we treat all this with a great deal of caution. The reality is that under the provisions of the treaty, what the Foreign Secretary is saying does not accord with what is provided for under title V.

I understand my right hon. Friend's motivation, but if we have produced provisions in the treaty that bind us to support the Union's external and security policy actively, unreservedly in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity refraining from actions contrary to the interests of the union and so on, we are binding ourselves—and the Foreign Secretary knows this perfectly well—to international obligations. It may be in the context of what is claimed to be separate pillars, but, for practical purposes, they are international obligations which are imposed on us and which impose constraints that will prevent us from exercising that pragmatic action which we have always been capable of pursuing, including the Gulf war.

Mr. Hurd

Nothing is imposed on us under this pillar because The council shall act unanimously". It means that the obligations are obligations to which we have agreed. My hon Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) is pushing me ahead a little faster than I intended to go, but I shall develop the point and go on. Then I will give way to those hon. Members to whom I have not given way.

This section of the treaty does not bring the common foreign and security policy within the ambit of the European Community. It is a separate pillar and is specifically set out as such. I think that I see the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) nod in agreement. That is why amendment No. 30 is somewhat extraordinary; it would incorporate title V of the treaty on common foreign and security policy in the 1972 Act. That incorporation would erode the structure of the pillars in a way which I should have thought the sceptics about Europe would particularly wish to prevent.

The amendment would not alter the legal character of title V which is plain on the face of the treaty, but I think that it would be incongruous for Britain, of all states, so to amend its internal law as to apply title V and this pillar of foreign and security policy as if it were part of the treaty structure of the Community. It is not.

Mr. Ted Rowlands (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney)

I supported the separate pillars and the high level of co-operation that has been achieved. I am worried about paragraphs 3 and 4 of article J8. There, for the first time, the Commission gets the power and the obligation to begin things. Whereas the rest of the articles are about the Council and the clear division between the Commission's responsibility under the treaty of Rome, in article J8 we have the Council and the Commission getting the right and the obligation to initiate. That is the beginning of an erosive process.

Mr. Hurd

That is what happens now, but I will come on to the role of the Commission in a moment. The first point I was trying to make about the new structure, the step-by-step approach that we are contemplating under the treaty, is that the pillar is separate.

Secondly, the European Court of Justice will have no jurisdiction in these matters. I know that that has been a worry. The European Court might take the opening statements of intention and turn them into a legal obligation, but article L of the treaty sets out the areas that will fall within the jurisdiction of the court. Title V is absent and is, therefore, excluded from the jurisdiction of the court.

Mr. Leighton

rose

Mr. Hurd

I will just come on to the point about the Commission if I may and I will give way to the hon. Member later.

In this part of the treaty, because it is a separate pillar outside the Community, the Commission has held a monopoly of initiative. The Commission, under the treaty, will be "fully associated"—those are the words in the treaty—with the work of the union on this subject, as it is today. A Commissioner today attends meetings on foreign policy co-operation. He is able to speak. He is able to make proposals—the hon. Gentleman's point—but he has no monopoly of such proposals, as he would have if the pillar were part of the Community. Because it is separate, the Commissioner is there and can make proposals, but he has no monopoly, and I am convinced that that is in practice a thoroughly sensible arrangement.

4.30 pm

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford pointed out, there is often an overlap between different kinds of action open to the Community and its member states. It is an overlap, in effect, between the economic and the political and, therefore an overlap between the responsibility of the Community and that of member states acting in co-operation.

An obvious example is sanctions, which are specifically provided for in article 228a. The Committee will see there that before sanctions can be imposed by the Community —it is an economic measure coming within the scope of the Community—there must be a common position or joint action decided by the Council under the common foreign and security policy, and such a common position must be arrived at unanimously. So it is curious that there should be an amendment that would modify an extremely important provision about the imposition of sanctions.

Mr. Leighton

The Foreign Secretary has been talking of co-operation in foreign policy matters. How well does he suggest such co-operation worked when, under German pressure—and, I suspect, against the better judgment of the right hon. Gentleman—we precipitately gave diplomatic recognition to Croatia and other Yugoslav states before the boundaries were fixed and before agreements were arrived at on ethnic minorities, which partly was the cause of the war?

Mr. Hurd

I have an extensive passage in my notes on that incident, which was raised when the Committee began to consider the amendments a few days ago, so I assure the hon. Gentleman that I will deal with that extremely fair and important point.

Mr. Marlow

My right hon. Friend says that there is nothing new about this because the Commission has the powers already. I understand from the Single European Act that the Commission is associated with political co-operation, but is not associated with security co-operation. The Commission may put forward proposals now, but it does not have the power to put forward proposals that will be given to it under the Maastricht treaty.

Further, the European Parliament has significantly more involvement under the Maastricht treaty than it had under the Single European Act. So the position after the Maastricht treaty is not the same as it was after the Single European Act. This pillar is not totally apart from the European institutions. Those institutions have far more power than they had under the Single European Act, and under the debate and discussions that will take place in 1996 with a view to 1998, the probability is that they will get even more.

Mr. Hurd

My hon. Friend is right to say that there is a change. There is what I would call a slight change in the role of the European Parliament. I do not think that, in practice, there is a change in the role of the Commission today, and I strongly disagree with my hon. Friend's last point. We went to considerable trouble to make sure that wherever in the treaty there was a reference to a review in 1996—there are two or three such references—the review was without prejudice.

It is part of my case—my hon. Friend and I crossed swords on this issue in the debate on subsidiarity—for which evidence flows in all the time, that we are not on a conveyor belt and that we are not moving inexorably to a degree of federalism or a centralising tendency of a kind that most hon. Members would reject. To suggest otherwise is increasingly not borne out by the facts of Europe. We succeeded, and one minor proof of that is that we succeeded in the negotiations in preventing any reference to future reviews which prejudiced the outcome of those reviews.

Mr. Spearing

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hurd

I am anxious to make progress.

I am illustrating the characteristics of the pillar—of the separate nature of this part of the treaty, as opposed to the normal structure of the Community. The Committee will see the provision in paragraph 5 of article J8 for political directors to prepare the work of the Council in foreign and security policy. They will of course need to work closely, as they do today, with COREPER, but we thought it right that the autonomous work of political directors responsible to Foreign Ministers should be specifically spelt out in the treaty again to make clear that it is a separate pillar of co-operation between member states.

Finally, there is the provision of unanimity to which my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) brought me a few moments ago. The mention in paragraph 2 of article J3 of voting by a qualified majority contains a double lock. First, there must be unanimity to decide a joint action and, secondly, there must be unanimity in agreeing to the use of qualified majority voting. That means that if the Council, or the British Government, were to decide that all decisions, no matter how small, needed, to be taken by unanimity, they would be. One can imagine carefully chosen circumstances in which qualified majority voting could make a policy more effective, for example, by speeding up the process of taking decisions on implementation. However, under the treaty, that could not be a general rule, and each proposal that any matter should be decided by qualified majority voting would have to be decided by unanimity. That is the nature of the double lock.

Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood)

My right hon. Friend is, as usual, being exceedingly reassuring. However, there are many instances in article J of the untrammelled sovereignty of nation states within the Community being, to a greater or lesser degree, circumscribed by the provisions of the article. For example, paragraph 4 of article J1 states: The Member States shall support the Union's external and security policy actively". It adds that the Council shall ensure that those principles are adhered to. Paragraph 2 of article J2 states: Member States shall ensure that their national policies conform to the common positions. There are other examples. What my right hon. Friend says by way of reassurance about majority voting may be true, but the article as a whole gives the impression that the treaty gives precedence to the interests of the union over those of the member states.

Mr. Hurd

My hon. Friend is right; it is a crucial point. The common positions and joint actions all have to be approved unanimously. There is no question of the Commission, a majority of member states, or even 11 member states, seeking to impose on this country or on any other member state a common position or joint action. That is precluded, not by the practice of the Community but by the wording of the treaty. That is the essential answer to my hon. Friend's point.

Several hon. Members

rose

Mr. Hurd

I give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester, North (Mr. Jenkin).

Mr. Bernard Jenkin (Colchester, North)

My right hon. Friend's assurance is very fulsome, but there is still concern that there will be a good deal of cross-infection from the external relations run by the Commission through the Community which, after all, runs trade, which is a large proportion of, and a large political influence on, overall foreign policy. Will he give the House a categorical assurance that we shall never find ourselves in a position where the Commission grabs to itself more and more initiative at the expense of the unanimity provisions in the foreign policy pillar?

Mr. Hurd

My hon. Friend, being a smart fellow, is retiring very quickly from any argument based on the texts and is moving to what he calls the danger of political infection.

Several hon. Members

rose

Mr. Hurd

Let me answer my hon. Friend. I have tried to answer his question already. I do not believe that in real life there can always be a full separation in practical policy between what one does economically and what one does politically. I have given one example—fairly, I hope—which was that of economic sanctions. It would be absurd for the Council to sit around discussing economic sanctions without hearing from the Commission which, under the Community, would have to implement them. There has to be some marriage of minds in many of these cases. There has to be an interplay, which is why it is perfectly reasonable that the Commission should be fully associated with the work of foreign policy co-operation.

However, my hon. Friend is correct in taking the view that it would not be reasonable if full association, for which there are very strong practical arguments, were to drift into a situation in which the Commission had a monopoly of initiative and member states developed the habit of doing what the Commission thought right. But that is miles away from what happens now and from what is provided for in the treaty. As I have said, the review provisions contain nothing to suggest that we are on a conveyor belt going in that direction. It is not the way in which foreign policy co-operation is discussed and agreed on.

I hope that what I have said is a reasonably full exposition of the legal provisions that separate this part of the treaty from ordinary, orthodox Community action. We spent a great deal of time ensuring that the advantages of co-operation were not bought at the expense of freedom of action. We were not alone in doing so, as others wanted to achieve the same end. Let me cite three examples, all of which have been mentioned during the debates on the Bill.

There is nothing in the treaty, or in real political life, to prevent us from pursuing our national policy on dependent territories, such as Hong Kong and the Falkland Islands. As I have said, member states must agree unanimously that a particular issue needs to become the subject of joint action. That being the case, Britain would have to agree specifically if Hong Kong or the Falklands, or any other issue, were to become the subject of joint action. In addition, attached to the treaty is a declaration on dependent territories, recognising our right, in cases of irreconcilable conflict between the interests of the 12 and those of one of our dependent territories, to act in the interests of that territory.

Secondly, there is the question of membership of the Security Council, which is dealt with specifically in article J5, as we and the French were keen that it should be. Article J5 suggests that members of the Security Council that are also members of the Community should work together. Well, that happens already. The article suggests that we should inform partners of events in the Security Council. That, too, happens already. The treaty contains no suggestion of a joint European seat on the Security Council. Indeed, it assumes the opposite. The specific responsibility of the existing permanent members from the European Community—the United Kingdom and France—under the United Nations charter are recognised in the treaty.

I know that several right hon. and hon. Members visited New York recently and saw the United Nations in action. One or two of them have told me that Britain and France both have as their current permanent representatives on the Security Council particularly strong-minded and experienced ambassadors. Those representatives work closely with the Spanish ambassador, who represents an elected member of the Council, and with the other nine Community ambassadors in New York. However, there is no question of the responsibilities of Britain and France under the United Nations charter being undermined, either now or in the future. As emerged in a recent debate in this Chamber, Britain and France currently contribute more than any other country to the peacekeeping activities of the United Nations.

Sir Russell Johnston

Lest the Foreign Secretary, because of the nature of interventions, reaches the conclusion that what he is saying has the unanimous support of the Committee, I say simply that I am surprised that he is taking such a long time to explain why foreign affairs initiatives could be successfully stopped. The right hon. Gentleman must realise as well as I do that, in all international institutions, unanimity is normally a recipe for inaction.

Mr. Hurd

I am under no temptation to assume that my remarks have the unanimous support of hon. Members. Indeed, with regard to the Bill, that is the least of my temptations. The hon. Gentleman and I have crossed swords on this point previously. It is from experience, rather than from a doctrinal or theological standpoint, that I say that, in respect of all sorts of matters that come up in the Community, members should persevere until unanimity is achieved.

It simply does not make sense to box one or two members into a corner, making it necessary for them to go back to their Parliaments and say that, while they felt strongly about the matter in question, they had been outvoted. I am not in favour of that kind of situation. That is why, in spite of a good deal of pressure during the negotiations, we held out—we did so successfully, and we were not alone—for the legal provisions and the emphasis on unanimity that I have described. The hon. Gentleman thinks that that impedes action; I believe that, in practice, it does no such thing.

4.45 pm
Sir Teddy Taylor

Let the Foreign Secretary tell the Liberal Democrats not to be so pessimistic. They ought to look at page 130 of the treaty, where it is made abundantly clear—no one seems to have noticed this—that when there is a qualified majority in matters of foreign affairs and security, every member state is under an obligation to go to the extent possible to avoid preventing a unanimous decision. Are not the Liberal Democrats being unduly pessimistic? Does not the declaration indicate quite clearly that the Government are under a legal obligation in this respect?

Mr. Hurd

It is true that the treaty contains an exhortation, which was put there by people who were disappointed that we had managed to retain the principle of unanimity. We have no difficulty in accepting the admonition that we should do our best to achieve unanimity. That was an attempt to meet the point that has been raised by the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston). However, the treaty is perfectly clear. Naturally, the main criticism comes from those who think that unanimity is an impediment to effective action. My practical experience suggests otherwise.

Mr. Cash

My right hon. Friend was good enough to ask me to write for the Conservative manifesto committee the paper on the future of Europe. I should be glad if he would address himself to the text of that document and to the question of unanimity, which he has just been stressing. I am sure he appreciates that article J8(2) states: The council shall act unanimously, except for procedural questions and in the case referred to in Article J.3(2). My right hon. Friend will note that the definition at the beginning of article J3 refers to the procedure. Paragraph (2) of that article states clearly that, when joint action is being adopted, the Council shall define matters on which decisions are to be taken by qualified majority. My right hon. Friend says that all of this is governed by unanimity. If he thinks that I am wrong, I hope that he will point out how it is so.

Mr. Hurd

I have done so already. My hon. Friend was so busy preparing his intervention that he did not hear my answer to his question. I have already described at some length the double lock procedure that governs article J3(2). I shall not repeat myself, as my hon. Friend will find my words in Hansard. There is a double lock to ensure unanimity before article J3(2) can be operated in any particular case. I hope that my hon. Friend will join me in preparing the next Conservative election manifesto's section on Europe, following ratification of the treaty. In view of our joint experience, we may find a good deal of common ground. However, we are not yet at that point.

The hon. Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) raised, perfectly correctly, the situation in Yugoslavia. This is an unfavourable example, which is why the hon. Gentleman referred to it. No one looking back at this tragedy will be able to feel anything but anger and frustration. From the beginning, I felt—and I believe that I said—that it would be unreasonable to suppose that, however great might be the harmony between the 12 members of the Community, we could impose peace in Yugoslavia. It is not possible to impose peace from outside when people are determined to fight and kill each other.

I do not want to spell out the whole history of policy on Yugoslavia because the House debated it recently. I just record in that context my conviction that it has been entirely right for the members of the Community to act together and that any other course would have been damaging, perhaps disastrous.

The most difficult point along the road was that cited by the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Guildford—the recognition of Croatia and Slovenia in January 1992, decided upon on 16 December 1991. Some critics in this country, notably my noble Friend Baroness Thatcher, and some people outside—Germans, Austrians and others—believed that the Community recognised Croatia and Slovenia too late. My noble Friend Lord Carrington, the Opposition Front Bench and my right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford and the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs over which he presides believed that we recognised too early.

I do not believe that the timing was decisive in what followed. I do not think that it would have made sense to have withheld recognition much longer, or that the timing of recognition had any effect on the tragedy which followed in another country. But in the context of this debate it is worth pausing for a moment to consider what the alternative was to agreed Community recognition at the time when we recognised.

The alternative would have been that the Germans and others would have recognised earlier than we did, and the British, French and perhaps some others would have recognised somewhat later. I cannot believe that that disintegration of decision taking would have had anything but an unhealthy affect. Certainly there would have been no effective pressure on President Tudjman to accommodate his policies to the Serb minority of Croatia, which is the argument usually put forward for later recognition.

Dr. Cunningham

Does not that tragic example highlight the problems of working together in cooperation and unanimity? Is not the reality that the Germans were threatening, and had been threatening for some time, to act unilaterally and that, in doing so, they forced the hand of the Community in a disastrous way? We are still living with the consequences of those disastrous decisions, taken for the worst of all possible reasons, and certainly not for good foreign policy reasons.

Mr. Hurd

I do not accept that analysis, and the historian will not either. The Germans held back for a long time under strong pressure from their own public opinion and their own analysis of the position. I do not think that it would have been a good thing or in any way helpful in the relationship between Croatia and Serbia if the Germans had recognised two or three months earlier. That would have had no good effect. Therefore, I do not think that disintegration of policy co-operation could have been helpful. It would have been deeply unhelpful and would have prevented us from doing the things that I am coming to.

Mr. Mike Gapes (Ilford, South)

If the Community managed to persuade the Germans that they should delay for a few months, perhaps the Foreign Secretary could explain why in the case of Macedonia, although the majority of Community countries were in favour of recognition, one, Greece, has still been able to stop recognition. Why, if it was right in the case of Croatia, is it not right in the case of Macedonia? May we have a straight answer, please?

Mr. Hurd

Exactly the same procedure is being followed. We are trying to wait until we achieve agreement. I hope that we can make decisive progress on that matter fairly soon. I do not want to wreck that by going down the road along which the hon. Gentleman is tempting me. It is an important matter. I hope that we are reasonably close to an outcome which will help the people in Skopje and Macedonia.

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South)

Does not that whole tragic business illustrate two points—first, the desirability of acting together and, secondly, having clone that, the fact that we have a lot to learn, because it is surely shameful and shaming to all of us that an independent, recognised sovereign state such as Bosnia should have suffered as it has over the last year?

Mr. Hurd

I understand my hon. Friend's point. We are learning all the time. A common foreign and security policy does not transform the European union into a defence organisation. Therefore, my hon. Friend's criticism, which is widely shared, goes further than the Bill. He is one of those who, I think, would have wanted recognition earlier.

I am coming to what the member states of the European Community have done. It was right for the member states of the Community, acting together, to ask Lord Carrington to undertake pioneering work for a settlement. It was right for the member states of the Community, acting together, to set up the monitoring mission which is doing valuable work through the region. It was right for the member states of the Community, acting together under the British presidency, to summon the London conference last August and there, acting together, to set up the framework of peacemaking provided by Lord Owen, on behalf of the Community, and Cyrus Vance, on behalf of the United Nations. It was right for the member states of the Community, acting together, to provide large amounts of humanitarian aid to the former Yugoslavia, with Britain, France and Spain—all member states of the Community—having contributed most to the life-saving effort since then.

In the real world in which we live, it is notable that when President Clinton undertook a thorough, critical review of United States policy towards the former Yugoslavia, he concluded by putting American energy and influence behind the objectives that we in Europe had set —a negotiating framework, the pressure of sanctions, the humanitarian effort and the pursuit of war criminals. That is not a record of success; no one is claiming that. The frustration and anger remain, but it will be right to continue working together among the 12, carrying forward the effort to make peace and to keep the peace when those principally responsible for the fighting realise that they cannot achieve stable or accepted goals without a negotiated settlement.

Mr. Spearing

The Foreign Secretary has been generous in giving way. In most of his speech, he has been painting an attractive and, I hope, a true picture of international co-operation under title 3 of the Single European Act. But we are considering the treaty, where different conditions apply and where there is an obligation for a common foreign and security policy to be established, under article 1, covering all areas of foreign and security policy. Apart from the initiation of the Commission, which is formally entrenched, as my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) mentioned, does the Foreign Secretary agree that the general council of the Community will be in effect the general council of the union, and the same Ministers, with the same Commission and the same COREPER, will be dealing with a range of commercial, political and international affairs, conceivably at the same meetings and with each other at the same time? Does not that predicate a coming together? It is separate in the treaty, but surely it will be together in practice.

Mr. Hurd

In the treaty, we are certainly not repealing those parts of the treaty of Rome or the Single European Act that govern these matters. The hon. Gentleman has spent almost a lifetime criticising those articles. We are not satisfying him by repealing them. We are creating a separate structure for this purpose. The structure of how the policy is to be elaborated is set out. General guidelines are to be adopted by the European Council which, as the hon. Gentleman knows, operates by consensus. Within those guidelines, there are to be common positions and joint action established by the Council, prepared by the political directors, with the Commission fully associated. I have been over those points.

The common positions and the joint action are to be decided unanimously. We spent hours on that point. Many people wanted majority voting installed as a guiding principle for this part of the treaty. They did not succeed. If we ask how the common positions and the joint action are to be arrived at, we find the answer: it is by unanimity. Then we have to meet the hon. Gentleman's point: how do we expect to do anything by those means? In practical terms, if we are to do anything substantial in that sphere, we need to do it by unanimity.

Mr. Peter Shore (Bethnal Green and Stepney)

I am grateful to the Foreign Secretary for giving way. Would not he be better able to illustrate his point if he itemised the failures and deficiencies of political co-operation in the Single European Act and, having identified the failures and defects under political co-operation, he pointed to the improvements in machinery and commitment that are contained in title V under the new Maastricht Act?

Mr. Hurd

I have been trying to give a reasonably objective account of experience in working the present system. I hope that I have not exaggerated its merits, because it has many demerits, and we are working all the time and learning from experience; but I hope that I have set it out objectively. What the treaty does is to put some aspects of the present system into treaty form—for example, the presence and importance of political directives.

5 pm

It also establishes—I have set out the four or five crucial ways in which it does so—that this is a separate process from that of ordinary Community life. Of course, we have to work the process and we have to make it succeed. I am not in favour of its being swept up eventually into the ordinary work of the Community, just as I am not in favour of the Home Office subjects—the struggle against the drug trade and terrorism—being swept up in that title. That is why I find so bizarre the amendments that would have that effect as regards the European Communities Act 1972. I am not in favour of that; I favour keeping the pillars separate and making a success of them, acknowledging, as I have said, that there will often be an overlap between the political and the economic, but believing that the machinery established here provides for that, for example, in the role of the Commission.

Here is a way of operating which works, which adds already to the effectiveness of our foreign policy and which does not inhibit it—when we wish to do something independent, we can do so. Here is a treaty which enables that to continue and to progress, not towards a final unitary or federal structure but towards greater effectiveness and good sense. I believe that this part of the treaty is worth while and that we should reject amendments that enfeeble or distort it.

Dr. Cunningham

I want to begin with a few comments about amendment No. 30 to which the Secretary of State addressed himself somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but in case he was serious in what he said about amendment No. 30, I think that he ought to recognise that it was tabled simply as part of the determination to secure a debate on these issues and not with the idea of asking the Committee to divide on it. I have no intention of doing so. That deals, I hope clearly and succinctly, with the question why that amendment is on the Order Paper.

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman's general explanation of his concern about the provisions of the Maastricht treaty in this area of common foreign and security policy. I agree with his analysis of the implications of the proposals. I agree that the treaty includes an agreement on a common foreign and security policy, one of several policies of co-operation which are part of the new European union. I agree that the new arrangements will replace the system of European political co-operation which, as the Foreign Secretary said, has existed now for some considerable time, and which has been one of the stepping stones along the way to these new proposals.

I also point out to the Committee that, in talking about the external pillar of European union which relates to common foreign and security policy, article B of the common provisions, which establish the arch of the union, supported by the pillars, sets out five broad objectives, the second of which concerns foreign and security policy, and reads as follows: to assert its identity on the international scene, in particular through the implementation of a common foreign and security policy including the eventual framing of a common defence policy, which might in time lead to a common defence. The tenor of the exchanges across the Floor and the interventions in the right hon. Gentleman's speech have been quite surprising. It is as though co-operation in foreign policy and security was something entirely new, something of which we had had no experience or in which we had never participated before. The reality is that, for almost half a century, in various ways, this country, under Governments of both main political parties, have been involved in exactly that kind of co-operation.

Several hon. Members

rose

Dr. Cunningham

In a moment.

We have had co-operation in the United Nations, co-operation in NATO, co-operation in the Western European Union and co-operation in the European Community itself. It is passing strange to me that the whole idea of co-operation, which is one of the foundation stones on which the Labour party to which I have always belonged was built, should strike such terror into people's hearts.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

Does it not occur to my right hon. Friend that when there has been discussion, debate and action on co-operation, for example, in the Gulf war, with the United States—and more so with the United States than with fellow members of the Community—there has been no controversy, in the main, on the Opposition side? Co-operation with the United Nations has never been the subject of any kind of controversy. However, will my right hon. Friend not recognise that our concern is not with the fact that there should be co-operation—of course there should be—but with steps that lead directly to a federal Europe and the remarks made by our right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore)? Would my right hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) therefore accept the distinction?

Dr. Cunningham

I do not recognise any steps in these proposals towards a federal Europe. I do not support the idea of a federal Europe. It is not our party's policy to support the establishment of a federal Europe, and I do not believe that the proposals that we are discussing today can in any way lead my hon. Friend to draw that conclusion.

Mr. Ian Taylor (Esher)

rose

Dr. Cunningham

Let me deal with one intervention at a time. I am quite willing to give way, but I want to deal with my hon. Friend's intervention first.

It is the whole idea of co-operation itself which is in danger of being lost in this debate because of a tidal wave of sturm and drang, if that is an appropriate phrase, when by comparison what we need is a little good old English sang-froid.

Mr. Ian Taylor

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. I just want to underline the point that he is making. Many of the interventions in the debate so far have forgotten that the principles of co-operation in the European Community were clearly laid down in title III, not only the association in all the proceedings of the Commission but a phrase such as The Presidency and the Commission, each within its own sphere of confidence, shall have special responsibility for ensuring that such consistency is sought and maintained. And it goes on to talk about security. These principles were established when the Single European Act went through the House, voted for by many, including the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash).

Dr. Cunningham

Perhaps the process of the Single European Act through the House is not such a good example. I would remind the hon. Gentleman that it was guillotined through by the Government of the right hon. Baroness Thatcher—not exactly the kind of precedent that we would want to refer to in these circumstances.

Mr. Rowlands

As someone who is neither a German nor an Englishman, and therefore have no sang-froid or anything else, may I point out to my right hon. Friend that we are trying to draw attention to, if we get the chance —the tragedy these days is that Front Benches do not wind up debates, they just open them and then do not reply to them—is the difference between the language of the Single European Act and the language of paragraph 4 of article J.1. If he does not recognise the difference of language, I do not know where his language comes from.

Dr. Cunningham

I am sorry if my hon. Friend is a little sensitive about the fact that I did not refer to him as a Welshman. I regard myself as British rather than English. I was just trying to enliven the debate with a touch of humour, since it has been dragged down into turgid minutiae for too long—but I have learnt my lesson.

Mr. Walter Sweeney (Vale of Glamorgan)

rose

Dr. Cunningham

I shall not give way for the moment.

The European Council has the role of issuing general directions for the harmonisation and implementation of European Community foreign and security policy, including agreeing guidelines for matters for possible joint action. As we know, the Council meets twice a year and operates by consensus only. It passes its agenda to meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers. That is what happens under article J.3(1), which has already been mentioned.

As with previous European political co-operation, the Council of Foreign Ministers is then charged with reaching, so far as that is possible, a common position on any matter of foreign and security policy of general interest in order to ensure that their combined influence is exerted as effectively as possible by means of concerted and convergent action. As the Foreign Secretary said, that is a development of the existing state of affairs.

The first set of four specific policy guidelines for joint action was agreed by the European Council in the declaration at Maastricht. They were: the conference on security and co-operation in Europe process; the policy of disarmament and arms control in Europe, including confidence-building measures; nuclear non-proliferation; and the economic aspects of security, especially control of the transfer of military technology to third countries and control of arms exports.

I do not understand why anyone believes that we are somehow threatened—or, indeed, that our position is not strengthened—by seeking Europewide co-operation in those four crucial areas of international affairs. I certainly do not feel threatened by the idea that we should co-operate in those areas.

Mr. Rupert Allason (Torbay)

Surely the anxieties arise not in relation to further co-operation—everybody would welcome that—but in relation to the narrow areas in which the British national and public interest does not necessarily coincide with the European interest. A clear example must be the Falklands war, in which there was no European support whatever, although there was a clear case of aggression against the British national interest.

Dr. Cunningham

I do not necessarily accept the hon. Gentleman's premise, but I share the view expressed by the Foreign Secretary in response to several interventions on the same subject—that there are two tests to be passed before anything can be agreed by qualified majority voting, and that those tests both require unanimity. The idea that a course could be forced upon our country, as the hon. Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason) suggests, is not borne out by a careful and accurate reading of the proposals.

Sir Russell Johnston

rose

Dr. Cunningham

The second point is also apposite. Under the proposals we—and, for that matter, our European partners—reserve the right to act bilaterally, or in the line of our duty and obligations in other spheres of international affairs, whether those involve the Falklands, Hong Kong, Belize or the Commonwealth, or in any other circumstance which is not the business or the responsibility of our Community partners. No one, least of all I or the Labour party, suggests that those rights and obligations should be abandoned or jettisoned because of the treaty.

Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East)

rose

Dr. Cunningham

I give way to the hon. and learned Gentleman.

Mr. Campbell

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way to me; the second part of his answer has largely dealt with the point that I intended to make. The simple test is: if we wanted to, could we mount another operation similar to the Falklands operation? Is that right and ability in any way precluded or affected by the treaty? The answer to the first question is yes, and the answer to the second question is no.

Dr. Cunningham

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman. I must tell the Committee, especially Conservative hon. Members, that the biggest threat to Britain's foreign policy and defence interests, and to our interests in the world in general, is the appalling state of our economy: The biggest threat to our interests results from the complete mismanagement of our economic affairs over 14 years. That is why our influence in the world is threatened and will continue to be threatened.

Mr. Marlow

rose

5.15 pm
Dr. Cunningham

I shall make a little further progress, if the hon. Gentleman does not mind.

It is significant that some matters are not included in the list of the first agreed matters for co-operation that I mentioned. Industrial and technological co-operation in armaments is not included, and neither is involvement in humanitarian intervention measures. Transatlantic relations are not included either, at least for the moment.

Mr. Marlow

The right hon. Gentleman said, as did my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, that this is all down to unanimity. They both say that we do not have to do things if we do not want to. If there is an area of policy in which we do not wish to be involved, we can be gloriously independent and follow the interests of the United Kingdom alone. But that is not what the treaty says. It says: The Union…shall define and implement a common foreign and security policy". We are committing ourselves, whether we agree or not. We are committing ourselves to agreeing a policy.

Dr. Cunningham

We are committing ourselves to agreeing a policy for common action where it can be agreed. If it cannot be agreed, we do not have it. In simple language, that is exactly what the treaty says. The Council of Foreign Ministers will decide which matters should be matters for joint action, and article J.3 goes on to empower the Foreign Affairs Council to decide that certain matters may be decided by qualified majority voting. A resolution to use qualified majority voting may be taken at any stage in the adoption of a subject for joint action—assuming that that has already been unanimously agreed. The Foreign Secretary cited the example of agreeing on sanctions against a country; that is a simple practical illustration.

Since all those decisions were taken at Maastricht, things have moved on, principally at the Lisbon summit last year, and also subsequently at Edinburgh. The Lisbon Council concluded that: The CFSP"— that is, the common foreign and security policy— should contribute to ensuring that the Union's external action is less reactive to events in the outside world, and more active in the pursuit of the interests of the Union and in the creation of a more favourable international environment. Who could disagree with that?

This will enable the European Union to have an improved capacity to tackle problems at their roots in order to anticipate the outbreak of crises. Furthermore, the Union will be able to make clearer to third countries its own aims and interests, and to match more closely those parties' expectations of the Union. I should have thought that that would have enjoyed a general welcome.

It was also specifically with a view to identifying areas open to joint action that the Maastricht European Council issued a statement in which the Council was invited to prepare a report to the European Council in Lisbon on the likely development of a CFSP with a view to identifying areas open to joint action vis-a-vis particular countries or groups of countries". At Lisbon, a framework was also set out which included, among other things: systematic co-operation between Member States in the conduct of policy on any matter of foreign or security policy…Joint action…seen as a means for the definition and implementation by the Union of a policy in the framework of the CFSP in a specific issue…must necessarily…satisfy the objectives…set out…For each area, the Union should define specific objectives", such as strengthening democratic principles and institutions, and respect for human and minority rights; promoting regional political stability…contributing to the prevention and settlement of conflicts; contributing to a more effective international co-ordination in dealing with emergency situations; strengthening existing co-operation in issues of international interest such as the fight against arms proliferation, terrorism and the traffic in…drugs; promoting and support good government". We could start on that point here at home. A little charity in that regard at least would help enormously, as we have not seen many examples of good government in Britain for a long time. All the objectives are surely ones that should have widespread support, not only in the Committee, but in our country.

Mr. Corbyn

Will my right hon. Friend tell us in what context the frequent French military involvement in the Francophone countries of west Africa would come? Would it be authorised or would it be debarred by the European Community under unanimity in foreign policy? Or could the French just carry on regardless?

Dr. Cunningham

I am not sure whether my hon. Friend has been here for the duration of the debate. Clearly he has missed the points made by some of our hon. Friends, the burden of whose argument has been that anyone's ability to act unilaterally or individually will be completely removed by the treaty. My hon. Friend cannot have it both ways. Either countries can act in what they regard as their vital, if misguided, national interests, as he describes, or they cannot. I say that they can and that the proposals do not threaten their ability to do just that.

Mr. Dykes

The right hon. Gentleman rightly mentioned the precedents for this, including the Lisbon summit. The matter goes back to the obvious link with the Single European Act. Some of the wording is different, but article 30 under title III is the exact precursor in considerable detail of the joint foreign policy. It refers to the formulation and implementation of a joint European foreign policy. Article 2(c) says: The determination of common positions shall constitute a point of reference for the policies of the High Contracting Parties. Nothing could have been couched in stronger terms even then.

Dr. Cunningham

The point is well made. In Edinburgh, the European Council broadly endorsed the work at Lisbon. There will, of course, be further discussions about what should be part of that framework of conditions and what should be part of the agenda for a common foreign and security policy.

I now turn from the theory to the reality. We all recognise that what was perceived for decades as the main security threat not only to ourselves, but to the whole of western Europe, is no longer there. The Soviet Union and the Warsaw pact no longer exist, but the dangers that now arise are quite different. They are political and often based on ethnic instability in parts of the former Soviet Union, in the area around the Mediterranean and in the middle east. We need to reassess our stance in terms of foreign policy and how we operate, and militarily. I shall deal with the defence implications in a little while.

We support the implementation of common foreign and security policies which enable the Community and its member states to maintain their roles on the world stage and to contribute to the transition which is taking place now from the old confrontations and the old certainties to the different and, in many ways, far more threatening instability which approaches ever closer to the European continent—indeed, it involves some countries in Europe already.

Such policies must be based on agreed principles. The implementation should have as objectives the maintenance of peace and security, the peaceful settlement of disputes through respect for international law, the prevention of aggression, mutual, balanced and verifiable reductions of armed forces and armaments, the promotion of social harmony and international order based on respect for human rights, and the improvement of living standards in the developing countries. That agenda, which is my party's political agenda, is not very different from the beginnings of an agenda for the European Community, to which I referred earlier. That is a sensible approach to the development of Community foreign policy.

The areas cited resemble the ways in which the Community behaves and in which it handles problems in other contexts, such as the important discussions on the general agreement on tariffs and trade and other external trade negotiations. Major member states, such as Germany, the United Kingdom and France, often react differently to international political events. Institutional initiatives will not take away those differences. Only a process characterised by new initiatives, experiments and positive experiences can result in a common foreign policy.

The first stages will have to be based on intergovern-mental co-operation, which, in practice, will function effectively only if, among all others, the major member states reach basic agreement. For the time being, it is not realistic to expect those member states to distance themselves from the comparative advantages, some of which have already been referred to, or from the advantages of economic power, of nuclear power or of permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council, simply to favour a European Community framework whose reliability is not yet proven and which, in some respects, we may want seriously to question.

Those are the considerations that should govern our approach to a common foreign policy. At this stage, we make our position clear. Unlike the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston), who has left the Committee, we support the view that the tests of unanimity should be built in, and that we simply could not move to qualified majority voting on all these important matters.

Mr. Spearing

Most hon. Members probably agree with my right hon. Friend on qualified majority voting. In the past few moments, my right hon. Friend has persistently and consistently used the phrase "a common foreign policy", yet he and the Foreign Secretary, who stressed the phrase, have on occasions pointed out that one will come to a policy by unanimity where it is possible and where it is advantageous. Surely if one is to have a foreign policy as a nation, one must take a consistent and coherent stand over the whole range of issues. Surely that will not be so easily possible. There may be deadlock, as predicted by several hon. Members.

Dr. Cunningham

I understand my hon. Friend's intervention, but I do not understand his conclusion. In reality, it is unrealistic to suppose that, when important matters of national interest are involved, nations, whether this country, Germany or France, will abandon their own specific and important interests. I have repeatedly made that clear. The proposals do not expect countries to act in that way, and they do not anticipate that they will. That is the important and simple conclusion to draw. I am a little disappointed and somewhat surprised that my hon. Friend, who has spent far longer than I have dealing with European Community affairs in great detail, fails to draw such a fairly obvious conclusion.

Mr. Spearing

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way. This procedure shows the advantage of a Committee stage. I am grateful for my right hon. Friend's comments about what I have been doing for the past few years—unhappily and unwillingly. [HON. MEMBERS: "You enjoy it."] I do not. I should far prefer to deal with domestic matters and not to be diverted to constitutional matters—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Oh yes.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that inside the Council, as on domestic and legislative matters, the natural interests of a nation often have to be suppressed to get some form of agreement? Although those interests may not be abandoned, they may not be publicly articulated, because there has to be some trade-off.

Dr. Cunningham

I do not want to upset or antagonise my hon. Friend, but he gave a passing impression of enjoying his long and effective chairmanship of the Scrutiny Committee. If he did not really enjoy it, he kept that well disguised. We always thought that he was enjoying it, which is why we enjoyed it—and he was very effective, too.

Of course nation states will be expected to surrender some of their sovereignty—a very emotive word—and, sometimes, although not always, it will be in their best interests as well as the common interest to do so. That has always been the case in modern government and politics, and there is nothing new about it. As I said, we have done that for decades in the United Nations, NATO, the Commonwealth and other international decisions in which our country has been involved.

I do not shrink from conceding that argument, but I oppose the continuing theme of the debate that such decisions will be forced on us, or that we will always be obliged to make concessions as a result of the proposals, as that is not my interpretation of the treaty.

Mr. Marlow

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

5.30 pm
Dr. Cunningham

No, I must move on.

On the defence implications of the proposals in the treaty on European union, there is an important debate about the right vehicle for the future, and whether it should be NATO—certainly not as it is presently constituted—the Western European Union, or a completely new organisation; or whether, during the inevitable and necessary change to the position of NATO or WEU, we can modify them to take on a new role.

No exact fit exists. NATO, as we know, includes the United States of America and Canada, and is all the better for that, and some members of WEU are not members of the European Community. We all recognise, however, that the circumstances have changed fundamentally, and that our institutions and plans must change too.

The successful management of those changes is vital to our national and international interests, but we need better systems, and before we abandon any of the old systems, we need to be convinced that those proposed in their place would be at least as effective and, hopefully, more so. I need a lot of convincing that, at least for the foreseeable future, we should not retain NATO and change its role, but that is on the agenda for discussion, as is the role of WEU. In the Community, as well as in NATO, there are conflicting views about all that.

I cannot speak for the new French Government, but the outgoing Government appeared to believe that Europe should have its own defence identity and that it should not be based on NATO. My party's position, and I believe that of the Government, has been the reverse: it should be based on NATO, which is a proven and effective organisation with which we have had long and effective associations. The debate must continue.

