§ 2.53 p.m.
§ Debate resumed (according to Order), on the Amendment moved by the Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough to the Motion introduced yesterday by the Earl of Home; to resolve, That this House supports the decision of Her Majesty's Government to make formal application under Article 237 of the Treaty of Rome in order to initiate negotiations to see if satisfactory arrangements can be made to meet the special interests of the United Kingdom, of the Commonwealth and of the European Free Trade Association; and further accepts the undertaking of Her Majesty's Government that no agreement affecting these special interests or involving British sovereignty will be entered into until it has been approved by Parliament after full consultation with other Commonwealth countries, by whatever procedure they may generally agree.
§ The Amendment was to leave out all the words after "House", and to insert: "notes the decision of Her Majesty's Government to make formal application under Article 237 of the Treaty of Rome in order to initiate negotiations to see if satisfactory arrangements can be made to meet the special interests of the United Kingdom, of the Commonwealth and of the European Free Trade Association; regrets that Her Majesty's Government will be conducting these negotiations from a position of grave economic weakness; and declares that Britain should enter the European Economic Community only if Parliament gives its approval and if the conditions negotiated are generally acceptable to a Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference and accord with our obligations and pledges to other members of the European Free Trade Association."
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, during the two days of debate on this subject in both Houses of Parliament some notable speeches have been made, and no doubt during the remainder of the debate in both places more of the same kind will be uttered. My own task this afternoon must, I think, be a somewhat humbler one. I should be unwise to seek to improve upon the 218 masterly exposition, as I felt it was (and I believe that the House, too, thought it a masterly exposition), of my noble friend the Foreign Secretary. And I should be at least equally unwise if I sought to anticipate the reply, especially on the juridical aspects of this matter, which will come with all the authority of his office from my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack at the end of the debate. Nevertheless, I feel that I should be doing less than my duty if I did not play some part in a great matter of this kind. I think it is right that one holding my position should stand up to be counted on the side of his colleagues. Some of my opinions have been canvassed in the Press, and I would prefer that I should state them for myself.
My task is rendered all the more easy because, out of fifteen speeches to which we listened yesterday, I was able to count fourteen which contained, explicitly or by implication, an endorsement of the decision of the Government to enter into negotiations; and from those fourteen I do not except that of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, who last night, with his customary lucidity and charm, made a number of criticisms of the Government with which I did not wholly agree, because upon the essential point—the question of negotiations or no negotiations—the noble Earl's criticism was that we should have done it two years ago.
One speech was critical—that which came from the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition, and I think all of us respect his position. But from his own side three separate speeches, all of distinction, supported the Government's decision. Those were the speeches of the noble Earl, Lord Longford, and the noble Lords, Lord Stonham and Lord Morrison of Lambeth; and some of them, indeed, went in some respects further than the Government have declared themselves as willing to go. That leaves me free to do one or two things which I think might be useful. The first is a great pleasure—namely, to congratulate my noble friend Lord Poole upon a successful maiden speech. The noble Earl, Lord Longford, reminded the House that the noble Lord and I had been close together at a critical moment in both our lives. I would not pretend to say which of us did the thinking and which of us did the talking: I should like to think 219 that we both thought and talked better as the result of our common association. But at any rate the House will now know why my noble friend is such a tower of strength to those with whom he works. His speech was, as always, candid, clear-headed, astringent, relevant, and brief and to the point; and he will be a great asset to our debating strength.
The second thing which I think I should do is to say a word or two about the merits of the two Motions on the Paper. There has been little disposition on either side of this House to regard this as a Party issue, and I am myself happy that this should have been the case. I think this is one of those great matters which arise, perhaps not more than once or twice in a century, when those sure guides of political integrity in this country, Party affiliation and known principle, do not shed a certain light, and when each man must make his decision, in the light of conscience, upon the merits. And, my Lords, I think I should not gain in reputation for either generosity or wisdom if I departed from the sense of the House, because this is not a Party matter. But in a relatively short time one Motion or the other will be inscribed upon our Journals, and I think therefore that I should not be doing my duty as Leader if I did not say something of their relative merits.
An obvious point is that they have very much in common between one another, and that is a point to which I hope to return. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, in the speech he made last night promised us that he would deal with their differences. In one, to my mind, vital respect he did not deal with what, to me, is the only important difference between them; and that is that the Amendment moved by the noble Viscount "notes" the Government's decision, and the Motion moved by my noble friend the Foreign Secretary "supports" it.
My Lords, I quite understand that an Opposition is entitled by the very nature of its situation to reserve its position upon matters of this kind if it desires to do so, and it is not for me to speculate as to why it should desire to reserve its position upon a matter of this importance, or to offer advice as to whether it 220 is to its interest or advantage to take that line. It is entirely something which members of an Opposition Party must decide for themselves. I quite appreciate that the noble Viscount has been pursuing a line carefully discussed and determined in advance in both Houses of Parliament. But, my Lords, I must, I think, be allowed to say this: free an Opposition may be to sit on the fence, but the Houses of Parliament are not in that position. When Governments take the responsibility of entering into negotiations of this importance, they are entitled to go to Parliament, to which they are responsible, and of which they are in one sense only the outward expression, and ask for public endorsement of what they are doing; and Parliament cannot effectively sit on the fence when it is asked the direct question.
Of course, this House could shelter, if it so chose, under the plea that it is not the elected Chamber. But, my Lords, I do not think it would be consonant with its dignity—or even in accordance with its interest—if it took that line. On the contrary, if the sense of yesterday's debate offers any guide, it would wish—subject to the safeguards contained in the Motion and the assurances made here and elsewhere by responsible Ministers—to support the Government in the action which they have taken; and I would ask them to do so.
There are one or two things that I would say at this stage, both to the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, and to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. The first is in regard to the criticism made by the noble Viscount with regard to consultation with the Commonwealth. As with all matters of importance to the Commonwealth, our trading relations with Europe have been as regular subject of discussion with our Commonwealth partners at all levels. This consultation has been particularly frequent since the time of the negotiations for a European Free Trade Area which began in 1956; for example, at the annual meetings of Commonwealth Finance Ministers and of senior Commonwealth economic officials, and at the frequent meetings of the Permanent Commonwealth Liaison Committee in London.
221 More recently, the whole question was thoroughly discussed at the ministerial meeting of the Commonwealth Economic Consultative Committee in London in September, 1960. Your Lordships may remember that the communiqué issued after that meeting contained a specific statement that the Committee recognised the importance of political and economic unity in Western Europe. Then there was a very full discussion again at the meeting of the senior Commonwealth economic officials this spring. The subject was not, it is true, on the agenda for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' meeting earlier this year. Our informal talks with certain European countries, of which the Commonwealth were continuously informed, had not then reached a stage at which general discussion would have been appropriate. Nevertheless, the opportunity was taken to have talks outside the main meeting with those Prime Ministers who wished to have them. It will thus be seen that before the recent visit by Cabinet Ministers to Commonwealth capitals there was a history of continuous, frequent and substantial consultation with other Commonwealth Governments; and that has, of course, included exchanges of messages with the Prime Ministers of other countries.
My Lords, the Motion contains, I would think, the clearest pledge of consultation for the future, including the guarantee that the procedure adopted will be that with Which the Commonwealth Governments themselves will generally agree.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, may I ask something on that? What the noble Viscount said a little earlier in his speech made a reference to the safeguards in the Motion. What safeguard is there in just consultation?
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, we have said in the Motion thatno agreement affecting these special interests"—which include the Commonwealth—or involving British sovereignty will he entered into until it has been approved by Parliament".And we have made it clear in the Motion that our negotiations are to see whether special arrangements can be made to 222 meet the special interests of the United Kingdom, of the Commonwealth, and of the European Free Trade Association. I should have thought that that was at least as explicit as anything in the Amendment proposed by the noble Viscount.
My Lords, I should have thought that there were, in truth and in fact, matters common both to the Amendment and to the Motion upon which we could all agree. One is as to our national identity and pride; one is as to the obligations we owe to the Commonwealth, extending far beyond economic matters, and taking account of common experience of two world wars when men came from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other places, not because they were threatened themselves but because Britain was threatened. It is common, I should have thought, to both sides of the House and to the Whole nation that these are obligations Which we must recognise ourselves and which we must expect to be recognised by any who do business with us in the negotiations to come. Likewise with our obligations to our partners, more recent, still important, in E.F.T.A.; to our own farmers; and to our own people generally. All these are recognised, I think, on both sides of the House.
My Lords, we have decided to negotiate for entry into an economic association with certain political organs. I do not propose to deal in any detail with the juridical question of sovereignty. That is obviously a matter to be handled more authoritatively by my noble and learned friend. But there are certain obvious and important aspects of the matter which I think we can all consider, however much or however little we may know about the niceties of International Law. It is not, I should have thought, conceivable that France, led by General de Gaulle, considers that it has in any way derogated from its national dignity, pride, identity or sovereignty by its participation in this Community. Some of the other nations are smaller, but they have, through the centuries, asserted and reasserted, and survived precisely because they have thus asserted them, their own national identities. These smaller ones have remarkable institutions, comparable to our own. Nor do I imagine that the great nations, Italy 223 or Germany, are markedly nations with no regard for their national identity or pride. History proves the contrary to be the case.
What is proposed is an Economic Community. It is true, of course, that the Economic Community has political organs attached, of which membership involves acceptance; but one can be sure, as my noble friend explained to the House yesterday, that the scope, the range, the purpose of those political organs, and their efficacy in law, are limited to the economic purposes of the Community. All the members retain the full panoply of sovereign organs—executive, legislative, judicial, armed forces, police, ambassadorial representation, and membership of international organisations.
The truth is that such modifications of the juridical conception of sovereignty as there are are limited to the purposes of the Community, which are economic. It is said that the success of this body—and I think we can all hope for and believe in its success, whatever the results of the negotiations—will have political consequences. Everything has political consequences of one sort or another; but of one thing I personally am quite certain: this body is not a Federation. There are federalists in Europe, just as there are federalists here—probably more in Europe than there are here; but this body is not a Federation. It could not become one, in my opinion, at all; but certainly not unless the Treaty were radically altered, which could be done only after consultation and by consent of the members. That is, to my mind, the extent of our alleged derogation of sovereignty.