NATO's existence makes it unnecessary for the European Community to have its own military role. NATO remains the principal defence organisation for western Europe and, as it links with the United States and Canada, we have a powerful force. In the foreseeable future, NATO will have to retain its role in the territorial defence of western Europe.

The NATO rapid reaction force was established in recognition of that fact. That is why we supported NATO leaders in their Rome declaration that the organisation is the essential forum for consultation among its members and the venue for agreement on policies bearing on our security and defence commitments and those of our allies.

Mr. Corbyn

I have been following closely my right hon. Friend's remarks on the defence implications and the development of a defence role for NATO or WEU. Can he tell us precisely where he thinks the threat is coming from and what he thinks that defence organisation will be defending Western Europe against?

Dr. Cunningham

I do not know whether to conclude that my hon. Friend does not think that we should be involved in any defence alliances. If that is the thrust of his intervention, I disagree with him. First, to deal with the question about threat, Europe is threatened by instability in the middle east, in the former Yugoslavia and in the former Soviet Union. We are threatened because, by an accident of history, countries which are unable to deal with the consequences of the break-up of the Soviet Union, either politically or economically, have found that they are major nuclear weapons powers and they do not know how to get out of that circumstance. It is a little wide of the mark to suggest that there are no threats.

If the point of my hon. Friend's intervention was that the old threat—the Warsaw pact and the Soviet Union —no longer exists, I acknowledged that earlier. However, we do not have defence agreements or alliances simply for those reasons. We are regularly urged to intervene in conflicts, as in Somalia and other areas, simply to safeguard humanitarian aid and so we need military forces and alliances. Perhaps those forces will be trained differently and have different roles and objectives, but we will certainly need them for those circumstances. The question is how, and on what basis should the forces be organised?

Before my hon. Friend's, intervention I had said that the decision to establish a NATO rapid reaction force was the result of a realignment of NATO strategy and consequent defence requirements following dramatic international political changes. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the changes in eastern Europe and the dissolution of the Warsaw pact, the NATO policy of flexible response—with the maintenance of large-scale forward defence forces on the central European front—was no longer relevant to the new environment.

The magnitude of the changes was first recognised at Heads of Government level at the Turnberry summit in 1989. The following July, at the NATO London summit, Alliance leaders extended a hand of friendship to eastern Europe.

NATO will inevitably field smaller, restructured active forces, which will need to be highly mobile and versatile so that allied leaders will have maximum flexibility to decide how to respond to a crisis, whatever its nature. Increasingly, it will rely on multinational corps, made up of national units.

NATO's new strategic concept was also influenced by the debate within the European Community on a European defence identity. Nine members of the Community are members of NATO. The creation of the Alliance's new strategy and the negotiations on the new European Community treaty—when defence proved, and continues to prove, to be a sensitive issue—took place simultaneously and have tended to conflict with each other. Perhaps in some circumstances they have delayed each other, but the announcement of a new strategic concept in November 1991 was welcome.

In contrast, the new NATO force structure was quickly announced in May 1991. It has been alleged that that was done partly to pre-empt European Community discussions on separate European forces. I do not know whether that is true but I know that we must make some important decisions about the future development of NATO and WEU and Britain is well-placed, and is indeed obliged, to play a prominent part in those discussions.

Much of the debate about the theory of the treaty and its implications will seem a little dusty to our fellow citizens. Striving, as we are, to reach common ground in the European Community, we currently seem to be suffering several disastrous setbacks. It is difficult to conceive of greater co-operation over foreign, security and defence policies, when apparently we cannot even resolve the implications of the common fisheries policy between ourselves and the French. It does not provide a good example to either our European Community partners or our citizens as they see what is happening in the fishing war with the French.

It was suggested earlier today that we should send bigger Navy vessels. These days, it seems that, if we send out a Navy vessel, we have to send a few British trawlers to safeguard it. Our Navy vessels do not seem able to look after themselves against the French fishing trawlers. That example shows the worst side of the Community, as the French display their determination to press their national interests in spite of Community agreements—a policy which is to be deplored.

It is important that we should know as quickly as possible the attitude of the new French Government to the talks on the general agreement on tariffs and trade. That is another example where the Community has signally failed to act, not only in our best interests, but in the interests of many other countries, including developing countries.

Mr. Marlow

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Dr. Cunningham

I have given way to to the hon. Gentleman twice already, and must press on.

We have discussed the determination of the Federal Republic of Germany to force recognition of Croatia on the Community for the worst possible reasons, with disastrous consequences. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Gapes) that it is curious that the Federal Republic of Germany was able to get its way against the combined views of, if not all the other 11 members, certainly the majority, but the majority has failed to get its way in respect of the long overdue recognition of Macedonia, which meets all the tests and requirements.

Given the appalling circumstances in the former Yugoslavia, I hope that we will not allow the earlier mistakes to be repeated in terms of the integrity of Macedonia and the safeguarding of its citizens.

Mr. Cash

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are reports that the French Government are currently keeping their options open over Maastricht? Does he not agree that it would be extremely valuable if they made it clear that only 51 per cent. of the French electorate voted in the election more or less in favour, and only 36 per cent. of them subscribed to the treaty?

Dr. Cunningham

I have heard all that before. The only surprising part of the intervention was that the hon. Gentleman referred to the French Government—I did not think that they had yet been appointed. So far, only the Prime Minister has been appointed, as far as we can tell. I thought that the hon. Gentleman would be rejoicing at the advent of a right-wing Conservative Government in France, although I cannot say that I am. We shall have to see what happens. Certainly the attitude of the French towards those two important issues will be important for the well-being of the Community as a whole, and will provide an important test of whether there will be any hope of achieving in practice the objectives of the Maastricht treaty.

Mr. Marlow

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

5.45 pm
Dr. Cunningham

No. I must bring my remarks to a conclusion.

In the context of joint common action in the Community, is the Foreign Secretary satisfied that he is receiving all possible support from our Community partners in his campaign—which has the Labour party's complete support—to secure the release of Paul Ride and Michael Wainwright from their unjustified incarceration in Iraq? Are our European Community partners doing all they can to help us?

Are our Community partners doing all they can to help us in the Government's determination—again, they have the Labour party's support—to protect the Kurdish peoples and the Shia Muslims in Iraq from the appalling actions of Saddam Hussein? I intervened in the Foreign Secretary's speech on this issue, and took his reply to mean that there was no change in Her Majesty's Government's policy towards Saddam Hussein, sanctions and Iraq. I hope that that was the right conclusion to draw.

As the Foreign Secretary knows, we have been pressing for some time for a variation in the terms of the sanctions, especially in respect of humanitarian aid to the Kurdish people and the Shia Muslims, so that we can take the aid out of the hands and control of Saddam Hussein and direct it towards those people. At an appropriate time, will the Foreign Secretary pursue that issue with his colleagues, both in the Community and the United Nations?

Mr. Winnick

I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend's comments about the need to give every possible assistance to the direct victims of Saddam Hussein's policy of terror and repression. I know that my right hon. Friend might believe that I have a prejudice, but does he not agree that the Community's record on Iraq has not been good? Germany played an active role—more active than ours, although it was unfortunate that we played any role at all —in building up Saddam Hussein's war machine, including the installation of gas. Is it not true that, if we had initially relied on a common foreign policy to combat the criminal aggression of Saddam Hussein towards Kuwait in 1990, we would never have ended the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait?

Dr. Cunningham

My hon. Friend raises several issues. First, I am not sure, sadly, that the Germans did play a worse role than the British in creating Saddam Hussein's war machine. Given what I now know about the supergun affair and Matrix Churchill, I am not sure whether our record is better or more admirable than the Germans'.

The point that my hon. Friend raises about the European Community common foreign policy is one of the four points agreed for the agenda on arms control and the common approach to it throughout the Community. That is one of the reasons why that policy has my strong support. We should learn the lessons of creating monster war machines that end up in the hands of murderous villains like Saddam Hussein. We should learn the lessons together and act together in future to prevent a repetition.

I have a criticism of Her Majesty's Government's attitude to a nuclear test ban treaty. France—one of our Community partners—Russia, and the United States of America have already announced their participation in a moratorium on the testing of nuclear weapons. Of the five major nuclear powers, only Britain and China have opposed a complete test ban agreement. No further testing is necessary for either defence or scientific reasons. Whatever further work needs to be done could be adequately conducted under laboratory conditions. That conclusion has widespread support in the scientific community in this country and elsewhere, including the United States of America.

Why does not the Foreign Secretary make one of the tests of a common foreign policy and security approach in the Comunity the adoption of a nuclear test ban treaty? If agreed, it would not only be a big step along the way to promoting the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons—one of the objectives—but a vital step towards the successful renegotiation of the non-proliferation treaty, which is due for renewal in 1995. It would be an excellent test for common action in the Community, especially as there are only two nuclear weapons powers among the Community members.

I hope that the Foreign Secretary will use his undoubted skill and experience to seek better co-operation in the Community on all the issues I have raised, especially the last one.

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South)

Let me begin by associating myself with the remarks of the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands), and issuing a mild rebuke to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and the right hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham). I think it a pity that my right hon. Friend and the right hon. Gentleman spoke so early in the debate; it would have been better if they had summed up after others had spoken. As a rule, the arrangement has much to commend it. I realise that they will be able to speak later, and they may well do so; but I wanted to make the point.

I agreed with much of what was said by both the right hon. Member for Copeland and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. I was slightly surprised, however, that neither picked up one of the points made last week, in a shrewd and perceptive speech, by my right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. Howell). He spoke of China's emergence into enormous economic strength, and pointed out that in the next century the balance of power would effectively move from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

That, more than anything else, is a reason for European cohesion and co-operation, and that above all makes me an enthusiastic supporter of my right hon. Friend. I believe that it is in all our interests for the nations of Europe—with the nations of the present Community at the centre —to work closely together. I do not believe that they should sacrifice their individual sovereignty—none of us thinks that, and both my right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford and the Foreign Secretary have consistently made the point—but I feel that we should all work together, for the good of everyone.

During the first general election in which I played any part—the 1959 election—I acted as ADC to the candidate in Grimsby, Lincolnshire. That was the famous Macmillan election, which began with a television broadcast featuring Eisenhower and Macmillan looking at the globe. The recruitment of Eisenhower to aid his election prospects was, perhaps, a slightly unscrupulous use of a foreign visitor by the old wizard Macmillan, but it was nevertheless extremely effective. The slogan that emerged from that meeting rather dominated the election, certainly in our part of the world: it was "peace and prosperity".

Two aims that concern all whom we represent—and, indeed, everyone in the European Community—are the ability to live in peace and the existence, or at least the prospect, of prosperity. I believe that we shall be better able to achieve that if we work together within the Community.

Mr. Allason

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Cormack

I will do so later, but I want to develop my arguments first.

One of the amendments strikes at the heart of what many of my hon. Friends who call themselves Euro-sceptics constantly advance as a powerful argument. I agree with that argument, which holds that we need a broader and wider Europe. One of the most significant features of the Maastricht treaty is the fact that it allows for an expanding Europe and an expanding Community. Already Finland, Sweden and Norway are ready to join, and I hope that they will do so. I hope even more that, before the end of the decade, the newly independent nations of eastern and central Europe will also be able to join.

I believe that it will be possible to achieve de Gaulle's Europe—extending from the Atlantic to the Urals—in our lifetime. It will not be a tightly centralised, monolithic, federalist Europe; it will be a Europe of diversity, and of strength through diversity. A Europe working in co-operation, however, would have a much greater chance of being a peaceful Europe than would a fragmented Europe.

I do not really understand the purpose of amendment No. 227. It proposes the deletion of article 238, which governs entry into association agreements. That would make it more difficult for us to offer co-operation and participation to the nations of eastern Europe: it therefore stands in the way of our achieving the very goal that non-federalist Europeans such as myself want to achieve. I do not think that it is very sensible.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, the right hon. Member for Copeland and others have mentioned some of the events in Europe that make co-operation so necessary; indeed, they have been mentioned a good deal. We have a fragmented Soviet Union, an enormous area that now includes four nuclear powers. Russia—the great Russian federation—is teetering on the brink of what could be internal upheaval and catastrophe. Was there ever a greater need for cohesion and co-operation among the other European nations? That is brought home to us particularly strongly by what has happened over the past year in the former Yugoslavia.

I make no apology for wanting to say a bit more about that. It has been mentioned by almost every other speaker, and I take a particular interest in the subject. In all my years of involvement in public life, I have never felt a greater sense of sadness and shame than in the past 12 months when witnessing the brutality, repression and appalling atrocities that have been perpetrated, especially in Bosnia. No hon. Member on either side of the Committee can have observed the evacuation of Srebrenica in recent days with anything other than a sense of shock and shame. It is an indictment of our failure, as well as an illustration of our need to work together.

I do not for a moment accuse the Government of not trying to take initiatives; nor do I accuse other European nations of not trying to participate in ending the conflict. Indeed, I pay tribute—I am sure that all other hon. Members will echo my view—to the extraordinary calm and bravery of our own troops who are now in the former Yugoslavia. Nevertheless, as soldiers have told me, it is a shaming experience for United Nations forces—some of them British—to be forced to witness the killing of women and children, and not to have a mandate enabling them to deal with the perpetrators of such atrocious deeds. It is clear beyond serious challenge that most of those deeds are being performed by the Serbs; it is also clear—as has been illustrated by that brave man General Morillon—that, even in the past two or three weeks, there has been bombardment from Serbia. Planes and troops have entered Bosnia from that country.

Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have talked of the wisdom or otherwise of recognising Bosnia. I accept that the recognition of Bosnia may well have been premature. I was one of those who were anxious for Croatia to be recognised, but I believe that there are differences between the two. None the less, Bosnia was recognised, and from that moment it became an internationally recognised sovereign state.

I believe that there is something fundamentally wrong and flawed in both the international system and our European policies of co-operation and cohesion if, within days of its recognition, a country can be the subject of aggression, and if, for a year following its recognition, it can be the subject of repression, brutality and the appalling horrors of ethnic cleansing, which bring to mind the worst excesses and terrors of the second world war.

Mr. Roger Knapman (Stroud)

Does my hon. Friend agree that the root cause of the problem in Yugoslavia is that it is a federal state which believes in ever closer union, in a single institutional framework, in the free movement of peoples, and so on? The same applies to the old USSR. Is it not possible that that is the root cause of some of the problems in Bosnia?

6 pm

Mr. Cormack

No, I do not believe that the analogy which my hon. Friend seeks to draw is either accurate or good. Many of the ingredients in the old Yugoslavia do not apply to the European Community. The same is abundantly true of the former Soviet Union.

The unfolding tragedy of the last year has shown, in very sharp measure, the need for the nations of Europe to work together to preserve the peace. It has also highlighted the fact that we are a long way from having got it right. There is no point in arguing again over the points that some of us made a year or more ago. We felt that, rather than rule out the doctrine of the deterrent, we should make it plain to Serbia that we were prepared to use force. Some of these tragedies could then have been avoided. However, blood has flowed; people are dead. We cannot put the clock back.

I hope and pray that the Vance-Owen plan—which, for all its imperfections, is subscribed to by two of the three parties—will come into effect soon. There will then be a new challenge for both the United Nations and the European Community. Bosnia will not exist as an independent sovereign state merely because three people have signed a piece of paper. It will exist as an independent sovereign state only if there is the will, determination and resolution to ensure that heavy weaponry is not available to the warring factions. Bosnia will exist as an independent sovereign state only if there is a willingness to create either a European Community or United Nations protectorate so that the peace can be kept and so that people who recently lived together can live together again.

Only last week I called on a constituent—a Serbian from Croatia. Living with her are some of her Serbian family members from Bosnia. They told me then, as they told me in the past, that until relatively recently they lived together in friendship and that people intermarried. Theirs was a model of how an ethnic "mix" can work. The day before I called to see her last week, a letter had been smuggled out telling her that one of her relatives, a Serb, had been shot down by Serbs in the streets of the town where they lived. The widow had been refused access to the body, which had lain in the street and had been attacked by dogs. She had not been allowed to bury her husband's body. That is happening in our Europe today. We should take it as a spur to greater action to try to achieve European co-operation and integration.

What is the use of bandying around words such as sovereignty, important though such words are, to people like that? As the right hon. Member for Copeland said, whenever one enters into an international agreement one surrenders some sovereignty. Had we not done that, we should not have gone to war in 1914 or in 1939, and we should not have won the cold war. As the right hon. Gentleman said, that is what collective security is all about.

I believe that out of our European Community it is possible to forge greater collective security, with greater protective power, than our continent has ever enjoyed. I believe, too, that if we do not do that, the messages of impotence that will go out to the territories of the former Soviet Union will be dire indeed. I urge all my right hon. and hon. Friends, whose scepticism I respect and which, to a degree, I share, not to allow themselves to become bogged down in legalistic niceties. I urge them to realise that there is an opportunity to forge a degree of collective security, and that if we opt out of the treaty now and turn our backs on the other 11 nations of the Community, we shall jeopardise that opportunity.

Mr. Marlow

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Cormack

My hon. Friend has frequently had his say. This is the first time that I have intervened in these debates, and, as it may be the last, I want to make the point that we shall jeopardise, to the peril of our children and grandchildren, the opportunity to live in a peaceful Europe. That is why I believe that this is the right course to take. I believe entirely in what the right hon. Member for Copeland and the Foreign Secretary said in their speeches: that we preserve, by insisting upon unanimity —I should vote against it if it did not—our ultimate independent sovereignty, some of which should be pooled in the interests of the future peace, stability and prosperity of Europe.

Mr. Menzies Campbell

For some considerable time the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South (Mr. Cormack) has been an able advocate of the Bosnian cause. I cannot imagine that any hon. Member who has just listened to him has failed to be deeply impressed by the passion with which he spoke and by the perception that he brought to bear on Bosnia and the fate of the former Yugoslavia. Although I do not think he said so in terms, the hon. Gentleman made what, in my judgment, was one of the most persuasive arguments in support of a common foreign and security policy for the European Community that I have ever had the privilege to hear.

I have no reservations about a common foreign and security policy, nor do I have any reservations about the common defence policy to which, in my judgment, it will inevitably lead. I believe that to be right, for some of the reasons that have been given by the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South. Europe needs policies that result in a far greater integration of our attitude towards foreign and security affairs. I believe, too, that the very momentum which will be created by the Maastricht treaty, once signed and ratified, will inevitably bring about that integration. In particular, it will bring about a far greater degree of integration in defence matters. The terms of the treaty may not make that legally inevitable, but I believe that events will necessarily make it so.

I do not for one moment minimise the difficulties involved in the evolution of a common defence policy. If, however, one thinks back over the history of the Community, the fact that matters have been inevitable has not necessarily meant that they have been easy to achieve. Sometimes it appeared that the more inevitable a stage in the development of the Community was, the more the difficulties that stood in the way of the achievement of that objective.

We should consider this issue against the background of the Single European Act and the treaty. They necessarily imply that a greater degree of economic integration will also lead to a much greater degree of political integration. If economic integration leads towards political integration, the inevitable consequence is that we shall require a common foreign policy. If we have a common foreign policy, we shall also need a much greater degree of integration on security matters. One cannot have that, in my judgment, without a common defence policy as well.

The progress will not be institutional; it will not be determined by the passage of the Bill with whose Committee stage we are at present concerned. The progress will necessarily be organic. It seems to me that, if one had wanted to stop this progress, one would have had to take the austere position of the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor), who I see is not with us today. He has had in the past a wholly consistent attitude in these matters and was arguing a long time ago that the mere fact of economic integration contained political implications which, in his judgment, it was improper for the United Kingdom to contemplate.

I believe that when we embarked upon the process of economic integration we established, perhaps not knowingly at the time, a number of objectives. Of those objectives, a common security and foreign policy was certainly one and, for the reasons that I have already given, an inevitable consequence of that would be a common defence policy.

Mr. Cash

The hon. and learned Gentleman is arguing that the institutional arrangements are not really needed and that political integration in both foreign and security policy and defence policy will evolve in an organic way.

Why, then, does he think that it is necessary to include these provisions in the treaty? These are international legal obligations. I take it that he agrees that they are a good idea, but his arguments suggest that they are not necessary, so why is he going along with them?

Mr. Campbell

The fault may be one of delivery, or indeed one of comprehension. It would be better perhaps not to speculate on which it is. Let me make it perfectly clear that I believe that the development of a common defence policy, which is hinted at in the terms of the treaty that we are discussing, will be an organic matter. The point that I was endeavouring to convey was that, as soon as we entered into an economic community rather than a free trade area, we set ourselves upon a path towards a much greater degree of political co-operation, and the path of political co-operation, in my judgment, inevitably led to arguments, compelling in themselves, for much greater co-operation in foreign policy, security and, ultimately, defence policy as well.

That was why I cited the example of the hon. Member for Southend, East. He at least saw, as long ago perhaps as the accession of the United Kingdom to the treaty of Rome, that the first economic step contained within it political implications which were objectionable to him. It is a pity that many others who now find this treaty so objectionable were not so minded at the time when the hon. Member for Southend, East foresaw with such clarity what we might be discussing today.

There is another economic argument which, in relation to defence policies, is at least worthy of consideration. It lies somewhat pragmatically in the cost of defence procurement. It is clear that, in order to continue to afford to procure equipment, it will be increasingly necessary to do so on a co-operative basis. The increasingly sophisticated nature of defence equipment makes it extremely expensive.

A country such as ours will therefore find itself facing a choice. Either it will have to go it alone, which will be expensive, perhaps becoming entirely, or substantially, reliant upon the United States of America—and I think that many would see that as politically undesirable and as having adverse economic consequences for the United Kingdom—or it will have to continue to enhance and encourage co-operative projects with our European allies. The more common our procurement becomes, the more easily will joint defence policies be implemented.

6.15 pm
Mr. Spearing

The hon. and learned Gentleman rightly pays a tribute to the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor). Does he not realise that these views were held by many hon. Members, irrespective of party, and that he is rightly saying what some of us foresaw at that time? In respect of security, does he not agree with me that real security comes from something much deeper than having weapons, and that real security for a community is the ability to have employment and a secure future for one's family and oneself? The Procrustean way in which the European Community operates will probably breed great dissatisfaction and there may well be a problem of internal security, which could produce very ugly and difficult scenes and problems, not least for us in this place.

Mr. Campbell

I was with the hon. Gentleman until he got to Procrustean, and at that point I am afraid that he lost me—not because I did not understand the meaning of the word, but because from then on he was saying something that I simply could not agree with. It is right that he has been a sceptic, in the genuine sense of the word, about the European Community. If I ought, in generosity, to pay him the same tribute as I paid to the hon. Member for Southend, East, I am very happy to do so. He can claim consistency in that respect at least.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that security does not depend simply on the number of tanks, weapons or men under arms. Security is a much more fundamental issue. Indeed, the more we can satisfy the economic aspirations of the members of the former Warsaw pact, the less we may need to be concerned about the prospect of large-scale immigration. If there are ways of doing this that involve economic assistance to those countries, it could be argued that a Community of 12 might be better able to give that assistance than countries operating on an individual basis, and thus to ensure the security of the former Warsaw pact countries and of ourselves as well.

I will examine this matter for a moment against the background of changing attitudes in the United States of America. It would appear that the new Administration have fixed on a level of 100,000 troops in Europe, but none of us can believe that this number has been set in concrete. The next time the United States budget requires to be trimmed, it cannot be imagined that that number will be sacrosanct. A United States senator of my acquintance said to me not long ago that, if it came to bringing troops home from Europe or preserving a defence installation in his state, there would really be no choice.

It is clear also that the attitude of the new Administration in the United States is to expect Europe and the Europeans to take a bigger share of the responsibility for the defence of Europe. That is not a new concept; we have been talking about burden sharing for the past four or five years. The question that now arises in a very sharp way is how that can best be done, and not just in the short term.

I accept that for the foreseeable future we shall require the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. I accept that the bridge of the Western European Union is a necessary part of the greater responsibility for the defence of Europe which the Europeans will have to take. But we must also on an occasion such as this have some regard for the long term. I believe that in the long term Europe will require to have its own defence policy.

In the debate there has already been reference to the fact that NATO contains not just the United States of America, but Canada as well. It was said that this was a good thing and highly desirable. But we should ask ourselves how many troops the Canadians have in mainland Europe. At the moment there are 1,300, and by the middle of next year they will have none at all and all their bases will be closed. I believe that if there is a change in Government there may be a slight modification to that policy, but the commitment of Canadian resources to Europe is clearly very substantially under review.

The United States of America is increasingly influenced by economic considerations, as the conduct of President Clinton's campaign eloquently demonstrated, and we know that it has embarked upon a fundamental review of its defence commitments. I believe that the United States will remain in NATO and I trust that Canada will continue to play an important part in NATO, but in the long term it is surely right for the European Community to consider how it can best preserve its own security, with that necessary component, among others, of sufficient and adequate defence.

The co-operation to which the Secretary of State referred will, if it is effective, become one of the most compelling arguments for yet closer integration. As the debate has developed, a number of hon. Members have made it clear that they are of the view that title V will lead to an erosion of national sovereignty. The focus of that attack seemed to be on the introduction of joint actions to be taken in areas defined by the Council on the basis of the general guidelines from the European Council". Some interventions demonstrated that hon. Gentlemen were breaching the first canon of the construction of all statutes and treaties—that one must read the document in the round and not extract pieces or proposals to justify one's own position. In particular, it is perfectly clear from paragraph 2 of article J.3 that any single member state can insist that there is no majority voting on a subject, and that all decisions connected with a joint action must be taken by consensus. That is self-evidently the case in paragraph 2 of article J.3 and it necessarily qualifies other parts of the title. To extract parts of the title and seek to allow them to stand alone is to fly in the face of any sensible construction of the provisions of the treaty.

Mr. Corbyn

The hon. and learned Gentleman says that we should take the document in the round. In that sense, the document we are discussing, the title as part of the treaty, has an enormous effect on individual countries' policies. For example, under the commmon defence policy, what is the future of Irish neutrality or the non-nuclear defence policy of the Danish Government and people that has already resulted in one no vote in a referendum and that I hope will contribute to a second no vote in a referendum?

Mr. Campbell

I understand the hon. Gentleman's intervention, but I do not understand what point he seeks to make in relation to what I have been saying. At Maastricht, Denmark was able to negotiate and obtain a derogation in relation to certain matters. There is no common defence policy—that is the fundamental mistake in the hon. Gentleman's intervention. The title seeks only to establish a common foreign and security policy. I believe that in due course there will be a common defence policy and the treaty refers to that possibility, but, in relation to the hon. Gentleman's intervention—

Mr. Corbyn

What about the coalition?

Mr. Campbell

The coalition that we have established is based on an accurate reading of the treaty. That seems to be a reasonable coalition, and we should be happy to admit the hon. Gentleman to the coalition were he to satisfy that condition.

Mr. Sweeney

Does the hon. and learned Gentleman accept that the primary rule of interpretation is that one gives the words their plain and ordinary meaning? In any interpretation of article J, is it not clear that the treaty leads us inexorably towards a common foreign policy and a common defence policy?

Mr. Campbell

No; the hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. Let me invite him to join the coalition of those who have read the treaty and understand it. I believe that, in political terms, it will lead in due course to a common defence policy, but title V deals only with the matters contained within the treaty. Although it refers to a common defence policy, it does so in a necessarily qualified way and, as a consequence, it cannot be claimed that title V leads inevitably to what the hon. Gentleman is now claiming.

Mr. Marlow

Let us try once again. I tried to raise this question with my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, and he managed skilfully to evade the issue. Paragraph 1 of article J.1 states: The Union…shall define and implement a common foreign and security policy…covering all areas of foreign and security policy. Is that ambiguous or clear?

Mr. Campbell

It is perfectly clear. What is ambiguous in the hon. Gentleman's mind is the extent to which the independence of action of the United Kingdom is prejudiced by signature to the treaty, and in particular to title V. It is perfectly correct that the provision reads in the terms that the hon. Gentleman has elucidated, but he must read article J.3 in its entirety to understand that the United Kingdom has the right to opt out at any stage of any provision of any policy which article J.1 might establish. That is the point for Tory Members.

The title seeks to establish a common foreign and security policy, but it also permits the United Kingdom to opt out of that in every material respect. What are described as joint actions can be taken only on the basis of unanimity if any member of the Community declines to accept them being taken on a majority vote basis. That misunderstanding has run through a remarkable number of interventions, in particular that by the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) during the speech of the Foreign Secretary.

Nothing in the treaty would have precluded the United Kingdom from carrying out the operations in the South Atlantic in 1982. Nothing in the treaty would have precluded the United Kingdom from following an interest of its own, separate and divisible from the interests of other members of the European Community, and to represent it as in some way trenching upon that competence is to misunderstand and misrepresent the position.

I have some criticisms of the treaty because I do not believe it goes far enough. We still rely too heavily on the intergovernmental approach. I am not entirely impressed by the notion that the Council remains in these matters the highest authority, that the role of the Commission remains largely unchanged or that the role of the Parliament continues to be limited and is merely to be consulted. I should like the policy to go further and reflect a greater degree of political integration, but this is the only treaty we have. Although I believe that there is an inevitability about that greater integration, none the less we have in the treaty an important step in the right direction.

In the unstable post-cold war world of rising nationalism and ethnic disputes, where once again the boundaries and frontiers of Europe are being redrawn, and not always as a result of peace conferences, the need for further economic integration and for greater political integration should no longer be seen as separate issues. The Maastricht treaty recognises that and looks upon the common foreign and security policy as constituting a basic element of further European union. We should also—and this was hinted at in the speech by the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South—recognise that not only do we in the Community have the ability to fashion and form policy commensurate with our economic power and political stability, but we also have obligations.

Stating a moral obligation in the context of foreign affairs does not always evoke a ready response in the listener, but the picture that the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South painted of what is happening in Europe, of our impotence and indecision, was a compelling argument for precisely the foreign and security policy which title V seeks to achieve. There is unquestionably an argument that the sometimes quoted observation of Henry Kissinger who said "When I want to speak to Europe, who do I phone?" is still as true as it was when he made it.

The creation of a common defence policy in Europe will be extremely complex and the present double-hatting between NATO and Western European Union may be, in military terms, difficult to manage, and, in political terms, has quite a lot of criticism attached to it. Therefore, in the arrangements that necessarily assume the continued existence of NATO for the foreseeable future, the use of WEU will, in many respects, appear to some to be a short-term solution; but a short-term solution which ought, by itself, to create the circumstances in which a longer-term solution of the kind the title provides for, developed in a way in which I believe it will be, will be extremely advantageous to the people of western Europe.

It is fair to say that I am disappointed that title V does not go as far as I would wish, but I am not all that much disappointed, because I believe that time and the inexorable course of events are substantially in my favour.

6.30 pm
Mr. Sweeney

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on this set of amendments. When we began this debate last Thurday, my right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. Howell) acknowledged that there is a danger that the distinction between the intergovernmental and Community pillars dealing with foreign affairs may be eroded, since disparate aspects of foreign and security policy are "inextricably woven together."

As the excellent research paper produced by the Library staff puts it, it is fiction that foreign and security policies can somehow be compartmentalised. Obviously, any common market implies some form of co-operation between member nations in certain areas. That the European Economic Community should entail certain common postures on areas of foreign policy has been manifest from the day it was created. I would not attempt to argue otherwise.

However, it is also a fiction that the formulation of a common foreign and security policy can be isolated from Community involvement and preserved in the field of intergovernmental co-operation. There must be a significant overlap between the two. Article 228a is a perfect example of the fact that such linkage between the pillars is anticipated. Another example is article J.11 which furnishes the supposedly intergovernmental pillar in foreign and security policy with largely the same institutional framework for the Commission and European Parliament as that of the European Communities.

As other hon. Members have pointed out, article J.9 states: The Commission shall be fully associated with the work carried out in the common foreign and security policy field. That such links are to be found between the two pillars is unsurprising. Nor is it new. When Ministers argue that much of what is contained in Maastricht's title V already exists in the European political co-operation arrangement, as amended by the Single European Act, they are partly correct.

The Commission already has a role in the formulation of Community co-operation on foreign policy. Indeed the wording of article J.9 must have been lifted from the Single European Act, article 30(3b) of which reads: The Commission shall be fully associated with the proceedings of Political Co-operation. But that is only partly correct, because Maastricht's Provisions on a Common Foreign and Security Policy go far beyond what was envisaged by the Single European Act. The Single European Act specifies in article 30(1) that the nation states shall endeavour jointly to formulate and implement a European foreign policy'. Such endeavours left considerable discretion to the European nations over which areas would be included within the boundaries of political co-operation. If you will, the menu was available a la carte. But Maastricht is a set menu and it states in article J.1(1) that all areas of foreign and security policy are to be covered by the common policy. Maastricht replaces the a la carte conception of European political co-operation, as envisaged in the Single European Act, with an insistence on a common policy which is comprehensive in scope.

I refuse to believe that when, in the Single European Act, we agreed to revisit political co-operation five years on, we envisaged that European political co-operation would evolve into the all-embracing common policy set forth by Maastricht. If we had, I am certain that there would have been far less support for the Single European Act, because it would have implied acquiescence to an irreversible erosion of our national powers.

Mr. Rowlands

The hon. Member is making a simple and effective point. Is there, or will there be, the additional problem that all those who now wish to join the Community will have to accede to all the terms of the treaty, as the Foreign Secretary said in evidence to the Select Committee on Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs recently, including common foreign and security policy provisions? Some of the applicants have neutrality clauses in their constitutions. I wonder whether there is any derogation related to this treaty for the neutrality clauses in their constitutions. Has the Foreign Secretary explained that? I should welcome some clarification.

Mr. Sweeney

The hon. Member makes a good point and I hope that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will respond to it at the conclusion of the debate.

Mr. Spearing

The hon. Member is making the case which many of us have made—that whatever the separation in the plans the edifice will not be supported by pillars or buttresses. It will be a whole. Does he agree that one of the major features is the reorganisation of the Commission, together with its directors-general and staff? Is he aware that recently, in the new Commission, Mr. van den Broek has been given responsibility for external policy and political relations and common security policy and enlargement negotiations? He is, in effect, the Commission's foreign secretary. That is a new feature in the system.

Mr. Sweeney

The hon. Member makes a powerful point. We have Ministers' assurances that the formulation of a common foreign and security policy will be made with the unanimous consent of all the nations and that Britain will be able to block any measure to which it objects. When they say such things, it is clear that they are casting a blind eye on the declaration of voting in matters of common foreign and security policy which are tacked on at the end of the Maastricht treaty. Let me remind hon. Members of what that says: The Conference agrees that, with regard to Council decisions requiring unanimity, Member States will, to the extent possible, avoid preventing a unanimous decision where a qualified majority exists in favour of that decision.

Mr. Hurd

It is not Ministers' assurances that provide for unanimity but the treaty. We had long hours of discussion about that and many people wanted majority voting to be the rule in the treaty. That was not agreed. The treaty provides for unanimity. It is absolute, with the exception of the point about the double lock which I went into. I do not know whether my hon. Friend was here at that time. The declaration is a consolation prize. It says "to the extent possible". It is a declaration. The treaty makes it clear how the policy is to be put together. It is to be put together to the extent that there is unanimity. My hon. Friend is perfectly right that I used the same words. There is a case. He is right about the sanctions in article 228a, but, if he reads the article carefully, he will see that it provides that before the Council can move to sanctions and the economic aspect, there has to be a common position, or a position on joint action. That is unanimous.

The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) was right in what he said about Mr. van den Broek. There was a good example this weekend. A troika of Ministers went to Moscow and Mr. van den Broek went with them. If we are considering seriously how we should handle the present situation in Russia, we must accept that it has a political and an economic aspect. That is perfectly orderly. Equally, there is a Community aspect and a policy co-operation aspect, an overlap. What the treaty does for the first time is prevent a steady expansion of Community competence into that overlap by the provisions that I detailed at length for the pillar.

Mr. Sweeney

When I listen to my right hon. Friend, I am momentarily lulled into a false sense of security—[Interruption.] I do not want to feel insecure. The provision clearly says: Member States will, to the extent possible, avoid preventing a unanimous decision. What could be clearer than that? Taken in conjunction with the general thrust of title V and the provisions of article J, we are clearly dealing with serious stuff. Article J.1(4) says: The Member States shall support the Union's external and security policy actively and unreservedly in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity.

Mr. Marlow

In an important speech yesterday, one of Europe's foremost statesmen, dealing with the vital subject of what is happening in foreign policy, talked about dreams of society that have inspired many good and clever people. One might interpret the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for the Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Sweeney) as representing a dream of society that inspired many good and clever people. But the statesman from whose speech I quoted added: When that dream was impossible, it led quickly and inevitably to tyranny. That speech was made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.

Mr. Sweeney

We know, and are proud of the fact, that Britain lives up to its commitments in the EC more fully than does any other signatory. That is the difficulty about my right hon. Friend's comments. We will abide by the spirit of article J. That will result in our being bound to go along with the formulation of a common foreign policy. The first words could not be clearer: A common foreign and security policy is hereby established and it goes on to say that it will cover all areas of foreign and security policy. There is no mention of an opt-out for our policy on, say, Hong Kong or the Falklands.

Mr. Menzies Campbell

I hesitate to try to persuade the hon. Gentleman, in view of the efforts of the Foreign Secretary, but he must read the treaty as a whole and ascribe to it the language in which it is written. The declaration is an exhortation, an encouragement to people to seek to achieve unanimity. There is no obligation in the declaration. Article J.3(2) makes it clear that there is no obligation on the United Kingdom to fulfil joint action which is arrived at under the provisions unless the United Kingdom is willing to agree that there should be majority voting. Consensus is necessary—

Mr. Spearing

Or pressure.

Mr. Campbell

The hon. Gentleman refers to pressure. It is political pressure, and it is political pressure which we should be capable of resisting if we thought that it was in our interest to do so.

6.45 pm
Mr. Sweeney

We are reluctant to resist political pressure whenever we are accused of being anti-communautaire. As I said, of all the EC member states, we are the best at obeying the rules of the club. Because I believe that we would obey the rules, I do not want them widened to impose obligations on us, even if they are imposed morally rather than absolutely.

Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)

The hon. Gentleman will accept that Governments, even the present British Government, have foreign policies that vary according to the exigencies of the time and in relation to the way in which world events develop. The fact that one says that one has a foreign policy does not mean that everything in that policy is filled in. Unless there is unanimity in any area of foreign and security policy, it does not become part of the foreign policy of the European Community.

Mr. Sweeney

Once it became policy, we should have an obligation to support it, even if our interests as a nation state were in conflict with it. As I said, we are proud of the fact that Britain lives up to its commitments as a member of the EC. I do not doubt that that will continue to be the case, for our forthright actions, our living up to our word, are a flattering reflection on our national character.

We will not ignore the declaration on voting, even if it is not binding. Ministers must agree with that. For ever saying no will not bring us to the heart of Europe, and an argument adduced by Ministers in support of ratifying the treaty is that we want to be at the heart of Europe. If at any time we disagree with our European partners on progress towards a common foreign policy, we shall undoubtedly be accused of not being at the heart of Europe. I can hear it being said now.

Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough)

Is not the whole premise of my hon. Friend's argument based on the understanding that every time we have an argument we lose it? Does not history teach us that every time we have had an argument with our European colleagues, we have tended to win it? So the fears that he has, and which seem to run through his whole argument, are based on that false premise.

Mr. Sweeney

What worries me is that the British people, who have shown in successive opinion polls what they think of the treaty, do not seem to be winning the argument with the Government. It ignores political realities to suggest that Britain will oppose all measures supported by a majority of our partners whenever we consider those measures to be against our nation's best interests. Hence, given the intention of the declaration on voting, it is clear that a veto in the area of foreign and security policy will be left to extreme cases, and they would already be covered by the Luxembourg compromise.

Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North)

I intervene lest my hon. Friend feels somewhat beleaguered. I assure him that there is much support for the spirit of his argument and for the feeling of distrust, perhaps of the political system—possibly distrust of one's political masters, both here and in Europe—to put into fruition the so-called spirit of the treaty. He is right to point out the anomalies that he has described and the fears that he expresses on behalf of many, including many outside this place. If it is any comfort to him, I assure him that he is not alone, not just in the Committee; he has many friends outside as well.

Mr. Sweeney

I am grateful to my hon. Friend who, as usual, is forthright and outspoken in support of the British people.

The formulation of a common foreign and security policy implies a severe constraint on our ability to shape our foreign policy in the manner we think best. Article J.2 says: Member States shall ensure that their national policies conform to the common positions. I am not convinced that our European partners interpret that obligation in the cavalier fashion demonstrated by our Ministers. Once we have agreed to pursue a common foreign policy, we may use the veto given by the unanimous voting requirement to block particular policies within an area of the common policy, but our partners would probably consider it a breach of the spirit of the treaty, if not of its letter, to block the development of a common policy for a broad policy field.

Likewise, once a common policy is open to development in all aspects, it is not clear that divergent national policies may be pursued freely, even in areas where no common policy has yet been devised. Let me cite a case in point.

The second half of article J.5(4) pronounces: Member States which are also states of the United Nations Security Council will concert and keep the other Member States fully informed. Member States which are permanent members of the Security Council will, in the execution of their functions, ensure the defence of the positions and the interests of the Union, without prejudice to their responsibilities under the provisions of the United Nations Charter. In other words, our ability to perform our most important international functions as we see fit is impeded. In the Security Council, we must "concert", or work together, to find and support a common position, always with France and with other nations as necessary when they sit in the Security Council. Will our views always be consistent with theirs? It seems improbable, yet we are given no opt-out from the obligation to concert.

Mr. Hurd

I note the thrust of my hon. Friend's argument. He is abandoning the attempt to prove that the text of the treaty makes any imposition on us. On the whole, Conservative critics have done the same. He is arguing the case for what my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester, North (Mr. Jenkin) called political infection. He is saying that, in practice, we would not be able to use the veto which, as a result of our discussion, he and others generally acknowledge exists.

My hon. Friend talks about the Security Council. We are permanent members by virtue of the charter of the United Nations which long antedates the treaty of Rome or any subsequent European instruments. We had a long discussion on that very point, and I tried to explain to the Committee how it works in practice. What now happens in practice will be established by article J.5 of the treaty. We keep our partners informed; we work with them and concert with them. This is without prejudice to our responsibilities under the UN charter. Nothing that we are required to do under the treaty can prejudice the way in which we perform our duties as a permanent member of the Security Council. The only basis on which we are permanent members is the charter. That is light years away from the concept of our giving up to a European seat. We are not. The careful negotiation and formulation of the article to which my hon. Friend refers proves that to be true—it is without prejudice.

Mr. Sweeney

I am certainly not abandoning the argument on the wording of the treaty. I am trying to put it in the context of the overall position of our defence and foreign policy.

Mr. Spearing

Will the hon. Gentleman give way.

Mr. Sweeney

I should like to make progress, but I shall give way.

Mr. Spearing

As has been said, the Foreign Secretary makes a very appealing case, but is not there a flaw in his argument? He is saying that we are putting in the treaty only what already happens through co-operation. In so doing, will we not lose the chance to use a little less co-operation if we think necessary because the treaty imposes a moral obligation, if nothing else? At the moment, we may give our co-operation and wholehearted consent whereas the treaty could introduce an element of coercion.

Mr. Sweeney

The hon. Gentleman makes his point very well, but I would go further—it not only could but does introduce an element of coercion. Moreover, through our status as a permanent member, our role in the Security Council is largely being relegated to that of Community spokesman. We can at least take some solace in the fact that the European union will have two vetoes on the Security Council while the United States, Russia and China still have only one each.

I am especially happy to have caught your eye, Mr. Lofthouse, because we have reached the point where we can return to the biggest issue confronting us over Maastricht. The main intent of the Maastricht treaty is to create a European union. That point has been submerged during much of the Committee stage as we have been channelled by the Bill to concentrate on the changes that the treaty on European union makes to the European Economic Community treaty, the treaty of Rome. However, the significant changes that are made to the existing Community treaties are complementary measures undertaken to facilitate the fundamental goal of the creation of the European union. In covering title V, the group of amendments allows the Committee to return to the fundamental question—do we want to be implicated in the creation of a European union?

At the heart of the treaty on European union is the desire to build the political unification of western Europe. That is what the treaty on European union is all about. The common foreign and security policy which we are discussing is part of that. The irrevocable fixing of exchange rates which we discussed last week was another part. European citizenship is yet another part—and the list goes on.

I do not want political union. I do not want the political unification of Community countries, which will be affected by the treaty on European union. I do not believe that most of the British nation want political unification and, in their hearts, I do not believe that most hon. Members want it, either.

Mr. Rogers

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that this country has for many years participated in various international organisations with regard to foreign affairs and defence policy? We are part of NATO and have given up a measure of British sovereignty. We participate in the Western European Union and the United Nations. What is so awful about participating with the same countries in some form of economic union?

Mr. Sweeney

Of course, the hon. Gentleman is right. We have participated in various agreements with other nations, but the treaty of Rome and its subsequent amendments are fundamentally different in nature from NATO and all the other treaties into which this nation has entered, because they involve a surrender of sovereignty. They involve not merely an agreement for a specific period of time, an agreement which can be changed, but a self-perpetuating system with its own court and its own institutions, which grows bigger and more influential all the time.

If we adopt this aspect of the treaty, we shall give entirely the wrong signals to our American partners in NATO. At a time when America is experiencing serious economic problems and has had a change of Government, which is likely to make the United States more isolationist than hitherto, if we set off what is seen as an embryo European defence bloc, the way will be clear for the United States to begin withdrawing support from NATO. That is my fundamental objection to this part of the treaty.

As I have said, we all agree that some co-ordination of policies is necessary to make the single market work. Let us leave it at that and stick to the present system of European political co-operation as formulated in the Single European Act. Let us say no to political unification, no to title V and no to the common foreign and security policy.

Mr. Mandelson

I am grateful for the opportunity to follow the hon. Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Sweeney), although, if I were to follow precisely what he said, I should have some difficulty knowing where to start. It will be no surprise to him to learn that I disagree with almost all that he said because we approach the subject from a different standpoint. However, it would be very unfair if, following his speech, mission control at Great College street, run by the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash), was to recall him or not field him again because he is a perfectly good advertisement for those who share his views. It would be unfair if he were not fielded again.

Other interventions have reflected rather more realistically the obvious scepticism about the ability of the foreign policies of member states to converge. Given the divergence of national interests and the way in which the outlooks and international experiences of nations differ, that is a statement of the obvious. At least we know what we are dealing with, and what our starting point is, when we are dealing with article J and debating this group of amendments. However, a wholly realistic recognition of the state of those divergent interests and of patently obvious differences in national outlook should not weaken our support for the article or divert us in any way from progress in the formulation of the common foreign policy that I should like to see, which is embodied in article J.

7 pm

Different fears were expressed before the Maastricht treaty was negotiated. Some members of the Labour party made the point that attempts to construct a common foreign policy, far from having the beneficial effects that were being advertised, would reduce the ability of member states to act. I do not think that these fears are borne out in the treaty—in its body or in its small print. In the course of the debate today, there have been references to the very careful and pragmatic balance, in the provisions of article J, between the unanimity that is required in formulating policy and what the Foreign Secretary referred to as the double-locked use of qualified majority voting with regard to any joint action that is agreed.

All the time, of course, these provisions and the scope described in article J stay in the domain of respective Governments and within the responsibility of their intergovernmental machinery. Notwithstanding the competence of the Commission, which is properly described in article J, I support the use of intergovernmental machinery, rather than a system whereby these matters would be taken more within the scope of the Commission. This must allay the fears of any reasonable person.

Indeed, having listened with considerable care and interest to the Foreign Secretary's speech, I think that he was beginning to err on the side of caution and thereby damaging our chances of adventure, or at least progress, in these matters. The Foreign Secretary had to play to the audience of his friends behind him, but I believe that that audience was unrepresentative. The right hon. Gentleman erred on the side of caution by failing to give as full a presentation of the article's meaning as I think was justified. The treaty's provisions nudge us on, inch us forward in the development of a common foreign and security policy, as is timely. It also makes much sense to add some legal obligations. I fully recognise that, in article J, an element of legal obligation is added to the good faith and practice that have been adopted since the inception of European political co-operation in 1970 and the adoption of the provisions of the Single European Act 1987.

As is obvious from the debate, however, this is too much for some. There are hon. Members who are patently not open to persuasion about the wisdom of following the course outlined in the treaty. The hon. Member for the Vale of Glamorgan gave the impression that these people believe that our country's role and status in the world are still such that any number of British gunboats are worth more than the influence of all the states of the European Community acting together. That is simply not an accurate reflection of Britain's current status and power in the world.

Mr. Sweeney

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that, if we should refuse to ratify the treaty, there would be nothing to prevent us from co-operating with our European partners, and therefore nothing to be lost in terms of the collective strength of joint action?

Mr. Mandelson

The hon. Gentleman makes a valid point. We should be falling back on the political co-operation that we have been practising since 1970. I support article J because it strengthens and advances that political co-operation in these fields. I fully understand why the hon. Gentleman does not go along with that. He objects to something that reflects a philosophy relating to all aspects of the Maastricht treaty—that by acting together, by combining our influence, we can be more effective. That is what I support in this context, as in the context of other aspects of the treaty.

Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North)

I trust that the hon. Gentleman is not suggesting that what the United Kingdom's gunboats—that is the hon. Gentleman's word; it is not the one that I would use—achieved in the Falkland Islands could have been achieved by the European Community's saying with one voice, "Naughty, naughty, Argentina—move out."

Mr. Mandelson

I do not think that what was achieved could have been achieved in that way. However, I would much more readily have looked to and drawn on the strength of the European Community acting together in support of our action in relation to the Falkland Islands. The hon. Gentleman ought to acknowledge that, within the scope of article J, if we want to act in relation to any future episode as we did in the case of the Falkland Islands, the treaty will not inhibit us.

As has been made clear, some hon. Members fear that greater European integration would fatally compromise our Atlanticist bonds. In expressing that view, those hon. Members ignore the fact that the United States is encouraging that integration as it lessens its own European engagement following the end of the cold war. I am not one of those who would like to see those bonds broken. I happen to believe that the United Kingdom's links with the United States and the defence arrangements to which we subscribe as a member of NATO are extremely important and entirely necessary. However, I do not think that they will be in any way compromised by greater European integration and the pursuit of a common foreign policy.

There are also some who prefer to focus on the faraway dream of east and west coming together in the form of a united states of Europe. That is a diversion from the co-operation that is possible here and now. In this regard, the view that I express represents the attitude of most members of my generation. To a certain extent, there is a generational split in approaches to these matters, but I do not want to be overly agist.

Several hon. Members

rose

Mr. Mandelson

I make a small point, and I am sorry that I have provoked more interventions.

Mr. Corbyn

I have looked at "Dod's Parliamentary Companion", and I see that my hon. Friend and I are of broadly similar ages, but we may have a different outlook on the matter. If the Maastricht treaty, as proposed, allows Britain to get involved, wrongly in my view, in another Falklands-type adventure and it does not fetter individual action, what is the point of it in achieving a unified foreign policy and why is the provision there at all?

Mr. Mandelson

Because in many circumstances the European Community, acting together through a common policy, would give greater impetus to the foreign policy aims and goals to which we subscribe than we would otherwise be able to support and achieve by acting separately and alone. It is a simple point, and it underpins my approach to these matters. It is most constructive to promote joint action through a common policy among those states between whom co-operation is practical and achievable—that is, member states within the European Community. Generally, international problems are intensified, not alleviated, by the failure of the European Community member states to act together. It is hardly sensible to suggest that incipient chaos—for example, as we see it in eastern Europe and to a much more graphic and immediate extent in Russia—is more likely to be resolved by a looser and less co-ordinated western Europe. The opposite is the case. Member states will always give greater impetus to their policies by working together. That is the simple truth, which is at the heart of the article which we are discussing.

Forging a common foreign policy in Europe does not mean that we should stop promoting British interests abroad, especially in commerce, industry and finance. For that, we need more and better diplomatic representation and freedom to act worldwide in Britain's interests. In saying that, I echo the comments of the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath) at the end of the Budget debate last week. He described the way in which the foreign and diplomatic service has been decried, demoralised and in many areas decimated by the former occupant of No. 10 Downing street, in wicked alliance with the Treasury.

Obviously, in comparison with more heartrending spending cuts made by the Government, cuts in the foreign service may not seem important. However, they are a false economy and the proposed scaling down of posts should be resisted strongly by the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. I hope that in due course, if not tonight, he will say that he is prepared to take more to arms in defence of the foreign service of which he is the political head.

What then should be the Community's foreign affairs and security agenda? What should be the priorities for action? Mr. Hans van den Broek, the external political relations Commissioner, suggested in an interview in the Financial Times on 8 March that his priorities were negotiating the enlargement of Community membership and involving eastern Europe immediately as much as possible through trade and market access prior to full membership. He also said that he was conducting the Community's role in the former Yugoslavia. That must be welcome. He said that he was trying to put the Community behind Russia's reform effort. We have learned in the past few days of his efforts with the triad of Ministers in Moscow over the weekend.

I have no time to comment on anything but the last activity in relation to Russia. I want to do so briefly, because I had the opportunity of visiting Russia this month on a delegation headed by my noble Friend Lord Healey, under the auspices of the St. Andrew Foundation and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. When one conducts a visit like that using public funds, one should, where possible, report back to the House. I cannot do so at length, and it is difficult to sum up in a few observations the issues posed to Community policy by events in Russia, where not just one but three revolutions are taking place—a political and democratic revolution, an economic revolution and a national revolution, as nationalities within Russia vie for some form of national and self-expression.

7.15 pm

I want to make a few quick points about aid for Russia, which needs to be targeted for specific objectives. The aid should not be bundled across in vast quantities immediately; it can and should be given in tranches. It is wrong for the European contribution to this effort to have been so muted and tardy, and for the leadership to have passed so obviously and so visibly to the United States. I do not decry the commitment of President Clinton, but there are dangers in the United States seeming to be acting alone in offering aid to Russia. It is politically undesirable for President Clinton's domestic constituency and his public for the United States to be presented in such a way that it seems to be acting unilaterally. That is wrong, and will contribute to the erosion of the public support that President Clinton needs for the aid programme which he is promoting. It is also bad from the point of view of the Russian public that aid to Russia seems to take the form of manna from Washington or from the White house.

To rely on the International Monetary Fund and the World bank is also probably wrong. They have slow and cumbersome working methods. In stepping up aid to Russia, we have to base that action much more on direct Government-to-Government aid. It needs to be multilateral. The Japanese will no doubt fall in, but Europe, including Britain, should be fully involved.

Aid should not be seen as a reward for actions taken by the Russian Government, but should be an incentive to encourage desirable actions. An attitude has grown up of, "Do this and we will reward you." That is the wrong approach. Aid needs to act as an incentive, an enabler or a facilitator.

Mr. Corbyn

In his visit to Russia, did any thought cross my hon. Friend's mind that the headlong rush into a market economy has been a catalyst in the destruction of Russian manufacturing industry, which has in turn created the problem of imported goods and the devaluation of the currency? Does he not think that there is a case for planning in the Russian economy to ensure that such a crisis does not continue?

Mr. Mandelson

My hon. Friend talks about a headlong rush. I assume that it is the speed of the transition that he is objecting to rather than the goal of moving towards a market economy. If it is to be prosperous, it is essential for Russia to move towards a market economy. The sort of market economy that I advocate is a mixed, managed market economy, which has at least been the model in this country in the past and in other western European countries.

Mr. Calum Macdonald (Western Isles)

I am sure that my hon. Friend has observed that the Russian Government have asked specifically for several billion dollars' worth of aid to help support the social security system in Russia which they cannot finance by themselves, and so the caricature of the current Russian Government as being simply orientated towards laissez-faire market reforms is quite false. One of the best things that the United Kingdom and the European Community could do would be to support that kind of social security programme.

Mr. Mandelson

Of course, our hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) was offering a parody of President Yeltsin's policies and what is happening in Russia, and my hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald) therefore makes a good point, certainly about the need for a social welfare system. But an essential condition for any successful transition of the Russian economy is to get things under control and to stabilise the economy. Hyper-inflation is a very real and dangerous threat for Russia at present, and it is imperative to get its central bank and its credit system on a proper footing.

I believe that aid should be used in this way and for this purpose, rather than the way in which state enterprises are presently being financed, by printing money. It would be much better to stop the printing of money and to get the money supply in Russia under control, and, instead, use aid from the West to finance the state enterprises and former state enterprises in Russia.

The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Dame Janet Fookes)

Order. Before the hon. Gentleman continues, may I suggest to him that he is now giving a discourse about the general state of the Russian economy and nation rather than about what we should be discussing, which is the common European policy, its merits or otherwise?

Mr. Mandelson

I am pulled back into order immediately and willingly, Dame Janet. I am only sorry that I did not make it clear that the points that I am making about aid for Russia are entirely in the context of the policy of the European Community and what aid we might promote and develop for that country.

I would just conclude my point by saying that Russian aid means more than money. It must mean know-how and management skills. It must be multilateral, it needs to be in at the ground floor and it needs to be delivered as promised. There could be nothing more dangerous for the situation in Russia than for western countries to make offers that do not subsequently stand up, to say that we will do something and then not do it. It would be very dangerous indeed.

European integration is not just good for trade and economc growth; it supports the essential steps needed for the strengthening of peace and security in Europe and in the world. Those who gleefully point out every occasion when member states fail to act together or are slow to do so are doing the cause of peace and security no favours whatever. It is easy to point out where people fail or where they do not readily or properly come together to act in the most beneficial way, but we should not be gleeful in pointing the finger. We should instead be encouraging action of a different sort, the pooling and combining of the influence of member states in beneficial and profitable ways.

All too often, European sceptics point to the obstacles and illustrate the inadequacy of Europe's response to events and conclude, by taking a great leap in logic, that European co-operation is therefore bound to fail because it has not always been successful in the past. The basic question remains: are the difficulties and tensions described in this debate best met by weaker or stronger co-operation within Europe? Should our response be a resigned shrug or greater efforts to force joint action within the European Community? My strong view is that we should be doing the latter and that we should be combining our influence in a way that maximises our strength and role in the international community rather than weakening and undermining it.

Mr. Marlow

I hope that the hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Mandelson) will forgive me if I do not follow him on his blueprint for Russia. I am rather more concerned about the blueprint that somebody else wishes to impose on the European Community.

We had a lovely speech from the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell), who speaks for the Liberal party. He suggested that we should look at the treaty in the round. It was as if he were suggesting that the treaty is not really a treaty at all but a pious expression of goodwill or a statement of intent rather than a treaty of 134 detailed clauses and provisions.

Mr. Menzies Campbell

rose

Mr. Marlow

I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman has never been involved in business, bought a house or had to sign a contract, because if he is as cavalier in doing that as he is when he looks at the treaty, heaven help him.

Mr. Campbell

Before the hon. Gentleman develops this theme, what I said and what he clearly understood me to say was that it is not appropriate to take out of the treaty a phrase, a sentence or a paragraph which suits his argument. He must read the treaty as a whole. That is why the provisions with regard to unanimity and consensus necessarily qualify those passages in the treaty which he sought to put to the Secretary of State.

Mr. Marlow

I can reassure the hon. and learned Gentleman. I have read the treaty. But I am a little concerned about his saying that one should not take individual items out of the treaty and make deductions therefrom, because he himself has done just that. For example, he referred to paragraph 6 of article J.3, which is the doctrine of imperative need, that In cases of imperative need arising from changes in the situation individual nation states can take their own action, that there is an opt-out, that it is rather like the Luxembourg compromise where, when vital national interests are at stake, one can take one's own view. I wonder whether the hon. and learned Gentleman believes that the Luxembourg compromise can still be used and, if so, how long he reckons that the doctrine of imperative need will survive all the other provisions of the treaty. If he wants to look at the treaty in the round, may I draw his attention to paragraph 2 of article J.2: the Council shall"— not "may", but "shall"— define a common position. Member States shall ensure that their national policies conform to the common positions. The hon. and learned Gentleman says one thing, the treaty says another.

Mr. Menzies Campbell

rose

Mr. Bill Walker

rose

Mr. Hurd

rose

Mr. Marlow

I give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) and then I will give way to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Bill Walker

I thank my hon. Friend. I trust that he will bear in mind that the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell) makes a very good living at being a lawyer in Scotland where he dissects very cleverly, on behalf of many individuals, including companies in which I have an interest, details of such things as treaties like this.

Mr. Marlow

This puts a very interesting complexion on it. I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will be more careful when he looks at the treaty in future, because it is legislation. It is the law of the land.

Mr. Hurd

My hon. Friend is obviouly at the beginning of a slashing speech, but if he is going to quote extensively from the treaty, I hope that he will quote sentences as a whole. He said, in his slashing way, the Council shall define a common position". "Whenever it deems it necessary" is what the treaty says as a qualifier on that. My hon. Friend will also accept that how it is to define a common position, how it is to define join action and by what procedure is all clearly laid down in the treaty.

Mr. Marlow

As ever, that intervention by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was reasonable and persuasive, as was his speech. Everything that he said in his speech was reassuring. It is as if he was telling us not to worry because nothing would happen, it was all there before, all these powers existed in the Single European Act, there was no difference in the treaty, we had a double lock and everything would be all right. What my right hon. Friend said was masterly and reassuring, but it was not persuasive because those of us who have read the treaty, and read it in all its respects, not just in the common foreign and security policy, know that for every item in the treaty that is reassuring, there is another item, another route through the treaty, which is very far from reassuring and which has a very different impact on the sovereignty and position of the House of Commons and this country. As I said to my right hon. Friend in a previous intervention, article J.1 says: The Union…shall define and implement a common foreign and security policy…covering all areas of foreign and security policy. It does not say the union might do something about it, or could, or may if it feels like it, if it gets out of bed on the right side. It says that the union "shall" co-operate in every area of foreign and security policy.

Sir Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

Is not the real weakness of the Government's position the fact that, although they talk about the importance of the veto, the House has a veto over the ratification of the Maastricht treaty, yet my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary says that we must ratify it because if we do not we shall lose influence and power in the European Community? The power of veto to which my right hon. Friend refers is as useless as the power of veto that the House has over the ratification of the treaty. At every stage it would be said that we were behaving in an anti-communautaire fashion, and that we could not do that without losing influence. Is that not the fundamental absurdity of the Government's position?

7.30 pm
Mr. Marlow

My hon. and learned Friend makes powerfully a point that has been equally powerfully made by my hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Sweeney)—

Mr. Menzies Campbell

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Marlow

Hang on, let me finish.

This is the "heart of Europe" argument again: we must ratify the treaty if we want to be at the heart of Europe, and having done so, and being at the heart of Europe, we then have to accept all the commitments made in the treaty. The treaty says that we "shall" have a common foreign and security policy, so, by jingo, we shall have one.

Mr. Campbell

The hon. Gentleman is at it again. He is quoting only those parts of the paragraph that suit his argument. The paragraph says: The Union and its Member States shall define and implement a common foreign and security policy, governed by the provisions of this Title". That necessarily means that article J.1(1) is governed by article J.3. The hon. Gentleman is falling into the trap of selecting those parts of the title that suit his argument and disregarding any part that contradicts it. If I may say so, he is behaving like a slick lawyer.

Mr. Marlow

I am almost tempted to say that it takes one to know one, but of course, Dame Janet, I would not say anything like that. The hon. and learned Gentleman makes his point—he has made it before. He says, "This is what I find in the treaty; that is what you find in the treaty.

We look at it in different ways. You are taking a selective piece out of the treaty, but my selective piece of the treaty is totally different."

We have had those debates and arguments before. We had them in 1985, over the Single European Act. Many of us asked the Government various questions then, and the Government said, "It does not matter; the Act is simply about the single market. There is no transfer of power." Yet now, who will make the decision on the 48-hour week? Who will make decisions on immigration policy? The Government got it wrong then. I dare say that the hon. and learned Gentleman got it wrong, too—and, by golly, he is getting it wrong now.

Mr. Cash

My hon. Friend is making trenchant points. I also have the greatest sympathy and agreement with what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence) said. Does my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) accept that the very fact that the arrangements will be made under a separate pillar but will, so it is claimed, be subject to international legal obligations will create the most massive confusion? The need for joint action plans could easily arise in the middle of the night. When there is a need to make an immediate decision, the 12 member states will be running around to one another with lawyers, administrators, Foreign Secretaries and Ministers of State—if Ministers of State are still in place—trying to arrive at positions. The idea is absurd. At the moment, at least we can make our own decisions, as we did on the Gulf.

Mr. Marlow

If my hon. Friend is referring to potential bureaucracy and suggesting that a common foreign policy will be an imitation in foreign affairs terms of the common agricultural policy, it is most responsible of him to bring such comparisons to the notice of the Committee. Clearly we must be concerned about such issues.

Mr. Spearing

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Marlow

In a second.

The hon. and learned Member for Fife, East—

Mr. Campbell

Fife, North-East.

Mr. Marlow

Even more—north and east Fife; I congratulate the hon. and learned Gentleman. The hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East said that he was in favour of co-operation with the other nations of western Europe on foreign and security policy—I presume that that means defence policy; I do not know whether there is a great deal of difference between security policy and defence policy. We are all in favour of that. We all agree that if we have friends and interests in common we want to co-operate with our friends with whom we have those interests in common. But we do not and will not want to do that through the provisions of the treaty. Some of us believe that the treaty does not go about the matter in the right way, and that, rather than helping and making matters better, it will make them worse.

Mr. Spearing

Is it not possible to reconcile the apparent conflict between the hon. Gentleman and the Foreign Secretary on the question of having to have a single policy, but having to arrive at that policy by unanimity, which, as the Foreign Secretary and other hon. Gentlemen have insisted throughout the debate, seems to suggest that there is some sort of lock or safeguard? Rather like article 99, which requires, ultimately, a common system of taxation and so on, and says that that shall be achieved by unanimity, the provision does not remove the obligation, but, by the requirement for unanimity, it forces discussion and a certain amount of compromise and trading, because that is the only way in which unanimity can be reached on the single policy that is mandatory within the text of the treaty.

Mr. Marlow

I take the view that if we commit ourselves to allowing the union to define and implement a common policy covering all areas of foreign and security policy—the treaty says that it "shall" do so—and if we commit ourselves to the declaration, and to being at the heart of Europe, the hon. Gentleman's argument is powerful.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary would say —and any sane person would agree with him—that we want to co-operate with our European colleagues on foreign and security policy. I am sure that that is right. I should be happy to co-operate with other European nation states on defence policy and foreign policy and I hope that the co-operation will develop and improve, and one day be greater than it is today. But there are ways of achieving that. Either such things can happen organically or a blueprint can be imposed from above. Organic development, where we take people with us, will work. Informal co-operation, in which different nation states have different views but decide to pool their views and come together on a common policy, will work because there is no coercion and no moral blackmail. But the formal policies set out in the treaty, and the complex procedures for applying them, may well have the opposite effect, trying to lock unwilling partners into a common policy that some people find disagreeable. That will cause stress and distraction, and will weaken the objective that the Foreign Secretary and I share.

Mr. Winnick

rose

Mr. Marlow

I give way to the hon. Member for Walsall, North.

Mr. Winnick

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's courtesy. Does he recognise another weakness? There has been a general willingness by most people, including myself, to accept co-operation between European countries—certainly between the countries in the Community. I consider that perfectly logical. However, if the treaty comes into force our suspicion, justified or otherwise, will be that the closer the co-operation, the more likely it is to lead to a type of federal set-up. Therefore, whereas previously we would have taken such co-operation as a matter of course, which would cause no controversy among those of us who oppose the treaty, after the treaty came into force we should be constantly on our guard lest it lead to the dangers to which the hon. Gentleman refers.

Mr. Marlow

I follow the hon. Gentleman in believing that there will be a feeling, if things go on as they are at the moment, that the treaty is being imposed on an unwilling and reluctant European public by the political elite of the European states that make up the Community. I believe that the problems to which the hon. Gentleman refers will arise. If they do, there will be a great deal of resentment about the way in which the treaty has been put together and about the lack of proper consultation with the people, especially in this country. At the moment, we do not even have the chance of a referendum. If great issues come out of the treaty which cause great stress and disagreement within the United Kingdom, where people have not even been allowed to have a vote on the subject, I tremble to think of the popular reaction.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary says that it is all different now. He says that previously we had a monolithic European Community, whereas now we have the three pillars. We are now discussing the pillar on foreign and security policy. My right hon. Friend says that the institutional control and management of this pillar is different and that we have more independence. That is all true. However, my right hon. Friend then says that we are winning the argument, that things are coming our way, that everyone now agrees with us and that the powers are coming our way. They are not, are they?

In all the areas and in every area of policy in which the European institutions had power before the treaty, they still have those powers; in the new areas the treaty gives them powers that they did not have before or extends the powers that they had before. The treaty is not rolling back the frontiers of bureaucracy. It is not rolling back the powers of the Commission or of the European Parliament. By the treaty, we are increasing them, especially in this pillar. We are not winning the arguments and we are not gaining ground; we are losing ground to European institutions.

Mr. Hurd

I do not think that my hon. Friend will find that I have ever said that the treaty of Maastricht would roll back those powers. What I have said in these debates is that it represents a check to the centralisers. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Why? We have been committed for many years under the treaty of Rome and under the Single European Act, as the Opposition and a number of my hon. Friends, although not those who oppose the treaty. have been, to an ever-closer union of peoples. That has not been defined. It is defined in the treaty of Maastricht in a way that makes it absolutely clear that the ever-closer union embraces and can include work together as Governments. That is the novelty and that is why I am justified in saying that the treaty, which is not a perfect treaty but a compromise treaty, represents a check to the centralisers. The centralisers recognise that, which is why they preferred the Dutch draft, which was rejected.

Mr. Marlow

As my right hon. Friend says, the centralisers have not got as much as they wanted. However, my right hon. Friend also says that the treaty is a check to the centralisers. Within the meaning of the English language, to give the centralisers more power than they had before, even though one does not give them as much as they have asked for, is not a check. I see it as a gift to them.

Mr. Bill Walker

My hon. Friend will be aware, as I am, that during the passage of the Single European Act, I kept asking Ministers for a clear definition of what "union" meant. Many of my hon. Friends who voted for the Act did so believing what they were told at the time. They now find that "union" meant what I always believed it meant, which was why I was so concerned about and so opposed to the Single European Act. I did not oppose it because I opposed co-operation in Europe; I did not and do not. I am opposed to tying the United Kingdom and especially the citizens of Scotland, who have another union—the Union that created this Parliament, which is why we understand what union means—to this union. So many misleading things have come about because people have not fully understood what the meaning of "union" is and was.

Mr. Marlow

I shall touch on that subject in a few seconds.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

In answer to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, will my hon. Friend comment on the fact that the word "check" only means to slow down? It does not mean to stop. If a policy arises in the European Community—in the union—with which it wants to go ahead, all that the processes will allow us to do is to check it—to say, "Think again." If the Community thinks again and decides to go ahead, nothing in the world will stop it as long as we want to stay part of the European Community, which we have every interest in continuing to do. The point will go on arising. It may be in the Community's interest not to be checked. We shall lose influence and we shall lose power if we insist to the contrary. We shall have exercised our check—"Good night and thank you very much." The issue will go forward as the union wants.

7.45 pm
Mr. Marlow

It is a one-way street with a ratchet in it. There is no turning back and every time we move forward, it becomes part of the acquis communautaire. There is no sign or potential legislation from anywhere to suggest that that will not be the case. As my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence) knows, there will be a conference in 1996 with a view to increasing and enhancing the powers of the treaty. The ratchet will move forward yet again.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary smiles. I point out that his predecessors in 1986, when we discussed the Single European Act, also smiled if people said that it was a one-way street and that we were moving progressively towards a federal Europe. I grant that my right hon. Friend may be right to smile. That may not happen, but the provisions of the treaty and the commitment of the United Kingdom to be at the heart of Europe make it far more likely that it will happen than that it will not happen.

Mr. Cash

Does my hon. Friend recall that in 1986, we had a major debate on the Single European Act? Although he may not remember, I raised almost exactly the same point with the then Foreign Secretary, now Lord Howe. In reply, as reported in Hansard, he said in effect that I was living in a fantasy world about the prospects of a federal Europe and, furthermore, that these were horror stories for little children which should not be disseminated. Those are exactly the arguments which we are hearing now. We have been proved right. Nobody doubts that the treaty has all the ingredients necessary for a federal state and a central bank. Does my hon. Friend agree that we are being given the same run-around that we were given before?

Mr. Marlow

My hon. Friend makes his point powerfully. Some say that he is wrong; I do not say that he is wrong. Some say that we have many protections, not least the protection of subsidiarity. If my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary wants to say that subsidiarity is important and wants to give proof that subsidiarity will work in this area, as in others, he can cite the 48-hour week. He can tell us that he is quite convinced that under the new procedures of subsidiarity, we in Parliament alone will be able to decide whether there should be a 48-hour week in the United Kingdom. If he can do that, we may take some heart from the fact that the ratchet is moving in the other direction. If not, the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) must stand.

Mr. Rowlands

Should not the Committee have at least one modest objective in obtaining information from the Foreign Secretary? Although the language of the Single European Act, which says that member states shall endeavour jointly to formulate and implement a European foreign policy…shall take full account of the positions of the other partners…shall ensure that common principles and objectives are gradually developed and defined", is simple and gentle—the language of co-operation—it is to be replaced by the language of article J.1. There is a qualitative difference in the language. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will tell us why one has to move from the Single European Act to this. From a practical point of view, what is the difference between the two types of language?

Mr. Marlow

It is the difference between "may" and "shall". I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has any children. To say to a child, "You may go to bed", is different from saying to a child, "You shall go to bed." There is a great deal of difference in terms of the result one anticipates from using the two different words.

I take two examples from the treaty, one of which I have used already and to which the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) has just referred. The kernel of the debate and the basis of a common defence and foreign policy is paragraph 1 of article J.1. There is no ambiguity. It states: The Union and its Member States shall define and implement a common foreign and security policy"— I would prefer to call it a common defence policy because

they are much the same—covering not some but all areas of common and security policy. By ratifying the treaty we are committing ourselves to that. Whatever the qualifying phrases, whatever other parts of the treaty say or those that want us to ratify it might say, and whatever little bits of it that they care to select from title V, that is the part which matters supremely and above all else.

Mrs. Dunwoody

When we are told that we may rely on the fact that the other structures mean that no votes will be taken without the agreement of the United Kingdom, should the hon. Gentleman not remind the Committee about the Luxembourg compromise, which he briefly mentioned but did not spell out? Initially, we were told that it was a way to protect our interests, then we were told that it was not in the treaty and then we were told that it was no longer relevant because "We have now moved on." Will the hon. Gentleman underline the fact that occasionally those beautifully presented compromises somehow disappear two or three years down the line?

Mr. Marlow

I think that that is known as the principle of progressive erosion of national powers and it seems to have worked effectively so far.

Mr. Hurd

In answer to the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands), rather than make a further intervention later, may I say that it is perfectly true that the language of the treaty is more elaborate than the language of the Single European Act. In some ways, that Act has an advantage. I gave examples of the way in which sanctions would be introduced and on the role of political directors, which I think are helpful. I gave examples defining the role of the Commission and showing that it has the right to propose but not a monopoly—excluding the role of the European Court. Those are advantages. They show that co-operation in foreign and security policy is moving in a sensible direction.

My hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) was also kind enough to give way to the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody). She mentioned the Luxembourg compromise, but the huge difference is that that is not in the treaty. I do not want to go into an exposition of the strength of that compromise now, but it is not in the treaty—

Mr. Cash

It is not in the treaty.

Mr. Hurd

That is exactly my point—whereas article J.8 is in the treaty and it lays down the only way in which a common foreign and security policy can be constructed. It is very clear—it is in the treaty. That is what I mean. I am not saying that the formulations in the treaty are perfect, but the way in which foreign policy and security co-operation is defined and organised, and the way in which common positions and joint action can be taken, is clearly set out and is a check to those who believe in centralising—that it is inevitable that the Commission should steadily increase its powers on such matters—and to qualified majority voting. It is a check to those ambitions.

Mr. Marlow

My right hon. Friend, as always, is a master of reassurance. If he is telling the Committee that we no longer want to be in the heart of Europe. I am sure that the Committee will be reassured. If my right hon. Friend is not saying that, the powers and provisions remain within the treaty. My right hon. Friend said that the Maastricht treaty is an elaboration of the Single European Act and that changing the word "may" to "shall" is an elaboration, but that is not my understanding of the English language.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

My hon. Friend is slightly misunderstating the impact of article J in so far as he says that its significance is contained in J.1(1). Has he not omitted article J.1(4), which is far more explicit and states: The Member States shall support the Union's external and security policy actively and unreservedly in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity. They shall refrain from any action which is contrary to the interests of the Union or likely to impair its effectiveness as a cohesive force in international relations. The Council shall ensure that these principles are complied with"? Is that merely elaborate language?

Mr. Hurd

rose

Mr. Marlow

Will my right hon. Friend forgive me? I shall have a go and then I am sure he can put me right.

Mr. Nicholas Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)

rose

Mr. Marlow

Hang on. Can we have a plastic number system so that we can follow one after the other?

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton has an important point. The Government are committing themselves to forswearing unanimity and going along with majority voting. They are committing themselves to being at the heart of Europe and to wanting a common foreign and security policy. That is the apple of the Government's eye; that is what they want and what they are committed to.

Mr. Budgen

rose

Mr. Marlow

First, I must give way to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. The extract that my hon. and learned Friend for Burton read out states: The Council shall ensure that these principles are complied with. How will the Council do it? Will it have a foreign policy police? What are the provisions to enable the Council to ensure that those activities are carried out? What provisions will ensure that The Member States shall support the Union's external and security policy actively and unreservedly in a spirit of mutual solidarity"? What will happen if we do not do so and if we do not sound enthusiastic? What will the Council do about it? [Interruption.]

Several hon. Members

rose

Mr. Hurd

rose

The Second Deputy Chairman

Order. Before anyone continues, there is an undercurrent of conversation and a running commentary from seated positions which I find unacceptable. Also, interventions are becoming longer and that is not acceptable either. They must be shorter and crisper.

Mr. Hurd

I shall intervene for the last time, as my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North has been very generous.

In reply to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton, those concepts of loyalty and support are for propositions that, by definition, we have already accepted.

Mr. Marlow

We have rehearsed those arguments. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary says that there is no pressure upon us to accept those common policies, but many of us believe that my right hon. Friend is keen to generate common policies, very keen that he should not appear to be obstructive and keen to be enthusiastically at the heart of Europe.

Mr. Budgen

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Marlow

How can I resist my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen)?

Mr. Budgen

Would my hon. Friend like to comment further on the Foreign Secretary's rather patronising remark aboue "elaborate language"? I dare say that in 1815 we might have been patronising about other European nations, but I wonder whether my hon. Friend takes the view that if the other nations of Europe use such elaborate language—[Interruption.]

The Second Deputy Chairman

Order. I remind hon. Members about my remarks on running commentaries and private conversations.

Mr. Budgen

Does my hon. Friend agree that if the nations of Europe use that elaborate language we must at least allow them the dignity of assuming that they know the language that they are using? We must not treat them in the way that some head boy of Eton would deal with a little boy who does not really know what he is saying.

Mr. Marlow

One of the problems with language, whether it is elaborate or not, is that the treaty is written in different languages in different countries and we are not sure whether it means the same thing in each country.

Mr. Bill Walker

When my hon. Friend is studying the article that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton (Sir. I. Lawrence) read out so clearly and to which the Foreign Secretary said that we were already committed, will he remind the Foreign Secretary that the commitment that we entered into under the Single European Act and the treaty of Rome largely concerned trade? Powers over trade were controlled in Europe. However, as about 80 per cent. of our foreign policy must come from trade, and as the treaty enforces the powers in such a way that it would allow the Community to act upon us, it is very worrying.

Mr. Marlow

As always, my hon. Friend makes his point in his own personal and convincing way.

I am also concerned about article J.1(2), which talks of safeguarding the independence of the union. What does that mean? What is the independence of the union? We are a group of nations that work together on foreign, agricultural and trade policy. Why does the treaty have to mention the union's independence? I would understand if it mentioned interdependence, but not independence.

8 pm

We, as a nation state—as the United Kingdom—are concerned about our independence. Does the treaty mean that the union looks upon itself as a nation state, and its independence must be secured? I do not think that that matter has been touched on or debated. When my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary winds up, I should be interested to know what is meant by safeguarding the independence of the union, as it is an important issue.

Mr. Cash

Does my hon. Friend know that a paper was submitted to the Conservative manifesto committee shortly before the decision was taken in which the words "independent sovereign states" appeared? Some 40 minutes later, a vote was taken and those words were deleted. I, of course, remonstrated and made the appropriate noises to those involved as I found it an extraordinary state of affairs—and one that I never understood. Now, as I look at the Maastricht treaty and its mention of the independence of the union, I can appreciate exactly what was going on.

Mr. Marlow

I hope that we shall hear more about the independence of the union and what it means, as it is important. The implications are significant, and we should know what they are.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary told us not to worry as we were merely discussing a pillar, and matters would be kept under control. He said that there was a double lock and European institutions would hardly be involved. Article J.5(3) states: The Commission shall be fully associated in these tasks. When we look at the earlier part of the article we find those tasks, which include representation of the foreign and defence policies of the union. Does that mean that President Delors, in his fast car, surrounded by a motorcade, will be driving around Europe telling us about European foreign and security policy? Will we see more delusions of grandeur from the jumped-up, tinpot Napoleon who currently runs the Commission?

Mr. Hurd

rose

Mr. Marlow

Just in time, my right hon. Friend has decided not to respond to that point.

Mr. Hurd

Because precisely the opposite is provided for under J.5(1) of the treaty, which is deliberately drafted to make it clear that the Commission does not have that role, which is somebody else's.

Mr. Marlow

The presidency certainly has it. The treaty also provides that where the presidency is involved, the Commission shall be fully associated. The Commission is involved not only in the representation, but in the implementation of the foreign and defence policies of the union. Does that mean that it has powers to ensure that the common policies, once agreed, will be applied? What are those powers? Who is giving them? How will they be organised? How will they be constrained?

Article J.6—which is not as significant as article J.5, but none the less is significant—begins:

The diplomatic and consularmissions of the Member States and the Commission". Apparently, the Commission has diplomatic and consularmissions. They are probably to deal with trade and agriculture, and they probably exist at present. However, we should ask whether they should exist and whether they need to exist.

As my right hon. Friend has said, the treaty provides for the presidency to front-up the operations and speak on behalf of everyone else. If the presidency is doing that, why does the Commission need to have all the legations and delegations scattered around the world? Is it because it is trying to build up its power and prestige within Europe? Does it want to build up its influence over and control of European institutions as a whole?

Article J.7 deals with the European Parliament—an institution which has not until now had much power, or a great role or influence within foreign policy, and certainly none within security policy. Article J.7 states: The Presidency shall consult the European Parliament". The Single European Act mentioned informing the European Parliament, but now we must consult it. Is "consult" a more elaborate word than "inform"? I am not sure. I rather take the view that if I consult someone, I ask his or her opinion. If I ask for an opinion and a bona fide opinion is given, I am honour bound to take account of that opinion. If I inform somebody, I just tell them whatever I am going to do and, whether the other person likes it or not, it will happen anyway. Consultation is different from informing.

The European Parliament will also have powers to question and debate, as we have in our Parliament. I am not sure whether, when we question and debate, we influence Ministers in the House, but let us assume that we do. If we have that power, the European Parliament, through the treaty, will gain that power over foreign and security or defence policy. That is not a marginal or trivial issue, as other institutions in the European Community will have massive powers that they did not previously have.

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn (Perth and Kinross)

If my hon. Friend does not know the difference between consult and inform, I shall tell him. If he came to me for a consultation, I would inform him to sit down, stay down and shut up.

Mr. Marlow

My hon. and learned Friend engages in the debate in his usual inimitable fashion—there is no more to say. He certainly would not get a fee for that advice, although he might try to charge one.

Article J.8(3) states: the Commission may refer to the Council any question relating to the common foreign and security policy and may submit proposals". The Commission can initiate, and it is present all the time with its agenda. We are going to elect the—I was going to say something rude—people to the Commission for eight years at a time, which is a long time.

When we consider the slush or cohesion fund, and the fact that southern Europeans want to get money out of the Commission, we realise that the small countries of the European Community are great supporters of the Commission. That is because they look on the Commission as their defender against the major states of Europe. The Commission has an immense amount of power, and is now to be allowed to make proposals on foreign and security policy. Does it sound as though the argument is coming in our direction and things are moving our way? Does it sound as though we are putting a check on the centralisers? It depends on how one considers the matter, but that is not my view.

Article J.9 states: The Commission shall be fully associated with the work carried out in the common foreign and security policy field. The difference between what is stated here and what was stated in the Single European Act is that, under the Act, the Commission was fully associated with common foreign policy, but not with security or defence. The ability to defend one's people, nation and country against outsiders is what nationality and sovereignty are about. Now, the Commission will have powers in that sphere. Is that marginal or small? Should we not worry about it? We are told that it will go away and that it does not matter. We are told that the Maastricht treaty is just a small matter designed to carry out some tiny tidying up of the Single European Act. It is nothing of the sort—it is massive, and it transfers powers to institutions which we have been wary of in the past and have every right—in fact, duty—to be wary of in future.

Sir Richard Body (Holland with Boston)

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is common knowledge in Brussels that the Commission never proposes anything unless it is assured of the support of the German Government in Bonn? Therefore, the same will inevitably apply over defence and security. Does my hon. Friend agree that we are to have a German foreign and defence policy, and the German interests will predominate, as is always the case in any sort of federal union where one member state is larger and more powerful than the others?

Mr. Marlow

I am keen to co-operate with other European nation states and other European countries within the European Community in terms of defence and foreign policies where we share common interests. There is nothing wrong with that, but I am concerned about the structure that we are handing to the centralisers and federalists of Europe.

Article 152 states' The Council may request the Commission to undertake studies…and…submit…proposals. The Council is there, and, if anything needs to be done in

regard to foreign and security policy, its secretariat can act. Under article 152, however, the Commission can also be involved: it can act as a civil service. Responsibility is moving from the secretariat to the Commission. When we return to the matter in 1996, no doubt it will have completed that movement: the secretariat will have faded out, and everything will be decided by the Commission. Slowly, slowly—or, perhaps, not so slowly—catchee monkey.

Mr. Cash

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Marlow

In a moment.

Mr. Cash

It is about the Commission.

Mr. Marlow

It is all about the Commission, is it not? According to article 153, the opinions of the Commission shall be taken into account when the rules of procedure are being adopted. This is "committology": the Commission must be asked how it wants matters to be organised and run—in preparation, no doubt, for 1998, when the Commission will push the secretariat to one side. The Commission will be involved in everything; everywhere it will have the opportunity to devise matters in its own interests—in the interests of control from the centre, and in the interests of a federal Europe.

Mr. Cash

Has my hon. Friend noted article 228a, which states: The Council shall act by a qualified majority on a proposal from the Commission"? Does he appreciate something that is hidden away in the body of the treaty, and not contained in article J? Article 228a also states: Where it is provided, in a common position or in a joint action adopted according to the provisions of the Treaty…relating to the common foreign and security policy, for an action by the Community to interrupt or to reduce, in part or completely, economic relations with one or more third countries, the Council shall take the necessary urgent measures. The Council shall act by a qualified majority on a proposal from the Commission. I am sure my hon. Friend will agree that, when we get into the business of economic relations, not only has the Commission the power of initiation and of making the proposal; action on that proposal is to be taken by qualified majority. This is relevant to the aftermath of the Gulf war, the question of South African sanctions and many other matters. We are bang slap in the middle of an arrangement that allows the Commission the right of proposal, initiative and qualified majority voting. I should like to see the Foreign Secretary or his Minister get out of that one.

Mr. Marlow

I shall not follow my hon. Friend in trying to trap my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, but I shall give way to my right hon. Friend if he wishes to intervene.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones)

Will my hon. Friend confirm what has been said by many other hon. Members —that a common position can be arrived at only by unanimity?

Mr. Marlow

For reasons that I understand, my right hon. Friend has not been present for all the debate; but we have been around that track several times. I am sure that he will have an opportunity to read the Official Report, and to note that copious answers have been given to the point that he has raised. I am not surprised that he has raised it, for it is about the only strong point that the Government seem to have raised today.

Article 147 is a nice, interesting little article. Which is more important, Dame Janet—the Council or the Commission? I know that you think the Council is more important, but you have been caught out: you are not right. Article 147 states that the Council can be convened by the Commission. If the Commission feels that it wants to present a proposal or take an initiative, it can convene the Council. In that event, my right hon. Friend the Minister of State would have to take his feet off the table, catch a taxi and then an aeroplane and go over to Brussels, because the Council had told him that he must be there. That is what the independence of this country is coming down to. Our foreign policy, our defence policy and our Ministers will be at the beck and call of Mr. Delors and Mr. van den Broek, the Commissioners in Europe.

What have we got? Nothing. Supposedly it is all minor —all small stuff, small fry; it will have no effect. Supposedly we are winning the argument, yet the Commission can summon my right hon. Friend the Minister. It can represent European foreign and security policy, and implement that policy. It has consular missions throughout the world. The European Parliament will be consulted. The Parliament will be able to set up committees of inquiry under article 138c, which gives it the power to do so. If we send troops to the Falkland Islands or do something in Hong Kong, there will be some wretched inquiry in Brussels or Strasbourg to ask why, and my right hon. Friend the Minister will have to traipse meekly across to answer questions in the European Parliament.

8.15 pm
Mr. Budgen

Does my hon. Friend agree that the language that the Foreign Secretary dismisses so grandly as merely the elaborate language of degenerate European nations could be used against us in a thoroughly damaging way, because of the active role of the European Court? We are very fortunate in having a Minister of State who is a great supporter of the European Court, because it is a political court. In the way that we expect of the Whips office, the Minister believes that anything that is in his favour must be constitutionally correct. He sees the European Court as a good political court, because it supports his view. If, on the other hand, the European Court happened to disagree with the Minister, we might find that it all worked very much to our disadvantage.

Mr. Marlow

My hon. Friend has made his point. He is a lawyer. I am very fond of my right hon. Friend the Minister—

Mr. Garel-Jones

rose

Mr. Marlow

As I am so fond of my right hon. Friend, I shall allow him to intervene.

Mr. Garel-Jones

Perhaps my hon. Friend will do the Committee a favour. No doubt he can answer my question: it has been referred to by our hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen), whose quotation is bound to be accurate. At what point did my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary use the phrase "the elaborate language of degenerate nation states"?

Mr. Budgen

He did not; he used the word "elaborate".

Mr. Marlow

I think that the word that my hon. Friend is playing with is "elaborate". That is the word used by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. I am afraid that I cannot remember everything that my right hon. Friend said; I know that it was all very good stuff, and convincing, but I was not convinced.

Mr. Garel-Jones

I assume that my hon. Friend is confirming that our hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West quoted our right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary inaccurately.

Mr. Marlow

I regret that I am unable to do so, as is my right hon. Friend the Minister. I cannot remember everything that has taken place, and my right hon. Friend has not been present throughout the debate. We are both in a certain amount of difficulty.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Marlow

Yes, for the last time.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

Before my hon. Friend stops talking about the European Court, may I ask whether he was in the House the other day when our right hon. Friend the Minister of State asked when the court last passed a centralising judgment—made a centralising decision? There was a bit of difficulty in answering the question, but that difficulty has now been resolved. Yesterday, the European Court decided, against the national interests of this nation state, that there shall be an equality of pension date. That is totally consistent with European Community policy for the equalisation of retirement date between men and women, and totally against the policy followed by consecutive Governments in this country. Perhaps my hon. Friend will be good enough to ask our mutual and charming right hon. Friend what is now his response to that point, which he raised himself the other day.

Mr. Marlow

My hon. and learned Friend is being a little mischievous. There is a solution in article 3b of the treaty, which deals with subsidiarity. The treaty has not been ratified yet; when it has been ratified, my right hon. Friend will go to the court, taking a copy of the treaty, and will draw a big red line under article 3b. Once the court is appraised of subsidiarity, it will all be all right: all these decisions will be rescinded, and will be given back to national Governments. If my right hon. Friend believes that, he believes in fairies.

We have had a lot of fun. I am sure that everyone has exaggerated the position, as we always do in these debates. The difference of opinion between the Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Minister of State and a lot of my colleagues and me is that we view the treaty in a slightly different way. The Government had no alternative but to sign the treaty. They want to be at the heart of Europe.

Having signed the treaty, the Government are obliged to defend every jot and tittle, every dot and comma of the treaty; otherwise we shall not be at the heart of Europe.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

Otherwise, we shall lose influence.

Mr. Marlow

Yes, otherwise we shall lose influence. The Government have to support that which they signed. Although the world has changed, although the treaty was signed 15 months ago, athough the needs of Europe are different now, although the Danes have said no, although the French jolly well nearly said no, although the Germans have not ratified the treaty, although there are problems in eastern Europe and Russia and although we live in a different world, we still, apparently, have got to support this nonsense.

The Government base their case on trust. If we sign and ratify the treaty, it isn't going to happen: don't worry, boys; don't worry about these details; don't worry about the legislation—they won't do it, they can't do it, they haven't done it in the past. Haven't they? What happened with the Single European Act? Is this not an echo, a ghost from 1986 when we were told precisely the same—it doesn't matter, it won't happen? But it did. If we ratify the treaty now, precisely the same will happen again. Look at the text; look at the detail. Put not trust in Jacques Delors, the Commissioner. To do so will mean that we shall be defied and disappointed.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made a speech yesterday in which he talked of people having had a dream of society that had inspired many good and clever people. This treaty, I am sure, is a dream that has inspired many good and clever people, but, as he said, as that dream was impossible it led quickly and inevitably to tyranny. And that is what we must avoid.

Mr. Gapes

I shall avoid the temptation to follow the remarks of the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow). All I would say is that, just because one is paranoid, it does not mean that they are not out to get us. Unfortunately, we have strayed away from the important issues relating to European security, a matter that should feature in our discussions on this part of the Maastricht treaty.

Yesterday, the Clinton Administration announced that it is to reduce the number of its troops in western Europe to 100,000–50,000 fewer than the figure which the Bush Administration had planned. The implications for the future defence and security of Europe are significant. It could be the precursor of further reductions.

In the light of those troop reductions and of the changes in France after the election of a right-wing nationalist Government, we have to consider the implications for the relationship between NATO, the Western European Union and the European Community and the other institutions of European security and defence.

In the spring of 1991, before the Maastricht treaty was adopted, there was controversy about the positions taken by the French Government and the British Government concerning the relationship between the Western European Union, the European Community and NATO. The Foreign Secretary had discussions with his then Italian counterpart, Mr. de Michelis, who now has other things to occupy his time. Six months later, on 4 October, they came up with a joint declaration. Before that, we were told that there was no way in which the British Government would allow the European Community to have a defence component and that defence and security were to be kept separate. Just as the "F" word was not going to appear, the "D" word also would not appear in the treaty.

The Anglo-Italian paper, published in October 1991, included the following interesting paragraph, paragraph 8. It said that the WEU should be entrusted with the task of developing the European dimension in the field of defence. It will develop its role in two complementary directions: as the defence components of the Union and as the means to strengthen the European pillar of the Alliance"— that is, of NATO.

That was not sufficient for the French. There was quite a lot of controversy. I refer to a report published in The Independent on 30 October 1991 in which the then French Foreign Minister, Mr. Dumas, said that there were clear differences between the British and French Governments.

He said: We talk about the common defence of Europe for Europeans and by Europeans, whereas the British talk about the politics of common defence. It is quite obvious that the Atlantic alliance is at the moment the primary instrument of defence, but that does not prevent the Europeans from thinking about the future of their own security in Europe and for Europe. In the same article, our Foreign Secretary was quoted as saying: We have been trying to probe on this, various answers have been given, but more probing is needed. The probing went on for a few more weeks. Eventually we came to the position that was adopted in the Maastricht treaty, which has already been quoted extensively. I do not intend to quote the whole of it again. If, however, we compare the Maastricht treaty with what was said in May last year when we debated the Queen's Speech, we find that the Queen's Speech said that the Government will aim to develop the Western European Union as a means of strengthening the European pillar of the Alliance and the defence component of the European union. I stress the words "defence component".

According to article J.4 of the Maastricht treaty, paragraph 1 says: The common foreign and security policy shall include all questions related to the security of the Union, including the eventual framing of a common defence policy, which might in time lead to a common defence. It does not refer to a defence component; it refers to a common defence. The Prime Minister, speaking in the debate on the Queen's Speech, said: Increasingly, countries that join the European Community will also join the Western European Union, as the European pillar of a common defence effort; but, if the need ever again arose, it would be through NATO that the members of the WEU would defend themselves. Any European country joining the WEU will still look to NATO —including the American presence in Europe—for its defence."—[Official Report, 6 May 1992; Vol. 207, c. 50–73.] There are significant differences between the positions outlined in article J.4 of the Maastricht treaty, the Queen's Speech, the Prime Minister's remarks in May of last year and the position of some important western European countries, including the previous French Government. I have no reason to believe that the new French Government, when formed, will be any more Atlanticist or sympathetic towards an Atlanticist approach than their predecessor.

The other interesting point to note is that the result of the referendum in Denmark led to the conclusions adopted at the Edinburgh meeting on 12 December 1992. In the section on the decision of the Heads of State and Government concerning certain problems raised by Denmark on the treaty of European union, the so-called Danish decision, section C includes the following interesting formulation: The Heads of State and Government note that, in response to the invitation from the Western European Union (WEU), Denmark has become an observer to that organisation. They also note that nothing in the Treaty on European Union commits Denmark to become a member of the WEU. Accordingly, Denmark does not participate in the elaboration and the implementation of decisions and actions of the Union which have defence implications, but will not prevent the development of a closer co-operation between Member States in this area. 8.30 pm

That raises some interesting questions. What will happen in 1995—it is hoped that it will be in 1995—if Austria, Sweden and Finland, which are neutral countries and not in the WEU, or in NATO, unlike Denmark, join the European Community? Will they wish to and be allowed to join the WEU? If they do not, what will be their position in relation to their status with regard to the European Council when it discusses with whichever country holds the presidency at that time these questions related to foreign security policies?

I have looked very closely at what has been said in recent months by our Government and some other Governments and I am not at all clear as to what that position will be. Perhaps nobody is clear about it. It could be that the reason that they are not clear is that we know that another intergovernmental conference is to be held in 1996. We also know that the 1948 Brussels treaty which established the Western European Union runs out in 1998, after 50 years. Therefore, there is a very uncertain period in the run-up to the intergovernmental conference of 1996 and in relation to what will happen to the WEU in 1998: its relationship to the European ministerial Council and to the European Commission, and, through them, to the Community as a whole.

Mr. Simon Burns (Chelmsford)

It is clear that the hon. Gentleman has looked very carefully into this matter. Does he agree with me that the speech that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made in Berlin in December 1990 is crucial? Would he comment on the points made in that speech, which are particularly germane to the point that he is discussing now?

Mr. Gapes

Unfortunately, I do not have with me a copy of the Foreign Secretary's speech in 1990. I have some other documents, but I did not bring the whole library into the Chamber. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman could help me with that.

Mr. Burns

I would assume that, given that the hon. Gentleman is making his speech about the future of the WEU, he would be familiar with my right hon. Friend's speech, in which he discussed the revitalisation of the WEU. Given the hon. Gentleman's interest in and knowledge of the matter, does he agree with my right hon. Friend's thesis?

Mr. Gapes

I am grateful for that clarification. The concept of the revitalisation of the WEU goes back virtually to when it was stillborn at its inception. I can recall the declaration by Genscher, who was then the German Foreign Minister, with the French Foreign Minister of that time, 1984, about revitalisation. There was also the first ever ministerial meeting of defence Ministers, which I believe that the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) attended on occasion. The concept of the revitalisation of the WEU is something that many politicians in many different countries have talked about.

The problem with the WEU is that it is a bit like a character from a Pirandello play—it is an organisation seeking a role. It may be that in the Maastricht treaty it has now found a role as a bridge between it and NATO, or, in the French conception, as potentially a replacement for the Atlantic alliance.

Mr. Spearing

I am grateful to my hon. Friend because he is using his expertise most excellently in analysing the matter, irrespective of the point of view. I have just received an answer from the Minister of State to a question that I put down today relating to the position of Denmark. I asked which articles of title V were excluded by the Edinburgh decision and he says: The position of Denmark agreed at Edinburgh clarifies, though it does not alter, either the text of the treaty of European union or the obligations taken on by those who ratify the treaty. That applies to title V of the treaty as it does to other provisions. At Edinburgh, Heads of Government noted that Denmark does not participate in the elaboration and implementation of decisions and actions of the union which have defence implications. That may help my hon. Friend. The point is that the obligations are the same even if they do not participate.

Mr. Gapes

I suspect that my hon. Friend is correct in that assessment; no doubt the Minister will intervene if he is not.

Mr. Burns

Given that the hon. Gentleman was commenting on past experiments to try to revitalise the WEU, and given that my right hon. Friend's speech in Berlin in December 1990 put forward a number of options for revitalising the organisation, I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman could tell us which of those options he thinks would not be capable of bringing about the revitalisation that he is discussing.

Mr. Gapes

I will come later in my contribution to my own prescriptions in my own time.

I want to draw attention to the question of enlargement, because it seems to me that there are clearly significant problems if neutrality is seen as being defined in the old way of east-west politics. The previous Swedish Government—and this is taken further by the present Swedish Government—have said that since the cold war is over and the Warsaw pact no longer exists, what have they to be neutral against?

As my hon. Friend the Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Mandelson) said earlier, some of us were concerned that enlargement might be stopped because of too rapid a move towards consideration of the questions of common defence and the relationship of the European Community with the Western European Union. Clearly, since the events of November 1989, that has changed. It is now clear that, for the Austrians, the Swedes and, probably, the Finns, just as currently for the Irish, it is no longer an obstacle to their membership of the Community, even to membership of the Community with this close relationship to the WEU.

However, other difficulties could arise, not with European countries, but with the United States.

Mr. Rowlands

As I understand it—I think it was from evidence that the Minister of State and his officials gave to the Select Committee quite recently—no applicant will have the right to derogate, or even to strike the Danish deal, when it applies to join; it will have to accept every obligation under the treaty as it stands.

Mr. Gapes

That is what we were told. It remains to be seen what happens in the negotiations on the detail of the particular countries when they come to join the Community. None of us can predict what will happen over the next two or three years.

Mr. Garel-Jones

Sometimes there is confusion in the minds of hon. Gentlemen as to the difference between a security policy and a defence policy. According to the union treaty, the union does not have a defence policy; it has a security policy and therefore there is no incompatibility with a neutral country assuming the full Maastricht acquis, while remaining neutral. That is perfectly clear.

Mr. Gapes

I am grateful to the Minister for his intervention, although I draw attention to paragraph 1 of article J.4, which talks about the eventual framing of a common defence policy which might lead in time to a common defence. The phrase "might in time" is an interesting concept, but it is in the treaty. Despite the negotiations and the Government saying that they would not allow defence to be included in Maastricht, nevertheless it is there. Perhaps the Minister could explain why.

Mr. Garel-Jones

It will not surprise the hon. Gentleman, who is knowledgeable about these matters, that those words were carefully chosen, and the Government were party to including them in the treaty. If the hon. Gentleman reads them with great care, as I am sure he has, he will see that I am correct in saying that there is no defence component to the union treaty.

Mr. Gapes

I assure the Minister that I have read the words with care. I should be grateful if I could now develop the rest of my argument.

Mr. Macdonald

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I draw the Minister's attention to paragraph 2 of article J.4, which states: The Union requests the Western European Union which is an integral part of the development of the Union, to elaborate and implement decisions and actions of the Union which have defence implications. So the Western European Union is an integral part of European union.

Mr. Gapes

I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention and give way to the Minister.

Mr. Garel-Jones

In seeking to be helpful to the Commmittee, the hon. Gentleman read out the word "requests," which was also a very carefully chosen word. It does not say "instructs"; it says "requests". The Western European Union is free standing from the union.

Mr. Spearing

It is an integral part of it.

Mr. Gapes

I agree with my hon. Friend. I move on to other concerns.

The American Administration, for budget reasons and because of domestic pressures, will be looking to reduce military spending in those places where there are no members of Congress protecting defence plants and contracts in their own states. It will be looking to make reductions in those parts of the world where they will cause the least possible damage to the United States' internal political consensus. It is therefore quite likely that there will be further reductions in the American military presence in Europe in future.

Britain and other members of the European Community should take care in the debate leading up to the intergovernmental conference in 1996 and the one in 1998 on the future of the Western European Union not to send the wrong signals to the American people and Administration. It would be short-sighted of us if, by our own actions, we precipitated an unnecessarily hasty American withdrawal from Europe.

I do not believe that that is the policy of the current American Administration; it was not the policy of the previous one. The reappointment of Mr. Seitz as the American ambassador is to be welcomed as he clearly understands Britain and British politics and will convey accurate messages to his Government, unlike some of his predecessors.

In discussing the role of the Western European Union as a putative defence component or defence arm of the European Community, we need to be careful that we are not signalling that we are ready for the Americans to withdraw from Europe.

8.45 pm
Dr. Liam Fox (Woodspring)

Given that the hon. Gentleman is so worried about defence and about sending the wrong signal to the United States, why at the Labour conference did his party continually call for cuts in defence spending? Most recently in the House, the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Dr. Jones) and many of her colleagues were telling the House to cut £7 billion from defence.

Mr. Gapes

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the excellent speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell, North (Dr. Reid) some weeks ago in which he made clear the position of the Labour party and pointed out that the cuts being being planned by the present Government and the trend for future years would be in line with the policy that was voted by recent Labour party conference. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman addresses his remarks to defence Ministers rather than to me.

I believe that we need to ensure that western Europe does not give another wrong signal through EuroGaullism. There is a danger that the French and British nuclear weapons and their continued development could be perceived as an obstacle to further nuclear arms reductions in the United States, Russia and other countries.

It is regrettable that the British Government have not done more to persuade the Ukrainians to ratify the START 1 and START 2 treaties and to move towards the elimination of the nuclear weapons on their territory. Clearly there are financial reasons; the Ukrainians have no money and are asking for western financial support. The recent visit by President Kravchuk led to certain undertakings and commitments, but what will be more important in terms of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and its review conference in 1995 will be a firm commitment by Britain to join Russia, France and the United States in a nuclear weapons test moritorium as was called for by my right hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham).

Today the campaign has been launched for a test ban and I hope that the House will have a chance to vote for a British nuclear test ban so that we can join the other countries that want to establish a comprehensive test ban treaty. That would be the best possible way to guarantee the continuation of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and the implementation of article 6 of that treaty under which the states with nuclear weapons pledge to act in good faith to secure real measures towards nuclear disarmament.

Our past contributions in global strategic and tactical terms were small, but as the Russian and American arsenal are cut the British and French represent a larger proportion of a smaller total. Therefore, we are potentially important players in negotiations if we choose to be so. If we send the wrong signals, we shall be an impediment to further progress, but if we work for further negotiated and verified disarmament, our role will be crucial to the future not only of our continent but of the whole human race.

Reference has been made in the debate to the role of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. It is interesting that the Maastricht treaty refers to that. I suspect, although I was not a party to the discussions, that the wording in the treaty has far more to do with trying to assuage German concerns about Germany not being a member of the Security Council and with Germany not feeling that it is being given the involvement internationally that its economic and political strength warrants than it has to do with the conspiracy theories about President Delors, about which we heard so much earlier this evening.

Mr. Corbyn

While my hon. Friend is on the subject of the permanent membership of the Security Council of the United Nations, does he not think that this is a good time to put forward proposals for reform of the United Nations so that that body more properly reflects the world's population and its make up and the lack of Security Council permanent representatives from Africa and Latin America?

The Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Michael Morris)

Order. I do not think that we can reform the United Nations under this amendment this evening.

Mr. Gapes

I agree with my hon. Friend, Mr Morris, but I will not give in to the temptation to stray into that area.

We need to look at Europe's role in the world collectively. Those people who are opposed to a common foreign and security policy have to answer one question: what is their alternative? Is their alternative, as it seems to be with other opponents of the process of European integration, a return to what has been called national sovereignty? Is national sovereignty in defence, security and international relations something which, when we look back over the centuries of the history of this continent, has brought us lasting peace, harmony, friendship and co-operation? Did it bring us that in the hundred years war, in the thirty years war, in the Franco-German war, in the Crimean war, in world war one or world war two?

The arguments for a common foreign and security policy, based on working out a consensus position among the major economic, political and military countries in this continent, are unanswerable.

Mr. Winnick

Is there not a danger of my hon. Friend lightly dismissing the concept of national sovereignty? I am not aware that we have any mandate to do away with national sovereignty or that it is the wish of the people of this country to do anything of the kind. To try to avoid the tragedies that have occurred, and none more so than in the 20th century, in Europe, is it not necessary to make a distinction between co-operation and the federal concept which my hon. Friend seems to be aiming for, where we would not be in a position to decide our own policy?

I remind my hon. Friend of what happened in 1991 over the invasion of Kuwait and the way in which this country and the United States acted decisively against criminal aggression but there was not as much response from the other countries of the Community—at least not from the majority of them.

Mr. Gapes

There is some truth in what my hon. Friend has just said about 1991 but I do not believe that the concept of national sovereignty, as it has been espoused by some hon. Members today, could bring about the kind of international action against aggression that my hon. Friend and I both supported in 1991. The problem with those people who take what I regard as a narrow-minded nationalist opposition to all things European and to all things concerning the European Community and who try to cloak themselves in the phrase of national sovereignty is that they fail to explain how this nationalist position would add to the security of this country. In a world with nuclear weapons, in a world of aircraft, with international environmental disasters and diseases, how on earth can we, on our own, deal with those problems? Some people, it seems, believe that because we are an island—but I gather from Government policy not for long—we will be able to be immune from events in other countries.

The strength of political and economic co-operation in Europe will require co-operation on the security level as well, in the widest sense. By "security", I do not just mean defence. Defence is an important component of security, but we have also to take account of the economic, political, social and environmental aspects of security for our country and our people.

Reference has been made to federalism. I am not a federalist. I believe that the kind of Europe we are creating is a mixture between the confederal and federal. The institution has some federal aspects. I regret that, where we do not have more intergovernmental co-operation, there is a democratic deficit.

I am worried that some aspects of the common foreign and security policy and the home policy are being developed in such a way that there is neither effective scrutiny by nor accountability to the House of Commons nor to the European Parliament. In time it is inevitable that the European Parliament will demand—and I support this—more and more control over decisions taken in the collective name of the European union.

If we believe in true democratic accountability in our Governments, whether it is nationally or internationally, we should support such developments. The House does itself a disservice by not recognising that the European Parliament is an ally rather than an enemy in exercising democratic control over the executives, the civil servants and the Government Ministers. For those reasons, I support the Maastricht treaty, although in my view it is inadequate in the respects to which I have referred.

Mr. Corbyn

My concerns surrounding the foreign policy section of the Maastricht treaty are that I believe that the proposals with which we are presented are designed to enhance the power of the European Commission over the powers of the individual member states without any concurrent increase in the democratic accountability of those organisations. The reason that I make that assertion is that the proposals put forward envisage the establishment of a sort of shadow agency that will be able to make proposals on foreign policy, as has been said today, and that additionally there is no increase in reality in the power of the European Parliament to have any say in what those proposals are, or to call to account the civil servants who will be making those proposals. So there is a transfer of power away from national parliaments towards the European Commission without any consequent increase in democratic accountability.

Mr. Macdonald

While I do not agree with my hon. Friend's interpretation of the treaty, I accept that the Foreign Secretary underplayed its significance, considering, for example, that title I says in article B that the United Kingdom shall be committed to assert its identity on the international scene, in particular through the implementation of a common foreign and security policy including the eventual framing of a common defence policy". That obligation to frame a common defence policy goes far beyond the sorts of co-operation between international bodies and states to which the Foreign Secretary referred.

9 pm

Mr. Corbyn

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention, which underlines the fact that we are moving towards a common European defence and foreign policy. That being so, one must ask who proposes it, who controls it and what it is for—[Interruption.] I have asked that question of my Front Bench—[Interruption.]

The Chairman

Order. If hon. Members do not wish to listen to the hon. Member who has the Floor, I suggest that they stay quiet or leave the Chamber if they want to have a conversation. I wish to hear the hon. Member.

Mr. Corbyn

Thank you, Mr. Morris.

I have expressed some concerns because we live in an era in which, thankfully, the cold war is at an end. Some of us were not particularly enamoured of the cold war, anyway. We now believe that the military expenditure and arms race involved in the cold war resulted in, among other things, massive budget deficits in the United States and the destruction of the Soviet Union.

In the development of the idea of a common European foreign and defence policy, the obvious question is, against whom are we defending western Europe? Where is the external threat, and who is the enemy? I intervened in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) who, speaking for the official Opposition, said that the enemy was the instability in the former Soviet Union, in the former Yugoslavia and in the middle east. Obviously, there is serious instability in those areas.

We cannot deal with the instability in the middle east by pouring arms into every sheikhdom and country in the region and so increase tension, any more than the deployment of large numbers of troops in the former Yugoslavia, awful though the situation is there, will necessarily bring about the resolution of that conflict. So what are all the forces for and what is the purpose behind what we are doing?

Mr. Geoffrey Dickens (Littleborough and Saddleworth)

How could anyone have foreseen the Falklands conflict or the fact that Iraq would invade Kuwait? Such things happen out of the blue, meaning that we must have the protective shield of NATO around us. It would be easy to give in to the hon. Gentleman's argument, but our nation would be left vulnerable, and that would be stupid.

Mr. Corbyn

That was an interesting intervention, because neither event to which the hon. Gentleman referred was within the NATO sphere of influence—nor, we are told, was undertaken by NATO. The hon. Gentleman may not be aware that the Falkland Islands are in the southern hemisphere, whereas the NATO sphere of influence is restricted to the northern hemisphere, north of the tropics, and the territory of member states and their dependencies. The invasion of Kuwait by Iraq was without the NATO sphere of influence, although the hon. Gentleman is on a fair point in that the NATO command structure and intelligence network were used to support the Gulf war effort.

I did not support either of those wars. Indeed, I was active in opposing both, and the subsequent chaos in the middle east, with the poverty and hunger there, hardly testifies to the success of the operation, in which 300,000 people died, or the huge expenditure by the British Exchequer on the Falkland Islands. At some stage, somebody will have to grasp the nettle and decide that such a level of military expenditure is not peace but a long-term armed truce that drains us all of our resources.

I believe that a common European defence and foreign policy will lead to further arms expenditure and the proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear know-how. We should take such issues extremely seriously. Title V states that the objective of such a policy shall be to safeguard the common values, fundamental interests and independence of the Union". What exactly does that mean? Do the "fundamental interests" refer to what is happening in the south Atlantic or to some perceived external threat from a non-member state such as Scandinavia, north Africa or Iceland?

Do they refer to the preservation of what I believe is an extremely unjust world economic order? That is where the development of a common foreign and defence policy will lead to more wars like the Gulf war, which is, happily, behind us, although the peace has yet to come to the people of that region. It will also lead to further interventions in third-world countries which attempt to assert their economic independence from an unfair world economic order. In other words, the north-south element of the agenda must be examined seriously.

It is also important to examine how foreign policy decisions are made. There are many imperfections in the workings of the British constitution: we do not live in a democracy, we do not have an elected head of state or an elected upper Chamber, and we do not have an accountable judiciary. We have only an elected House of Commons, in which the Prime Minister can use the royal prerogative virtually to pass legislation. Indeed, the Government were legally advised that the Maastricht treaty could be passed in that way.

However, there is some accountability for what the Executive are doing in terms of foreign and defence policy. Under the Maastricht treaty, with a common foreign and defence policy, that accountability will not exist. It will not exist in the European Parliament, which can question but not call to account. It will not exist here, because we shall always be told that policy is being made somewhere else.

Article J.1(2) talks of safeguarding the common values, fundamental interests and independence of the Union", but what does it mean? What are the common values which it is attempting to defend and which the security policy is attempting to underpin? Why is it trying to strengthen the union of the member states? What is the purpose of the various paragraphs of article J.1?

The proposals in article J.1 represent a departure from the usual foreign policy-making and a move towards something new. Article J.1(4) states: The Member States shall support the Union's external security policy actively and unreservedly in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity. They shall refrain from any action which is contrary to the interests of the Union or likely to impair its effectiveness as a cohesive force in international relations. The Council shall ensure that these principles are complied with. That paragraph raises a number of serious questions, and some examples spring to mind.

Earlier today, we talked about what I believe was the premature recognition of Croatia by Germany. It was not an objective foreign policy decision, but a quid pro quo for support for the exchange rate value of the pound against the deutschmark within the ERM. It was also part of a buy-off to enable Britain to opt out of the social chapter at a later stage.

The French have a predilection for military involvement in certain west African countries, on the basis that they have an inalienable right to decide who should be in government in francophone countries. To what extent would we be dragged into approving and supporting such acts? When questioned about that, the Foreign Secretary seems to want to have it both ways. He says that we can undertake these as independent acts, but not in concert with the rest of western Europe. These are serious questions. What is the purpose of this part of the treaty, if it is not to drag us into some kind of unified foreign policy, and therefore a series of military adventures?

The same applies to the foreign policy and constitutional position of individual member states. Ireland voted in a referendum to support the Maastricht treaty. In my view, it did so mistakenly, but that was its right. The Irish people had an opportunity at least to vote on the treaty as a whole. Maastricht undermines fundamentally the principle of neutrality enshrined in the Irish constitution—just as, in my view, it undermines the non-nuclear, or anti-nuclear, parts of Danish foreign policy and the constitution of Denmark. These issues have to be dealt with seriously.

We are told that everything is underpinned by the principle of unanimity in the Council of Ministers in respect of proposals received from the Commission. I am not sure that it is. The article says that, where there is agreement, there can be majority voting. Let me pose a hypothetical case. If the Commission had proposed, and the Council of Ministers had agreed, that Kuwait should be given support to deal with its problems with Iraq, and if decisions had been made by majority voting, the conduct of that conflict would have been in the hands of a majority in the Council of Ministers, which could have imposed on member states decisions with which they did not agree.

I did not agree with the Gulf war, but I have to say that the proposition I have just posed would have resulted in the dragging of member states and their troops into a conflict over which they no longer had any individual control.

Mr. Dickens

Surely the attack on Iraq was mounted by the United Nations Security Council, and had nothing at all to do with the European Community or NATO. The hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong.

Mr. Corbyn

It was not mounted by the Security Council. The United Nations called upon Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait, but at no stage were the forces in the Gulf region under United Nations command. Indeed, under the terms of the United States constitution, troops of that country may not go into conflict other than under the control of its commander-in-chief, who is the President.

Let me return to the question of majority voting and the effect that it would have on particular defence and foreign policy initiatives. The Foreign Secretary has heard my comments. If he wishes to intervene, I shall happily give way to enable him to clarify the implications.

Mr. Hurd

Under the treaty, defence policy would not be a matter for this process. It would be a matter, if anything, for the WEU as the defence component of the union.