But, my Lords, I think it would be wrong if we gave the impression that what we are doing we are doing grudgingly. We are doing it wholeheartedly and, I hope, graciously. For the truth is that, though we are and can be committed to nothing contractually until we have something contractual with which we can agree or disagree, we are conscious of an ideal and a fabric to which we should be glad to belong, and with which we could express our full sympathy. For the truth is, that Britain does not seek to enter Europe either as a suppliant or as an alien. Being British 224 is only another way of saying that we are part of Europe, culturally and spiritually. Our language, our law, our literature, our religion; the things which make us characteristically what we are, what we have been and what we want to be; the things which we have passed on to America and to the Commonweath, old and new; the very failures which leave us far short of what we would be all these are European and Christian. Our roots go deep down into the soil of European history and experience; our present has been inextricably intertwined with the agony and bitterness of the twentieth-century European tragedy, of which we are the fellow-sufferers and in which we have been the joint participants. If we deserve to survive, as survive we mean to do, the chaos and the darkness of the present international anarchy, it is because we are, with others, the joint guardians and heirs of something more precious than ourselves, which thousands have died for, which some, indeed, have betrayed, and which more still who are alive to-day desire to live for and pass on to unborn generations.
My Lords, I do not believe that Britain is taking leave of her past, or will be taking leave of her companions, by walking along this road. If I thought that, I should never have the courage, still less the desire, to pass along it myself. But the fact is that our European way of life—and by that I mean the way we have received for ourselves, and which our fellow countrymen before us have carried forward to North America, Australia and New Zealand—is in danger of destruction. Communism has the declared and avowed intention of bringing it all to an end, and we deceive ourselves if we do not recognise that to a large extent its agents are succeeding in doing so. They are succeeding precisely because the nations of the European and Christian West are pulling in opposite directions and have no adequate economic or financial basis on which to wage the economic and cultural struggle on which, probably far more than on military supremacy, the ultimate outcome well may turn.
For this purpose, we in this country are convinced that Europe itself is not enough. We might well hesitate if we thought that the Six nations of the E.E.C. might, left to themselves, develop into 225 a relatively small, inward-looking Community of European peoples, simply intent upon their own affairs, unconcerned with the march of humanity in Asia and Africa or with the strife of mind and soul in West and East, preoccupied with their own economic development, and leaving the great affairs of the world to the huge antagonists on the one side and the multitudinous uncommitted on the other. But we have no reason and no right to assume that this is the case, for in that event Europe will have missed her destiny and betrayed her past. But with Britain in the midst of her, this can never be the pattern of the future. I think we underestimate the extent to which Europe is hungry for British participation and even, in certain matters, for British initiative.
If we go in, I should hope that others might apply to come in with us. If we succeed, I feel sure that other nations still, like-minded with ourselves, inside and outside the Commonwealth, will seek to take advantage of the generous provisions of the Treaty and establish, under Article 238, special relations with the Community. If and in so far as this happens, the Community, with us and others as well as ourselves associated with it in one capacity or another, will become something infinitely better than it would otherwise be: a step towards a wider association of Western Powers which I believe it should be the constant ambition of British statesmen to foster through the Commonwealth, through the Alliance with the United States, and through our associations with Europe, and without which I do not believe our civilisation will survive.
My Lords, my own mind on this occasion goes back irresistibly to the last debate in which I was privileged to take part in the House of Commons, in the months before my beloved father died. It was the debate on the formation of the Coal and Steel Community, which was, in some ways, the forerunner of the debate we are holding at this moment. That debate is fixed in my mind partly because it was the occasion of the last speech I heard made in that place by Sir Winston Churchill, who was then leading my Party in opposition. I cannot part from this subject without quoting the moving words with which he 226 closed. He said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 476, col. 2158]:No one can contend that sovereignty will be affected by our participation in the discussions …"—like the discussions with which we are concerned to-day.They are well protected by the cumulative safeguards which I mentioned earlier. Neverthless"—he went on—there is a great moral and idealistic issue which, though irrelevant to our immediate purpose, has been stirred by the discussions which have taken place. We are asked in a challenging way: 'Are you prepared to part with any degree of national sovereignty in any circumstances for the sake of a larger synthesis?' My right honourable Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington,"—whom we were glad to welcome into this House only last week—with his prolonged experience in foreign affairs, has faced the issue, hypothetical though it be, plainly and squarely. The Conservative and Liberal Parties say, without hesitation, that we are prepared to consider, and if convinced to accept"—and he went on to say, though I would not endorse it—the abrogation of national sovereignty, provided that we are satisfied with the conditions and the safeguards.Nay,"—
he went on—I will go further and say that for the sake of world organisation we would even run risks and make sacrifices. We fought alone against tyranny for a whole year, not purely from national motives. It is true that our lives depended upon our doing so, but we fought the better because we felt with conviction that it was not only our own cause but a world cause for which the Union Jack was kept flying in 1940 and 1941. The soldier who laid down his life, the mother who wept for her son, and the wife who lost her husband, got inspiration or comfort, and felt a sense of being linked with the universal and the eternal by the fact that we fought for what was precious not only for ourselves but for mankind.My Lords, I mention those words not because I would myself endorse every word of them, but because it has sometimes been suggested that, by what we are doing, we are abandoning our nationhood, our friendship with the United States, our relationship to the Commonwealth, or some of our own people; and because the man who spoke those words is notably, perhaps, the greatest patron—perhaps the greatest friend in this country—of the United States of America, one 227 of the noblest defenders of the Commonwealth, and of our own people, that our time has ever seen.
My Lords, there comes a time in the history of Parties of all nations when they are faced with decisions, and are compelledto adopt principles because they believe them to be right, and not because they believe that their action may bring them temporary electoral success. It is the duty of statesmen and Governments to lead and guide, and not merely to reflect opinion.Those last words I said in the House in my last speech in the House of Commons, and I believe them to be as true now as when I said them then. I believe that if we had taken the opportunity in 1950 to play our part in the foundation of the Coal and Steel Community, our way to-day might have been easier than it is. But it is not too late. I hope and pray that we may have the grace and resolution to make good use of the time which remains.
§ 3.26 p.m.
§ EARL ATTLEE
My Lords, the noble Viscount has given us a very interesting disquisition; I do not know whether it has very much to do with the question raised by the Motion and the Amendment. The Opposition is entitled to put down its point of view. There always seems to be a sort of idea, somehow or other, of, "As it is the Conservative Party, let us all rally round !" At the time I was Prime Minister I did not observe that that was the view of the Opposition on the other side; I never found that they wanted to rally round. They did not think that we spoke for the nation, because they were the nation. We are asking in the Amendment for some minimum assurances from the Government, to which I think we are entitled.
There has been some great propaganda in favour of our joining this organisation. I am sorry to say that it has very often been backed up by the statement, "You have to do it. Britain is so weak that, if we do not do it, we shall go down". I find a deplorable lack of confidence in the country, and it is curious that that comes from the Party who proclaimed that its object was to make Britain strong and free. We now have to face this matter, according to their own supporters, in a Britain that 228 is weak and dependent. I do not know who invented the phrase that Britain was "strong and free", but it has had quite a run. Here we are, after ten years of Conservative Government, asked to go into the Common Market, not because we are strong and free, but because we are weak. We are so weak that we have to go round as suppliants.
It is all very well for the noble Viscount to say that we are not suppliants but we are, in effect, asking to go into this organisation. It is an organisation composed of two of the countries which we defeated in the Second World War, and four countries who owe their salvation to this country. But according to the Government which has been in power over the past ten years, we are so reduced, while they have done so much better than we have, that we have to beg to be allowed to join. I find that very depressing. I think it is rather ironical that this Government, which has professed itself to be saving this country and making her strong and free, should be taking this line.
In regard to this matter, there are few people who will have abounding confidence in the result. There are some. There are a number of people—I do not know how many—who are entirely against it. I find when talking with people that most of them have found difficulty in making up their minds. They have hopes, and they have apprehensions. At the present moment, I have apprehensions that have not been dealt with by anything which has been said in the very able speech of the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary, and I propose to vent some of these apprehensions.
The first question is this. What kind of a country are we going to have when we join this organisation? After the 1945 war I was Prime Minister and we believed in a national plan. We believed in planning the life of our country. We believed the time had gone by for a mere anarchistic drift; and we acted accordingly. We took steps, for instance, to see that we preserved in our country a balance between agriculture and industry. Much had been done for agriculture during the war. Much was done during the 1914–18 war, but after that it was dropped and a bitter time our agriculture had; and our countryside went down.
229 We resolved before the last war that that should not be our policy and therefore we took steps to see that our agriculture was sustained. We took steps to see we got the exports we required. Bitterly unpopular were the steps we had to take, but if you want to plan you must have power to do it. We took steps to try to get some reasonable allocation of our industry directed where it should be; and with success. All these things were matters of planning and we had to have the tools for planning. We had to have the means to ensure that we attained our ends, and we were planning for this country. Came the Conservatives, and they threw away planning—they did not believe in it. They believed in going backwards to an anarchistic country, to a country which offered opportunities for an individual to pile up wealth irrespective to the benefit of the country. They went back to the jungle, a jungle where the financiers could fight it out: the big beasts of the jungle, sometimes against the small people, but who latterly have been eating each other; the jungle red in tooth and claw, and particularly Clore.
The result is now seen in an unplanned society. And now they look anxiously across and say, "It is terrible! We are so behind Soviet Russia." But Soviet Russia is working to a plan, and now we must have a plan. We abandoned our own idea of planning. We do not believe in planning, so now we are to have our country planned by somebody else, a committee of civil servants working under the orders of a collection of Ministers. It is rather ironical that a Party who did not believe in our planning by ourselves now believes in planning by somebody else. They dismantled all the means by which we could plan ourselves and the result is this deplorable position. So ends our sovereignty.
I am not boggling at all on that, for I believe in certain surrenders of sovereignty and in a complete surrender of sovereignty over the right to make war and to keep armed forces. But I limit the derogation of sovereignty to that which is essential to the keeping of peace. I have never believed that we can entirely abandon our national life or our sovereignty, and one would have thought somehow that the economic life of this country was something quite apart. It is absolutely essential that any 230 Government, whatever its colour, should have the power to deal with the economic life of this country and I do not believe in a regulation of our internal affairs by some external body, even a national body, much less a collection of five or six other States.