Mr. Corbyn

So the Western European Union would make decisions about the operation of defence policy. But what about the accountability of forces during the operation of any specific conflict? There must be some very clear control in this field, just as there has to be clear control in the promotion of a common defence or foreign policy.

Article J.2 says: Member states shall … consult one another within the Council on any matter of foreign or security policy of general interest in order to ensure that their combined influence is exerted as effectively as possible by means of concerted and convergence action. Whenever it deems necessary, the Council shall define a common position. It then says: Member states shall ensure that their national policies conform to the common positions. I come back to the examples of the way in which Germany recognised Croatia, the way in which France operates in west Africa, the way in which the British Government operated in the case of the Falklands or the way in which the British Government are so closely tied to the interests of the United States militarily and as a whole. Any person who is seriously concerned about the democratic accountability of institutions and about bringing peace and disarmament to the world ought to be worried by the proposals in this section of the proposed treaty.

9.15 pm

It also has serious implications for membership of the United Nations. I made an intervention earlier in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Gapes) about membership of the Security Council; Mr. Morris rightly called me to order because I was going wide of the treaty. There is an important point involved, in that it puts obligations on the two permanent members of the Security Council from western Europe—Britain and France—who have to represent the interests of the western European community as a whole rather than their own individual interests. When there is a conflict, how are those representations to be made?

I come back to the example of the Falklands. There was not agreement throughout western Europe on the attitude of Britain. Sometimes there were abstentions; sometimes no statement was made. How can a member of the Security Council represent two conflicting points of view? Is precedence to be given to the national interest or to the western European interest? These are serious practical problems.

Sir Teddy Taylor

Following the interesting intervention of the Foreign Secretary about the role of the Western European Union, can the hon. Gentleman, perhaps with the help of Ministers, clarify the significance of this simple statement on page 133 of the treaty: in order to facilitate the strengthening of WEU's role, the seat of the WEU Council and Secretariat will be transferred to Brussels. How does the hon. Gentleman think that that will strengthen or facilitate the role of the WEU? Can the Government explain how the WEU will become stronger or more significant simply by moving to Brussels?

Mr. Corbyn

If it is transferred to Brussels, presumably it will be handier for the NATO headquarters and also for the offices of the European Parliament; perhaps more importantly, it will be handier for the Commission itself. The hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) and I may disagree fundamentally on many aspects of foreign policy, but I think that we would both agree on the need for genuine and real accountability for what is done in our name. Transferring power to the Commission or to the Western European Union would not achieve that accountability.

I note that accountability is not transferred to the European Parliament or retained in this Parliament. It just goes off to some place in the middle, and the Commission gets on with what it wishes to do. There are serious problems with that aspect of the treaty.

I should like to mention briefly the curious notion under article J.8.5, which says: Without prejudice to Article 151 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, a Political Committee consisting of Political Directors shall monitor the international situation in the areas covered by common foreign and security policy and contribute to the definition of policies by delivering opinions to the Council". It seems that we are revisiting the whole argument about a European central bank. Many of us have the deepest misgivings about the establishment of such a bank, with no accountability to member states and an office life of eight years, in which it can do what it likes, provided that it supports the market economy throughout Europe, despite the social consequences. There is no time limit on the period of office of the political directors, and there is nothing about who they would be or where they would come from. But I ask the quite serious question: what on earth are these political directors to do, where do they come from, to whom are they answerable and how do we get rid of them if we do not like what they do?

Mr. Spearing

The questions and their answers illustrate the importance of either getting a reply from the Foreign Secretary before we vote on this matter or perhaps returning to the matter at another stage of the Bill. Can I remind my hon. Friend that, earlier in the debate, the Foreign Secretary said that this directorate and committee was, as it were an extension of the intergovernmental function of the Council, as distinct from, not the opponents but the other wing within the Commission? In that sense, he may be right in seeing a competition between the centralist Commission and the centralist intergovernmental institution. But in either case my hon. Friend is right. They are both central and may be bidding against each other.

Mr. Corbyn

I am not entirely sure how it benefits the people of Europe—

Mr. Robert G. Hughes (Harrow, West)

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 be made:

The Committee divided: Ayes 59, Noes 292.

Division Nol. 217] [9.20 pm
AYES
Abbott, Ms Diane Livingstone, Ken
Ashton, Joe Lord, Michael
Barnes, Harry Loyden, Eddie
Bayley, Hugh McAllion, John
Bennett, Andrew F. McCrea, Rev William
Biffen, Rt Hon John Madden, Max
Body, Sir Richard Maginnis, Ken
Budgen, Nicholas Mahon, Alice
Canavan, Dennis Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Cann, Jamie Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Paisley, Rev Ian
Carttiss, Michael Pickthall, Colin
Cash, William Redmond, Martin
Chisholm, Malcolm Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Connarty, Michael Ross, William (E Londonderry)
Cryer, Bob Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Cunliffe, Lawrence Simpson, Alan
Davidson, Ian Skeet, Sir Trevor
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Skinner, Dennis
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'I) Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Spearing, Nigel
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Gerrard, Neil Trimble, David
Gill, Christopher Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Godman, Dr Norman A. Winnick, David
Gordon, Mildred Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Gould, Bryan
Harvey, Nick Tellers for the Ayes:
Hawksley, Warren Mr. Jeremy Corbyn and
Leighton, Ron Mr. Ted Rowlands.
Lewis, Terry
NOES
Adley, Robert Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Alton, David
Aitken, Jonathan Amess, David
Alexander, Richard Ancram, Michael
Arbuthnot, James Fenner, Dame Peggy
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Fishburn, Dudley
Ashby, David Forman, Nigel
Aspinwall, Jack Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Atkins, Robert Forth, Eric
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Foster, Don (Bath)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Baldry, Tony Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Freeman, Roger
Bates, Michael French, Douglas
Batiste, Spencer Gale, Roger
Beith, Rt Hon A. J. Gallie, Phil
Bellingham, Henry Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan
Beresford, Sir Paul Garnier, Edward
Blackburn, Dr John G. Gillan, Cheryl
Booth, Hartley Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Boswell, Tim Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Gorst, John
Bowden, Andrew Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW)
Bowis, John Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Brandreth, Gyles Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Brazier, Julian Grylls, Sir Michael
Bright, Graham Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Hague, William
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom)
Browning, Mrs. Angela Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Hampson, Dr Keith
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Hanley, Jeremy
Burns, Simon Hannam, Sir John
Burt, Alistair Hargreaves, Andrew
Butler, Peter Harris, David
Butterfill, John Haselhurst, Alan
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Hawkins, Nick
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry) Hayes, Jerry
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Heald, Oliver
Carrington, Matthew Heathcoat-Amory, David
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hendry, Charles
Chapman, Sydney Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Churchill, Mr Hicks, Robert
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif) Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Coe, Sebastian Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)
Colvin, Michael Horam, John
Congdon, David Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Conway, Derek Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)
Cormack, Patrick Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Couchman, James Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Hunter, Andrew
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Dafis, Cynog Jack, Michael
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Day, Stephen Johnston, Sir Russell
Deva, Nirj Joseph Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Devlin, Tim Jones, leuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)
Dickens, Geoffrey Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Dicks, Terry Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Dorrell, Stephen Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Key, Robert
Dover, Den Kilfedder, Sir James
Duncan, Alan King, Rt Hon Tom
Dunn, Bob Kirkhope, Timothy
Durant, Sir Anthony Kirkwood, Archy
Dykes, Hugh Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Eggar, Tim Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Elletson, Harold Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Knox, David
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield) Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley) Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Evennett, David Leigh, Edward
Faber, David Lennox-Boyd, Mark
Fabricant, Michael Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Sackville, Tom
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Llwyd, Elfyn Shaw, David (Dover)
Luff, Peter Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Lynne, Ms Liz Shersby, Michael
Macdonald, Calum Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
MacKay, Andrew Soames, Nicholas
Maclean, David Speed, Sir Keith
McLoughlin, Patrick Spencer, Sir Derek
Madel, David Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Maitland, Lady Olga Spink, Dr Robert
Major, Rt Hon John Spring, Richard
Malone, Gerald Sproat, Iain
Mans, Keith Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Marland, Paul Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel) Steen, Anthony
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Stephen, Michael
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Stern, Michael
Merchant, Piers Stewart, Allan
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute) Streeter, Gary
Milligan, Stephen Sumberg, David
Mills, Iain Sykes, John
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW) Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Monro, Sir Hector Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Temple-Morris, Peter
Moss, Malcolm Thomason, Roy
Needham, Richard Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Nelson, Anthony Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Neubert, Sir Michael Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Thurnham, Peter
Nicholls, Patrick Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Tracey, Richard
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Tredinnick, David
Norris, Steve Trend, Michael
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley Trotter, Neville
Oppenheim, Phillip Twinn, Dr Ian
Ottaway, Richard Tyler, Paul
Page, Richard Viggers, Peter
Paice, James Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Patnick, Irvine Walden, George
Patten, Rt Hon John Waller, Gary
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Ward, John
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Pickles, Eric Waterson, Nigel
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Watts, John
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Wells, Bowen
Powell, William (Corby) Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Rathbone, Tim Whitney, Ray
Redwood, John Widdecombe, Ann
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Richards, Rod Wigley, Dafydd
Riddick, Graham Willetts, David
Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm Wilshire, David
Robathan, Andrew Wolfson, Mark
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn Yeo, Tim
Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent) Tellers for the Noes:
Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela Mr. David Lightbown and
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard Mr. Timothy Wood.

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Cash

I beg to move amendment No. 230, in page 1, line 9, after 'II', insert 'except Article 206'.

The Chairman

With this, it will be convenient also to discuss the following amendments: No. 237, in page 1, line 9, after 'II', insert 'except Article 154'.

No. 138, in page 1, line 9, after 'III', insert 'except Article 29'.

No. 139, in page 1, line 9, after 'III', insert 'except Article 78c'.

No. 140, in page 1, line 9, after 'III', insert 'except Article 78g'.

No. 153, in page 1, line 9, after 'IV', insert 'except Article 123'.

No. 154, in page 1, line 9, after 'IV', insert 'except Article 179'.

No. 155, in page 1, line 9, after 'IV', insert 'except Article 180b'.

No. 151, in page 1, line 10, after '1992', insert `but not last sentence of paragraph 8 in Article 160b of Title IV thereof. Before I call Mr. Cash, may I make it clear that the subject of the amendment is very narrow.

Mr. Cash

Indeed, Mr. Morris, it is a narrow subject but it is a very important amendment.

Amendment No. 230 would exclude article 206 in title II of the treaty. I see that the Paymaster General, who is going to take a close look at these narrow issues, is in his place so I hope that we shall have a reasonably good debate.

Mr. Knapman

Will my hon. Friend deal with [Interruption.]

Mr. Cash

I am sorry, but I cannot hear my hon. Friend.

The Chairman

Will the hon. Gentleman repeat his intervention?

Mr. Knapman

I asked my hon. Friend whether he would deal with fraud, which seems to come under the subject of internal finance. I appreciate that fraud is a very narrow subject.

Mr. Cash

I am delighted that my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Knapman) has drawn my attention to that important matter because article 206 falls into three categories. First, The European Parliament, acting on a recommendation from the Council which shall act by a qualified majority, shall give a discharge to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the budget. My hon. Friend the Member for Stroud has immediately homed in on the fact that, in order to be able to give the right kind of discharge, it is necessary for the Court of Auditors to—

The Chairman

Order. I should be grateful if the hon. Member for Stroud would understand that he is not able to stand in the Chamber when another hon. Member has the Floor.

Mr. Cash

The giving of that discharge raises the question of the financial system through which the Community functions. Article 206b states that both the Council and the European Parliament … shall examine the accounts and the financial statements and audits. Before giving any such discharge, the European Parliament could ask the Commission to submit evidence and it would be obliged to take appropriate steps to implement any observations that the Parliament might make on expenditure. That begs the essential questions, how much would that extend the Commission's powers and to what extent would the Court of Auditors, which is involved in the process, be capable of arriving at an accurate assessment to determine whether the Commission could give a discharge for a budget?

The Select Committee on European Legislation, of which I am a member, only considered the 1991 budget —the Council's discharge—on 3 March this year. A number of hon. Members will know that there has been considerable disquiet in the Court of Auditors about the way in which the Community's finances have been operated and sorted out.

I have the Court of Auditors' report. It is well known that Mr. Carey, who has recently been an extremely eminent member of the Court of Auditors, has been exceedingly critical of the manner in which the powers of the Court of Auditors have been operating and, I think, would operate, even today. There is a good reason for that, and much of it is contained in the excellent report. When somebody of Mr. Carey's distinction, who has inside knowledge of the Community's finances, makes the sort of criticism contained in the report, we have every reason to be deeply worried about the basis on which the discharges of the budget are being conducted.

The Select Committee has the power to refer matters either to the European Standing Committee or the House as a whole. When faced with a report and a discharge that raises matters of profound political or legal importance, we have the power to recommend that the matter should be dealt with on the Floor of the House. In the most recent Select Committee meeting on 3 March, it was decided that the draft Council recommendation to the European Parliament on the discharge to be given to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Community for the financial year 1991 should be further considered by the House rather than by European Standing Committee B. That gives the clue to the difficulty raised by the discharge for last year.

A difficult question arose on the financial management, value for money and evaluation in respect of Community funds, and the need for member states to assume their responsibilities more fully.

Mr. Terry Lewis (Worsley)

I beg to move, That strangers do withdraw.

Notice being taken that strangers were present, THE CHAIRMAN, pursuant to Standing Order No. 143 (Withdrawal of Strangers from the House), put forthwith the Question, That strangers do withdraw:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 2, Noes 327.

Division No. 218] [9.35 pm
AYES
Paisley, Rev Ian Tellers for the Ayes:
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E) Mr. Dennis Skinner and
Mr. Eddie Loyden.
NOES
Adley, Robert Bates, Michael
Ainger, Nick Batiste, Spencer
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Beith, Rt Hon A. J.
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Bellingham, Henry
Aitken, Jonathan Bennett, Andrew F.
Alexander, Richard Beresford, Sir Paul
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Blackburn, Dr John G.
Alton, David Body, Sir Richard
Amess, David Booth, Hartley
Ancram, Michael Boswell, Tim
Arbuthnot, James Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Bowden, Andrew
Ashby, David Bowis, John
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Brandreth, Gyles
Ashton, Joe Brazier, Julian
Aspinwall, Jack Bright, Graham
Atkins, Robert Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)
Austin-Walker, John Browning, Mrs. Angela
Baldry, Tony Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Burns, Simon
Barnes, Harry Burt, Alistair
Butler, Peter Gillan, Cheryl
Butterfill, John Godman, Dr Norman A.
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Cann, Jamie Gordon, Mildred
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry) Gorst, John
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Carrington, Matthew Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Carttiss, Michael Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth. N)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Grylls, Sir Michael
Chapman, Sydney Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Churchill, Mr Hague, William
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Hampson, Dr Keith
Coe, Sebastian Hanley, Jeremy
Colvin, Michael Hannam, Sir John
Congdon, David Hanson, David
Connarty, Michael Hargreaves, Andrew
Conway, Derek Harris, David
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Harvey, Nick
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Haselhurst, Alan
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Hawkins, Nick
Cormack, Patrick Hayes, Jerry
Couchman, James Heald, Oliver
Cran, James Heathcoat-Amory, David
Cryer, Bob Hendry, Charles
Cummings, John Hicks, Robert
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Dafis, Cynog Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)
Davidson, Ian Horam, John
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l) Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Day, Stephen Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Deva, Nirj Joseph Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Devlin, Tim Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)
Dickens, Geoffrey Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Dicks, Terry Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Dixon, Don Hunter, Andrew
Donohoe, Brian H. Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Dorrell, Stephen Jack, Michael
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)
Dover, Den Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Duncan, Alan Jenkin, Bernard
Duncan-Smith, Iain Jessel, Toby
Dunn, Bob Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Durant, Sir Anthony Johnston, Sir Russell
Dykes, Hugh Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Eggar, Tim Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Elletson, Harold Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr)
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield) Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley) Key, Robert
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Kilfedder, Sir James
Evennett, David King, Rt Hon Tom
Faber, David Kirkhope, Timothy
Fabricant, Michael Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Fenner, Dame Peggy Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Knox, David
Fishburn, Dudley Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Forman, Nigel Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Forth, Eric Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Foster, Don (Bath) Legg, Barry
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Leigh, Edward
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodsprtng) Lennox-Boyd, Mark
Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley) Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Freeman, Roger Lewis, Terry
French, Douglas Lidington, David
Fry, Peter Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Gale, Roger Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Gallie, Phil Llwyd, Elfyn
Gapes, Mike Luff, Peter
Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Gamier, Edward Lynne, Ms Liz
Gill, Christopher McCrea, Rev William
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
MacKay, Andrew Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Mackinlay, Andrew Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Maclean, David Soames, Nicholas
McLoughlin, Patrick Speed, Sir Keith
Madel, David Spencer, Sir Derek
Maitland, Lady Olga Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Major, Rt Hon John Spink, Dr Robert
Malone, Gerald Spring, Richard
Mans, Keith Sproat, Iain
Marland, Paul Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel) Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Steen, Anthony
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Stephen, Michael
Merchant, Piers. Stern, Michael
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute) Stewart, Allan
Milligan, Stephen Streeter, Gary
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Sumberg, David
Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW) Sweeney, Walter
Monro, Sir Hector Sykes, John
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Moss, Malcolm Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Needham, Richard Temple-Morris, Peter
Nelson, Anthony Thomason, Roy
Neubert, Sir Michael Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Nicholls, Patrick Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Thurnham, Peter
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexiyh'th)
Norris, Steve Tracey, Richard
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley Tredinnick, David
Oppenheim, Phillip Trend, Michael
Ottaway, Richard Trotter, Neville
Page, Richard Twinn, Dr Ian
Paice, James Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Patnick, Irvine Viggers, Peter
Patten, Rt Hon John Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Walden, George
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Waller, Gary
Pickles, Eric Ward, John
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Waterson, Nigel
Powell, William (Corby) Watson, Mike
Rathbone, Tim Watts, John
Redwood, John Wells, Bowen
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Richards, Rod Whitney, Ray
Riddick, Graham Whittingdale, John
Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm Widdecombe, Ann
Robathan, Andrew Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn Wigley, Dafydd
Robertson, George (Hamilton) Willetts, David
Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S) Wilshire, David
Robinson, Mark (Somerton) Wolfson, Mark
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent) Yea, Tim
Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela Young, Sir George (Acton)
Sackville, Tom
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Tellers for the Noes:
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Mr. David Lightbown and
Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian Mr. Timothy Wood.
Shersby, Michael

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Cash

Before that interruption, Mr. Morris, I was dealing with article 206 of the treaty and explaining why I thought that it was unnecessary and undesirable for it to be included. I had drawn attention to the fact that the European Select Committee—

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

On a point of order, Mr. Morris. These amendments are extremely tricky and very detailed. My hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) has a great grasp of the amendments which he has tabled. Would it be possible for you to ask right hon. and hon. Members to withdraw so that those of us who are interested in this group of amendments can hear the debate?

The Chairman

It could be the trickiness of the amendments that is causing hon. Members to discuss them. I hope very much that they will now listen to these very narrowly drawn amendments.

Mr. Cash

As I was saying, the Select Committee on European Legislation decided on 3 March that the discharge of the Commission's budget for 1991 was of such importance that it should be discussed on the Floor of the House—that is, here; that hon. Members needed to debate the matter because of the manner in which taxpayers' money was being dispensed, and that the whole basis upon which the fraud is perpetrated in the Community needed to be discussed by hon. Members in the House.

I have to say that the Committee and the Treasury were not particularly enthusiastic about much of what they came across when they looked at what is in this document, which, although the subject is narrow, has a very wide ambit—[Interruption.]

Mr. Michael Carttiss (Great Yarmouth)

On a point of order, Mr. Morris. Most of these people here may not want to hear my hon. Friend, but I do, and I cannot.

The Chairman

Order. Hon. Members must remember that there are no "these people"; there are only hon. Members in this Committee. There are three minutes until the 10 o'clock motion, so may we please listen to the hon. Member?

Mr. Cash

The Court of Auditors has some very powerful indictments, very powerful criticisms, of the way in which the European Community has been running its affairs. I notice that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is present and I hope that, in his capacity as a Minister of the Crown, he has been paying special attention to the fraud which is being perpetrated in the European Community and for which the British taxpayer is paying. I will give a number of reasons why I believe that the discharge of the budget for 1991 demonstrates that this whole exercise is a travesty of accountancy and fraud.

The court noted that its observations arise from errors and mis-statements commonly resulting from inadequately drafted legislation and from organisational failures which mean that the errors themselves cannot even be detected. So the taxpayers do not even have the redress that the Court of Auditors can provide because the legislation is so inadequate and sloppy.

I see that the Chairman of the Select Committee on European Legislation is in his place. He knows, as do other members of the Select Committee, exactly what is going on in the Community. The Community is run on the taxpayer, but in the most inefficient and negligent manner and the Court of Auditors is doing all it can to improve that position.

In particular, the court says that more progress needs to be made to make the reform of the structural funds—

It being Ten o'clock, THE CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report progress and ask leave to sit again.

Committee report progress.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business),

That, at this day's sitting, the European Communities (Amendment) Bill may be proceeded with, though opposed, until any hour.—[Mr. Robert G. Hughes.]

The House divided: Ayes 304, Noes 299.

Division No. 219] [10 pm
AYES
Adley, Robert Dicks, Terry
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Dorrell, Stephen
Aitken, Jonathan Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Alexander, Richard Dover, Den
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Duncan, Alan
Alton, David Dunn, Bob
Amess, David Durant, Sir Anthony
Ancram, Michael Dykes, Hugh
Arbuthnot, James Eggar, Tim
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Elletson, Harold
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Ashby, David Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Aspinwall, Jack Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Atkins, Robert Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Evennett, David
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Faber, David
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Fabricant, Michael
Baldry, Tony Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Fenner, Dame Peggy
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Bates, Michael Fishburn, Dudley
Batiste, Spencer Forman, Nigel
Beith, Rt Hon A. J. Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bellingham, Henry Forth, Eric
Beresford, Sir Paul Foster, Don (Bath)
Blackburn, Dr John G. Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Booth, Hartley Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Boswell, Tim Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Freeman, Roger
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia French, Douglas
Bowden, Andrew Fry, Peter
Bowis, John Gale, Roger
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Gallie, Phil
Brandreth, Gyles Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan
Brazier, Julian Garnier, Edward
Bright, Graham Gillan, Cheryl
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Browning, Mrs. Angela Gorst, John
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Burns, Simon Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Burt, Alistair Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Butler, Peter Grylls, Sir Michael
Butterfill, John Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Hague, William
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry) Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Carrington, Matthew Hampson, Dr Keith
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hanley, Jeremy
Churchill, Mr Hannam, Sir John
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hargreaves, Andrew
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif) Harris, David
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Haselhurst, Alan
Coe, Sebastian Hawkins, Nick
Colvin, Michael Hayes, Jerry
Congdon, David Heald, Oliver
Conway, Derek Heathcoat-Amory, David
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Hendry, Charles
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Hicks, Robert
Cormack, Patrick Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.
Couchman, James Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) Horam, John
Dafis, Cynog Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Davis, David (Boothferry) Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Day, Stephen Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Deva, Nirj Joseph Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)
Devlin, Tim Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Dickens, Geoffrey Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Hunter, Andrew Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Jack, Michael Powell, William (Corby)
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Rathbone, Tim
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Redwood, John
Johnston, Sir Russell Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Richards, Rod
Jones, leuan Wyn (Ynys Môn) Riddick, Graham
Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr) Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Robathan, Andrew
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S) Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Key, Robert Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Kilfedder, Sir James Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
King, Rt Hon Tom Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Kirkhope, Timothy Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Kirkwood, Archy Sackville, Tom
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Shaw, David (Dover)
Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Knox, David Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Shersby, Michael
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Soames, Nicholas
Leigh, Edward Speed, Sir Keith
Lennox-Boyd, Mark Spencer, Sir Derek
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Lidington, David Spink, Dr Robert
Lightbown, David Spring, Richard
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Sproat, Iain
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Llwyd, Elfyn Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Luff, Peter Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Steen, Anthony
Lynne, Ms Liz Stephen, Michael
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Stern, Michael
MacKay, Andrew Stewart, Allan
Maclean, David Streeter, Gary
Maclennan, Robert Sumberg, David
McLoughlin, Patrick Sykes, John
Madel, David Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Maitland, Lady Olga Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Major, Rt Hon John Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Malone, Gerald Temple-Morris, Peter
Mans, Keith Thomason, Roy
Marland, Paul Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel) Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Thurnham, Peter
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Townend, John (Bridlington)
Merchant, Piers Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute) Tracey, Richard
Milligan, Stephen Tredinnick, David
Mills, Iain Trend, Michael
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Trotter, Neville
Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW) Twinn, Dr Ian
Monro, Sir Hector Tyler, Paul
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Moss, Malcolm Viggers, Peter
Needham, Richard Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Nelson, Anthony Walden, George
Neubert, Sir Michael Waller, Gary
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Ward, John
Nicholls, Patrick Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Waterson, Nigel
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Watts, John
Norris, Steve Wells, Bowen
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Oppenheim, Phillip Whitney, Ray
Ottaway, Richard Whittingdale, John
Page, Richard Widdecombe, Ann
Paice, James Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Patten, Rt Hon John Wigley, Dafydd
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Willetts, David
Pawsey, James Wilshire, David
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Wolfson, Mark
Pickles, Eric Wood, Timothy
Yeo, Tim Tellers for the Ayes:
Young, Sir George (Acton) Mr. Irvine Patrick and
Mr. Sydney Chapman.
NOES
Abbott, Ms Diane Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Adams, Mrs Irene Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Ainger, Nick Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Denham, John
Allen, Graham Dewar, Donald
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Dixon, Don
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Dobson, Frank
Armstrong, Hilary Donohoe, Brian H.
Ashton, Joe Dowd, Jim
Austin-Walker, John Dunnachie, Jimmy
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Barnes, Harry Eagle, Ms Angela
Barron, Kevin Eastham, Ken
Battle, John Enright, Derek
Bayley, Hugh Etherington, Bill
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret Evans, John (St Helens N)
Bell, Stuart Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Fatchett, Derek
Bennett, Andrew F. Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Benton, Joe Fisher, Mark
Bermingham, Gerald Flynn, Paul
Berry, Dr. Roger Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)
Betts, Clive Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Biffen, Rt Hon John Foulkes, George
Blair, Tony Fraser, John
Blunkett, David Fyfe, Maria
Boateng, Paul Galbraith, Sam
Body, Sir Richard Galloway, George
Boyce, Jimmy Gapes, Mike
Boyes, Roland Gardiner, Sir George
Bradley, Keith Garrett, John
Bray, Dr Jeremy George, Bruce
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E) Gerrard, Neil
Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E) Gill, Christopher
Budgen, Nicholas Godman, Dr Norman A.
Burden, Richard Godsiff, Roger
Butcher, John Golding, Mrs Llin
Byers, Stephen Gordon, Mildred
Caborn, Richard Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Callaghan, Jim Gould, Bryan
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Graham, Thomas
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Canavan, Dennis Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Cann, Jamie Grocott, Bruce
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Gunnell, John
Carttiss, Michael Hain, Peter
Cash, William Hall, Mike
Chisholm, Malcolm Hanson, David
Clapham, Michael Hardy, Peter
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Harman, Ms Harriet
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Harvey, Nick
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Clelland, David Hawksley, Warren
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Henderson, Doug
Coffey, Ann Heppell, John
Cohen, Harry Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Connarty, Michael Hinchliffe, David
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Hoey, Kate
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)
Corbett, Robin Home Robertson, John
Corbyn, Jeremy Hood, Jimmy
Corston, Ms Jean Hoon, Geoffrey
Cousins, Jim Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Cox, Tom Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Cran, James Hoyle, Doug
Cryer, Bob Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Cummings, John Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE) Hume, John
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John Hutton, John
Dalyell, Tam Illsley, Eric
Darling, Alistair Ingram, Adam
Davidson, Ian Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral) Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)
Jamieson, David Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Janner, Greville Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
Jessel. Toby Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side) Prescott, John
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Primarolo, Dawn
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O) Purchase, Ken
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW) Quin, Ms Joyce
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Radice, Giles
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Randall, Stuart
Keen, Alan Raynsford, Nick
Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn) Redmond, Martin
Khabra, Piara S. Reid, Dr John
Kilfoyle, Peter Richardson, Jo
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn) Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Knapman, Roger Robinson, Geoffrey ("Co'try NW)
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Legg, Barry Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Leighton, Ron Rogers, Allan
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Rooney, Terry
Lewis, Terry Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Litherland, Robert Ross, William (E Londonderry)
Livingstone, Ken Rowlands, Ted
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Ruddock, Joan
Lord, Michael Salmond, Alex
Loyden, Eddie Sedgemore, Brian
McAllion, John Sheerman, Barry
McAvoy, Thomas Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
McCartney, Ian Shore, Rt Hon Peter
McCrea, Rev William Short, Clare
Macdonald, Calum Simpson, Alan
McFall, John Skeet, Sir Trevor
McKelvey, William Skinner, Dennis
McLeish, Henry Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
McMaster, Gordon Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
McNamara, Kevin Smith, Rt Hon John (M'kl'ds E)
McWilliam, John Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Madden, Max Snape, Peter
Maginnis, Ken Soley, Clive
Mahon, Alice Spearing, Nigel
Mallon, Seamus Spellar, John
Mandelson, Peter Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Marek, Dr John Steinberg, Gerry
Marlow, Tony Stevenson, George
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Stott, Roger
Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S) Strang, Dr. Gavin
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Straw, Jack
Martlew, Eric Sweeney, Walter
Maxton, John Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Meacher, Michael Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Michael, Alun Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Tipping, Paddy
Milburn, Alan Trimble, David
Miller, Andrew Turner, Dennis
Mitchell, Austin (Gf Grimsby) Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Moonie, Dr Lewis Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Morgan, Rhodri Walley, Joan
Morley, Elliot Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe) Wareing, Robert N
Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley) Watson, Mike
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Welsh, Andrew
Mowlam, Marjorie Wilkinson, John
Mudie, George Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Mullin, Chris Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Murphy, Paul Wilson, Brian
O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire) Winnick, David
O'Brien, William (Normanton) Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
O'Hara, Edward Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Olner, William Worthington, Tony
O'Neill, Martin Wray, Jimmy
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Wright, Dr Tony
Paisley, Rev Ian Young, David (Bolton SE)
Parry, Robert
Pendry, Tom Tellers for the Noes:
Pickthall, Colin Mr. Alan Meale and
Pike, Peter L. Mr. Andrew Mackinlay.
Pope, Greg

Question accordingly agreed to.

Again considered in Committee.

Question proposed, That the amendment be made.

Mr. Winnick

On a point of order, Mr. Morris. At the beginning of our deliberations, the Prime Minister promised the House that we should have every opportunity to debate the Bill, line by line, in a Committee of the whole House. I put it to you, Mr. Morris, that if the Government are to force it through with all-night sittings and are able to do so only with the support of the Liberals, that is a sickening abuse of the procedures of the House.

The Jopling report, which is to be debated, emphasised that we should not debate after 10 pm. What logic is there in discussing issues of this importance through the night, especially when we do so only because of the treacherous Liberals?

The Chairman

The House has made its decision.

Mr. Cash

Before the vote, I made it clear that a number of important matters affected the taxpayers of this country who are discovering for themselves that the fraud that has been perpetrated in the European Community has been growing. I said that it was increasingly difficult for judgments to be made by the court, which identified two main reasons for deficiencies in financial management and control.

The first is inadequate drafting of legislation. For example, there may be a failure to specify adequate control arrangements, as with certain aid programmes or objectives and with structural fund training measures. Alternatively, it is said that the nature and purpose of support may not be easily amenable to control, as is the case with certain argicultural price compensation aids.

Secondly—[Interruption.]

The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse)

Order. Will hon. Members leaving the Chamber please do so quietly and quickly?

Mr. Cash

Secondly, it is said that there ma. y be organisational deficiencies leading to errors or irregularities, which may not be detected or corrected. In the court's view, such problems with financial management, affecting the accounting and control of European Community finances, occur both in the Commission and in the member states, and the Commission has not checked sufficiently that national accounting and control arrangements for revenue and expenditure are adequate. What we have here is an indictment not only of the Commission but of the member states themselves. The finances of the European Community are in dire straits. The money of taxpayers is being thrown away.

Mr. Ian Taylor

In view of my hon. Friend's concern about the way in which money is spent, may I ask him why he does not welcome the Maastricht treaty's provisions for the installation of the Court of Auditors as a full institution of the Community, as well as the increased powers of the European Parliament in respect of the Commission?

Mr. Cash

The very simple answer is that it should not be within the competence of the European Parliament in particular to deal with matters that are the concern of the electors and taxpayers of this nation. Such matters properly fall to be decided by the House of Commons.

Mr. Taylor

We, too, could do that.

Mr. Cash

What an extraordinary thing to say. If we were to operate on the basis that everything decided here should be decided also in the European Parliament, there would be different reports from different institutions. We should have double jeopardy and the recycling of money, and nothing would be achieved. Half the trouble that we experience arises from the fact that there is not a sufficiently clear distinction between the functions of the House of Commons and the functions of the European Parliament. What my hon. Friend suggests would create even more confusion.

Mrs. Teresa Gorman (Billericay)

I am sure that my hon. Friend is aware of the number of auditors' reports that have exposed appalling fraud in the budgets of the European Community. Does he know that when this country held the presidency of the Council of Ministers our right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer—no less—attempted, time and again, to raise this matter? The Chancellor himself told me that as soon as he tried to expose the fraud, the other delegates took up their newspapers. That is how much they cared about fraud in the European Community.

Mr. Cash

Indeed, and when the Select Committee on European Legislation visited the Court of Auditors it was given a very clear, verbatim account of the amount of fraud being perpetrated in the Community. The fact that Mr. Carey has been so critical of the present arrangements indicates that he does not believe that even what is proposed in this treaty would solve the problem. The real question is whether we shall be able to achieve a proper degree of control. The House of Commons has the Public Accounts Committee, the Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee and the Comptroller and Auditor General. A system that has been well established over centuries keeps proper control of our finances so far as is conceivably possible.

I see that my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Sir. P. Hordern) is getting to his feet. This may be his first intervention in these debates, so I look forward to hearing what he has to say. I gladly give way.

Sir Peter Hordern (Horsham)

My hon. Friend is describing accurately the faults brought out by the European Court of Auditors and the faults that are inherent in the Single European Act which I believe he supported. He is right that there is no mechanism for putting these faults right. In the Maastricht treaty there are provisions for examination by the European Parliament of the European Commission. Surely that must be a significant advance over the position which my hon. Friend so accurately criticises. I cannot understand how he can object to the provisions in the Maastricht treaty that allow for some improvement in the position.

I tell my hon. Friend this in case he did not know the Comptroller and Auditor General himself, as well as some hon. Members, contributed to the effort to get the improvement. My hon. Friend ought at least to acknowledge the significant improvement which has been obtained in the treaty.

Mr. Cash

Irrespective of whether we want an improvement in the manner in which the finances of the Community are scrutinised and in relation to the discharge of the budget of the Commission, I still maintain that the real question, which lies at the heart of this issue, is the division of functions. An increasing volume of activity is being transferred. New competences, including the structural fund, are being transferred. I see that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is unsure about it. I must ask him how we got ourselves into the position 18 months ago of agreeing an illegal budget retrospectively. I hope that he will respond, because that was a monstrous state of affairs. When such circumstances arise, hon. Members are entitled to ask what will happen with all the increased competences of the European Parliament and the Community institutions.

Mr. Budgen

Will my hon. Friend reflect for a moment on the well-researched observations of my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Sir P. Hordern) who has been a distinguished member of the Public Accounts Committee for a long time and who has given much thought to this matter? However, my right hon. Friend will not face up to two facts. First, many of the countries of the EEC are conniving at fraud. There is clear evidence that Italian Governments have from time to time connived at fraud, particularly in the agricultural sector. Secondly, the only way in which fraud could be rooted out would be to finalise the arrangements by which the EEC had the appurtenances of a single state—that it was given its own police authority and its own enforcement authority. Otherwise, it is inevitable that nation states, particularly where they condone fraud, will simply frustrate the inquiries of the Court of Auditors.

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. This is a lengthy intervention.

Mr. Cash

It may have been lengthy, but it was important and accurate. I can give chapter and verse to illustrate the very point that my hon. Friend has made. Paragraph 11.10 on page 181 of the report of the Court of Auditors says: Implementation of the Community legislation is rendered more difficult by the absence, in particular, in the Greek and Portuguese regions visited by the Court, of a viticultural land register or official plan of parcels. The vineyards are identified by a mere indication of their surface area and by vague references to their limits (names of the owners of neighbouring plots or topographical details: roads or water courses). It was for this reason that, in 1986, the Community decided to finance the establishment by the Member States of a vineyard register which would make it possible to identify, on a permanent basis, the vineyards belonging to each holding. I give the next few words with deep regret: However, work on the setting up of this vineyard register —which, according to the legislation, was to have been completed by 31 July 1992 in Spain and Greece and should be completed by 31 December 1995 in Portugal—is progressing slowly and, at the time of the Court's visit, had not resulted in any kind of improvement of the instruments for controlling the measures financed by the EAGGF Guidance Section. 10.30 pm

That is one example of what is going on. I would be quite astonished to read this in the Court of Auditors' report for last year were it not for the fact that I took part in a debate on the Court of Auditors' report four or so years ago, and I find that almost exactly the same kind of criticisms are being made now as were being made then. So why should I take the blindest notice of what my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham says when he suggests that we should go hell for leather down this route, accepting all these spurious claims that they will improve matters, when it is quite clear on the evidence that it will not happen? What some hon. Members will not and cannot understand is that the problems that are inherent in this treaty, difficulties that are inherent in trying to solve problems on pieces of paper, have no regard to the inherent corruption and veniality of many of the agriculturalists in other member states. I say that, I am afraid, with bags of evidence to support it. If hon. Members want to challenge me, I will take most of the night reading out the examples set out in this document.

Mrs. Gorman

I thank my hon. Friend for giving way again. It is most generous of him. Taking his encyclopaedic knowledge of the report of the Court of Auditors, can he tell me if it has anything to say about the very fine line between expenses and corruption? For example, does it give us the price of the jet which Mr. Delors has at his disposal and which has "EC President" on the side, or of the fleet of stretch limousines which travel everywhere with him—Citroens, of course—covered in flags and all transported at the expense of the value added tax money which is collected and is about to be swollen by tax on fuel which will be charged to pensioners in this country? Does it say anything about that in the report?

Mr. Cash

I am sure that there are items which, one way and another, have not made their way into this report for reasons of sensitivity. As we are now moving towards what appears to be—over our dead bodies, as it were—a federal state, I have no doubt that an official secrets Act will be brought in to complement all this and to make sure that we cannot get access to that kind of information.

Sir Teddy Taylor

Seriously, could my hon. Friend remind our right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham that there is little point in adding yet another fraud investigation body, this time for the European Parliament, if we add, as we are doing in this treaty, massive new spending and responsibilities for the EC, based on artificial prices which are an economic nonsense? There is no way in which one could stop fraud, even if one were to set up a thousand departments and give them a thousand Citroens in which to travel round, looking for trouble.

Mr. Cash

Indeed, and the iniquity of the common agricultural policy, the iron hoof of monopoly, is well known to those who have studied the problems of the corn laws and the rest of it, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham, whose affection for Cobden is matched only by my affection for John Bright. I suspect that Richard Cobden would be absolutely appalled at the way in which this monopoly arrangement in the common agricultural policy is being operated, because there is very little distinction between the degree of moral corruption that lies at the heart of the way the CAP is operated—I say that not merely as a generalisation but on the evidence that I can produce—between the common agricultural policy and the corn laws of the 19th century, particularly in their impact on the third world. The Court of Auditors makes some stringent criticisms of the way in which European Community finances impinge on poverty-stricken people in the third world.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Cash

I shall be glad to give way to my hon. and learned Friend.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

As my hon. Friend paused for a moment, I could not stop myself asking him whether he recalled an incident that I may have told him about in the past, involving a company in Burton that had an unsatisfactory experience when it went to Italy and tried to buy a company there. The Burton company's representatives were presented with one set of books for the shareholder, another set for the would-be purchasers and a third set for the taxman. Some planes were revving up nearby, loaded with cases of cash about to be spirited away to Switzerland. That Italian company was supposed to be reputable, and a most reputable company from my constituency had intended to take it over. I need hardly add that we would not touch it—any more than we ought to touch the financial arrangements that are to be forced down our throats as a result of Maastricht.

Mr. Cash

Indeed. I assure my hon. and learned Friend that I shall not be spirited away to Switzerland, at least in the immediate future, and certainly not before the end of the debate. I am fascinated to hear of the example that he cites, because it is matched by our experience. Many such Fred Karno examples and Crazy Gang incidents pour out of the reports of the Court of Auditors. However, at the heart of it all lies a serious tragedy: for every person who gains massively as a result of the frauds, which are organised on a massive scale and run into billions of pounds, there are other people in the Community who can hardly scratch together enough money to buy themselves a decent pair of shoes or set of clothing. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston) does not seem to think that that is true. Perhaps there are no poor people in his constituency who could well do with the money that is ripped off from the system.

Sir Russell Johnston

If the hon. Gentleman is talking about poverty, he should acknowledge that poverty in this country has increased enormously under the Tory Government. If he is talking about cheating and fraud within the European Community, he must also readily admit that the Court of Auditors and the other Community institutions do their utmost to prevent them.

Mr. Cash

That is the whole problem, if I may say so. I have great affection for the hon. Gentleman, so I withdraw any suggestion that he may be attempting to look two ways at once. But it is wrong for him to suggest that we should not criticise the basis upon which the internal finances operate.

Sir Russell Johnston

I do not say that.

Mr. Cash

I am glad to hear that the hon. Gentleman agrees that we should give the matter careful consideration. The evidence suggests that nothing has been clone and, on the basis of the arguments that I have presented and will continue to present, I do not believe that anything much will be done.

Let me take another example to which the Court of Auditors referred.

Mr. Skinner

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that, although so much fraud is going on in the Common Market, the Tory Ministers who go across there are not taking up the complaints about it? Ministers go across and discuss things with their opposite numbers at the Council of Ministers. Leon Brittan is there, too. He is a Tory; what is he doing about it? I find it odd that Tory Ministers accept that massive fraud, yet hammer Lambeth Labour councillors whose only crime was to try to improve standards for their constituents. My brothers and their friends at Clay Cross were done by the Tories, too. Why is there one standard for Labour councillors and another for all those who are engaged in fraud in the Common Market? Why are Tory Ministers turning a blind eye to all the corruption and fraud about which the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) is talking when they hammer, surcharge and kick out of office people in Britain?

Mr. Cash

The hon. Gentleman will not take me down the route of criticising Tory or Conservative Members or ex-Members. I reserve my criticism for those who espouse federalism and all its works and pomps. Criticisms can be levied against those who want to take us down this iniquitous, fraudulent route, but not against Tory Members because we know our principles on these matters. We insist on having proper scrutiny of the finances of the Community.

Mr. Michael Lord (Suffolk, Central)

Is not the truth of the matter that we are criticising not necessarily political parties or personalities, but the absurdity of the system? In a nation that has prided itself on being honest and efficient in the way in which it conducts its civil life, our taxpayers are being hugely penalised for no other reason than that we are far more organised than the other 11.

Mr. Cash

My hon. Friend makes an extremely important point. The plain fact is that for every penny that goes in fraud, somebody loses because the whole basis of accountancy, of audit, of budgetary arrangements and of the discharge of the Commission's budget, which is tied up with the question of internal finances, is whether people have balanced the books properly, whether there are hidden items and whether there has been fraud. It is essential that the system is as good as it can be.

My great-great-grandfather was one of the first auditors in the 19th century. He was the chairman of the committee of inquiry into George Hudson, the railway king. I do not suggest that such practices have not been observed in the past. I am saying that as a result of his efforts—he went on to found the Institute of Chartered Accountants—there has been a considerable improvement in the quality of our auditing arrangements, which is why I paid tribute to members of the Public Accounts Committee and others. We have developed systems that, to a considerable extent, make the systems elsewhere in the European Community compare unfavourably. Our system is good. Their systems are sometimes virtually non-existent.

I am concerned that, for example, the Mafia will become deeply entrenched in the finances of the EC. I do not for one minute say that the Mafia is not already entrenched. However, I believe that the more centralisation we have, the greater is the probability that there will be an increase rather than a decrease in corruption. We should take that point seriously. As the amount of resources increases, so the opportunities for people to jump on the bandwagon or to get their noses in the trough grows. If hon. Members regard such subjects as being of minor importance, so be it. I and many hon. Members, whether in favour of the federal inclinations of the Community or not, do not want the existing system to be perpetuated. We want to know whether the purported improvements under these arrangements will make a hap'orth or half an ecu of difference.

Mr. Llew Smith (Blaenau Gwent)

Will the hon. Gentleman accept that, although we can all think of individual acts of fraud, the biggest is the common agricultural policy itself, which still accounts for more than 50 per cent. of the EC budget? Does he also accept that part of the act of fraud that comes under the CAP is the set-aside scheme? There was the example of a British farmer some years ago who received approximately £220,000 on the agreement that he would not farm that land for five years. Could the hon. Gentleman anticipate the reaction of the media if an unemployed or redundant coal miner or steel worker was given £220,000, told not to mine coal for five years and to go to the Costa del Sol—

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. The subject of the amendment is narrow and the hon. Gentleman is straying well beyond it.

10.45 pm
Mr. Cash

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman was beginning to spread his wings a little, Mr. Lofthouse, but he made an important observation on internal financing. I gave the then Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mr. Francis Maude, evidence that I had accumulated which showed the way in which the set-aside system was being deployed, which is why I chose that example. Just as there are so-called vineyard registers which are not vineyard registers, in parts of Germany and Italy the maps that one might have expected them to use to determine set-aside are not used. I discovered that in parts of Germany maps that pre-date the second world war are being used, and that in parts of eastern Germany no one has the faintest idea of who owns what.

The idea that we are playing a game of fluff with this subject is a misunderstanding of what is going on in the European Community. As the Community enlarges its competence, internal finance become more serious, as does the fraud that goes with it. If a huge area of eastern Germany does not have the type of land registry system that we would expect, if the Italian systems are incapable of being properly monitored, and if there are moving olive groves in Greece and no one can tell who owns what, we are bound to find that the vast amount of money that we are paying to the European Community is draining away down the plug hole.

When the Foreign Secretary tells us that by our efforts in these debates we are putting Britain down the plug hole, I would answer that we ought to concentrate on the practical questions which underpin our objections—fraud, corruption and the inability to maintain internal financing —and not on theological federalism.

Sir Teddy Taylor

Will my hon. Friend have time to mention the appalling fraud in EC tobacco subsidies, which are costing more than £1,000 million, especially in view of the tragic information that we received from the tapes half an hour ago that the head of the tobacco division of the EC's Agriculture Department, Mr. Antonio Quatraro, has jumped out of a window and committed suicide because he is alleged to have shown favouritism to

Italian tobacco producers? When we think of the shortage of money for essentials in Europe and of unemployment, is it not appalling that all that money should be spent on wasteful subisidies to grow high-tar tobacco to be dumped in the third world?

Mr. Cash

That is disgraceful and it does not surprise me one bit because my hon. Friend and I have had reason to study the way in which many people have been trying to snuff out the opportunity for people to advertise tobacco or even to smoke it. We now find that the subsidies have been the subject of unbelievable frauds, and I am deeply grateful to my hon. Friend for drawing our attention to that tragic case.

Sir Richard Body

Surely only in this country and Denmark is there sufficient knowledge of what is going on, through our census systems, to provide any form of policing. That information is not available in the remaining 10 countries. There is an almost total absence of such information in Italy and it is almost completely absent in Portugal—as my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) has said—and the other countries. We cannot pursue the allegations of fraud and will never achieve any sensible control over the extravagance of the common agricultural policy until the other 10 countries have the same sort of information that Denmark and the United Kingdom have.

Mr. Cash

Absolutely—and it is interesting that my hon. Friend should mention the United Kingdom and Denmark. Ultimately, those of us with a much more refined belief in the rule of law are fighting hardest to preserve democracy. That is the key element. I am delighted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has just entered the Chamber—no doubt he has not come to listen to my speech. I missed him during the debate on economic and monetary union that went through the night; he is, after all, in charge of the finances of this country. I had hoped that we might have had at least one or two observations from him on the way in which our economic and monetary affairs are being handed over to other countries to run.

I gave an example of the manner in which the Court of Auditors had had difficulties over Greece and Portugal, but that is not the end of the matter. I understand from the document that, in Spain, an effective instrument for controlling plantations has only existed since 1986, the year in which a 'register of vineyards with entitlement to replant' was opened in certain of the autonomous regions of the country. Regrettably, the all-too-familiar picture re-emerges. The report continues: This register does not, however, meet all the requirements of Community legislation. In Castille-La-Mancha"— the very spot where Don Quixote was doubtless tilting at windmills—unlike us—some centuries ago— for example, vineyards which had already been grubbed up but in respect of which the grubbing-up operation had not been regularly declared were entered in the register. To quote some Ministers who say it, the fact of the matter is that the document justifying entry in the register only states the fact that the wine grower is the owner of the vineyard and that he made a grubbing-up declaration on a certain date.

The report continues: the date of grubbing-up is not clearly indicated in any declaration submitted and recorded at the time the operation was carried out. That is not what we would describe as fraud of the sort associated with the corruption of the Mafia. It involves a way of life and a way of business.

Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian)

It is called the enterprise culture.

Mr. Cash

It is certainly enterprise viniculture. The way in which such people approach the issues involves their culture. That is one of my basic objections to the treaty. It is not merely a matter of simply drawing on a piece of paper some sort of glorified nirvana for the benefit of the bureaucrats, so that they can ease their consciences. It is not so that the bureaucrats can assume that bits of paper have been prepared or that—as in the previous debate—the bureaucrats come up with a so-called pillar to overcome the difficulty posed by the Commission and Mr. Delors wanting a bit more foreign policy control. These pieces of paper are very dangerous indeed; moreover, they do not work.

Recently, I had dinner with a former Prime Minister. She asked me for my view on Europe. I said that I thought her task much more difficult than Churchill's. She asked why I thought that. I said, "He was faced with bombs and aircraft; you are faced only with pieces of paper." Those pieces of paper have a deceptive way about them, particularly when they are locked into legal requirements: they are far more difficult for us to deal with.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells) and I spent many years as fellow members of the Standing Committee on European Legislation. My hon. Friend has been to the Court of Auditors with me. We had a very interesting time. The Government Whip, my hon. Friend the Member for Stevenage (Mr. Wood), is laughing: he obviously does not think that the Court of Auditors has been doing the job that it ought to have been doing. The fact is, however, that we have had first-hand experience of the underlying questions about which the court was concerned.

Mr. Carey, whom we met—I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford remembers him—has been very critical not only of the basis on which things are going, but of the way in which they would go under these arrangements.

Mr. Skinner

What did she say about the bits of paper?

Mr. Cash

I will not elaborate on that conversation. I will say, however, that she had, and still has, a very clear idea of the need for value for money. She knew what was going on.

I regret to say that, in the same report, the very question that was at the centre of one of her practical concerns—the Fontainebleau agreement, and our rebate—is now under attack from other member states, including Germany. The Court of Auditors' report has quite a lot to say about that.

Mr. Skinner

They need the money to pay for the vineyards.

Mr. Cash

That is true.

My hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Harris) has just come in. I do not wish to leave any hon. Member out of the debate; I am sure that everyone wants to contribute throughout the night. I must say, however, that the Court of Auditors' reports have some important things to say about fishing activities, with which I shall deal in due course. What is going on now in relation to fishing operations has a great deal to do with the way in which the moneys are disbursed: our fishermen are worried about the way in which the system functions, and that has led to many of the comments in the reports.

I briefly mentioned the court's view about the progress still needed to make the reform of the structural funds fully effective. Hon. Members may recall that there was a motion relating to cohesion funds last night. I do not know why we were in a position to vote on a matter that relates to the Edinburgh summit, which, as far as I know, has no authority whatever. I have no way of knowing whether it is possible for us to vote on a matter relating to cohesion funds, when, as far as I know, there is no authorisation in law. I have the greatest difficulty in understanding that.

The structural funds are part of the European Community's responsibilities. Some years ago, my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood)— now a senior Minister of State—and I were in the House when the structural funds were first given substantial refurbishment. That refurbishment, the internal financing of which is the subject of the Court of Auditors' report, amounted to an absolutely massive increase in the amount of money which was made available under them.

11 pm

We are pouring out huge sums of money on a regional and social engineering exercise, compatible with the treaty as it is developing, that is essentially socialist in nature. [Interruption.] I suspect that the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Stevenson) knows what I am about to say. I should like to know whether any of the money which is being frittered away on these corrupt and fraudulent activities and which is not being properly audited in these other countries could come to this country to help to pay miners who are being thrown out of work as a result of the decision that was taken by the House last night. I should like to know whether my miners, in Madeley and elsewhere in the Stafford constituency, could obtain. genuine access to that money.

Sir Teddy Taylor

Can my hon. Friend make it abundantly clear to the Stafford constituency miners, and to all the people of Britain, that not one penny of the cohesion fund will come to Britain? The real tragedy is that our friends from Northern Ireland, who attend these debates so assiduously, cannot get a penny, while a few miles away, in the Republic of Ireland, money is being poured in from the cohesion fund. This was slipped on to the Order Paper late last night when no one knew, and it appeared to break every parliamentary rule and convention. It is a terrible scandal. Nobody cares. Nobody has looked into it. Sadly, no one here can now do a thing about it.

Mr. Cash

My hon. Friend has, as usual, made an extremely good point. What lies at the heart of—

Mr. Bowen Wells (Hertford and Stortford)

On a point of order, Mr. Lofthouse. Is the last statement by the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) remotely true? Has the Clerk advised you that the authority of the House of Commons has been usurped in the way that my hon. Friend suggested?

Sir Teddy Taylor

Further to that point of order, Mr. Lofthouse. If we read what the Select Committee says, it tells the whole story. There is no precedent in the history of the United Kingdom Parliament of money being allocated for legislation before it has been approved. I will give my hon. Friend the papers, if he likes to come along here and get them.

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. There is nothing out of order at this stage, but I advise hon. Members to stick to the amendment. We are from time to time going well beyond the scope of the debate.

Mr. Cash

I am sticking rigidly, I am sure you will agree, Mr. Lofthouse—

Mr. Wells

Further to that point of order, Mr. Lofthouse. I appreciate your ruling on the matter, but what my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East said is, I believe, a calumny on both your office and that of the Clerks. I also believe that you should rule on whether or not his accusations are accurate.

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. That is not a matter for the Chair. I cannot rule upon it.

Mr. Bill Walker

On a point of order, Mr. Lofthouse. One ought to seek clarification before attempting to speak. I hope you will therefore understand why I raise this matter. It is in order, I imagine, to look at the way in which the Community looks after its funds and resources and at how it attempts to police them. It is relevant, therefore, in this debate to cover those aspects.

Sir Teddy Taylor

Further to that point of order, Mr. Lofthouse. May I make it abundantly clear that there was no question of me in any way criticising the Clerks or the occupant of the Chair? What I criticised was something that happened last night which was absolutely shameful. It was not the fault in any way of the Chair or the Clerk. My hon. Friend knows that, if he likes to come along, I shall show it all to him.

The First Deputy Chairman

It would be a good idea now to get back to the debate.

Mr. Corbyn

On a point of order, Mr. Lofthouse. The statement made by the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) seems to me to be of great importance and seriousness. If indeed moneys have been expended without the authority of Parliament, surely that is a matter for the whole House to discuss with some urgency. There is a basic principle in law in this country that Government expenditure is not made without the authority of the House.

The First Deputy Chairman

That is not a matter for the Chair.

Mr. Cash

It may not be a matter for the Chair, Mr. Lofthouse, but it is certainly a matter for hon. Members, as I am sure that you will appreciate. Therefore, it is in order for us to discuss these questions because, if our own Parliament is to go in for an illegal budget, which was admitted by Ministers last year, and is now agreeing in resolutions to arrangements which affect the manner in which we dispense money to the cohesion fund, which has not yet been established, because this treaty is not yet through—which is what I understand the position to be —then quite clearly we have reason to be deeply concerned.

My complaint about these provisions and the internal financing of the Community is that there is not the structure, or, as the Court of Auditors says, the organisation, the equivalent of Standing Orders, or the equivalent legislation to ensure that rules are properly obeyed. That is the problem. That is what is at the heart of all this and what concerns me. If we are now slipping into the same kind of thing as a result of giving spurious authorisation before the treaty has been ratified to cohesion funds, I fear for the future of the House.

My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) has suggested that I should get the parrot off my shoulder—or words to that effect—but this Maastricht treaty is a dead parrot; the only problem is that it keeps on talking.

I wish to concentrate on the important questions that are the crux of this matter. The economic and political defeatism that lies at the heart of not monitoring the internal financing of the Community, which, by common consent, is not being done properly, is the exact opposite of the way in which we have built up our democratic institutions. It is the divergence of our cultural and our practical approaches to these questions that causes so many of the difficulties that we experience in relation to provisions of this kind.

When it comes to the discharge of the Commission's budget or, indeed, to what happens next year if all this has gone through, and I am asked what I think about whether we ought to give more power to the European Parliament on all these matters, I will look at what is going on, knowing perfectly well that the European Parliament will not be able to cope with it, whereas I know that the House could. I do not want these provisions to go through. This is not an improvement. It does not follow that, merely because we are giving people more power, giving ever-greater opportunities for closer union—indeed, actually creating a union, not merely closer union—we will improve the internal finances of the Community.

At the end of the day, the bottom line in all Parliaments is the raising of money and the dispensing of public expenditure. [Interruption.]

The First Deputy Chairman

Order.

Mr. Cash

I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East was raising a point of order, but, unfortunately, he has just tottered into the Chamber.

Mr. Dykes

I have got the vapours.

Mr. Cash

I am now told that he has got the vapours. I do not know whether that was a point of order, but it was made from a sedentary position.

The problems that I was identifying in respect of the structural funds are extremely important to what is happening in the Community. Those structural funds are being vastly increased at an unacceptable rate.

It was made clear by some, but not by the Government, that, as part of the deal at Edinburgh, the Germans were to receive substantially increased structural funds and cohesion funds to enable them to improve standards of living in eastern Germany. The money involved ran into billions of pounds.

I should like to know whether it is a good idea for us to be giving vast amounts of money by way of transfers of resources to eastern Germany when the Germans are investing massively through the Treuhand or otherwise —

Mr. Dykes

Treuhand.

Mr. Cash

My hon. Friend speaks German so eloquently he might be thought to be a German.

The Germans have now managed to raise their level of investment in eastern Europe to 85 per cent.

I know that you are watching me with great care, Mr. Lofthouse, and I understand why, and I would not want to dissuade you from doing that, as I will stick rigidly to the internal finances of the Community. I am now coming to the second point to which the court has referred.

Mr. Wells

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Cash

No. I have great affection for my hon. Friend, but it does not extend—

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. The hon. Member is not giving way.

Mr. Wells

Can my hon. Friend explain himself? He was referring to 85 per cent. of what?

Mr. Cash

Some 85 per cent. of the foreign investment that has been accumulated in eastern Europe has come from German sources. I do not hold that against the Germans, but if they have all that money to invest in seed corn in an area that is outside the European Community because it is a low wage area, I should like to know, in relation to the internal finances of the Community, why we arc paying billions of pounds to eastern Germany. That is the practical point that I wanted to make.

Sir Teddy Taylor

We should like to know how it was that eight nations came back from Edinburgh saying, "We are going to be in billions", but no one was saying who would have to pay for it. Surely that is what is wrong with the internal finances which are the subject of the amendment. They all came back from Edinburgh and were treated as national heroes, but we are still trying to find out who will have to pay for it. Someone is being conned and we should know who it is. I should like to know the facts and if my hon. Friend could find out, we should be greatly obliged.

Mr. Cash

At the heart of my hon. Friend's intervention is another important point. If we make transfers on the basis of these socialist theories to other countries and the money simply goes down the plug hole with corruption and so on, the member states will have encouraged an attitude of mind which is self-perpetuating. They simply want to draw more and more money into the system with less and less control over it.

Mr. Corbyn

May I bring the hon. Member back to the structural funds? Many people are concerned about the vast funds that go to road construction and other construction projects in Greece, Spain and Portugal, often against the strong opposition of environmental interests and of people who live in those areas. Governments have accepted this money because they have been told that it has to be spent within a limited time and it ends with them riding roughshod over local planning, environment and agricultural considerations. Does the hon. Member not think that these are serious matters which are endemic in any highly centralised economic undertaking?

11.15 pm
Mr. Cash

It has not been often that I have found myself in agreement with the hon. Gentleman, but he has put his finger on an important point there.

In the Court of Auditors' report, severe criticisms are made of the manner in which, in the aftermath of earthquakes in Italy, the system has been operated. It is well known that the system has not resulted in the money going to the people who are earthquake victims. It has gone to line the pockets of contractors and jerry builders and that group.

Several hon. Members

rose

Mr. Cash

I am besieged on all sides, but I shall give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton).

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

In replying to the intervention from the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) is dealing with an area which causes immense concern to many Conservative Members and, it appears, to many Opposition Members as well: that structural funds are not spent for the purpose that they appear to be allocated for. They are allocated, in fact, to various countries as inducements. They are being spent exactly as the hon. Member for Islington, North said—on unnecessary infrastructure projects. The sums are merely spent because they have that money in the pipeline, in the bank, and if they do not spend it by a specific time, they will lose it and will not get an increased allowance under the structural fund in the following financial year.

Mr. Cash

That is yet another valuable insight. I see that my right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Sir T. Higgins), the former Chairman of the Select Committee on the Treasury and Civil Service, has just come in. I bet that he would not have approved of all the fraud that we have been unearthing as we go through this Court of Auditors' report. It is a matter of considerable interest to the people of this country.

I should like to come back to the intervention from the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn). I have here a reference by the court to the reconstruction projects in areas devastated by earthquakes, which have received New Community Instrument—NCI—loans and interest rate subsidies.

The court concluded that although the aid was justified —and who would not have wanted to give aid to those wretched earthquake victims?—there were considerable delays and weaknesses in the financial control of the work.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

On a point of order, Mr. Lofthouse, I wonder whether you have had notification from the Liberal party and the Welsh nationalist party that, when they voted with the Government for the debate to continue, they would be frequently, if not continuously, absent from the debate which they, by their votes, kept going?

The First Deputy Chairman

The hon. Member knows that that is not a point of order for the Chair.

Mr. Cash

The court concluded that although the aid was justified, there were considerable delays and weaknesses in the financial control of the work. The court recommended that where finance was not used in accordance with the objective, the Commission should request repayment of the interest subsidy. That must be regarded as a serious matter—[Interruption.] I am delighted to note, with the entry into the Chamber of the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood), that a kind of telepathy is at work. We thought that his hon. Friends had lost the "c" in Liberal Democrats. It was becoming difficult for us to be sure whether they would be attending our proceedings.

Mr. Bill Walker

My hon. Friend has been speaking to the amendment for a considerable time. How can any Liberal Democrat comment on his contribution, not having been present for most of it?

Mr. Cash

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that pertinent intervention and I shall, albeit briefly, return to the point raised in an intervention by my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford about the counterpart fund rules and responsibilities in respect of eastern Europe. Indeed, I was about to consider the question of internal financing in that connection when my hon. Friend raised the issue with me. We are told in respect of eastern Europe that the monitoring of the planning, implementation and control of projects which are contracted out is inadequate, while internal control and monitoring of the European Development Fund are insufficient. That is stated by the Court of Auditors, so we should be wary about allowing increased competences. The greater the competences, the greater the amount of internal financing; and the greater the corruption that I am exposing, the greater the reason for reducing the amount that goes into internal financing. In other words, there is less reason for the Maastricht treaty, which is expanding competences in every direction.

Mr. George Stevenson (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the fourth resource among the elements of resource that member states contribute to the financing of the Community is a percentage of VAT receipts? As member states increase their VAT receipts, they increase their contributions to the Community. Accordingly, does he agree that that fourth resource should not be expanded—[Interruption.]—by the decision of a member state?

Mr. Cash

There seems to be such overwhelming rejection of the hon. Gentleman's argument that I, too, have no hesitation in disagreeing with him. But with respect to the Trentham pit, it is a pity that we cannot be guaranteed the kind of money that is available to the German and French coal miners. Lest I be ruled out of order, I mention the coal issue, Mr. Lofthouse, because it is related directly to internal financing. The European Commission has authorised for 1991, the last year for which figures are available, £6 billion by way of EC state aid for the coal mines in Germany. For France, the sum is £2 billion and for the United Kingdom £160 million.

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. I take the hon. Gentleman's point—[HON. MEMBERS: "It is a good point."] It may or may not be a good point. If the hon. Gentleman is suggesting that there has been fraud or questionable auditing in coal mining matters, that is in order, but if he is not suggesting that, it is out of order.

Mr. Cash

It would be out of order were it not for the fact that I shall now deal briefly with RECHAR, which relates directly to the absolute iniquity of the fact that the miners of the United Kingdom—as a result of the accountants—

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. Whatever the hon. Gentleman may feel, is he suggesting that there has been fraud in the allocation of RECHAR? If not, he is out of order.

Mr. Cash

I am glad to respond to that point, Mr. Lofthouse. The question of internal financing may be partly a matter of fraud, but it may also be a matter of wrong accounting. As you may recall, Mr. Lofthouse, the great issue about RECHAR is the manner in which the United Kingdom has organised the accounting arrangements for the moneys that would go to the coalfield communities. Therefore, I believe that I am in order and, as I promised, I will remain faithful to your injunction to stick to the issue in question.

Mr. Home Robertson

What I have to say may be helpful. The hon. Gentleman is saying that the money is being applied fraudulently. Surely the problem identified by Commissioner Milian is that the British Government were embezzling European Community money which was not being used as additional money, on top of funds which would have been spent by the Government in any case. The lack of additionality has been a case of fraud by the Government in the use of EC funds.

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. The hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) must now stick to auditing and fraud or I shall continue to rule him out of order.

Mr. Cash

I am grateful to you, Mr. Lofthouse. Internal audit and fraud are adjacent issues, but I will finish with the question of coal mines and audit because I have made my point.

Another difficulty is that of the practices used by the European Commission to collect revenue, and this is an extraordinary state of affairs. The Court of Auditors states that the practices used by the Commission are contrary to the financial regulation. In other words, not only is the House—according to Ministers last year or the year before —engaging in illegal budgets, but the Commission itself is collecting revenue in a manner contrary to financial regulation. We are told that a number of gaps arise owing to the fact that management responsibilities are shared by the Commission and the member states.

My hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, Central (Mr. Lord) will be interested in my next point. The court also concluded that there were deficiencies in the supporting documentation—some of which appears to have landed beside me, although I am not sure from where—submitted by member states in respect of agricultural guarantee expenditure.

I have already given a number of examples of fraud and the way in which the European agricultural guidance and guarantee fund has been defrauded, but I wish to cite another example.

Mr. Lord

With regard to fraud, is not the basic fact that elected representatives must keep very sharp and careful control of expenditure? We all know how difficult it is for district and county councils to do this. It is also difficult for the House of Commons —

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. It is difficult for me to ascertain whether the hon. Gentleman is in order. The buzz in the Chamber is so great that I cannot hear what he is saying.

Mr. Lord

I am sorry about that, Mr. Lofthouse. I was asking my hon. Friend—

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman must address the Chair.

Mr. Lord

I am sorry, Mr. Lofthouse. I thought that I had addressed you by name.

11.30 pm
The First Deputy Chairman

The hon. Gentleman must face the Chair.

Mr. Lord

I shall face the Chair throughout my intervention.

I was putting to my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) the point that fraud is very difficult to control. Uncovering fraud is a crucial part of the role of elected representatives, whether they are members of district councils, county councils or the House of Commons. A crucial task of public representatives is to keep a very sharp eye on public expenditure. It is difficult enough to do that at the level of a national Parliament, but it is almost impossible at the European level, where one encounters Commissioners and all the problems to which my hon. Friend is referring. I should like my hon. Friend to indicate that he accepts this point and to comment on it.

Mr. Cash

I am very happy to do so. The really important question is whether we have a system buttressed by people who are asking the right questions. That is the importance of Prime Minister's Question Time and of the questions that are put by members of Select Committees.

Mr. Corbyn

I hope that the hon. Gentleman, before drawing his remarks to a conclusion, will give some indication of the means by which this fraud was uncovered and of the powers of individual Members of this or any other national Parliament to question those who perpetrated the fraud and to ensure that those people are prosecuted.

Mr. Cash

In the first place, there is. power to seek evidence from, for example, members of the Court of Auditors—a power which is sometimes exercised. Just as we visited the Court of Auditors, members of the court could visit this country. I note that the Chairman of the Select Committee on European Legislation has such enthusiasm for this debate that he has come into the Chamber twice. I have no doubt that, if the Committee were to agree, he could invite members of the Court of Auditors to visit this place so that we might achieve the symmetry that has been referred to. Thus the internal financing of the Community could be reported upon directly. The Court of Auditors could explain to us how it had arrived at its conclusions.

Mrs. Gorman

The Court of Auditors uncovers fraud, but the sums involved are so astronomical—recently £45 million was fiddled by, I think, the wine growers in the south of Italy—that it is impossible to recover them without bankrupting countries—and Italy is bankrupt already. Is not the ultimate fraud and obscenity that people in this country are unable to sleep tonight because the VAT man is breathing down their necks? They cannot put together the money that they need to pay their VAT bills, and they will go out of business tomorrow.

Mr. Cash

I was delighted with the reforms in the Budget which I hope will go some way to improving the position which my hon. Friend has mentioned. It was a remarkably good provision in the Budget which will relieve small businesses of the difficulties which they have been experiencing.

If I may turn to matters relating to fisheries—

Sir Teddy Taylor

Before my hon. Friend moves on to fishing, will he, to try to prove the point, ask the Treasury Minister what progress has been made over the 17 million lire paid to the Mafia for the delivery of non-existent fruit juice to NATO headquarters in Palermo? No matter whether it was found out by the European Parliament, the fraud department or anybody else, we have told the Government four times about it, but we have yet to hear about anything being done. I hope that my hon. Friend will agree that the problem is not finding the fraud but in getting anyone to do anything about it.

Mr. Cash

My hon. Friend is completely right. Non-existent fruit juice is not an enjoyable drink. If, in addition to that unpleasant drink, we find that they are ripping us off at the same time, the most serious penalties should be visited upon these people. Apparently there is no way of identifying where the fruit juice is or even whether it ever existed.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

My hon. Friend is talking about fraud or the misuse of public money, particularly money which has come from the hard-pressed taxpayers of this country. Are we in a position to do anything about it when so many within the Community, whether they are part of the Commission or are members of the European Assembly, are part of the gravy train which is using the money? The European Community appears to have huge sums of money which it can spend on taking people to Strasbourg and to Brussels. Is it likely, therefore, that the people there will do anything about the abuse or that the House will have a real say in getting the fraud exterminated from the activities of the European Community?

Mr. Cash

My hon. Friend has made yet another extremely valuable intervention with his usual vehemence, enthusiasm and conviction. The real problem is that nobody is doing anything about it. As long as we allow ourselves to be neutered as a Parliament, and as long as that other body which is the neuter of the European

Parliament is allowed to expand its neutered competences, nothing will be done about it. The problem is called political defeatism.

I see a Government Whip shaking his head. I remember conversations with him in the past when he agreed with every word I had to say on the subject. I have not the slightest doubt that he is putting me in his little black book because an hon. Member is not supposed to make rude remarks to Whips on duty. I am watching him with great interest; if for one minute his poker face slips and he shakes his head yet again, I have to say that we, too, note these things down in our little black book.

Mr. Corbyn

I asked earlier about how fraud is discovered. The hon. Gentleman said that, theoretically, the Court of Auditors could be questioned by a Committee of this Parliament. What powers do we have to do anything about the fraud in EC institutions on structural funds, the CAP and in many other areas? People throughout Europe pay taxes and much of that money seems to find its way into the hands of the Mafia or into grandiose, unwanted and often badly built construction projects that are of no use to anybody. We need to know how to sort that out.

Mr. Cash

The hon. Gentleman raises an important issue. There is an arrangement by which member states are responsible for monitoring many of those funds and invigilating in questions that arise in connection with them. Fraud could also be dealt with not merely by macro-economic reports—which is what the reports are —but by individual citizens in each member state. It is open to British courts to take action on fraud, but the issue that I am addressing is the internal financing of the Community. I mention that again in case hon. Members did not hear me refer to it recently. Macro-economic questions are an aggregation of individual frauds, which are often substantial. People may laugh about that fraud, but we should not forget that the British taxpayer pays for a great deal of it.

Mr. Bill Walker

Does my hon. Friend not think that it is unwise for anyone to imagine that nation states which are being asked to police the substantial largesse that they receive, and especially politicians who are often re-elected on a platform of such expenditure, will apply themselves in the disciplined way that we understand is necessary?

Mr. Cash

My hon. Friend is right. There is a kind of Parkinson's disease, let alone a Parkinson's law, in relation to the competences of the European Community. The greater the competences, the weaker the body politic, and the more the Parkinson's disease works its way into the accounting system.

Mr. Leighton

One of the reasons for rampant fraud in the Community is that the investigation, inspection and policing are carried out by the member states. Inspectors have no real motivation to investigate because any money that they save does not go to their Governments but back to the Community. Many officials in Italy seem to be working hand in glove with the Mafia. Can we be confident that they are carrying out any inspections at all?

Mr. Cash

I can speak from personal experience because I spoke to the Court of Auditors a few years ago. I was told about a case in southern Italy in which the court was trying to get hold of dockets for a transaction. Every time the court officials arrived at one town, the dockets had been moved to another. It was a kind of merry-go-round. For the reasons that the hon. Gentleman mentions, it is difficult to exercise control.

Mr. Roy Beggs (Antrim, East)

The hon. Gentleman agrees, I hope, that we must have confidence in our own state and administration and in co-operation between neighbouring states before we can criticise the super-Euro state. I am apprehensive about fraud ever being properly investigated in the European Community, because since 1983–84 the fraud of international investments perpetrated mainly on people in Northern Ireland and Great Britain has not been properly investigated by the British or Irish Governments. If we cannot look after fraud on our own doorstep, how can we expect fraud to be properly looked after in Europe?

Mr. Cash

The experience, as I have understood it, in Northern Ireland and the difficulties with these transfers of cattle from one side of the border to the other and back again—

Mr. Rogers

It is a carousel.

Mr. Cash

The hon. Gentleman says that it is a carousel. It is an incredible state of affairs. Every time they go round, they collect another lot. There is a remarkable story, which I have no reason to doubt is true, of fraud with regard to cattle and their slaughter in Italy. It was decided that a convenient way of identifying fraud would be to ask the Italian farmers to produce as evidence of slaughter the ear of an individual beast. It was not long before there were a lot of cattle with only one ear wandering round the plains of Italy. Then somebody else had an idea and people cut off both ears, so that they got double the amount of money and still kept the cattle on the plains of Italy. The ingenuity of these fraudsters is unbelievable.

Not only is the story true; it is an indication of the lack of accountability and audit.

11.45 pm
Mr. Barry Porter (Wirral, South)

My hon. Friend knows full well that I have some sympathy with his general views about the efficacy of the European Community. However, I hope that he will think about facing reality, and the reality is this: the bulk of the official Opposition went home ages ago. I counted them and about 40 to 50 hon. Members are left here, of whom 10 to 15 have no option but to be here—

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. What has that got to do with this amendment?

Mr. Porter

A great deal, Mr. Lofthouse.

The First Deputy Chairman

As far as I can ascertain, it has nothing whatever to do with the amendment.

Mr. Cash

I am grateful to you, Mr. Lofthouse, for dispatching that irrelevant intervention.

I wish to move on now, as I would have done but for the enthusiasm of hon. Members who, unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral, South (Mr. Porter), wish to participate in the debate because they appreciate the impact that all this is having on their constituents. What I cannot understand is why my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral, South, who generally sympathises with us in this matter, is not prepared to take the kind of interest in the debate which his views, as expressed to me in the past, would suggest. That is a matter for him, but it is not a matter for him to come along to the House and start moaning and groaning—

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. It is a matter for the hon. Member to address himself to the amendment and not to his hon. Friend.

Mr. Cash

I am delighted to be able to ignore my hon. Friend on this occasion.

Mr. Cryer

The hon. Gentleman made a point about fraud and its effect on the British taxpayer. Will he give an estimate of the amount of money that has disappeared in fraud from the £14 billion that was paid by the British taxpayer between 1980 and 1990 to the Common Market? These grants are paraded about as though the European Community were giving us something, whereas all it is doing is giving us some of our own money back. It goes to Brussels, is laundered and comes back in a much smaller proportion, and yet it is paraded as though something is being conceded to us.

Of the £5 billion a year that we now contribute, will the hon. Member hazard a guess at how much disappears in fraud? My constituents, who are very hard pressed to meet the demands on them for local tax, income tax and VAT, which now dominates tax revenue, would certainly be interested to know. If that figure were widely disseminated, there is no doubt that the widespread hostility to Maastricht would be greatly reinforced.

Mr. Cash

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. He is talking about the kind of financial carousel that we see with the cattle in Northern Ireland. As the money goes round and round the system, no doubt people are taking their slice of it all the way round, and that makes a substantial contribution to the fraudulent activities that we are discussing.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer is a governor of the European investment bank, and we contribute 19 per cent. of its capital. It is a matter for concern that, irrespective of the amount that we contribute, we are financing huge tranches of Italian industry. We get back out of the bank far less in loans than do the Italians, who I understand receive 40 per cent. of all the loans made. If I am wrong —my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East appears to have the vapours again. Every time such a matter is mentioned he says that what is being said is nonsense. I should be delighted if he would intervene if he can explain to me where I am wrong. Clearly he does not dare to speak, because he knows that he does not have the facts; he shows that he disagrees with me, but he does not come up with any evidence.

Mr. Wells

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Cash

Yes, of course.

Mr. Wells

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for at last giving way to someone who is informed on such matters. He has previously failed to do me the honour of giving way to me on other such matters, which has distressed me. Does he agree that the European investment bank is financed basically by Government guarantee—that the money is raised on the money markets of Europe and of the rest of the international community, and then re-lent? Perhaps the interest rates and charges of the European investment bank are unattractive to British investors and more attractive to Italian investors. It is wrong for my hon. Friend to mislead the Committee by suggesting that we are giving money from our Treasury and our taxpayers to that bank. I should be grateful if he would make that clear.

Mr. Cash

I should be more than happy to confirm what I have just said: that the European investment bank has a system and that part of that system concerns the making of loans. On the figures that I have—I am always open to correction and always delighted to be corrected whenever necessary; I would never want to mislead the Committee in any way—40 per cent. of the loans made are made to Italy.

Another matter that should be the subject of close audit and scrutiny is the fact that France appears to get about 25 per cent. of the European investment bank grants in aid to small businesses, whereas the United Kingdom receives only 2 or 3 per cent. The auditors should examine that imbalance closely. As with coal subsidies, we get the wrong end of the stick. If there were a level playing field in the European Community, as we are making a substantial contribution of 19 per cent. of the capital of the investment bank there would seem to be good reason for us to expect an equitable sum by way of return. I do not know what the reasons are.

The Paymaster General (Sir John Cope)

If my hon. Friend wants to know anything about the borrowing from or the lending by the European investment bank, he can look in the annual report which is available to him. All the figures are shown and divided clearly there. I do not have the figures with me tonight, because they have nothing to do with the amendment.