In a question of derogation of sovereignty I think we want to look at two things: first of all, the extent of it, and secondly to whom we are giving sovereignty. It requires careful selection. Now we are considering going in with certain countries with their own characteristics, different from ours. By all means let them have them, but we should be going in for a limited purpose. When one goes into organisations of this kind one has to consider one's reasons for doing so. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, was discussing last week how we went into the war with Russia. He pointed out that we were constrained by the circumstances of the war to be the allies of Russia. Well, we have to do that in physical warfare, but it is very different when we are dealing with ideas and ideologies; and it makes a lot of difference with whom we are connected. I believe the noble Marquess at that time was arguing for closer association with Spain and Portugal. From the point of view of ideological warfare, of the free against the enslaved, we only weaken ourselves if we ally ourselves with reactionary Powers.
I look at this inevitably—and I make no excuse for it—from a Socialist point of view. I have to consider what is going to be the result of this country's joining with countries that are essentially capitalist countries. They are, from my point of view, on the whole a good deal to the Right; and one can hardly expect from Social Democrats the same enthusiasm for putting ourselves under the command of foreign countries which do not agree with their ideology. I know I have heard speeches from my own side about "Workers of the world unite!". But it all depends on how the workers are organised. That is the slogan of the Communists, but workers are not prepared to unite under Communist domination and we have to look closely at where we are going.
We are to join up in a capitalist organisation. There is Germany, a very 231 powerful industrial country. Who is controlling Germany's economic life? We had a lot of questions from the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, about what is to become of Krupps. My impression is that German industry is in very much the same hands as those who supported Hitlerism. French industry is very much under the command of the same people one used to talk of before the last war. It is said that it would be a wonderful thing for British industry to be stimulated by competition. But will they be? Will they necessarily compete? Are they not more likely to form international cartels as they did before the war? Is not that at least a possibility with this free flow of capital, with the result that we shall find our industry in the hands of the Germans or others? There does not seem to be much pride there in our own industry, and perhaps some owners may be prepared to sell off quickly or be bought over by takeover bids which might as easily come from the Continent. We have to look at the future of this country and at whether it is going to fall into the hands of a group, or two or three groups, of big financiers. It is all possible. One cannot expect us to go in holus-bolus without looking very closely at these things.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I am not anxious to interrupt the noble Earl's most interesting speech, but I think I should say, if he is going to examine it carefully, that what he has described is contrary to Article 85 and following of the Treaty he is discussing.
§ EARL ATTLEE
My Lords, I am not so sure, The words are there, but we get these gentlemen's agreements of one kind or another. I think that there is a danger, and therefore, while we say, "By all means look into these things," we are not quite so enthusiastic, all of us, as are some people on the other side.
We are going in with certain European countries and we have to consider carefully other countries. I should welcome going in with the Scandinavian countries, and I hope, if they do come in, that that will be of help; but we shall certainly, broadly speaking, be in the hands of countries that do not share our point of view. Then there is the question of the Commonwealth. I happen to be a great supporter of the Common- 232 wealth, particularly because it is not a European organisation or an organisation of Europeans. I think that the great difficulty facing the world is a proper relationship between the various races—the black, the brown, the yellow and the white—and it has been a triumph for the British Commonwealth that it has evolved into something that is not purely European and not purely Asian. It takes in Asian and African as well.
It must be remembered that the great war-cry of the Communists, by which they hope to wrest from us the debatable countries in Asia and Africa, is that of anti-colonialism. It is unfortunate that in the Common Market one of the leading countries—France—is regarded, rightly or wrongly, both in Africa and in Asia as a protagonist of old-fashioned colonialism. And the Dutch have had unfortunate experience in their colonies, and also the Belgians. We have to consider what the repercussions are likely to be in the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth is bound together by many ties, but I think that most people would agree on the whole that the tie between the individual members of the Commonwealth and this old country is closer than that between each other. It is like the tie of a family to some old mother or grandmother, to whom they look to keep the children together. If this old mother—or worse, this old grandmother—is going to marry again, they will look rather closely at their step-relations in the new community; and to be bound too closely to Europe will suggest to many of the emerging nations that we are taking a step back to the old ideas of European hegemony and European colonialism. I think that is a point that wants close attention.
There is some warning in that, because we cannot say that all the countries in Europe hold exactly the same traditions. We do hold certain valuable things in common, but there are other things that we do not. Some of the traditions held by those of English-speaking stock are not held so much by others on the Continent. I am glad to say that in most of our Commonwealth we have working democracies—and a good deal of Europe is not very democratic. The French are always enthusiastic democrats, but never seem quite able to work it. Their 233 democracy seems to work when punctuated at intervals by dictatorships. The Germans have had practically no experience of democracy. Of course, we shall have to work with them in the cause of democracy. But do not let us forget that some of the more effective democracies are outside Europe, in the Commonwealth and in the United States of America.
I do not like much being driven into an organisation just through weakness, and still less do I like it through fear. I notice that in the Prime Minister's speech there was a good deal of reference to our fear of Communism. Now I am not afraid of Communism. I think that we can meet it. But we shall meet it only if we have a dynamic as strong as the Communist dynamic, and I do not think that we shall get that if we go back to the old capitalism, still less to the old imperialism. Our inspiration has to be more dynamic. The big contest in the world to-day is ideological. Which way will the nations of Africa and Asia go? We have to be very careful that they do not feel we are deserting them, because then they will look to Communism. These are some of the apprehensions I have. The Foreign Secretary has stated admirably everything in favour, but it is not a simple issue at all. There are a number of ponderables and impon derables on the other side. I think there is a danger of overstressing the success of the Common Market nations. I noticed an articles in The Times yesterday suggesting that their success might be merely a temporary boom. It might come down.
Anyway, I look towards a world government, a world government for peace but with the greatest possible degree of individual characteristics in all those that belong to it. I do not regard the union of Europe as a step towards the unity of the world. I would much rather see a development of our British Commonwealth, a development of all the continents and not any concentration just on Europe. I agree that it is quite useless to look back to the days of isolation. It is true that we are much nearer Europe than we were when I was young, but we are also much nearer to America, Africa and Asia than we were. I believe that the whole scale of the world has come down. That leads me to want a world union rather than look back to Europe. 234 Hitherto, this country has had an eye on Europe while it has also had an outlook to the world beyond. Now I am afraid we may get so absorbed in Europe that we may neglect these larger issues. We are not opposed to discussing this question very fully, but it is a mistake to think that it is a matter which will not arouse deep emotion in this country. It should also be fully explained and considered with the Commonwealth before we go in.
§ 3.49 p.m.
§ LORD LAYTON
My Lords, I do not propose to comment at all fully on the speech just made by the noble Earl, except to make one reflection. The noble Earl spoke about Germany and asked who now runs German industry. As I listened, I reflected that in every nation there are many opinions and people with varied views. There are good Germans and there are bad Germans. The effect of the war has certainly been to stimulate the sense of Germany being part of Europe. The European Movement, for example, has strong branches in Germany. While the noble Earl was speaking, I kept asking myself this question: are the good influences in Germany more likely to grow and influence the policy in Germany if we turn our back on Europe? Or is it more likely that the good influences, without which Germany cannot really take the part for which she is equipped, will grow, if we go in and form part of a United Europe, including Germany? I, for one, do not believe that we can get the full prosperity in the world which we want to see if we turn solely to the Commonwealth. What I want to see is the Commonwealth brought into close relationship with Europe, for there you have complementary economies, and I believe we both have a great deal to learn from one another.
Owing to circumstances over which I have had no control, I have not, most unfortunately, been able to take an active part in the proceedings of your Lordships' House for some time, and for that reason I hesitated as to whether I should intervene in this discussion. But as probably three out of every four speeches that I have made in this House over the last fifteen years have been concerned with Europe and closely allied 235 questions, I could not let this occasion pass without saying a few words. In the circumstances, I shall confine myself to a few paragraphs only.
I warmly welcome the decision which was announced in both Houses on Monday that the Government propose to make formal application under Article 237 of the Treaty of Rome in order to negotiate on the matters mentioned in the Motion, which I shall not read again. No one speaking from these Benches could possibly fail to take that view or to speak otherwise, seeing that this step has been officially recommended by a Resolution at the Annual Conference of the Liberal Party and has been preached from every Liberal platform in the country. We will therefore vote for the Government's Resolution and against the Opposition's Amendment. The Amendment merely notes the decision announced on Monday, and adds some rather unflattering comments on the policy of the Government. The Resolution, on the other hand, formally asks the House to support the decision which the Government have taken—to do, indeed, what the Liberal Party invited them to do.
We do not all disagree by any means—in fact, some of us very much agree—with the implied criticisms in the Amendment about the Government's activities or lack of activities in the economic and financial fields. Some of us have become very impatient at the way the negotiations have dragged on over several years and, in dragging on, have made it more and more each year less possible to come to a satisfactory arrangement; it has become more and more difficult because there have been so many changes of policy. But I am convinced at the present moment that the most helpful thing we can do this afternoon is to show by the largest possible majority that both Houses of Parliament support the decision taken by Her Majesty's Government.
Several speakers have said that this is an historic occasion, as indeed it is: for if the negotiations are successful it marks the end of a chapter in the economic history of Europe and the turning of a new page. In his history of the peace treaties of 1919, Mr. Lloyd George made the claim that those 236 treaties had been the greatest act of liberation of peoples in the history of the world; and I think he may well have been justified in the view that he then took. But the economic effect of the political changes made by those treaties—Versailles and so on—was absolutely disastrous. The political settlement split up the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which for a long while had been a free liberal unity placed in the very centre of Europe; and its component parts, like those which had been recently freed in the Balkans, were each left to pursue entirely their own economic policy.
The net effect of the peace treaties was that there were set up 10,000 kilometres of new customs frontiers: it was the economic fragmentation of Europe that was carried out in 1919. It has taken nearly half a century to put together again the shattered Europe that was produced economically by those treaties. At first, the Powers confined themselves to admonition; later more specific propositions were made and brought up under the œgis of the League of Nations. But when the Second World War was over, Europe was once again divided by the erection of the Iron Curtain. The outcome of the negotiations which Her Majesty's Government are about to undertake will decide whether the free half of Europe is going to be one unit or two; and that is a profoundly important decision, which is really going to affect the whole of Europe and a large part of the world.
The wiser heads in Europe are very much alive to this. The noble Earl the Foreign Secretary in his speech called the attention of the House to what had happened earlier this week in Western European Union, and mentioned that all those who were present at that meeting expressed their anxiety and their wish (I am talking about the Six; it is the meeting at which we meet the Six on military matters) that we should succeed in bringing about a closer association between the Commonwealth and Europe. Monsieur Spaak has shared that view; and I was delighted to see in last Sunday's newspaper that it would appear that he is taking part in the discussions which are about to go on among the statesmen of the Six. He has several times been to this country and has spoken in 237 a Committee Room of the House of Commons on the European Union Movement. I recall one such meeting of the European Union Movement at which he said that:Europe will never ask Britain to choose between Europe and the Commonwealth for if we were to do so Britain would"—note this word—rightly choose the Commonwealth.He went on:We are not seeking the association of an island off the coast of France. What we are seeking is association with the Britain that is the leader and the inspiration of the great group of free countries overseas".I hope that M. Spaak's way of expressing it—and it was very pertinent—will be conveyed to many more of the statesmen of Europe.
Just one word about sovereignty. There were many references to sovereignty yesterday, and there have been again this afternoon. There is nothing in the Treaty of Rome which suggests that the Six contemplate anything approximating to the constitution of the United States—nothing at all. The bodies which have been set up are, to use the jargon of Strasbourg (shall I call it?), functionalist bodies. Their powers are limited precisely by the treaties which create them. They cannot of their own volition acquire or exercise powers beyond the terms of their mandate, unless the Ministers of the countries represented in the body concerned unanimously agree to add more powers to them. Again, to use the language of the text books—the Lord Chancellor will no doubt correct me if I am wrong; this form of statement is the way in which I personally think of this issue—the residuary powers remain with the Governments. I believe that is a correct statement of the situation: where you have new bodies who are functionalist, with their powers exactly prescribed, the Governments retain everything else. If that is so, then there is extraordinarily little to fear in regard to this problem of sovereignty.
Several examples were quoted yesterday of cases where Britatin has pooled her sovereignty. The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, mentioned many of them. But I did not hear anybody mention at all yesterday what is to my mind, at all events, one of the most significant of the instances in which we have pooled 238 sovereignty, and that is the European Convention of Human Rights, where we have undertaken to do certain things and to submit to certain rules. We have granted these human rights and we have agreed, in any cases which are called in question so far as we are concerned, that we will accept the decision of a simple majority of the Committee of Ministers of the members who have signed the Convention. That is a very far-reaching pooling of sovereignty, although it has never been so called. It is an example of the fact that Britain will go much further in action than she will in words.
Britain does not want to talk about pooling sovereignty, but if you said, "Will you do such and such?" then the chances are that you will be able to persuade the British Government to fall in with the rules of a particular undertaking. I suggest that the extension of our commitments in relation to the European Convention of Human Rights, the acceptance of the jurisdiction of the court and the right of private petition are points on which we might well offer in the course of the negotiations to fall into line.
Lastly, several speakers have mentioned the possibility that our joining the Common Market might conceivably endanger or influence the closeness of our association with the United States. I do not think so. I am inclined to think that, just as the United States in practice uses Canada as her special link with the Commonwealth, so she will use Great Britain as her special link with the old world. The European Atlantic group was mentioned last night by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, who has recently accepted the chairmanship, and which was started to try to prevent any clash of doctrine or conflicting propaganda between supporters of the European Union Movement and the Atlantic Union. These are not ideals which should arouse rival loyalties, but are organisations which are destined, as I believe, to become component parts of the world of the future.
§ 4.8 p.m.
§ LORD PLOWDEN
My Lords, I ask your Lordships' indulgence on this, the first occasion that I speak in your House. I speak to support the decision of the Government to apply for membership of 239 the European Economic Community, subject to the conditions and safeguards as set out in the Motion. I speak as a convert, and if I venture to give the reasons for my change of view it is because I think it may be of some small interest to some of those who doubt the wisdom of this application.
Until two or three years ago, I was opposed to our entry into the Common Market, on the grounds that it would hamper our freedom of action in world affairs, would strain our relations with the Commonwealth and might cut us off from the United States. It is the change in the economic position of the United Kingdom that has caused me to revise my views. Most people in this country, including some of us who had the privilege of working in the Treasury and had access to all the facts and figures, have seriously underestimated how much weaker we have become economically as a result of the war. As each balance-of-payments crisis was surmounted, with help from outside, it always seemed possible that it would be the last. But this has not been so.
To be able to maintain our position of leadership in the Commonwealth and in our Alliances, it seems to me that there are three essential requirements: to maintain the stability of sterling; to provide capital on public and private account for the development of the Commonwealth and other under-developed countries of the world; and, finally, to maintain suitably equipped armed forces of a size and so disposed about the world as to be able to support our Commonwealth and treaty obligations. To do all these things requires a large surplus on our balance of payments year in, year out; and it is just this that we have never succeeded in doing since the war.
A surplus on our balance of payments can be achieved only by a massive increase in our exports, which, in its turn, needs access to large mass markets. It would be satisfactory to believe that these large markets were available to us within the Commonwealth, but is it reasonable to suppose that the trend of the last 25 years can be reversed, and that the industries built up in the old Dominions, and now protected by high tariffs and quotas, could be thrown open 240 to the full blast of competition from the industries of this country? Certainly Canada, the most advanced industrially of these countries, has emphatically said "No". Still less, I suggest, could one expect the newly independent countries of the Commonwealth to cease to protect their infant industries, to the development of which they attach so much importance.
All the countries in the Commonwealth have the right to maintain this protection, but while in these negotiations we must do all we can to look after their interests (and in this connection I feel that New Zealand has a very special place) they cannot reasonably object if we do what we can to secure our own economic future. But, my Lords, even if Commonwealth countries were freely open to us, could they provide us with a mass market of the kind we need unless we were able to provide massive injections of capital? And could we do that?
If we do enter the Common Market, it will not, of course, guarantee a large increase in British exports. Competition from Continental industries will be severe. British industry is highly protected, and to remove tariffs, even gradually, as would happen, would be painful. But large parts of British industry is highly efficient and competitive, and other parts could and would become so under the stimulus of competition. The large mass market of Europe offers us opportunities which the many highly efficient firms would undoubtedy seize. I was encouraged to hear the noble Viscount, Lord Knollys, whose industrial experience is so wide, express this same view in more detail yesterday. It could be argued that a unilateral reduction of tariffs in this country would provide the necessary stimulus to British industry without the disadvantage of joining any new international organisation. But it would not give us the advantage of access to the large markets of Europe and all the opportunities that that offers us. Again, as the size of industrial units tends to increase year by year, I think it is doubtful whether, in certain industries at least, the United Kingdom offers, on its own, a market large enough to support units of the most economic size.
My Lords, it is difficult to realise, and still more difficult to accept, the change 241 that has taken place in the economic position of this country in the past sixteen years. But we must not delude ourselves into thinking that all these present difficulties are the invention of Treasury economists, Swiss bankers, industrialists, trade unionists, or even of politicians; and that if we wish hard enough the difficulties will all go away and we shall be able to continue in the same way and be able once again to attain the position that we used to hold. Indeed, it is of no service at all to our friends in the Commonwealth to pretend that we can continue to provide them with capital, or aid, or free access to our markets, or military support of a scale that our economic strength does not allow.
As one who belongs to no political Party but who has had something to do with the formulation of policies under both the great Parties since the war, I submit that the policies that we have followed, whether under Socialist or Conservative leadership, have not solved our problems, and without some radical change are riot likely to solve them in the long term. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, suggested that with more planning we could have avoided this necessity. I certainly am not averse to planning, but I suggest that without some radical change, such as entry into the Common Market, no amount of planning would be likely to get us cut of the economic straitjacket in which we have been labouring ever since 1945. We could, of course, continue as we are, with a relatively declining economic strength, inevitably resulting, I submit, in our drifting into a political backwater.
I suggest, my Lords, that entry into the Common Market offers us an opportunity to regain our economic strength, upon which depends our power to give leadership. There is no reason why we should not—indeed, there is every reason why we should—play a major part not only in the leadership of Europe but also in the development of economic strength which will allow us to continue to lead and sustain the Commonwealth. Nor should we stop here. Entering into these negotiations with the support of the United States is, I believe, only the first step towards a wider Atlantic Union which is so essential if the Free World is successfully to resist and overcome the growing pressure from the Communist 242 World. It is for these reasons, my Lords, that I strongly support the attempt to reach agreement with the European Economic Community.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, your Lordships' House is a changing place. Three months ago I set out on a world tour and during that time new faces have come to this House—names that are famous both in industry and in service to their country. The noble Lord, Lord Plowden, took his seat during my absence; and I would, if I may, on behalf of all Members, extend to him our very sincere congratulations on his maiden speech. With so many new Members to your Lordships' House, maiden speeches are becoming rather a regular occasion, and so when congratulations are offered in the utmost sincerity I sometimes feel rather as if they are platitudes. But in the case of the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, I would say that his thoughtful speech, which I think most of us will have to read thoroughly in order to digest it, was a speech of outstanding importance. I am conscious that I am being followed by another maiden speaker and I think I would express a regret that he has taken so long to make his maiden speech. The noble Miscount, Lord Chandos, is, if I may say so, a very important man in the industrial and economic world, and I think your Lordships' House is poorer because he has not come here before to give us the benefit of his views. I hope we shall see him on many future occasions.
My Lords, I rise to support the Amendment that was moved yesterday by my noble Leader. The noble and learned Viscount who leads the House thought that our Amendment conveyed an attitude of sitting on the fence. That is an uncomfortable and undignified position at any time. But in this matter I, at least, who support this Amendment, and I think the vast majority of my Party, have taken this attitude not because we are sitting on the fence in the sense of a political fence but because we genuinely have not yet made up our minds.
There are enthusiasts for the Common Market. There is the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn; he has never hidden his enthusiasm for a European Community. 243 My noble friend Lord Longford came out yesterday as a 100 per cent. supporter of the Common Market. And we heard this afternoon the very great concern of my noble friend Lord Attlee. There are, let us freely admit, those who are 100 per cent. opposed to our entry into the Common Market. I must admit when I see the supporters of that view that they are very strange bedfellows. But the arguments that are put forward on both sides are sincerely held. I must say that I personally am one of, I believe, a majority in the country who have not yet made up their minds in this matter. I should not like to abstain in a debate on one Motion before your Lordships' House, but I must say to the noble and learned Viscount that I should have great difficulty with my conscience in going into the Division Lobby approving the action of Her Majesty's Government. Therefore, I am very pleased that my noble Leader has moved the Amendment, which neither rejects nor accepts the Government's action.