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. The hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) has been given some latitude tonight. He has strained my patience from time to time. In our previous encounter, although he identified the movement of finance, he identified no fraud. We must get back to the amendment. The debate has been going on for a long time. It is becoming very tedious and repetitious in many aspects. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will bear that in mind.

Mr. Cash

Indeed.

Mr. Bill Walker

On a point of order, Mr. Lofthouse. You will have heard the Paymaster General say that this debate has nothing to do with the European investment bank. If the guarantee given by the United Kingdom on behalf of United Kingdom taxpayers was called upon to be taken up, that would surely be a matter of interest in the internal finance of the European Community.

The First Deputy Chairman

That point is hypothetical at the moment. The Chair is not responsible for what the Paymaster General says.

Mr. Cash

The report by the Court of Auditors deals at some length with the European investment bank and its functions. I will leave it at that.

The First Deputy Chairman

Order. But does the report deal with fraud?

Mr. Cash

It does deal in part with questions that relate to fraudulent activities. I will now move on to fisheries matters, which are of great importance to this country at the moment. I will describe some of the problems that have arisen in relation to internal financing, as exemplified by the report by the Court of Auditors.

I cite the example of a Portuguese sardine fishery. It is regrettable that a system was set up in relation to a Portuguese sardine fishery. I see that the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, that great Euroenthusiast, has now come into the Chamber. This is a matter which falls directly within his responsibilities. Perhaps he can throw some light on the problem.

The producer organisation in question had established a withdrawal period of fewer than 115 days for all vessels. As the Commission had accepted the approach prescribed for that producer organisation, compensation was paid for days on which no fishing would be carried out anyway. That added about 40 per cent. to the European taxpayers' contribution. It is incredible that such a thing can be allowed to go on. It is not just a question whether the Court of Auditors has identified that problem after the event. The question is how the arrangements are set up in the first place and how they go on with nothing being done. That is an especially bad case.

Another example concerns Spain, which is dealt with on page 111 of the Court of Auditors' report of 15 December 1992. It states that, after some investigation, Finally, an on-the-spot inspection revealed that one fishing vessel that was in dry dock for repairs had not submitted its 'rol de despacho' and, that therefore, this period may be considered a period of fishing activity. Those examples have caused the Court of Auditors considerable concern and they ought to cause us concern, especially given the great difficulties that fishing problems have caused us recently.

12 midnight

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn

As one sardine to another, may I say that if any fraud is being committed, it is by the hon. Member boring us to death all night unnecessarily?

Mr. Cash

I am glad that my hon. and learned Friend was able to get up and to sit down as quickly as he did. I would not want to refer to his state of mind, but the Committee shuddered as he collapsed in a heap after that brilliant intervention.

Many matters need to be brought out in this debate and no doubt many other hon. Members would like to speak. I should be only too delighted to ensure that the issue can be given the thorough investigation that it deserves, as I have only scratched the surface of the subject.

Sir John Cope

My invervention might be helpful to the Committee at this point, particulary if I deal with the amendment. I appreciate that it has many ramifications and my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) has gone through many of those lying a long way behind it. In doing so he has made out a good case against amendment No.230, which he tabled.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stafford may want more elaborate controls. At one time he seemed to suggest total integration of the Community and a federal state with a strong central authority as the only solution to fraud in the Community. That does not appeal to me, and I am sure that it does not appeal to him either. Nevertheless, he seemed to suggest that it was the only way to deal with those problems.

I realise that my hon. Friend would want to go much further to control Community expenditure and the way in which it is dispensed, but in my view that is not an argument for passing the amendment. On the contrary,. if the amendment were passed it would delete some of the very provisions in the treaty which strengthen the fight against fraud—and I hope that I am second to none in wishing the fight against fraud to carry on.

Many criticisms of expenditure have been made arid all sorts of examples of fraud within the Community have been produced, mostly from the reports of the Court of Auditors. My hon. Friend the Member for Stafford referred to the report on the 1991 budget, which the House debated on 10 March.

Mr. Leighton

Does the Minister agree that the best way to end fraud would be to do away with the awful common agricultural policy, in which fraud is endemic? Should we not exercise some sort of subsidiarity and let each country run its own agriculture?

Sir John Cope

I do not agree, but I will return to the CAP a little later.

Amendment No. 230 seeks to remove that section of the treaty which replaces the existing article 206b with a new article 206. The new article repeats many of the words in the existing article, but adds in paragraph 1—significantly —that special reports by the Court of Auditors are to be examined, where relevant, by the Council and the European Parliament.

The real addition, however, occurs in paragraphs 2, 3 and the fourth paragraph, which strengthen the fight against fraud in the Community, and we are all agreed that it is desirable to do that. It would be a mistake not to include in the treaty those paragraphs or the other sections which strengthen the fight against fraud and which were negotiated at Maastricht. It would, therefore, be a mistake to pass amendment No. 230.

A number of other issues have been raised, to which I should respond at least briefly, although some of them were less than central to the argument about amendment No. 230. My hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) was concerned that the imposition of value added tax on fuel would swell European Community funds, and an Opposition Member raised a similar point. As I believe my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford acknowledged, it is a mistake to imagine that the calculation of the VAT resource is done on a standardised basis. That issue relates to amendment No. 57, which appears in a later group of amendments.

I reject the charge made by my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and others that Ministers have not taken up the fight against fraud in the Community. We have done so in a series of ways during our presidency, and also in the negotiation of the Maastricht treaty, particularly in article 206, which amendment No. 230 seeks to delete.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

My right hon. Friend has just skipped over an important issue by saying that the Government did their best over that section of the Maastricht treaty dealing with fraud. What was done to reduce fraud? It would be helpful to know that. We have had about two hours of debate on fraud, but we are still unconvinced that we are able to do what should be done about the high level of fraud and corruption in the Community.

Sir John Cope

We have, on a number of occasions, stated some of the steps that were taken in the Maastricht treaty. Article 206, to which the amendment relates, plays an important part in that process. It gives enhanced powers to examine the Commission's implementation of the budget. The Court of Auditors is required to give a statement of assurance on the reliability of the Community's accounts. The European Parliament has additional powers to obtain the necessary information in the course of examining the Commission on the basis of the annual report. Under article 206 of the Maastricht treaty, that power also covers any relevant special reports made by the Court of Auditors.

In the past few months we have had some other successes in the fight against fraud, some of which will be discussed in the House on other occasions not connected with the Maastricht treaty. Amendments to the financial regulations mean that the Commission's spending proposals must in future be accompanied by a justification of each programme on grounds of cost-effectiveness. I attach considerable importance to that. It will help the Council of Ministers to make proper decisions about the implementation of the various programmes leading to expenditure.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

My right hon. Friend is being very helpful.

Let us suppose that, as a Conservative Back Bencher, I receive evidence of what I consider to be misuse of public structural funds given to, for instance, Portugal. Should I raise the matter with my right hon. Friend, or should I go direct to the Court of Auditors? How does a Back Bencher who is concerned about what he sees as the misuse of public funds—or fraud, or corruption—raise such matters?

Sir John Cope

My hon. Friend can take whichever course he chooses. Certainly I would encourage him to come to me, if he wished to do so, with information about any fraud that was being perpetrated in connection with Community funds or, for that matter, in connection with United Kingdom Government funds. I would encourage him to approach me, or whoever is doing my job. Of course, if he wished, he could approach the Court of Auditors directly.

Mr. Bill Walker

I have more confidence in our Treasury team than some other hon. Members may have expressed, so I am delighted to hear that we should approach my right hon. Friend or other members of that team.

Every day we see evidence of such practices. For example, Air Portugal has just been given a subsidy which puts it in a uniquely competitive position; the same has happened with Iberia, Air France, Sabina and others. That puts all the United Kingdom airlines at a disadvantage. To whom should I address my comments if any discipline is to be introduced into those unfair aviation arrangements?

Sir John Cope

I am not sure whether my hon. Friend is suggesting that fraud is involved, or whether he simply dislikes decisions which have been properly arrived at. It could be either. If he is referring to fraud, I encourage him to come to me in so far as British Ministers are concerned; if he is concerned about the policy which leads to decisions that he does not like, he can by all means approach my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.

Mr. Beggs

The right hon. Gentleman will be aware of the rumour throughout Northern Ireland that large sums are being paid to terrorist organisations by business men for protection. He will know that our Government permit those moneys to be set aside against taxation. Does he know whether comparable practices take place in other European countries? Does he know to what extent payments may be made to the Mafia and other organisations in the Community which can be set against taxation?

Sir John Cope

I am not sure how that question relates to what we are discussing. As the hon. Gentleman knows, however, I have had some responsibility for related matters in the past and the matter that he raises would probably come before the House as part of the Finance Bill debates. I can give him no information off the cuff about other countries' taxation provision in relation to such payments, but in any case the payments that he has mentioned will not come out of Community funds. They are payments made by individuals or companies from their own funds; the question is how they are treated in the context of national taxation, which is not a matter related to these amendments or to the treaty.

Mr. William Ross (Londonderry, East)

My hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, East (Mr. Beggs) referred to the Mafia. I do not think that any hon. Member believes that the Mafia comes by any of its income in what one would describe as a legal manner. The Mafia derives its income mainly by means of extortion and fraud. From what has been printed in the press and other reports, it seems that the Mafia creams off a great deal of money from the Common Market—from funds provided by this House through payments to Europe. In those circumstances, what assuance can the right hon. Gentleman give me that the Mafia declares its income for tax purposes, never mind other individuals trying to get money that they can then give to the Mafia as protection money?

12.15 am
Sir John Cope

When I was in the Northern Ireland Office I visited Italy to look into the fight against the Mafia, so I have some knowledge of the matters to which the hon. Gentleman refers, but not enough to answer his question authoritatively off the cuff. Italy's national taxation arrangements are a matter for that country. It does not arise out of the amendment. What does arise out of the amendment and what was also referred to in the debate was the extent to which the Mafia might be taking European money to which it is not entitled. That is exactly the sort of matter that the Court of Auditors is there to investigate, uncover and report upon. It is therefore important for the role of the Court of Auditors to be strengthened. Under the Maastricht treaty it becomes a full institution. That is not a matter towards which the amendments are directed, but it is relevant to the discussion so far. Italy is a net contributor to the budget, so the point about British funds is an arguable one.

All Community money should be properly spent. The Court of Auditors exists to see that that is done, and the treaty assists the Court of Auditors to do so. It is important for the Committee to bear that point in mind at this stage in the debate.

To judge from the interventions, one of the matters of concern to my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and some of his hon. Friends is the increase in the structural funds and the cohesion fund that is taking place now. That increase was agreed when Lady Thatcher was Prime Minister. It followed through in all the Budgets, including the 1993 Budget. We have already discussed the conclusions arrived at in Edinburgh, and there will be other opportunities for debate. We shall need to debate the new own resources decision when it is made, but that matter is not before the Committee now. The matter before the Committee is the question of increasing the powers of the Court of Auditors and the European Parliament to pursue fraud—something which is entirely desirable.

Mr. Leighton

The right hon. Gentleman relies on the Court of Auditors. What powers of investigation, policing and control does it have?

Sir John Cope

The powers are set out in the treaty. If the hon. Member refers to articles 188b and 188c, he will see them set out there. That is not, however, the article to which the amendment is directed. Those powers are strengthened in many respects by the Maastricht treaty. They are incorporated in the first part of the treaty. Under the treaty, the Court of Auditors is transformed into a full institution.

Mention was made of practices contrary to the financial regulations having been discovered by the Court of Auditors. In future, of course, when the Maastrict treaty is ratified by all states and comes into force, the powers of the Court of Auditors to pursue matters of that kind will be increased. It will, for instance, be able to go to the European Court of Justice if it wishes.

The hon. Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) expressed concern in an intervention that there was a problem as to whether member states policed strongly enough within their countries. The remedy for that is to strengthen the Court of Auditors as this treaty does, to strengthen its ability to go to the member states, to co-operate with the auditing authorities, which is what it is required to do, as appropriate, and to pursue fraud wherever it occurs.

It would be a great mistake for the Committee to pass amendment No. 230, or for that matter the other amendments in this group, as this would have the effect of weakening the fight against fraud, which we all wish to strengthen, as has been shown by everyone who has spoken in the debate.

I said that I would mention the common agricultural policy, which comes partly under this amendment because the amendment strengthens the Court of Auditors and the Parliament's powers in respect of that as well as of other items of expenditure. The reform of the common agricultural policy agreed in Brussels last year involves significant changes in the way in which subsidy payments are made. In particular, there is an anti-fraud measure known as the integrated administration and control system across all member states. It is relevant to mention this, particularly in the presence of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, as we shall all no doubt be getting complaints from farmers before long about the detail of the checks being put in place by the Community to control expenditure on the CAP.

If we get such complaints, it will ill behove us to complain too much about them because, as the Court of Auditors' reports have made clear, there has been fraud by United Kingdom farmers as well as by overseas farmers. In addition, by applying this across all 12 member states, we shall improve financial control and the fight against fraud in the CAP.

Mr. Bill Walker

The comments that my right hon. Friend is making are very important. I am sure that he will understand that those of us with large farming constituencies get evidence from our own farmers that nation states are not pursuing the necessary documentation and all the things that our farmers are complaining about. Who should I come to with these complaints?

Sir John Cope

My hon. Friend can come to me if he wishes, but I would suggest that he went straight to our right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. My information from him is that they are all implementing the system that I have just described.

Amendment No. 230 would weaken the fight against fraud when we all wish to strengthen it. I therefore suggest that the Committee reject the amendment.

Mr. Andrew Smith (Oxford, East)

On the last point, I imagine that it is not coincidental that we have all had a letter from the Minister of Agriculture today setting out provisions for the integrated administration and control system. I notice that he is offering to undertake meetings after Easter. Perhaps he had better go and meet the farmers in the constituency of his hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker).

Our concerns on the questions dealt with in this group of amendments are: first, that the Community budget—it is really a matter of common sense as well as propriety —should be deployed effectively to achieve the objectives of agreed policies; secondly, that financial transactions should be properly accounted for and subject to proper audit; and thirdly, that there is efficiency and fairness in both the raising and the spending of funds.

We are, after all, talking about a very large budget—over £54 billion for the current year—to which the United Kingdom, as we have heard, is one of the largest net contributors. How it is raised and how it is spent is clearly of enormous importance. It is important both in terms of propriety of spending and value for money. It is also important politically, and is an extremely sensitive issue. Nothing diminishes more quickly public confidence in the Community and its institutions than the knowledge, or even the suspicion, that public money is being misapplied or wasted.

When the House considered the report of the Court of Auditors a few weeks ago, deep concern was rightly expressed on all sides about the errors, the irregularity, the waste and the fraud which was evident on a disturbing scale in a number of the Community's financial affairs. The hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash), who is not here at the moment, regaled us at length with examples earlier this evening. The extent to which the hon. Gentleman, in a long speech, relied precisely on the report of the Court of Auditors to which he now wishes to deny extra powers, appears to be a deep contradiction in his argument.

Some of that waste, irregularity and fraud is the responsibility of member states; some is the result of legislation that is unclear or inconsistent between member states, and some is the result of inadequate supervision by the Commission. Whatever the cause, it is wholly indefensible, and much more urgent and resolute action needs to be taken if it is to be rooted out. It is crucial to ensure that public money is not squandered or misappropriated, and to restore public confidence in the value of Community action and expenditure.

No one should underestimate the damage inflicted by irregularities, waste and fraud such as that identified in the Court of Auditors report. Despite the quality of the work of the Court of Auditors, if we recognise some of the limitations that the court identified on its own ability to investigate, we are left with the suspicion that only part of the problem has been uncovered in its report.

The real question before us tonight is how far the changes brought about by the Maastricht treaty assist the control and scrutiny of Community finances or whether they weaken it. Of course, they strengthen scrutiny and control and are to be welcomed.

The treaty provides in article 78c, which the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Stafford would delete, for the Commission to have regard to the principles of sound financial management. That is straightforward common sense, but none the less it is important that it is enshrined in the treaty.

The treaty also states in article 160c: The Court of Auditors shall examine the accounts of all revenue and expenditure of … the Community and shall provide the European Parliament and the Council with a statement of assurance as to the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions. That is an important provision, which should usefully enhance the role and powers of the Court of Auditors.

It is particularly important, bearing in mind the fact that sources at the Court of Auditors were quoted in The Guardian of 27 November 1992 as saying: If we had to certify these accounts, we would not do so. They were referring to the 1991 accounts on which the hon. Member for Stafford dwelt at such length.

Clearly, with the treaty in place, the auditors would have much more powerful leverage, first, to require accurate accounting information and, secondly, to insist that irregularities are ended and abuse stamped out. That requires action particularly by member states as well as by the Commission. That requirement, too, is strengthened in the treaty by the provisions of article 183a, which says: Member States shall take the same measures to counter fraud affecting the financial interests of the Community as they take to counter fraud affecting their own financial interests. 12.30 am

That can be taken to answer some of the concern that was expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Newham North-East (Mr. Leighton) about how far member states did not have an incentive to ensure financial probity when the only possible beneficiary was the Community. I do not draw such a sharp distinction between the interests of the member states and those of the Community. There is a commonality of interest here, and that is what the whole treaty and the process of integration is about. In this respect as well, the treaty takes steps to improve on the present unsatisfactory situation.

The powers of the European Parliament are also increased in the treaty in these matters. Article 180b, which the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Stafford would delete, requires the European Parliament to examine the financial statement and the annual report by the Court of Auditors and empowers it to call the Commission to account over its expenditure and financial control. The Commission is obliged by the article to submit all necessary information to the European Parliament at its request, to act on its observations, and to report on its observations, which reports will also go to the Court of Auditors. So, again, we see a tighter loop of financial control and democratic accountability being established.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

The hon. Member is presenting a very favourable picture of the Maastricht treaty and the Court of Auditors, and about the extension of its powers. Will he comment on this quotation from a distinguished business man, a past director of N. M. Rothschild and Sons, a director of Jardine Matheson, Trafalgar House, Kwik Save and other companies, and a trustee of the Post Office pension fund—I quote precisely from his article: To travel round Europe is to realise that people everywhere have lost faith in their governments and the unaccountable bureaucracies which, dispensing 50 per cent. of each country's wealth, foster corruption, influence-peddling and inefficiency. That is from a very respected business man with a considerable banking background, who has that view of the European Community. I particularly draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to his phrase in the article "fostering corruption".

The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Dame Janet Fookes)

Order. That was a very long intervention.

Mr. Smith

I have already condemned the corruption in the Community, just as we all would. The thrust of my speech is to show how the provisions in the treaty strengthen the fight against such corruption, but the quotation the hon. Gentleman mentioned referred to more than 50 per cent. of expenditure, he said. Therefore, that could not have been referring to the Community budget, which is a mere 1 or 2 per cent. of the Community gross domestic product.

Mr. Winterton

I thank the hon. Gentleman for allowing me to clarify precisely what Mr. Leach said. He talked about the Governments of the various countries that comprise the Community spending more than 50 per cent. of the product of their countries. That situation, fostering corruption, and with the bureaucracies of Europe, would further foster corruption, inefficiency and influence-peddling, to use the phrases that Mr. Leach used.

Mr. Smith

It seems to me that Mr. Leach was referring to an entirely different situation. He was questioning the share of GDP which goes on public expenditure. That is another matter which we could debate here at considerable length. It clearly was not referring to the scale of the Community budget, which nowhere near approaches the sort of figures that the hon. Member was referring to. In any event, to the extent that corruption is a problem, and to the extent that it is inadequately addressed within the Maastricht treaty—I would not claim that the treaty is perfect in this respect—the answer is to go further in tightening the scrutiny and accountability, not to eliminate from the treaty, as this group of amendments would do, the very proposals that have been agreed with our Community partners to try to improve matters.

As I was saying, the European Parliament has a part to play. It is an additional element of democratic accountability to the financial scrutiny and reporting provided in article 180b. Through the treaty, the responsibilities of the Court of Auditors, the member states and the Commission are strengthened in undertaking the task of monitoring expenditure and taking necessary corrective action.

Putting those provisions in the treaty and into law will not of itself guarantee that all irregularities, abuses and fraud in the EC budget are eliminated, but it provides the machinery through which they can be more readily tackled, and that is a significant step forward.

I have said that, on that and other matters, the treaty is far from perfect. It would have been good, for example, to see penalties set out for irregularities and fraud applied to member states, Community institutions and other responsible bodies. The need for those must be kept under review, depending on the experience of how much difference the provisions of the treaty make in practice. We urge the Government to impress on the Commission and other member states the importance we attach to the proper control and supervision of the budget.

In a number of important respects, achieving more effective Community expenditure will also require changes in policies as well as improvements in financial control and accountability. I need not rehearse the powerful arguments in favour of the fundamental reform of the common agricultural policy in respect of specific and flawed regimes, to some of which the hon. Member for Stafford referred. We think of the olive oil scheme in Corfu, when aid was paid for three times the amount produced. Nobody can condone such abuse. It is important that the schemes are themselves reformed or, if they cannot be reformed, abandoned, in addition to financial scrutiny and accountability being improved.

Mr. William Ross

As Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom with a land frontier, we have a particular interest in the amendment. I hope that the discussion goes on for some time, so that I have an opportunity to tell the Committee of some of the problems that are experienced across that land frontier. I also hope that, before he concludes, the hon. Gentleman will dwell on some of the problems that arise because of that land frontier with another state.

Mr. Smith

The hon. Gentleman is far better qualified than I to comment on that issue. The general points I am making about the improvements provided for in the treaty and the ways in which they could be strengthened will be of assistance in that matter.

As I was saying about the CAP, not only must we reform the schemes, or abandon them if they are incapable of reform, but we must change the general philosophy of the CAP, because it has resulted in consumers and Governments subsidising even very profitable operations, thereby producing much more food than the Community needs or can sell at cost on world markets.

Considerations of common sense, efficiency in resource allocation and the realities of international competition and co-operation will, sooner or later, force further reform of the CAP. We must do all we can to make sure that that happens sooner rather than later.

Mr. Lord

Is not one of the problems of the CAP and farming the fact that we, as a nation, are being penalised for our efficiency? When milk quotas were introduced into the Community, it was a matter of a modest amount of work for the Government to put them in place through the milk marketing boards, which quickly obeyed the rules and fell into line. The Italians do not know where their dairy farmers are, how many cows they have or which valley they are in. How on earth can such a system be monitored? Are we not trying to do the impossible?

Mr. Smith

I agree that we are to some extent paying the price of efficiency, but we are also paying the price for being late in signing up to the next stage in the development of closer Community co-operation. Another lesson that we should learn is that if we get in late and are forced to sign up to arrangements that have been shaped mainly by the influence of other member countries, they are likely to be arrangements which do not work especially to our advantage.

Mr. Lord

That point is frequently made but, in this instance, we are not late but are ahead of the rest of Europe. Our farming and farmers and the way in which we have organised our marketing are in many ways light years ahead of the rest of Europe. We and our farmers are being penalised for all the years of efficiency and hard work.

Mr. Smith

There is much in what the hon. Gentleman says, but what should concern us most in this debate is what can best be done about it. Should we turn our back on the Community as some people, such as the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor), argue with great sincerity and vigour, or should we ensure that our voice is heard in all the deliberations on the Community's future and that our views and influence are taken seriously because we are seen and known to be wholehearted and sincere in our commitment to close European integration? Should we take the lead in setting the agenda so that issues such as the reform of the CAP will enable the rest of the European Community to catch up with the efficiency that our farmers have achieved?

Sir Teddy Taylor

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that, despite repeated attempts at reform, expenditure on the CAP is now far higher than it was last year or the year before and that the mountains of food are breaking all previous records? Would not it be far more realistic for the Labour party and the Government to accept the simple fact that there is no possibility of reforming the CAP under the present structure of the European Community? Would not it be much better to start with the assumption that it is a waste of time trying to reform it because it cannot and will not be reformed? If we started with that assumption, we might be able to get something done about it.

Mr. Smith

The problem with the hon. Gentleman's argument, on this as on other aspects of the treaty, is that he would abandon the mechanisms that we have, collectively and co-operatively, to bring about reform with our European partners. He would abandon them for a very uncertain future in which we are not even part of the Community and will clearly not be able to shape developments. He clearly prefers not to be a part of those developments. That is the sincere and strongly held view of a minority of hon. Members. I respect that view and am prepared to argue about it, but I favour working for closer co-operation between member states in order to deal with precisely those problems identified in the Court of Auditors' report and to bring about the fundamental reforms needed in, for example, the CAP. We shall be much better placed to do that if we are part of the process and framework established in the Maastricht treaty than if we abandon it.

Mr. William Ross

The hon. Gentleman says that we should seek closer co-operation, but is he not forgetting what happened with the introduction of milk quotas? Milk farmers went to bed at night with a milk production that was worth absolutely nothing. Anyone could join in or leave without any financial consequences. They woke up in the morning owning something called a "milk quota" which, across the nation, must have had a value of countless millions of pounds. Was not that an obscenity, because overnight and out of thin air it created huge sums of money for farmers? Surely to heavens, the hon. Gentleman could not support any system that produced such a crazy idea. Why should we embark again on a path that we have followed so foolishly for so long?

Mr. Smith

The hon. Gentleman makes a persuasive case for reform, but I shall not be tempted into further debate of the details of the common agricultural policy. Suffice it to say that it will have to be changed sooner or later. Let us make it sooner. We shall secure change by building political support for further reform through the Community.

In these, as in other respects, the Maastricht treaty is, above all, a framework. What is made of the framework will depend upon political will and upon the determination of member states to ensure that, in the many respects in which action is needed for the purpose of securing effective budgetary and other policies, appropriate action is taken. I believe that the provisions of the treaty make that more, rather than less, likely.

For these reasons, Opposition Members are certainly unable to support the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Stafford and his hon. Friends.

12.45 am
Mr. Robert G. Hughes

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

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 269, Noes 56.

Division No 221] [1 am
AYES
Bennett, Andrew F. Lord, Michael
Body, Sir Richard Meale, Alan
Budgen, Nicholas Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Cann, Jamie Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Cash, William Raynsford, Nick
Corbyn, Jeremy Reid, Dr John
Cran, James Ross, William (E Londonderry)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Rowlands, Ted
Davidson, Ian Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l) Spearing, Nigel
Dixon, Don Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Gill, Christopher Watson, Mike
Godman, Dr Norman A. Winnick, David
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Jessel, Toby
Knapman, Roger Tellers for the Ayes:
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Mr. Dennis Skinner and
Leighton, Ron Mr. Bob Cryer.
Lewis, Terry
NOES
Adley, Robert Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)
Ainsworth, Peter (Easf Surrey) Dafis, Cynog
Aitken, Jonathan Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Alexander, Richard Davis, David (Boothferry)
Alton, David Day, Stephen
Amess, David Deva, Nirj Joseph
Ancram, Michael Devlin, Tim
Arbuthnot, James Dickens, Geoffrey
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Dorrell, Stephen
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Ashby, David Dover, Den
Aspinwall, Jack Duncan, Alan
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Dunn, Bob
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Durant, Sir Anthony
Baldry, Tony Eggar, Tim
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Elletson, Harold
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Bates, Michael Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Batiste, Spencer Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Bellingham, Henry Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Beresford, Sir Paul Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Blackburn, Dr John G. Evennett, David
Booth, Hartley Faber, David
Boswell, Tim Fabricant, Michael
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Fenner, Dame Peggy
Bowden, Andrew Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Bowis, John Fishburn, Dudley
Brandreth, Gyles Forman, Nigel
Brazier, Julian Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bright, Graham Forth, Eric
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Foster, Don (Bath)
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Browning, Mrs. Angela Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Freeman, Roger
Burns, Simon French, Douglas
Burt, Alistair Gale, Roger
Butler, Peter Gallie, Phil
Butterfill, John Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Garnier, Edward
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry) Gillan, Cheryl
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Carrington, Matthew Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Gorst, John
Churchill, Mr Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif) Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Coe, Sebastian Grylls, Sir Michael
Colvin, Michael Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Congdon, David Hague, William
Conway, Derek Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Hampson, Dr Keith
Couchman, James Hanley, Jeremy
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Hannam, Sir John
Hargreaves, Andrew Patnick, Irvine
Harris, David Patten, Rt Hon John
Haselhurst, Alan Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hawkins, Nick Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hayes, Jerry Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Heald, Oliver Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Heathcoat-Amory, David Powell, William (Corby)
Hendry, Charles Rathbone, Tim
Hicks, Robert Redwood, John
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L. Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Hill, James (Southampton Test) Richards, Rod
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham) Riddick, Graham
Horam, John Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter Robathan, Andrew
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A) Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W) Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W) Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Jack, Michael Sackville, Tom
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Shaw, David (Dover)
Johnston, Sir Russell Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Shersby, Michael
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Kennedy, Charles (Ross.C&S) Soames, Nicholas
Key, Robert Speed, Sir Keith
Kilfedder, Sir James Spencer, Sir Derek
King, Rt Hon Tom Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Kirkhope, Timothy Spink, Dr Robert
Kirkwood, Archy Spring, Richard
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Sproat, Iain
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Knox, David Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Steen, Anthony
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Stephen, Michael
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Stern, Michael
Leigh, Edward Stewart, Allan
Lennox-Boyd, Mark Streeter, Gary
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Sumberg, David
Lidington, David Sykes, John
Lightbown, David Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Llwyd, Elfyn Thomason, Roy
Luff, Peter Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Thornton, Sir Malcolm
MacKay, Andrew Thurnham, Peter
Maclean, David Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
McLoughlin, Patrick Tracey, Richard
Madel, David Tredinnick, David
Maitland, Lady Olga Trend, Michael
Malone, Gerald Trotter, Neville
Mans, Keith Twinn, Dr Ian
Marland, Paul Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Walden, George
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel) Waller, Gary
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Ward, John
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Merchant, Piers Waterson, Nigel
Milligan, Stephen Watts, John
Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW) Wells, Bowen
Monro, Sir Hector Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Whitney, Ray
Moss, Malcolm Widdecombe, Ann
Needham, Richard Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Nelson, Anthony Willetts, David
Neubert, Sir Michael Wilshire, David
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Wolfson, Mark
Nicholls, Patrick Wood, Timothy
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Yeo, Tim
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Norris, Steve
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley Tellers for the Noes:
Oppenheim, Phillip Mr. Sydney Chapman and
Ottaway, Richard Mr. Andrew Mitchell.
Page, Richard

Question agreed to.

Question put according, That the amendment be made:—

The committee divided:Ayes 37; Nose 263

Question accordingly negatived.

Sir Russell Johnston

I beg to move amendment No. 96, in page 1, line 9 leave out 'and IV' and insert 'IV and VII'.

The Second Deputy Chairman

With this, it will be convenient also to discuss the following: New clause 14 —Amendment of protocols'No notification shall be given that the United Kingdom assents to the amendment of any part of any Protocol annexed to the Treaty on European Union (whether or not it is also annexed to any other Treaty) unless a draft of the notification has first been approved by Act of Parliament.'. New clause 30—Revisions of the Treaty (No. 2)'The Secretary of State shall, whenever proposals are made, or are to be made (whether by the Commission or the United Kingdom or another Member State of the Union), under Article B in Title I of the Maastricht Treaty for revision of the policies and forms of co-operation introduced by the Treaty—

  1. (a) lay before Parliament a report setting out the nature of the proposals and their potential effect on the interests and obligations of the United Kingdom, and
  2. (b) so far as is practicable, secure that the United Kingdom's conduct of the negotiations on the proposals is in accordance with Parliament's opinion of them, as manifested in the form of Resolution, enactment or otherwise.'.

1.15 am
Sir Russell Johnston

The Committee will—

Mr. Cryer

I think that the hon. Gentleman is the thickie who has fixed all this up. He does not have a brain cell between his ears—

The Second Deputy Chairman

Order.

Sir Russell Johnston

If you have any opportunity to eject the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer), Dame Janet, I think that you should take it.

Mr. Cryer

She cannot do that in Committee.

The Second Deputy Chairman

Order. The hour may be late, but it is no excuse for bad manners.

Sir Russell Johnston

The Committee will recall that our first debate, 19 days past, was on a Liberal Democrat amendment to the effect that title I should be incl:uded in the Bill. The argument for including title VII is substantially the same; it is to bind more closely together than the Government would wish the pillared, intergovernmental structure of Maastricht and the supranational institutions of the Community. In fact, it would move things in a federalist direction. The Minister of State accepted that in the debate on title I on 1 December. I remind him that on that occasion he said: There are two sides to the amendment. The hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber replied frankly when the hon. Member for Leicester, South said, rightly, that the purpose of the structure of the treaty—this is at the centre of the Government's negotiating position and I believe that the Opposition are not unsupportive of that position—is to separate out common foreign and security policy, and interior justice policy, and to make them separate intergovernmental pillars and not part of the treaty of Rome … The hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber replied, perfectly frankly—this is the position of the Liberal Democrats and will come as no surprise to anyone that he indeed wanted to bring those areas of intergovernmental activity into the treaty of Rome. He wants a single structure—what we here have come to call a federal state. He later remarked more briefly: There are also a number of people in Europe who share the federal views held by the Liberal party. That is why, in the course of the negotiations leading up to the treaty, the Dutch Government sought to introduce a unitary text that would indeed have made all these matters areas where the Commission had the sole right of initiative, and would have made all the areas that we will discuss in Committee justiciable by the European Court of Justice."—[Official Report, 1 December 1992; Vol. 215, c. 181–86.] The trouble with the Minister is that, while he understands that the Liberal Democrats would have preferred Maastricht to produce a single structure rather than a pillared structure, as it is described, he does not understand what the word federal means. I say that in all friendliness. He has demonstrated that many times in Committee. I see that the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) is obtaining paper so that he can take notes. I remember that the Minister of State and I had a series of exchanges one night, although I cannot remember which one. I also remember that on 26 June 1991 I quoted the Chancellor of Germany, Helmut Kohl—the quotation is not very long, but it is exceedingly clear—speaking on 27 May when he accepted a doctorate at Edinburgh university, saying: Thinking as a European and being firmly rooted in one's own native soil, I am convinced that in order to succeed, Europe will have to learn to live by the motto of 'Unity in Diversity' … a very sound and pragmatic structural principle of the sort of federal system we have in mind for Europe. Europe will be a federal Europe—it will not be a unitary Europe."—[Official Report, 26 June 1991; Vol. 193, c. 1032.] It can hardly be clearer than that.

Mr. Garel-Jones

The hon. Gentleman will recall that when he quoted me I referred to what we have "come to call" federalism in Britain. Of course, I recognise that the word "federal" can mean whatever anyone wants it to mean. I think that in Britain the shorthand meaning of the word "federal" is a unitary structure. That is something that the intergovernmental pillars have arrested.

Sir Russell Johnston

That is what we call beating on a closed door. During such education as I succeeded in obtaining at Edinburgh university, the word "federal" certainly did not mean what the Minister has described it as meaning—nor does it have that meaning in any of the states described as federal states anywhere in the world.

Mr. Andrew Rowe (Mid-Kent)

Is not the root of the word "federal" the same as that for the word "treaty"?

Sir Russell Johnston

The answer is, frankly, that I do not know. It may be true, but I am not sure of its relevance even if it is.

Mr. Winnick

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Sir Russell Johnston

Is the hon. Gentleman going to enlighten me?

Mr. Winnick

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is happy to discuss the matter at this hour or whether it is any consolation to him to know that those of us who are critical of the treaty believe that it is the road to a federal set-up, and that what Chancellor Kohl said is true. Although the Government keep on denying that here, if the treaty is passed it will undoubtedly lead to the sort of federal Europe of which the hon. Gentleman is so passionately fond, which should please him.

Sir Russell Johnston

I am grateful for what the hon. Gentleman has said.

The amendment, arguing as it does for the incorporation of title VII, gives me the opportunity to stress that federalism is about decentralisation and the entrenchment of subsidiarity, not about centralisation. Federalism is about limiting central power.

Article N of title VII is particularly important as it specifically requires that an intergovernmental conference will be convened in 1996 to examine those provisions of this Treaty for which revision is provided". The various subjects are listed in the fourth annex, but I shall discuss the fact that the provision provides the Government with an opportunity both to involve national Parliaments directly in discussion and to look beyond the narrow requirements to the need to develop a more open constitution for the Community.

The hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) will remember the assize in Rome to which we both proceeded in December 1990. Despite all the criticisms to which it was subjected, particularly by some Euro-sceptics among the British delegation, I believe that it was a truly remarkable occasion, on which it was demonstrated that there was considerable common ground. The assize has not met again since, although I believe that it was agreed that it should meet before now. When the Minister has finished consulting the wise men in the Box, I hope that he will take the opportunity to tell us why that is so.

My main point, however, is that many Members in this Chamber and in others in different parts of the Community understandably complain that national Parliaments are being side-tracked in the development of European policy and have no opportunity to make an input. It seems to me that the 1996 intergovernmental conference creates an opportunity for the United Kingdom to take an initiative whereby national Parliaments—along with Members of the European Parliament, the Commission, Governments and, indeed, observers from applicant countries—could participate directly in an open investigation of the best democratic structure of the future enlarged and enlarging Community. There is no doubt that, whatever side of the argument we take, the nature of democracy in the Community provides no satisfaction.

Mr. Corbyn

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has come round to admitting that the Maastricht treaty, as it is now constituted, will not lead to greater democracy in western Europe. Why, then, is the hon. Gentleman supporting the treaty, if the best he can offer is a conference in three years' time which may or may not decide on a system imposing greater accountability on the Commission and European institutions?

Sir Russell Johnston

With respect, it is not a question of admitting anything. My hon. Friends and I have said the same from the outset. Of course the Maastricht treaty is not perfect. Of course there is a considerable democratic deficit. We support the treaty because we think that it is the best, most balanced negotiated agreement that could have been achieved at the time, and that it would cause great instability in the whole Community—and the whole of Europe, for that matter—if it collapsed. That is not to say that we do not seek to improve things; the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) surely accepts that we never cease to do that.

I do not want to talk about defence again, as we talked about it all afternoon, but it is one of the items mentioned in annexe 4. The Western European Union is now developing a specific role in the Community, so perhaps this is the time to ask whether the existence of a parliamentary advisory assembly in the WEU presents a further opportunity for representatives of national Parliaments to make a direct input into Community decision making as the WEU extends its role, without necessarily affecting the balance of the institutions as such.

I seriously ask the Government to consider those possibilities. I do not think that we should close our minds to any way of providing a better opportunity for elected representatives to express their views within the Community or even on its margins. The institutionalisation of the parliamentary assembly of the WEU, for instance, could be compared with the provision for a Committee of the Regions: it is a parallel organisation, although it will not necessarily be at the heart of the institutions, the Commission, Parliament, Council and Court.

Sir Teddy Taylor

Will the hon. Gentleman make it abundantly clear that the Committee of the Regions has no power to do anything, no budget of its own and has to share its secretariat? All that it can do is to pass motions which will no doubt be approved and are said to be very helpful by members of the Commission.

Sir Russell Johnston

The fact that the hon. Gentleman asks me to set the record straight suggests that I made it crooked in the first place, which I did not. Of course the Committee of the Regions is an advisory body; the hon. Gentleman is quite correct. Indeed, the Parliamentary Assembly of the WEU, with which I compared it, is an advisory body of exactly the same kind.

I say this to the hon. Gentleman seriously, although it is difficult to be serious at this time of night. Surely a parliamentarian does not deprecate the opportunity to express a view to the Government of the day, to set out what one wants to happen and perhaps—or perhaps not, of course—to influence people. That is what politics and democracy are about.

Mr. Spearing

Inadvertently, the hon. Gentleman may have illustrated a fundamental difference of opinion between various hon. Members. He asks for the opportunity to express a view, to have a say, to influence, to cajole, to request. That role has a place in a democracy. Does he not agree, however, that in this Parliament at least parliamentarians believe that a proper Parliament has the power, in the end, either to support or to defeat an Administration and to decide its own taxation, legislation and government? The hon. Gentleman suggests that the various assemblies and groups that he has mentioned, including the assize, should be a sort of public echo chamber and not what we understand to be a Parliament in a democratic country—one which decides the Administration and can destroy it at will, if it so wishes.

1.30 am
Sir Russell Johnston

I have heard that story before. I do not deny what the hon. Gentleman has said many times. [Interruption.] I am not making a direct comparison—[Interruption.]—between existing—

The Second Deputy Chairman

Order. If the two hon. Gentlemen on the Front Benches wish to have a private conversation, perhaps they would go outside and have it.

Sir Russell Johnston

I am grateful to you, Dame Janet. I was saying that I am not making a direct comparison between existing national Parliaments and the Community institutions, which are in a state of evolution. A national Parliament is, in a way, a finished product. The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that I am not making that comparison.

I should appreciate it if the Minister would explain whether the changes made under article O, which is concerned with applicant countries, provide a new opportunity for applicant members to become involved in aspects of the union without taking on the full responsibilities of the union and becoming full members. We are talking about this pillared structure. If one goes to eastern Europe at the moment—for instance, to Poland —they say again and again that what they are most concerned about is the achievement of greater security. Is there any possibility under the new arrangements whereby Poland might, for example, be able to join WEU or be associated with the common foreign and security policy without necessarily becoming a full member?

The hour is late. I do not intend to detain the Committee further, nor do I propose to press the matter to a Division. Despite what the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) and the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) said, I am satisfied that these issues are discussed in a progressive way. My view is different from that which is held by many, but I believe that it is right.

We are not yet at the end of this long process. Hon. Members may, however, be encouraged by the words at the end of title VII, which is headed "Final Provisions." The final words read: Done at Maastricht on the seventh day of February in the year one thousand nine hundred and ninety-two. [Here follow the signatures]. The end is nigh.

Mr. Garel-Jones

I thank the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston) for indicating to the Committee that in a sense this is a probing amendment that he does not intend to press to a Division. The amendment seeks to include the provisions of title VII of the treaty—that is, the final provisions—within clause 1(1) of the Bill. As the hon. Gentleman told the Committee, it is similar to other amendments that have been tabled by the Liberal Democrats which seek to incorporate into our law more of the treaty than the Bill itself does.

The cumulative effect of the amendments that have been tabled by the Liberal Democrats would be—some of them, the Committee will recall, have already been negatived—to list more or less the whole of the Maastricht treaty as a Community treaty for the purposes of section 1 of the European Communities Act 1972.

Members of the Committee will now be familiar with the reasons why the Bill incorporates only titles II, III and IV of the Maastricht treaty, and the other provisions only so far as they relate to those Titles". It is a course that the Committee has been round before. Nevertheless, perhaps I ought to explain briefly the structure as it relates to title VII, which is the subject of this amendment.

It is, as the Committee will be aware, necessary, before the Government may ratify this treaty, to incorporate into our domestic law those provisions of the Community treaties under which Community rights and obligations effective in this country arise. This is done by listing them in clause 1(1), with the result that they fall within the definition of the Community treaties for the purposes of the European Communities Act 1972 and may be implemented through that Act.

The intergovernmental provisions of the treaty—that is, titles V and VI—are therefore not included within clause 1(1). These parts of the Maastricht treaty do not provide a basis for the adoption of Community legislation. They neither give rise to rights or obligations under Community law, nor amend the Community treaties.

The provisions of title I, the common provisions, and title VII, the final provisions, fall into what I might define as a grey area. While they do not themselves directly form a basis for the adoption of Community legislation, they nevertheless in some cases relate to other provisions of Community treaties which can give rise to Community rights and obligations. In some cases, they directly amend the Community treaties. Hence it is necessary to give these provisions effect in our domestic legislation as well. This is achieved in the phrase contained in clause 1(1) of the Bill, which says: together with other provisions of the Treaty so far as they relate to those Titles that is, titles II, III and IV.

All the provisions in title VII, the subject of the amendment of the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber, relate to a greater or lesser extent to the provisions of the Community treaties in this way and are therefore already included in clause 1(1). Article L, for example, deals with the extent of the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice, which is clearly relevant to the operation of the Community treaties. Article L is therefore included so far as it relates to titles II to IV. Part of article L, however—hon. Members pointed this out when we debated this subject—paragraph (b), relates to title V. So that would be included under this formula.

—Article M—

Sir Richard Body

Before my right hon. Friend leaves article L—

Mr. Garel-Jones

If I can just finish this, of course, I will give way to my hon. Friend.

Article M describes how the union treaty affects the Community treaties. It is also included in the scope of the Bill. So are articles N on treaty amendment and O on accession, and I will just respond to the specific point that the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber made.

Article O makes it explicit that new members may join only the union, not just the Community, thereby committing themselves to accepting the whole of the CFSP and interior justice chapters. The question that the hon. Member posed approached it from the other end, as it were: would it be possible in the future, perhaps, for potential member states—I dare say he was thinking of countries in eastern Europe—to accede to, say, just the intergovernmental pillar? That is an interesting subject for discussion that might arise at some point in the future.

I do not think that I can say any more than that, but it is an interesting thought and one that those of us in this country, at any rate, who are anxious to encourage and consolidate the democratic processes in those eastern European countries might look on with sympathy. The provisions that I have just listed relate to the treaty of Rome and the other Community treaties which may be amended under article O, or to which new members may accede under article R.

Mr. Corbyn

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Garel-Jones

I shall give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Holland with Boston (Sir R. Body) in a moment and then I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman.

As titles V and VI can also be amended and would also be acceded to, it was appropriate to include them, using the "so far as they relate" formula rather than in an unqualified way. Similar considerations apply to articles P, Q, R and S, which all apply to titles II to IV and titles V and VI.

Sir Richard Body

Let me take my hon. Friend back to article L. Is it not the case that article L extends the powers of the European Court of Justice and that, if the Council of Ministers agrees upon any conventions, it will be within the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice to interpret the meaning of that convention? Could that not have far-reaching consequences for Britain and for the House?

Mr. Garel-Jones

I do not think so. My hon. Friend raises an important point, and I shall try to respond to it.

Article L specifically excludes from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice all areas of the treaty except, first, those covered by the treaty of Rome. the ECSC and the Euratom treaty as amended here, and secondly, by article K.3(2)(c) on interior justice, which allows member states to give the European Court of Justice an interpretation role in international conventions if they choose to do so. My hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, North (Sir T. Skeet) raised the same point in an earlier debate.

Of course, I accept that, if member states chose to do so, they could seek the opinion of the European Court of Justice on international conventions.

Mr. Corbyn

I am glad that the Minister referred to articles N and O of title VII. Article O, on potential new members, states: The conditions of admission and the adjustments to the Treaties on which the Union is founded which such admission entails shall be the subject of an agreement between the Member States and the applicant States. It does not spell out, and the Minister has not mentioned exactly, what criteria are to be used for the admission of new member states to the Community. Is there to be a judgment on their economy, the methods of ownership, social ownership or otherwise of their economies, their constitutional arrangements or the checks and balances in their constitution? The Minister should spell those things out.

Mr. Garel-Jones

Most hon. Members will know that the broad and quick answer to the question is that any applicant state must be prepared to accept in full what is known as the acquis communautaire. It is also accepted that any applicant member state should be what the other member states, including ourselves, would regard as a properly functioning democracy. Thereafter, the details would be a matter of negotiation. We are about to embark on three or four negotiations, and there are individual areas where some members states may seek derogations.

Mr. Budgen

Will the Minister give way on that point?

Mr. Garel-Jones

I want to make a little more progress, and then I shall give way to my hon. Friend.

When the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber proposed a similar amendment earlier in the Committee stage, I said that I found its purpose difficult to discern. Those parts of the provisions of title VII which need to be incorporated into our domestic law will be so incorporated by the passage of the Bill. To include the whole title without qualification would, it seems to me—again this is a point that I made in an earlier debate—blur the distinction between the Community proper and the intergovernmental pillars of the union.

1.45 am.

It is only those Maastricht treaty provisions relating to the European Community treaties, to the adoption of Community law and to the creation of Community rights and obligations which require legislative backing.

I repeat what I said earlier, that it seems to me bizarre to wish to include in our law more than is strictly necessary. There is only one plausible reason that I can think of to change the face of our legislation.

I accept, without getting into the theological debate about what the word "federalism" may or may not mean, that the Liberal Democrats have always been quite open with the country that they favour a more unifying treaty —let us call it that—and no doubt would have supported the text advanced by the Dutch Government in the course of the Maastricht negotiations. I think that the fact that the Liberal Members should be putting forward this more centralised structure fits perfectly well with the position that they have held for a very long time on the European Community.

I think that I am right in saying and no doubt, when the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) catches your eye, Dame Janet, if he is fortunate enough to do so, he will probably confirm, that the Opposition also believe in a more intergovernmental structure—

Mr. Budgen

rose

Mr. Garel-Jones

I will give way when I have finished this passage. The official Opposition believe in a more intergovernmental structure, rather than the single structure that the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber is seeking to advance. I will give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton South-West.

Mr. Budgen

I am sorry to intervene at this point, but it is not my choice that I should do so. My hon. Friend was, a few moments ago, dealing with the question of accession. The Government have been very eloquent in talking about the reality of extending the Community, but is the position that eastern European countries will have to conform to the proposals for monetary union before they can join the Community? It is surely the grossest hypocrisy for the Community to say on the one hand, "You may join us," and on the other hand, "You may join us only if you agree to conform to monetary union." It is obvious that none of the applicant countries will be able to do that.

Mr. Garel-Jones

I do not want to engage in a debate on hypocrisy with my hon. Friend. Suffice it to say that the four members of the European Free Trade Area have judged that they wish to accede to the Community on the basis of the Maastricht acquisition. All the countries in eastern Europe wish eventually to join the European Community, and if and when they make an application, the conditions that apply to their application will be the same as the conditions that apply to present applicants —that they will have to be prepared to accept the full Community acquisition at the time of their application. I do not want to anticipate what the full Community acquis may be in the year 2000, but if applications were to come forward from eastern European countries at that time, I think that they would be expected to take on the full acquis as are existing members.

Mr. George Robertson (Hamilton)

I do not want to disturb this happy cordiality, which has got the hon. Lady the Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) in such a state of excitement. I cannot help but reflect that some people could die in here and we would not know until they started to smell.

The Minister said that the Opposition favoured a more intergovernmental form of treaty. He is right. We favour intergovernmentalism where it makes sense, but we are not in the business of making the sort of ludicrous gestures that the Government make when they negotiate valiantly, in effect, to remove the words "federal structure" or "federal vocation" and replace them with "ever closer union" and come to the House of Commons in the dead of night and try to pretend that they stand by, and have never departed from, the essential principle of intergovernmentalism.

Mr. Garel-Jones

The hon. Gentleman will tell the Committee the Opposition's view of the amendment if or when he has an opportunity to speak. I stand by the position that the new structure of the union represents a holding back—I would not put it higher than that; I do not think I have done so at any stage—of the centripetal forces that have driven the Community over the past 25 or 30 years. I think that the intergovernmental structure is supported by the Opposition.

The only plausible reason I can think of to change the face of our legislation would be to give the impression that, in our law, we regard the distinction between the Community treaty structure and the intergovernmental pillars as meaningless. As I said, I think that some Opposition Members wish that we had a single structure, so I understand why the amendment has been moved. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber for saying that he would not be pressing it to a Division. As he knows, his view is not shared on any other Bench in the Committee.

Mr. Rowlands

The provisions in title VII, which the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston) wishes to incorporate into our domestic legislation, include a number of matters; the one on which the Minister concentrated, and with which I begin, is article N.2: A conference of representatives of the governments of the Member States shall be convened in 1996 to examine those provisions of this Treaty for which revision is provided, in accordance with the objectives set out in Articles A and B. I hope that, as we debate the amendment, the Minister will

identify the provisions in the treaty for which revision is being provided in accordance with objectives A and B.

Mr. Spearing

I have glanced at that part of the treaty to which my hon. Friend refers and have marked it "open-ended?" because that seems the only interpretation to put on the words, for A and B set out great principles and the words seem to allow for the revision of any provision in the treaty.

Mr. Rowlands

It is open-ended in that sense, in that article N.2 makes a clear reference to the objectives in articles A and B. Let us remind ourselves of those objectives. They are to promote social progress, strengthen economic and social cohesion, establish economic and monetary union. including a single currency in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty … to assert its identity on the international scene … which might in time lead to the implementation of a common foreign and security policy, and to the framing of a common defence policy, which might in time lead to a common defence". So, if we want to discover what will be the agenda for the 1996 conference, we must look first at the objectives in article B.

Mr. Garel-Jones

I can answer the hon. Gentleman's question specifically. Five areas are specified for review in 1996: energy, civil protection and tourism, the legislative powers of the European Parliament, the CFSP and defence.

Mr. Rowlands

That is a pretty comprehensive list. I have identified the specific part of the treaty which says that the common foreign and security policy must be on the agenda. The agenda for the 1996 conference, set out in title VII, is enormous. Throughout our debates, the Government have tried to persuade us that the conference will be neutral and that it will perhaps claw back responsibility for each of the five aspects to the nation state or that it will further enhance the principle of subsidiarity.

The Minister nods his head as if that is the case, but the language describing the agenda of the conference is not the language of clawing back but that of proceeding from the bridgeheads established in the treaty towards a futher set of objectives.

No one can read article B, which sets out the objectives of the next conference, and believe anything other than that the intention is to build on the bridgeheads established in the treaty and to move to full monetary union, a single currency and a common foreign policy and a common defence policy. It is impossible to read the language of article B, which refers specifically to article N and the agenda for the 1996 conference, and then say, as the Minister has, that the conference will be neutral. It is a conference designed to carry forward the objectives outlined in article B.

Mr. Budgen

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is nonsense to suggest, as some of the most distinguished Government spokesmen have, that we should ratify the treaty and then rectify all the mistakes at the next conference? It is clear that the next conference will be merely a continuation of the defects of the present treaty.

Mr. Rowlands

The hon. Gentleman makes an important and valid point. One of the most forceful arguments put to us in the Select Committee was that we should close our eyes, hold our nose and sign the treaty because it is such a mess and so badly flawed that we shall have to unravel it. Presumably the 1996 conference can do that.

The person who said that in his evidence was Lord Lawson of Blaby, who made a remarkable analysis of the treaty. He destroyed almost all of it, with a rational and perceptive assessment of how the so-called ERM should never have been a glide path to full monetary union, and how it had collapsed because it was now being used for that purpose. He made a devastating indictment of the treaty's provisions for EMU. He also argued strenuously that, on political grounds, the only logical conclusion of the treaty was a fully fledged European state and Government, which was the only way to make sense of giving such powers to bankers and the only way in which the EMU provisions would work. In the end, the noble Lord said that we might as well ratify the treaty because it would be unravelled. No one believes that that is the objective of the 1996 conference as characterised throughout the treaty, particularly in article N.

Mr. Corbyn

Does my hon. Friend agree that this treaty hands power to hankers, bureaucrats and generals and that nowhere in article B, which is apparently to be the agenda for dealing, in three years' time, with the inadequacies of the treaty, is there any mention of the lack of accountability on the part of the people who are to decide policy in the Community? Nowhere is there a reference to the question of the social policies of the Community as a whole, the condition of the people as a whole, or the state of the environment as a whole. We have only a proposal that all this might be dealt with in three years' time, with no thought whatsoever for the principal objection to the treaty—the complete lack of any democratic accountability in the case of the Community's institutions.

2 am

Mr. Rowlands

My hon. Friend's analysis of the totally undemocratic nature of the institutions that are being established is absolutely right. There is a notion, for example, that the 1996 conference will undertake a democratic revision of the statutes of the nascent European central bank. By that time, we shall be in the latter part of the stage 2 process, and heading very rapidly for the establishment of the central bank. The statutes will have been drafted in the most marvellously rational, but unaccountable and undemocratic, way. The notion that we shall sit down in 1996 and unravel the protocol defies belief, not just by hon. Members but by anybody who has read the treaty.

Mr. George Robertson

I fear that my hon. Friend may have left the entertaining subject of the ruminations of the Lord Lawson of Blaby. Why, when we did not believe a single word that Nigel Lawson said in this Chamber, should we believe everything he says now that he has moved to the House of Lords?

Mr. Rowlands

I did not intend to give the impression that I believed every word he says. I referred to his rather impressive analysis of what has gone wrong with the processes. In this debate, we find ourselves in strange company. Indeed, my hon. Friend has found himself in very strange company for most of the time. What I find convincing is Lord Lawson's very simple proposition to the Select Committee that a single currency could be made acceptable only through the establishment of a democratically elected European super-Government. But the noble Lord argued that we should carry on supporting the treaty.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

I very much regret that I am no longer a colleague of the hon. Gentleman on the Select Committee which discusses these very important matters —more important than the funding of political parties, which my own Select Committee is about to address. Does the hon. Gentleman know that Lord Lawson of Blaby is not the only person who takes this view? I have spent quite some time discussing Maastricht with my colleagues, and I have found that the overwhelming view is that the treaty will not work, that the whole thing is an utter mess and a complete failure.

The only purpose of voting for the ratification of Maastricht is to ensure that the French, the Germans and our other European colleagues will not point at us as the reason for the failure of the treaty. It seems to me that that is a totally unsatisfactory and immoral reason for supporting a treaty that will give the powers of the elected members of the Westminster Parliament to an unelected bureaucracy in Brussels. Does the hon. Gentleman agree?

Mr. Rowlands

I shall vote as I have done throughout the Committee. I do not believe that there is anything democratic about the provisions in the treaty in relation to fundamental aspects of the issues that will affect my constituency.

I want to make one point on a matter of dispute between ourselves and the Minister. I hope that those on our Front Bench will support our view that the 1996 conference will not be neutral. The agenda will not allow us, as it were, to roll back further the powers of the central forces of the system. On any objective reading of parts of the text of the treaty, there can be only a one-way process in 1996. Having already identified the first two clearly defined objectives in article B, I will shortly draw attention to another objective which, by any stretch of the imagination and by any interpretation, can mean only one thing at the 1996 conference.

Mr. Budgen

Will the hon. Gentleman deal with the state of opinion within his party? My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence) drew attention to the state of opinion in the Tory party. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) may have read the significant article in yesterday's Daily Telegraph by my right hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker) in which he described the proposals for monetary union as having already failed and having already been a nonsense. Also, with all the dignity and importance of having been a successful chairman of the Tory party, he described the way in which trouble had been brewed between Tory Members of Parliament and their constituency associations with a very important word, "shameful"—

The Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Michael Morris)

Order. I do not recollect any reference to title VII in that article.

Mr. Rowlands

I do not want to cross you, Mr. Morris, so I will not pursue the issue raised by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen). It is for us to discusss among ourselves how we relate within our parties.

I want to confine myself to the text of the treaty. We have had to deal with the Bill in a curious way. Normally in Committee one deals with the text of a Bill, but we have had to use the text of the treaty. The aim of the amendment moved by the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston) is to incorporate part of the text of the treaty in the Bill. Therefore, we have to consider the text.

The first part of the text concerned the proposal in title VII to hold a conference. My argument is that the conference will not be a neutral way to go forward. I was about to draw to the attention of hon. Members the fifth indent of article B, which relates not only to a general objective but specifically to article N(2) in title VII. So here we have a direct and clear linkage between title VII and article B. Let me remind the Committee of its terms: to maintain in full the 'acquis communautaire' and build on it with a view of considering, through the procedure referred to in Article N(2), to what extent the policies and forms of co-operation introduced by this Treaty may need to be revised with the aim of ensuring the effectiveness of the mechanisms and the institutions of the Community. I think that we all, even including the Minister, agree that the "acquis communautaire" is the central core of the Community. The supra-society was intended to roll back the "acquis communautaire" in one way or another. The 1996 conference is designed not to roll it back, but to build upon it. The provision in article B is directly related to N(2) in article 7 and the Minister cannot interpret that as anything other than what the conference intends—to build heavily upon the "acquis communautaire" and the new bridgeheads that the treaty will establish.

Mr. Garel-Jones

The hon. Gentleman is giving his opinion, to which he is entitled. Let us look at the experience of the treaty. How many member states does the hon. Gentleman think entered the Maastricht negotiation in the belief and hope that the ensuing treaty would contain the intergovernmental structure? I shall tell him. One member state did that—the United Kingdom.

Mr. Rowlands

I pay tribute to the right hon. Gentleman and the Government if, single-handedly, they managed to create the intergovernmental pillar, of which I approve. However, I am reading the price that they paid for that. I spent four and a half years in the best drafting school that I have ever attended—the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I do not know whether I was a good pupil, but I was certainly a willing one. I recognise drafting when I see it, and I also recognise compromises. The watermark of compromise runs through every article, provision and protocol of the treaty.

One of the problems in the Committee has been the two-faced nature of the treaty. The intergovernmental pillar was a significant achievement for the Government, but the price they paid was having to leave language in the treaty that is capable of being interpreted as meaning the opposite. Title I has a paragraph that could be interpreted as relating to subsidiarity, while the next paragraph seems to favour centralising. I know all about the struggle and exhaustion of negotiations, because I was involved in extensive and tricky negotiations over the Falklands, Belize and southern Africa. One always remembers the watermark compromises in such negotiations.

The treaty is a particularly gruesome example of watermark compromises. Those compromises show, because the text was not cleaned up after each compromise was agreed. Almost every article is capable of being interpreted in contradictory and diametrically opposed terms. The bridgeheads established in many of the articles and protocols to gain the intergovernmental pillar are aimed in the other direction. Article N.2 purposefully drives forward the other face of the treaty.

Mr. Garel-Jones

The hon. Gentleman is entitled to his opinion. He says that the centripetal thrust of the Community is irreversible. The lie to that case is in the Maastricht treaty itself.

First of all, he has accepted that the overwhelming majority of the states taking part in the negotiation would perhaps have wished to see a unitary structure of the kind that the hon. Member wants, and also the subsidiarity clause, article 3b, was principally pushed by the Federal Republic of Germany and the United Kingdom. Those two—I could list many more—are instances where the case that he is putting forward has been proven by the Maastricht negotiation not to be so.

Mr. Rowlands

All the Minister is saying is that it is my judgment versus his judgment. He has not challenged me

on the text. Does he argue that indent 5— to maintain in full the 'acquis communautaire' and build on it"— is anything but the language of furthering and developing the essentially centralising nature of the treaty? Is he saying that that is neutral language?

2.15 am
Mr. Garel-Jones

Indeed I am saying that. Building on the Maastricht acquis, as we interpret it, means consolidating the pillared structure of the union and ensuring that article 3b is rigorously applied right across every section of Community activity. That is what I regard as consolidating the existing treaty.

Mr. Rowlands

We are not going to make much progress if we can abuse or misinterpret language in that way.

Mr. Denzil Davies (Llanelli)

My hon. Friend refers to the fifth indent. The last sentence gives the lie to what theMinister of State was saying, because the aim is to ensure the effectiveness of the mechanisms and the institutions of the Community. They are making absolutely sure that they are at this conference and that they will get more power as a result.

Mr. Rowlands

That is the case that I have been making, and my right hon. Friend has underlined it. I had not reached that last line, but I am very grateful to him for doing it for me. Does the Minister believe that those words are neutral? I think that we will not get very far if words can be used like that.

Mr. Davies

English is his second language. That is why I understand it.

Mr. Rowlands

Let me ask the Minister of State whether the language is neutral throughout the treaty. What about this one? Is this neutral language? The protocol on the transition to the third stage of economic and monetary union says: THE HIGH CONTRACTING PARTIES declare the irreversible character of the Community's movement to the third stage of Economic and Monetary Union … Therefore all Member States shall, whether they fulfil the necessary conditions for the adoption of a single currency or not, respect the will for the Community to enter swiftly into the third stage". Is that the language of a neutral process that is going to go on until 1996 and beyond? I know that one Government can opt out of it, but that is the language of a treaty that we are endorsing. It is a protocol, incidentally, that will go into our domestic legislation. This protocol is not left out of the title—it is within titles II to IV. It will turn up in our domestic legislation under this Bill. I ask the Minister—I now invite him to interrupt—does he believe that that protocol should become part of our domestic legislation?

Mr. Garel-Jones

The hon. Member—this is a matter for the Chair—is now discussing a part of the Bill that is not the subject of the amendment that we are talking about. I believe, Mr. Morris, that we are talking about the amendment. He is now referring to stage 3 of economic and monetary union, and he is well aware that the British Government have an opt-out to that part of the treaty.

Mr. Rowlands

Is not that protocol, under this Bill, going to become part of our domestic legislation? Yes or no?

Mr. Garel-Jones

Yes.

Mr. Rowlands

It is. So the language of this protocol will become part of our domestic legislation, and this is not some new bridgehead, this is not to be carried further to 1996 and beyond?

Sir Ivan Lawrence

Is not the real point that, although my right hon. Friend the Minister says that the proper interpretation of these measures is that consolidation will happen in 1996 and the Federal Chancellor of Germany, Herr Kohl, says that these measures are but a stepping stone to a united states of Europe, under title VII the decision as to what these measures mean lies not with my right hon. Friend the Minister or with Chancellor Kohl but with the European Court of Justice? The European Court of Justice has declared time and again that it is the instrument not of the nation state but of the union, whose objectives it intends to advance. That means that what will be brought to bear upon us in the end is not my right hon. Friend's reasonable intrepretation of those words, but that of Chancellor Kohl—that the measures are a stepping stone to the united states of Europe. That is what we have all been saying, from start to finish of our proceedings.

Mr. Rowlands

I understand the thrust of the hon. and learned Gentleman's intervention.

May I test the Minister on another form of words in the treaty, and find out whether he can again argue that the 1996 conference will be neutral, as he has suggested? I draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to article J.4(6), which contains another specific reference to article N.2 and therefore to the agenda and the issues that will be before the conference: With a view to furthering the objective of this Treaty, and having in view the date of 1998 in the context of Article XII of the Brussels Treaty, the provisions of this Article may be revised as provided for in Article N.2 on the basis of a report to be presented in 1996."— What will be put on the agenda in 1996 under that provision in that article? We need to read back and find out what the previous paragraphs suggest, which is to elaborate and introduce the … framing of a common defence policy, which might…lead to a common defence. The Minister has already admitted that the common foreign and security policy will be part and parcel of the agenda for 1996; that has been laid down. It is a treaty obligation that the conference will deal with those issues —and it is not merely a general obligation. Paragraph 6 of article J.4 specifically states that the objectives in the previous paragraphs of the article will be on that agenda, and the central objective in those paragraphs is the framing of a common defence policy leading to a common defence.

What does the Minister believe about that? He could, rightly, say that in 1996 we shall be there, and we shall veto, impede and obstruct any progress that might be made at the conference. I could understand that that might be the Government's position, but the Minister cannot deny that, if we accept title VII and a 1996 conference on those terms, we shall build into our processes a further bridgehead for negotiating towards the framing of a common defence policy and a common defence provision. That is included in article B as a general objective, and it is specifically included in article J.4, especially in paragraph 6, as part of the agenda for the 1996 conference.

The Minister may say that we can turn up to the conference and try to throw as many spanners into the works as we can, and obstruct and create problems, drag our heels, shout, scream and even use our veto—we have the power of veto, although I shall have something to say about that in a moment—but all I ask him to admit is that, if we accept the 1996 conference in the terms described in the treaty, we shall have to defend and fight and scream against the process written into the treaty, which the 1996 conference and its agenda are designed to further.

Why do we not now say that we do not wish to go down those roads in that way, so we should not allow article N.2 of title VII to become part of our domestic legislation?

Mr. Winnick

Does my hon. Friend agree that the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston) had little to complain about in terms of the British Government's attitude towards a federal Europe? The hon. Gentleman was perfectly honest, unlike many of those who are in favour of the treaty. He has made it clear that he is totally in favour of a federal Europe. My hon. Friend is confirming that the 1996 conference will take the member states along the very road that the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber wants. It is the road that will ultimately lead to a federal Europe, whatever the Minister and Opposition spokesmen may say and however much the word "federal" is not included in the treaty. It will be a federal Europe in the sense in which we understand the word.

Mr. Rowlands

I also fear that that is the end game. It is openly admitted and fairly frequently embraced in one form or another by hon. Members. We should puncture the pretence of Ministers and of Opposition spokesmen that that is not the end game and that that is not the agenda of the 1996 conference, especially when many of the objectives and the detailed processes by which the end game will be achieved are written into the treaty.

I listened with great interest to the Foreign Secretary. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to make the contribution that I should have liked to make in the debate on a common foreign and security policy. Again, I found the Foreign Secretary, quite rightly, trying to soothe us into believing that the words were little more than the words used before, and that the treaty went little further than the Single European Act did. The language is very different. We are apparently supposed to ignore the difference between "we should endeavour to agree and co-operate" and "thou shalt define a foreign policy". We are told that the change in language does not mean anything, or that, if it does, the change is minimal. We live by language; it is our profession. We spend a lot of time with language. There are differences between the forms of words and that is why we should be sceptical.

One of the running themes among Conservative Members has been that they were conned in 1986 on the Single European Act. I confess I was, too. I played little or no part in the proceedings on the Single European Act. I did not think that it was a bridgehead. The hon. Member for Esher (Mr. Taylor), who wishes to embarrass the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash), leaps up every five minutes and says, "Ah, but you signed the Single European Act, and in doing so, you signed this, and this and this." That may be the lesson that we have learnt since the debates of 1985 and 1986, and that is the lesson that we are determined not to forget when we go through the treaty line by line. We must study the words, the provisions and the agenda for the 1996 conference.

Sir Trevor Skeet (Bedfordshire, North)

We are constantly construing Acts of Parliament and treaties. There is a body, to which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence) recently referred, that will interpret all the words. It is a question of judgment. The Court of Justice will apply to articles L to S. If it applies to those articles, it applies to article N. If a contentious matter comes up which the Court of Justice wants to challenge, whose judgment does it accept? It does not accept the Minister's judgment, but the European judgment.

Mr. Rowlands

The hon. Gentleman, as always, makes a pertinent point. The Foreign Secretary argued, as the Minister did on an intervention, that there was a veto over the common foreign policy. He said that because decisions had to be unanimous, there was a veto. The Minister leapt to his feet during the speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) who said that the terms of article J.4 were that the "Union requests" the Western European Union. The word "request" means nothing more and is very gentle. It does not mean any further obligation. Article B, however, states: The Union shall set itself … objectives"— to have a common defence policy. We could even accept such ambiguity of language, although I do not think that we should, if—to return to the observation that strikes me every time I read another paragraph of the treaty—it were not for the grubby watermark of compromise, and the way in which contradictory and rather deadly pieces were left in the treaty.

Mr. Corbyn

rose

2.30 am
Mr. Rowlands

May I finish this point first, to keep the flow of the argument going? I am trying to produce a rational argument.

Article J.4 contains the words, "The Union requests", but article B states "shall set … objectives"—two contradictory pieces of language. To add to the problem of deciding where the balance was struck, a mere declaration is included in the treaty on voting in the field of the common foreign and security policy". That provision was not seriously dwelt upon—

The Chairman

Order. It was dwelt on during debate on the last but one group of amendments, and it is not particularly relevant to title VII. If it is, the hon. Gentleman is taking an awful long time to get to it.

Mr. Rowlands

I shall get to it promptly. As the Minister admitted, the central five points on the agenda of the next conference in 1996, which is mentioned in article N.2 of title VII, will include common foreign and security policy. I was about to observe, Mr. Morris, that the bridgeheads for the development of that common foreign and security policy have been established in the way that Ministers have tried to present the case to us and in the language of the "Declaration on voting in the field of the common foreign and security policy", which says that the Maastricht Conference agrees that, with regard to Council decisions requiring unanimity, Member States will, to the extent possible, avoid preventing a unanimous decision where a qualified majority exists in favour of that decision. That is a mere declaration, but what a bridgehead to have established before further revision in 1996.

The Secretary of State said that there was no Luxembourg compromise around, but the declaration smacks of the language of that compromise. Although it says that we have a right to a veto, it also says that there will be ways to force us to abandon it, and, if there is a qualified majority, we will have to go along with it. That is the language of the Luxembourg compromise, and it has been written into issues of common foreign and security policy.

Article N.2 tells us that the new conference will have at its centre the question whither the common foreign and security policy goes. That declaration will not resile from the provision in article after article to establish the principle of a fully fledged common security and defence policy of the kind that many of us believe is the worrying feature which is being trailered and flagged in the treaty, ready for the conference.

Mr. Corbyn

I am reluctant to interrupt my hon. Friend's flow, which is considerable, and his analysis of the issues, but he mentioned article C, the "acquis communautaire", and how it fits in with the common defence policy. An important answer on the Danish compromise was given to my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) earlier. In reality, the Danish people are being asked to vote in a second referendum on a press release put out after the Edinburgh summit. There is no fundamental change in the terms of the treaty.

What will the acquis communautaire about the common defence policy be in 1996? Is there to be a common defence policy? Is there to be a common defence policy minus Denmark on the basis of a press release, while the treaty is exactly the same? How on earth will such matters be resolved? Should not the Danish people be told that they are being conned?

Mr. Rowlands

From what I read, I understand that the Danish people are clearly observing the issues. One of the joys of having a referendum is that everybody, including politicians, has to concentrate and explain the terms of the treaty in language that members of the public can understand, and thereby appreciate the issues. As a passionate supporter of the referendum, I believe that that exercise would also do us a power of good.

Sir Russell Johnston

I agree, basically, with the hon. Gentleman's logic, and I know that the Welsh are attracted to occasional flourishes of oratory, but I did not greatly care for the expression, "the grubby watermark of compromise". I think that compromise is quite a good thing, and a necessary exercise in politics. We will never make any progress in Europe or the House unless there is a willingness to compromise.

Mr. Rowlands

Of course, we spend our lives compromising—in our personal and political lives, as well as every other part of our lives. But I think that we are now discussing a grubby compromise because it has been created in an unstable treaty. That is my fundamental worry.

I remember vividly that one of the earliest pieces of evidence that we received in the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs came from one of the constitutional experts, Mr. Vibert. I was struck forcibly when he said that the treaty was basically unstable. Our debates in Committee have exposed the nature of that instability—

The Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman is now in full flow, and must return to the amendment.

Mr. Rowlands

I am sorry, Mr. Morris. I was provoked by the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber and I shall resist that provocation.

I support new clause 30, which states: The Secretary of State shall, whenever proposals are made, or are to be made … under Article B in Title I … for revision of the policies and forms of co-operation introduced by the Treaty— (a) lay before Parliament a report setting out the nature of the proposals and their potential effect on the interests". Due to the treaty's instability and its potential negative consequences on the communities that I represent, I support new clause 30. I am worried: we cannot even get a lowest-common-denominator type agreement in Committee about what simple language means, so heaven help us when the policies in article B start to be implemented. What will happen when we start moving closer towards economic and monetary union and begin to frame a common defence policy? If, as I fear, the words contain a clear drift towards a Europe of a sort that I do not believe in, that policy should be subject to continuous scrutiny as proposed in new clause 30.

Mr. Cash

New clause 30 stands in my name, and I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. Due to the carte blanche provided by so much of the treaty, it is essential that, when the nitty-gritty is being worked out within, for example, the citizenship provisions—and the rights and duties to be imposed thereby"— we should know what they are. The new clause would provide the opportunity for us to obtain a definition and receive Parliament's opinion. If we did not have that opportunity, we would be handing the whole lot over to an authoritarian Government.

Mr. Rowlands

We ought to have a running commentary, as suggested in new clause 30, to ensure that we know the effect of any changes in the citizens provisions. But I am worried about another central aspect —the drive towards monetary union by monetarist means, which is written into article B and all the articles that follow it. At least, if we passed new clause 30, the Government would have to present the House with proposals stage by stage, on a regular, methodical basis, to find out where we stood and how far we had got.

The people I represent and my predecessors represented know the effects of monetarism on communities such as mine. Unemployment is rocketing in my area, even as a result of our membership of the exchange rate mechanism. Let us consider the consequences of returning to a fixed gold standard of the kind that we suffered in the 1920s and early 1930s: that led to male unemployment of 69 per cent. in my constituency in the 1930s.

Fortunately, the Chamberlains of this world were driven off the gold standard—driven out of the ERM of the 1930s and away from the nonsense of monetarism, although they believed in it. The consequences of moving towards such a process, however, led to devastation—to the destruction of jobs, and to suffering and hardship in my community.

My predecessors stood where I am standing, and argued passionately against such policies and processes. I have not come here 30 or 40 years later to endorse the proposal that others should act for us without our even knowing the effect. That is why I cannot support aspects of the treaty, and why I support the amendment. I want to ensure that, however difficult it is, we are able to hold on by our fingertips to some control over the processes that affect the lives, jobs and prospects of the people whom we represent.

Mr. Bill Walker

I welcome the opportunity to speak in this important debate. First, let me say to the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston) that his credentials, and his support for federalism, have never been in doubt. It will give him no satisfaction to hear it, but I agree heartily with his definition of federalism, and with his definition of what the people of Scotland believe it to be. Whatever Ministers think, the hon. Gentleman has reflected the views of everyone I know in Scotland, and their interpretation of the word "federal"—and that includes members of the Government.

Last Friday, I attended my constituency annual general meeting. Before and after the meeting, people came up to me and said, "Bill, why are you so worried? We have been assured by almost everyone we have talked to that the treaty is unworkable." I replied, "Well, for the first time in my life it has been suggested to me that I should support something that is unworkable." That strikes me as an illogical position.

One reason for the amendments—particularly the new clause—is our belief that the matters concerned should be properly debated, so that the people of this country can at least be certain that our Parliament is examining all aspects of the treaty to find out whether it is unworkable, as I believe it is.

Mr. George Robertson

The hon. Gentleman says that he explained to his constituency association—no doubt in Blairgowrie—that he was being asked to vote for something that was unworkable and that he does not believe in voting for something that is unworkable. However, he went through the Division Lobby to impose the poll tax, first on Scotland and then on England and Wales. He knew then that that was unworkable, and he certainly knows now that it was unworkable. Why has he suddenly come to the conclusion that he should not vote for something that is unworkable?

2.45 am
Mr. Walker

You will recollect, Mr. Morris, that a long time ago I obtained Mr. Speaker's ruling on whether or not there was such a thing as the poll tax. Mr. Speaker ruled quite clearly that there was not—that that was something quite different. What I voted for was never a poll tax. I would happily have voted for a poll tax so that individuals who did not pay did not have a vote. I have never in my life knowingly supported something that I believed to be unworkable. I believe that even the best things can be made unworkable by people injecting into them systems, procedures and checks which make them unworkable.

I made a living by sorting out companies which had problems. One of the things that life teaches us is that if we put into structures which are unworkable checks and balances which are contradictory and will not actually provide checks and balances, we should not be surprised if we end up with a shambles and chaos.

Mr. Cash

Has my hon. Friend considered the following proposition: if 12 member states agreed unanimously to ratify the treaty and then, within the context of the European Court of Justice as a whole and within the framework of a legal treaty, thereby ensured that the mechanism was put in place for, as one of the articles says, an unlimited period, and if six or even fewer of those member states were committed to it, primarily because they believed that they would get subsidies, cohesion funds and the rest out of it, if the treaty is proved to be unworkable, as we are told that it will be, how will those six member states be encouraged to unravel that unworkable treaty when it has been proved to be unworkable just as the exchange rate mechanism was proved to be unworkable? Unanimous agreement to unravel it will never be obtained. An unstable structure will be created, which is known to be unworkable, which we shall never be able to get out of, and which is bound to collapse—just as the ERM is collapsing, and economic and monetary union with it. That will have a catastrophic effect on the rest of an unstable Europe—Kosovo, Macedonia, eastern Europe, and so on. Does my hon. Friend not agree that the Minister of State is creating that very disaster?

The Chairman

Order. That sounded to me like a Third Reading speech by the hon. Member for Stafford.

Mr. Walker

rose

The Chairman

Order. I know that it is late, but the hon. Gentleman should sit down until I have sat down. I hope that the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) will not go down that particular route and that he will now address the amendment.