My Lords, the Common Market has been the subject of hot discussion in many circles. It has been discussed in international bodies such as the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians' Conference. But it has come, I think, as a very great shock to many of us that at this very last moment at the end of the Session we are being called upon to make a decision. I suppose the Government had no option; time was pressing. But this act which we are being asked to accept is an act which will radically change all the traditional policies of this country. It has caused alarm and offence within countries like Australia and New Zealand, as I know from my own experience when I was recently in Australia. It has also caused divisions in our political Parties, and I do not believe the whole effect of the proposals is understood among the general public. I am sure the noble and learned Viscount will agree that even where consideration has been given to it among the general public there are great divisions of opinion. Therefore, I hope that the Government will not think ill of us if we cannot give them full support this evening.
I am looking at the Common Market from a different point of view from that 244 of most of the speakers in your Lordships' House during the last two days. Most of the speeches have been made from the point of view of a European looking into Europe. I should like to look at this matter from the point of view of a Colonial or a member of the Commonwealth. As I understand his point of view, he sees that Britain is turning its back on the Commonwealth and looking to Europe. It is true that Her Majesty's Government have said this is not the case, but to him it is so. Britain has developed her trade within the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth itself has prospered very much through the trading arrangements with Britain, and if we go into the Common Market as it now stands it means that much of the trade of the Commonwealth and our Colonies which was traditionally with Britain may well disappear.
It is true that raw materials such as wool and cotton will enter the Common Market free of duty. Foodstuffs, however, will carry a heavy burden of tariff. All these countries of which I am thinking are poor countries. Their standards of living will never be raised purely on primary products. They will have to go through a form of industrialisation. In the early stages that industrialisation may be inefficient and costly. But if you are going to have growing up throughout the world three major trading blocs with high tariff walls whose members can trade and manufacture without those tariffs, how then are these poor countries going to sell their products into what must be their only big market?
§ LORD BOOTHBY
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord one question? Does he think that we alone can provide the necessary capital for those countries to build up this great industrialisation?
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, the noble Lord has certainly raised a point. It is true the capital we have been able to put into these territories has been lamentably small, considering the need. But when we talk of the Common Market we are not thinking of something happening this year or the next. If we enter the Common Market and if the three trading blocs come into existence, they will be there "for keeps" and as these countries progress they will find the door inevitably closed against them. I believe that this is a very great danger 245 to us. I believe it may be a price that will have to be paid by our children in later years. If these countries by sheer frustration are unable to increase their standards of living, if they are barred by these unnatural barriers of high tariffs, they may inevitably be driven into the Communist orbit. I think that is something which we must consider. As I said, I have not made up my mind on this matter. I see it as a very considerable danger, but equally I can understand the position of Her Majesty's Government when we look at the economic position of our country.
I have been away for three months. The economic position of this country has changed drastically, at least to me as one who reads the newspapers. I should be much happier to give my support to Her Majesty's Government if I felt that they were going into this Common Market because they believed in the principle and in the Treaty of Rome. But I cannot help feeling that they are going in on the question of expediency. I cannot see any other reason why there should be such haste in getting approval from your Lordships' House. When I see to-day's papers, the terrible fall in our reserves during the month of July, the sum of £114 million, the biggest fall in ten years—after ten years of Tory Government—I think I now understand why, two or three weeks ago, we had the threat of the severity of Mr. Selwyn Lloyd, and I think I now understand why we are going into the Common Market. Is it because the Government now say that Britain is now no longer viable unless she goes within the Common Market? As I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, I felt that that was his decision—that after ten years we are no longer viable. If that is the case, it is a terrible thing.
Perhaps the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, can say this better than I can, but it seems to me that, unless there is a drastic change within this country, unless there is a great change of attitude by management and workers towards our export industry, if we go into the Common Market as we now stand, the Common Market could well be our deathbed. The competition that we shall face from the Common Market will be extremely severe. In regard to the European Free Trade Area, it is interest- 246 ing to note that imports into this country from that Area has risen faster than our exports to that Area, and I warn the House that I believe that within the first year or so the same story will be true of the Common Market. If that is the case, if our balance-of-payments situation is so bad to-day, how will it stand after a year of economic blizzard and competition from the Common Market? But I say, on the other side, that if we did respond to the challenge that may come from going into the Common Market, our industry would be more capable of withstanding competition from overseas exports markets. Germany has taken many of our export markets. In spite of Imperial Preference, she has encroached even into those markets which we regard as privileged markets.
This country is at a great crossroads. It will not save itself purely by going into a larger home market. It will save itself only by its own energies. It will save itself only when management, the finance people and the workers say that they have a greater obligation to their country than they have to the shareholders of their company. If that had been true, and if it had been the case, I do not think we should to-day have to consider entering into the Common Market, with all its economic and political consequences. I believe that if we had gone about our traditional work we could still be outside the Common Market. We could have been a bridge not only between Europe and America, and between America and Russia, but a bridge with those millions and millions of people who now live in Africa and Asia.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT CHANDOS
My Lords, this is the first time that I have had the temerity to address your Lordships' House, although I have been a Member for seven years. I trust that the Statute of Limitations will not be applied, and that I may still claim the indulgence which your Lordships so courteously give to a maiden speech, even when the speaker may have lost his apprentice allowance. One does not require to be a Lord Keynes or a Lord Gladwyn to recognise that a Common Market, embracing 250 million to 300 million people, freely trading among themselves 247 and exchanging their resources in the most economic and efficient way, is a highly desirable objective. But how, and by what means, is it to be reached? It is rather like saying that if we could so arrange marriage between every man and woman that it was lived out in harmony and amity, the general welfare of society would be notably advanced. But how is it to be done?
For a variety of reasons, most of which I think are understandable, it seems to me that homo sapiens has got hold of the crocodile of a common market by the extreme tip of its tail, and that it is trying to work upwards in the hope that, by the time it reaches the jaws, they will not be quite so bad as they look now. But I suggest that the logical way of looking at the Common Market is to face the fact at the outset that a serious loss of national sovereignty is going to be incurred; and I think we should accept that.
Both the Foreign Secretary and Lord Gladwyn yesterday, and the noble Viscount the Leader of the House to-day, gave us some mild tranquillisers. They sought to reassure the House about the Treaty of Rome. The Foreign Secretary, I think, said, in effect, that the Treaty would apply only to the economic life of the country. The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, at a different point, as did the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, explained that we could not be led blindfold into a political Federation. I accept that. Nevertheless, in my submission, the Treaty will involve a large derogation of national sovereignty, and it is no use burking this fact. It has to be faced; and you either believe, as I do, that we should accept the consequences of it, or that it should be rejected at this point. This is the nub of the matter.
To put it more bluntly, it means that over a wide area of economic affairs and over a widening area of political affairs, the wings of the Government and the two Houses of Parliament in this country are going to be clipped. Their flight will no longer be a soaring flight; in certain skies they will not be able to fly at all. I earnestly believe that at some time in the future—perhaps not in our life time—the loss of sovereignty will prove to be worth while. Some noble Lords opposite regard the loss of sovereignty as a positive advantage. I 248 cannot bring myself to do that, but I can just bring myself to accept it as the means to a greater end. We must, however, proceed on the path towards a Common Market wide-eyed, and with a full knowledge of what is involved.
Let me turn now, as an illustration of what I mean, to the exchanges—I mean the currency exchanges. Fluctuations of a national currency have wide social effects. To lose control of them, or to curtail the means by which they are controlled, is a serious loss of national sovereignty. It is axiomatic, I suppose, that you cannot have a free trade area, the free flow of goods and services, unless you have at the same time a free market in the goods for which they are exchanged, namely, the national currency. So a natural question to ask is what a country may do to protect its currency at any given rate of exchange under the Treaty of Rome. The answer appears to be that it may take emergency measures, but that on the long-term disequilibrium it is going to be given advice by the Commission. And we know what that means: it must take the advice given by the Commission, "or else … !"
In the world as we have known it of late, when currency has been under pressure, the country affected has a number of ways of restoring the balance. First, it has the opportunity of putting on a tariff; secondly, it can do it by quantitative regulation of imports; and thirdly, by deflation, by severe budgeting and high interest rates. If these fail it is driven, with fixed exchanges, inevitably into devaluation. Of these four remedies only two are left, because obviously the first two are repugnant to the idea of the Common Market. Deflation will stretch its fingers far beyond economic questions, to which the noble Viscount referred in his speech this afternoon. They will affect the amenities of the public over such matters as hire purchase and durable consumer goods, to use the jargon of the day, and they will directly affect the level of employment.
Again, your Lordships will agree, I am sure, that on occasions the weakness of a currency and the causes which begin to make it slide may be quite different from ordinary economic causes. They may derive from internal strife between, let us say, Communists and Socialists— 249 that is, from political instability. They may arise from too extravagant, or at least disproportionately extravagant, social services, or from a colonial war. But, faced by a slide in its currency, the member country is going to find it difficult to take the short-term remedies it can take at present, because these remedies are out of harmony with the whole tenor of the Treaty. I do not believe at all that the Treaty of Rome is going to affect only our economic life, as more than one noble Lord pointed out yesterday, and I think we must face this fact squarely and not accept the tranquillisers on the subject.
At least one thing appears to be certain; and it confirms, I think, my point. There will have to be a Central Bank of Europe to hold the currency balances of the member States. It follows that that Bank cannot be expected to support the currency of States which are pursuing an inflationary policy. It must withhold support unless the inflationary pressures are removed by, let us say, cutting the social services, by some unemployment, or by a downward pressure on wages and personal incomes. But, my Lords, the withholding of support is getting dangerously near a sanction. The Bank's finger will be in almost everybody's pie.
We shall next have to study—and I urge Her Majesty's Government to do so very closely—the position and posture of the pound sterling in all these arrangements. The pound sterling to-day finances more than 40 per cent. of world trade. Your Lordships will know that studies are now being made on the Continent for the establishment of what I prefer to call a European franc—the actual, inelegant phrase at the present time is "unit of account". I must say that I recoil from the complicated questions that are bound to arise in trying to work this new European currency in parallel or opposition to the pound sterling. Have we to contemplate the possibility of this European currency superseding the English pound? I think it would be much more acceptable if the English pound became the new European currency—and this is an objective worth going for. Many difficulties would be avoided; and, after all, sterling is a truly international currency, widely used, even outside the sterling area.
250 I now turn to another subject—namely, Article 48 and the following Articles in the Treaty, which again show how far from ordinary economics the Treaty stretches. The general tenor of these clauses can be gathered from the first Article:The free movement of workers shall be ensured within the Community not later than at the date of the expiry of the transitional period".Lord Gladwyn, on this clause, gave us yesterday a whiff of his charming anæsthetics which he used so successfully in the interests of our country during his diplomatic career; but yesterday I did not breathe in very deeply on this point, and I came to. I think we must believe, sooner or later, that these clauses mean what they say; and they must be looked at very closely.
First of all, they pose a question which I find very difficult to resolve. In Great Britain we admit, and readily admit, the citizens of the Commonwealth without restrictions, and a visit to Notting Hill or certain parts of Liverpool will give a hint of the social problems which are clearly involved. But if, in addition to the citizens of the Commonwealth, we are to have free movement of workers from all the member countries, they will certainly alter the face (perhaps I ought to say the faces) of England. Some of my descendants may be applying for the job of British Consul in Bedford or Brixton. Again I ask: is 'the free movement of workers to be reciprocal? I hardly believe that members of the Common Market will give freedom of entry to Commonwealth citizens as well as to citizens of Great Britain. This is a problem that the Government will have to study very carefully. At the best, England will have a very variegated population, and at the worst it may lead to "standing room only" in our islands rather more quickly than would be the case with the normal growth of population by itself. It is, I think, straining the word "economic" to describe this step as affecting only the economic structure of the country: it goes right down to the root of human and social relations.
I now turn, my Lords, for a moment or two, to industrial matters. To listen to some comments one might think that only by the abolition of tariffs can an 251 effete British industry be made more efficient—an industry which, after all, exported £3,500 million worth of goods in the markets of the world last year. It may well be so; the abolition of tariffs may increase our competitive power. But it will not be nearly so much fun as we are told exports are. It was the custom of a certain tribe in Central Africa, at the end of each year, to oblige the elder part of the population to climb up the trees. The younger part then shook the trees, and those elder people who could not hang on and who fell to the ground were clubbed to death. I have it on the highest authority that these measures led to a very much more virile and streamlined local industry.
Here, we are discussing the abolition of tariffs, and the effect that will have on both the employer and the employed; and I must warn your Lordships that, in my opinion, it will impinge upon the workers (although I think it is an unfortunate distinction) very much more than on the employers. This kind of thing will make the "wild-cat" strike, the demarcation dispute, and shorter hours with less work at lower productivity an impossible luxury. So do not let us just listen to this parrot cry, "The abolition of tariffs is going to improve the efficiency of British industry", unless it is realised that it is going to affect the workers even more than the employers. Again, it will not be very exhilarating to the workers in Coventry to find Fiat and Renault cars flooding into the market because, at a given moment, wages in France and Italy are lower than they are here: or if, looking at another aspect of the movement of labour, a number of workers from, say, Italy, are going to present themselves at the labour exchanges of Coventry. I do not think that the four Members of Parliament for Coventry will be entirely free from correspondence while this particular process is taking place.
Of course, judged economically, unless these clauses are alleviated or suspended they will inevitably lead to the equilibration of wage rates throughout the Common Market. We should naturally hope that this would come about by a rise in Continental rates for labour to our own levels, but in practice it will probably involve a downward pressure 252 on our wage rates, as well as an upward pressure on theirs. It will be said that this free interchange of labour has been one of the things which has made the Common Market work. I think there is some force in this, but we have to bear in mind that the Common Market has been working in conditions of expansion; an expansion accelerated by the need to restore the damages and distortions of war. I do not think that it is possible to extrapolate expansion indefinitely. One of these days over-production in certain industrial areas of, it may be, coal, or brown coal, or fertilisers, or motor cars, or refrigerators, is going to occur, and unless wage rates come together, a number of situations of disequilibrium are going to be created which the members of the Common Market will find it extremely difficult to resolve consistently with the idea of free trade.
It may be said that if all these problems are so dreadful, if all these problems have to be faced, why face them? Surely there must be an alternative, a less painful alternative? On this aspect of the subject it must, I fear, be recognised that the Commonwealth solution is not practicable, as my noble friend Lord Plowden, in his very able speech, pointed out. To-day Commonwealth markets are not really big enough to accept and pay for the necessary volume of exports from Great Britain. The Commonwealth used to take over 40 per cent. of our exports; to-day they are taking only 35 per cent. and there are signs of a further decline. By "the necessary volume of exports", I mean that amount which is necessary to sustain our life in these Islands at its present standards: to buy, for example, the raw materials to nourish our workshops and furnaces.
I hate to have to say it, but the vision of free trade in the Commonwealth is to-day no more than a vision. Australia, for reasons which appear to her to be paramount and with most of which we should agree, has drastically curtailed her imports by quantitative regulations which have greatly hit our export trade. She has imposed tariffs against goods from the United Kingdom. Here is one of the anomalies to which the Government must address itself. We are subscribing, on the one hand, to the 253 abolition of tariffs in Europe, and, on the other side, as we must do, to the sovereignty of Australia to impose tariffs against us. Canada is protecting her local industries, for reasons which the sovereign Government of Canada think important, and I agree with them. They have recently strengthened and widened the anti-dumping laws as a means of protection for their local industries.
Again, the emergent, newly independent countries of the Commonwealth show an inclination, and I think a natural inclination, to assert their independence by buying elsewhere than in Great Britain. I might express it by saying that they wish to show that the days of the Crown Agents for the Colonies are over. No one shares more passionately than I do patriotic sentiments concerning the Commonwealth. But we should only be doing harm if we imagined that expansion of Commonwealth trade will provide any complete solution to the economic difficulties which face us.
My Lords, the object of what I have been trying to say is to draw attention to some of the very wide problems which are involved—I believe they stretch far beyond the economic horizon; to try to draw attention to the far-reaching loss of sovereignty involved, which I still believe we should accept, but which we should accept knowing what we are doing; and to draw attention to the details which, in the next few years, are going to loom larger than the ultimate goal to which we are pressing forward.
I end by saying two things. It is broadly true to say that the liberalisation of trade anywhere in the world is to the advantage of Great Britain, unless, of course, there is extra restriction elsewhere. The second thing is that, in my belief, the Common Market will either disintegrate, or it will lead to wide, though I hope snot total, political integration. I find it difficult to imagine what Europe and the world will look like when this has been achieved. We may be taking a step here of far greater importance in the national life than any single measure of which I can readily think, even the repeal of the Corn Laws. Perhaps men of my age wild console themselves by saying: "We shall not live through some of the changes which await us; while there's death, there's 254 hope". Agonising reappraisals, my Lords, are going to be as common as popcorn, but I remain convinced that, whatever the agony, they must be faced, and that in the issue we shall be stronger, richer and happier by joining the Common Market.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, it is my rare and most agreeable duty this afternoon to congratulate no fewer than two very old friends, the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, and the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, on their most remarkable maiden speeches. It was my very good fortune, when I was Lord President of the Council—I think it was perhaps the luckiest thing that ever happened to me in my public life—to find myself working very closely with Lord Plowden over the affairs of the Atomic Energy Authority. I do not think I ever enjoyed anything more. No one could have a more stimulating experience, and, my Lords, no one can know better than I do the immense debt Which the country owes to him. Your Lordships will be able to judge for yourselves, having heard him, how brilliant and penetrating is the quality of his mind, and I am sure you would all wish me to give to him on your behalf a very warm welcome.
If the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, is an old friend, Lord Chandos is an even older one. We were together at the same private school. We were in the same House at Eton. In the First World War we joined the same battalion of the same Regiment on the same day. In the Second World War we joined the Government on the same day, and became Privy Councillors on the same day. The great qualities, if I may say so in his presence, which have enabled Lord Chandos to achieve distinction in so many fields are, first, his courage, and secondly, his realism, his robust common sense, which have enabled him always to go straight to the root of the problem whatever be the problem facing him. He showed these qualities, as we all know, in full measure when he was in the Government—I think it was a great misfortune that he ever left it—and he showed them, I think, in equally great measure to your Lordships to-day. Up to now, both these noble Lord, ever since they have been Members of this House, have unhappily found it necessary to hide themselves in what 255 I might call the recesses of the backwoods of the City of London. But today, at any rate, they have left their sylvan solitudes and come out into the open light of day. They have both made very notable contributions to our discussion, and I hope we shall very often hear them again. They have given us just that wise and thoughtful counsel which we need and to which we are accustomed in this House.
If I may, I will now turn for a short time to the Resolution which is the subject of our discussion. This is clearly a debate of the very first importance in which issues are raised which may well affect, and even govern, the whole future of our country. If I take your Lordships back for a few moments—and I do not intend to be too long—it is not to traverse again at great length all the arguments which have been urged in favour of or against Britain's joining the Common Market. None of us, I think, can any longer be in doubt as to what those considerations are; they have been canvassed very fully in both Houses of Parliament during the last two days. And in any case, my Lords, the considerations which are involved are so many, so varied, and so complex that I expect most of us will come to our final conclusions, if we have not already done so, more from a kind of instinct than from pure reason.
No one, surely, ought to complain that the Government have hesitated so long in reaching their own conclusions, for it must have been, I should think, one of the hardest decisions any Cabinet has ever had to take for many a long year. No one, I feel, ought to chide them for coming to the conclusions they have reached. In that respect, I could not quite agree with the noble Lord, Lord Layton, whom we are all so delighted to see here to-day. I think he felt that the Government had been slow and half-hearted in the decisions they have reached. I really honestly do not think they could have been very much quicker.
Nor, am I afraid, was I greatly impressed by the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. I could not but feel he had sadly let down the high standard of our debates during the last two days. If I may say so, it was not the speech of a statesman; it was the speech of a 256 Party politician. I confess I have doubts even now, even after having heard the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary and the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House and all the other great experts who have spoken to us, as to whether the course advocated by Her Majesty's Government may prove to be the course of ultimate wisdom. But I do not think the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, strengthened his case by the line he chose to take. We in this House—and we have the highest respect for the noble Earl—have often heard him advocate the merits of world government; and now we are told by him to-day that he is against planning by somebody else". What he did not seem to realise was that "planning by somebody else" is the very essence of world government.
I could not agree with the noble Earl that the considerations urged by the Government were negligible. I believe the considerations that have been urged in these last two days of debate in favour of acceding to the Treaty of Rome, considerations both economic and political, are clearly most serious and most sincere ones, which might well go far to convince any of us, as they have apparently convinced the Government, that it would be right for us to adopt that course. We must all feel the force of the argument advanced yesterday by the noble Lord, Lord Brand, and, if I am right, by the noble Lord, Lord Poole, too, that the Commonwealth is no longer the strong cohesive force it used to be; that in many ways the nations of Western Europe are nearer to us in traditions and outlook than many of the newer members of our Commonwealth family. We must all recognise the importance of a strong and united Western Europe, faced by ever more threatening menaces from the East, and the equal importance of a great and growing market for our goods which might open before us if we came within the magic circle.
Finally, we can also all, I imagine, well understand the view that it is high time the British people were forced to come out of the ivory tower they appear still to think protects them, and face the hard facts of life in the highly competitive world in which we all now have to live. Every one of us must feel the force of those arguments. And yet I cannot feel that 257 my doubts and anxieties have been entirely removed. Indeed, in some ways they have been increased by yesterday's debate. Clearly, there are very strong, and many people say conclusive, arguments—and many points were made on this—on the purely economic side in favour of our joining the Common Market. A course of action in the economic and commercial sphere which has the support of the noble Lords, Lord Brand, Lord Poole, Lord Knowles, Lord Plowden and Lord Chandos is certainly something which cannot be brushed aside.
It is the political side which still, I confess, worries me. The noble Earl the Foreign Secretary yesterday made a most admirable speech in moving the Government Resolution. It had that fine quality which we have all learned to expect from him. But the weakest link in his argument, it seemed to me, if I may say so with all deference, was when he stressed the fact—and I believe the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House in effect repeated the point to-day—that the Treaty of Rome dealt solely with economics. I will quote the words of the Foreign Secretary yesterday [col. 119]:The surrender of sovereignty is clearly defined and restricted to economic matters.Of course, if one looks at the mere text of the Treaty, that is absolutely true; but in the wider sense can it really be maintained that that is the full scope of the Treaty? The conception of Monsieur Jean Monnet which underlies the whole of the Treaty of Rome envisages, and as I understand it has always envisaged, as an ultimate aim a full-blooded Federation of Europe, political as well as economic. This Treaty is just one stage on the way to that.
This was stressed by the noble Lord, Lord Strang, in a deeply impressive speech he addressed to your Lordships in the last Foreign Affairs debate on July 19 last, when he said that although the immediate object of the Treaty of Rome might be economic, "its ultimate objective was political." It aimed not merely at a closer association but at the union of the Western European peoples, and he added, quoting the words of one of the authors of the Treaty, that it would involve theentire economic, social and political life of each member-country.258 That, clearly, would involve a derogation of sovereignty quite different from anything to which we have been accustomed in the past.
This was confirmed quite frankly by one of the main protagonists of the Common Market, the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, yesterday when he emphasised, speaking of the Council of Ministers under the Treaty (and I 'believe it was Article 148 to which he referred) that we should have to accept the principle of majority voting on the Council. And that, he said, with most laudable candour, is a principle we have never accepted before, in N.A.T.O. or anywhere else; all other existing inter, national organisations, he indicated, had hitherto been on the basis of unanimity, which, of course, would have given us a veto. That was reaffirmed to-day, I thought, in a most forthright and characteristic manner by the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos. That, my Lards, I feel must give us all, whatever views we take, most furiously to think. It is something quite different from the Government Resolution which is before the House, with its talk of no interference with the special interests of the Commonwealth and no derogation of British sovereignty. Those two conceptions, as I see it, are worlds apart and it is no good any of us attempting to persuade your Lordships that that is not the case.
Apart from everything else, I think it is clear from what the noble Lord. Lord Gladwyn, said that the Treaty of Rome imposes far 'more severe restrictions on the individual liberty of its members than anything in the Constitution of the British Commonwealth, where, as we all know, no member is bound by the views of any other member or group of members. It will be no longer true to say that our obligations to the sister-nations of the Commonwealth will always come first. We shall have accepted, in economic matters at any rate, a far closer and more binding obligation to the nations of Western Europe. And that is not merely my view. It is borne out by the statement by Mr. Menzies, quoted by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, yesterday. Mr. Menzies, as we all know, is not only probably the most eminent statesman in the Commonwealth 259 at the present time; he is also a great lawyer. And he said:Negotiations with Britain as a separate, independent uninhibited Power would be impossible if she joins the Common Market.Now it may be that this evolution is inevitable. It may be that in this strange new, bewildering world in which we all live there must be a new grouping of forces. It is certainly significant, I think, that at this particular juncture of history the members of one group of the British Commonwealth should be tending to draw further apart and members of another group, the nations of Western Europe, should be moving closer together. But do not let us forget, at this moment of destiny, that the older members of the Commonwealth, at any rate, are the best friends we have in the world—and better friends than we are likely to meet in Europe or anywhere else. It is just they who are at the present moment most apprehensive. It is just they whom we stand most chance of alienating—and, my Lords, we cannot afford to alienate them.
I know that Her Majesty's Government recognise all this just as well as I do; and I know they hope to avoid the danger to which I have referred by making—and I will quote the words of the Resolution which the House is being asked to accept:satisfactory arrangements … to meet the special interests of the United Kingdom, of the Commonwealthand by undertakingthat no agreement affecting these special interests or involving British sovereignty will be entered into until it has been approved by this House after full consultation with"—though it must be noted not agreement with—other Commonwealth countries.But will this modified arrangement which the Government have in contemplation be possible? This may in fact not be a club (if I may use the admirable metaphor the Prime Minister used yesterday) in which one might be, as it were, a "country member" with lesser obligations than other members. It may not be an institution where a member can impose his own conditions, where he can be, as it were, half in, half out. Indeed, to judge by the speech of the Prime Minister yesterday, that is his own view, and that is why he has applied for mem- 260 bership of the Treaty of Rome under Article 237 and not under Article 238.
Moreover, in any case, as the noble Lord, Lord Strang, said in the speech to which I have already referred, many of us may well feel that it would be wrong—I might almost say, morally wrong—for us to try to come in, if it is our intention to water down the Treaty. The noble Lord said, if I may quote his words in his presence—I think that he is here [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 233, (No. 112), cols. 705–6]:…it would be less than honest to apply for membership if our objective, once inside, would be to try to water down or dilute the political content of the Treaty, present or prospective. If the Treaty of Rome has any oustanding value—and I think it has—it is because it offers to Western Europe the possibility of closer union, which will meet a need felt by the peoples of the six countries. If we do not want to go along this road we had better not set foot on it.Those are the words of the noble Lord, Lord Strang, and I feel that they are very impressive. That is the cause of my disquiet and I believe the cause of the disquiet of many other people that still exists in this country.
However, having said all that, I understand that we are not being asked to make any final decisions to-day. What the Government are asking is that Parliament should approve their entry into discussions, without commitment, with the representatives of the Rome Powers. Whatever one's personal view may be, I cannot see how Parliament can refuse to the Government permission to do this —that is, of course, if at the present stage these discussions are really without commitment, if our application is really exploratory, and if the very fact that the Government make it does not signify in itself our acceptance of the implications of the Rome Treaty. This, I think, is important. Therefore, I feel that we certainly could not oppose the Government's going ahead on the lines which they have in mind. But I equally understand that those who feel as I do—and I think I am not alone in my views—were deeply impressed by what has been said in the debate. People like myself must inevitably keep an open mind on this policy, to which the Government seem in principle committed, at any rate until we hear the result of the negotiations on which they are now embarked.
§ 5.15 p.m.
THE EARL OF AIRLIE
My Lords, I feel privileged to intervene in this debate. I am fully conscious of my inability, as I am neither an industrialist nor an economist. I am really what one would call a "backwoodsman", although a very long time ago I used to be a Whip in your Lordships' House. I believe that Her Majesty's Government, and especially the Foreign Secretary, are to be congratulated on the lucid explanation they gave us yesterday. On the other hand, I feel that the criticism of the Opposition was very fair, in that no information was given to Members of your Lordships' House about the whys and wherefores of this complicated plan which lies in front of us and which has been discussed over the last two days.
I came down from Scotland for two reasons. First, I came to learn, and secondly, I came to vote against Her Majesty's Government, if necessary. Frankly, when I left Scotland, I intended to vote against Her Majesty's Government. I have come; I have learned and, like the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, I am converted. I think that the moment has arrived when we can take no other step. It is inevitable. I realise to the full that no opinion of mine could possibly carry any weight in so distinguished an arena of thought as your Lordships' House. But I had to come down to learn. No statement was ever made before yesterday—although I admit that it was made extremely well then—and it seems to me that Her Majesty's Government slipped up in this respect. I think that they should have given this House more information at an earlier date, and they should have given the man in the street more information, because unless we can take the man in the street with us, this country is sunk.
We all had to go to the Press for our information, and I give the Press full marks this time, because two brochures were brought out—one by the Daily Telegraph and one by the Daily Herald —which gave some knowledge of how this would work, so that one was in a position to know what one was talking about on coming here. I submit, in all humility, that in future the best thing the Government could do would be to get in touch with the Press to try to get out 262 something to keep the Member in your Lordships' House and the man in the street informed about what is likely to come up, otherwise we are completely ignorant of what is being discussed and voting blindly. No doubt the Press has helped us to make up our minds and has put in front of us some of the serious implications of which we are now aware —namely, that the United States might feel that Europe was a better ally, and also that their money was safer if put into Europe than into this country. That is a very serious matter, and that point swayed me a great deal.
I think that we must do all in our power to protect the interests of the Commonwealth and of our own agriculture, though I am rather unhappy to learn from my noble friend Lord Chandos that he does not think this is possible. But we have the assurance of Her Majesty's Government on this point. Whether the Six or the European Economic Community will accept us on our own terms is a matter of conjecture. It all depends on the persuasive powers and skill of our negotiators. I can only trust that the Foreign Secretary is one of them as, in my humble view, he has a thorough grasp of the situation and could deal with the matter on satisfactory lines. For the moment, I am confident that there is no other alternative. This is really a preliminary step. The vital decision comes later. My noble friend Lord Chandos, with whom I was also at school, made our flesh creep by telling us what to expect would come to us—and so fulfilled his reputation of making our flesh creep, as of old. I believe that both our agriculture and our industry (though I am no industrialist, and therefore cannot speak for industry), will be able to stand up to competition, but they must have the matter thoroughly explained to them beforehand, so that they know exactly what is being expected of them.
Shortly, Parliament will be on holiday and we shall be split up all over the world. We shall have time to think this matter out. We have some time, but not a great deal, as has already been said, and I have three points that I should like to leave with your Lordships to chew on your holidays. The first is an analogy. Supposing that you were about to swim the Channel, and that a little earlier you broke your arm, would 263 you not make it your business to make yourself well before you took on the vast experiment of trying to swim the Channel? That applies equally, I think, to our entry into the Common Market. We must get ourselves well.
I submit that Her Majesty's Government must take their courage in both hands and lead us along, because we cannot go into the Common Market with the E.T.U. and the T.U.C. failing to clear up their own house. And if they will not do it, then somebody else must do it for them. In other words, lead or get out! I finish with this last plea to the Government. Put first things first. You have had a lead from the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, who has said that he visualises one day world government. That cannot be accepted at the present time, but we can at least have a world brotherhood and realise in our discussions that there are other points of view, even Russian and Chinese.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ LORD BOOTHBY
My Lords, I must apologise at the outset for not being able to be present during the debate yesterday, owing to a long-standing engagement; but I have read every word of the debate, and I have listened to every speech to-day, including the two quite admirable speeches from the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, and the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos—two of the best speeches that I have ever heard in my life, and absolutely dead on the target. What has impressed me most in reading the speeches of yesterday, and listening to those of to-day, is the weight of opinion behind Our going into the Common Market. I think that this is the most impressive thing that emerges from these two days of debate; and, after all, we are engaged, as has been said, in a debate of momentous importance.
I see no point in reiterating the dismal story of the last fifteen years so far as Europe is concerned, when on at least four occasions the United Kingdom might have had the undisputed leadership of Western Europe, and deliberately refused it: I aim content merely to indicate the milestones successively passed. First of all, there was the failure to build an organic European Union on the basis of the Council of Europe in 1949. That could have been done. Secondly, there 264 was the refusal even to take part in the negotiations for the establishment of a Coal and Steel Community and a European Defence Community, which drove the Continental Europeans to despair of British leadership, and led inevitably to the formation of the Six. Thirdly, there was the rejection of the Strasbourg Plan nine years ago—a plan which would have solved the Commonwealth problem that now confronts us; and, in my opinion, the perennial problem of the balance of payments, as well.
I rather hope that certain of the aspects of the Strasbourg Plan will be brought up in the forthcoming negotiations, because it recommended a policy of deliberate economic expansion; the utilisation of the economic resources of all the member States of the Council of Europe for the development of overseas countries associated with them; the establishment of a Central European Bank, which was referred to by the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, and which will in any event be absolutely essential; the co-ordination of investment policies; the conclusion of long-term international agreements on basic products; and a reciprocal preferential system, which, of course, is "out", so far as the Common Market is concerned.
That plan would have gone a long way to establish an association between Western Europe and the Commonwealth which might have stood the test of time; and it would have given access to the great European market to those Dominions (notably New Zealand) which still need it, and enabled them to take part in the tremendous economic upsurge which has taken place on the Continent of Western Europe during the past years. All this happened ten years ago—to be precise, between nine and twelve years ago. In genial moods—and I am glad to say that my moods are sometimes quite genial—I can forgive it. But I cannot forget it. And I doubt if anyone who was a member of the Council of Europe during those fateful years, including the Lord Chancellor, who certainly was, can completely forget the repeated and invariable douches of cold water which were hurled at Strasbourg by the Foreign Office during the reign of Mr. Ernest Bevin, and the noble Earl, Lord Avon.
265 I had a friend at the time in the Foreign Office, who shall be nameless; but he told me that whenever a recommendation came from the Council of Europe at Strasbourg to the Foreign Office during this period the junior clerk who first saw it automatically wrote a minute at the top in red ink: "What are the objections to this?" That was the attitude of the Foreign Office at the time. I see the noble Lord, Lord Strang, looking at me rather severely.
§ LORD BOOTHBY
Then Foreign Office clerks write their minutes in black; and I stand corrected. But they still wrote "What are the objections to this?".
There were days and nights when I used to walk the streets of Strasbourg in silent and solitary misery. I owe to the noble Lord, Lord Layton, a great debt of gratitude, in that one day he took me by the hand, when I was nearly in tears, and said: "Don't be discouraged by all this frustration; and don't let it get you down. If the conception of a United Europe is right, as it is, we have only to stick it out and it will happen. History takes time." On that happy note I consoled myself with a little of the excellent fare that is available at Strasbourg; and I felt much better that evening and, indeed, thereafter.
Then came the final mistake on the part of this country—our disparagement of the Common Market. Let us face it: the Government never believed it could happen until it did; they never took it seriously. So, they never took part in the discussions at Messina or in Brussels which resulted in the formation of the Common Market; and that is why, until yesterday, we were in danger of being marooned.
The process of shedding illusions is seldom an easy or happy one. That, I think, is what we have been doing in this country during the last two years, particularly during the last six months, particularly again during the last two months, and particularly again when one looked at the gold reserve loss this morning. These illusions are now being shed at a pretty fast rate. It is uncomfortable, but I think it is a good thing, in the long run. We thought after the war that as 266 head of the Commonwealth we could pursue an "isolationist" policy. We have discovered that we cannot. We thought that we had a "special relationship" with the United States which put us in a different category from that of every other European country. We have discovered that it is not so special as all that. We thought that we were still a great Power, in the nineteenth-century sense of the term. We have discovered that this is no longer true. And, not unnaturally, it goes against the grain.
But, my Lords, we can still be great, and greater perhaps than ever before. I will listen to no talk of a declining Empire. We are doing something that has never been attempted, still less achieved, before in history: we are changing an Empire into a Commonwealth of independent freely associated nations. If we pull that off, it will be without parallel. The essence and value of this Commonwealth is not to be measured in terms of butter, important as that is, but in terms of its multi-racial character. This is of supreme importance, to my mind, to the whole future of the world. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Beaverbrook, does not share this view. His idea of the Commonwealth is apparently to reduce it as rapidly as possible to this country, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa; and exclude all the other African Dominions, and India, as quickly as possible. Well, there may be something in that view; but it would not be the same kind of Commonwealth as we have at present. It would be different and, I think, less valuable. Indeed, the Commonwealth would lose something, if all our African Dominions, and India, were to leave it.
But if it is to be confined (and as the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, pointed out, both Canada and Australia are taking fairly decisive economic steps at present) to New Zealand, I think it will not be enough from the point of view of our export trade. I doubt whether we could really carry on with our present standard of living. I entirely agree that every possible step must be taken in the forthcoming negotiations to safeguard the special position of New Zealand. But I want to emphasise to your Lordships that New Zealand alone is not enough, so far as we are concerned, in the second half of the twentieth century.
267 We are changing the Empire, as I have said, into a great Commonwealth. How far are we capable at this moment of changing ourselves? That is the question which has been worrying me a little lately. The Financial Times said a day or two ago:What it all comes to in the end is that for a whole variety of reasons—constitutional, social, political and economic—a psychological climate has been created in this country which is a powerful obstacle to change. This is true of management, the unions and the Government alike.Of course, it does not apply to all of them, but there is more than a germ of truth in this statement. Sir Charles Snow, in his very interesting study of the art of government, published recently, went even further. He said:We are becoming an existential society living in a world of future-directed societies. We seem to be flexible, but there is no model of the future before us. In the significant sense we cannot change. And change is what we have to do.After yesterday, we have at least a model of the future before us; and I think that is extremely important.
But, of course, we need more. Those of us who believe in this thing—and I have believed in it for fifteen years—require enthusiasm and faith; and I thought that the noble Earl who has just preceded me was profoundly right when he said that the Government have not yet taken adequate steps to put it across to the country, and to carry the people with them. That is absolutely essential, if we are going to bring it off and pull it through.
I must confess myself that, when I heard the Prime Minister's original announcement of these momentous proposals, they sounded to me, standing in the back of the Peers' Gallery of the House of Commons, rather like that of a borough surveyor recommending additional expenditure on the municipal swimming pool to a somewhat recalcitrant town council. I was a little depressed. But yesterday's speech was an entirely different affair. Here we got the true man, the real leadership, which the country is looking for. I am quite sure that the country would welcome leadership on this scale, and I believe it would accept it. We have had too little of it lately. In fact, yesterday's was the best leadership we have had, 268 and it was overdue. I think I know the mind of the Prime Minister in this matter. We were together at the Council of Europe, and together we moved in August, 1949, a resolution at Strasburg:That a permanent committee of the Council of Europe be now appointed to hold monthly sittings and consider steps to increase the efficacy of the Committee of Ministers and the Consultative Assembly.Would that it had been done !
An essay that I was reading the other day by Lord Rosebery said:When Europe saw that Cromwell was in earnest, Europe had no hesitation as to the course it had to adopt.The Prime Minister may not relish comparison with the grim Lord Protector; but if Europe sees that he is in earnest, then I believe that these negotiations will succeed and his name will go down to history. At this late stage, these negotiations are bound to be difficult and tough. I only hope they will not be too prolonged. To my Conservative friends I would simply say that we shall be joining an economic community with a greater dynamism and greater productivity than our own; and to those who believe in competition, that that can only be a good thing. To my Socialist friends, I would say that we shall be going into an area where economic planning is far more advanced and far more successful than it is in this country; and that the Socialist Parties on the Continent of Europe are the most anxious for us to come in. In fact, they really might get together; they might really reach the conclusion "Workers of the world unite!" We might one day have a European Socialist Government. I hope I live to see it, despite the fact that the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, does not seem to look very enthusiastic about it.
Of course, the question of sovereignty is vital. As several noble Lords have already pointed out, if we do not realise and face up to the fact that there must be some merging or pooling of national sovereignty, it would be dishonest on our part to enter these negotiations at all. These safeguards that were thrown out implying that there is not much in this sovereignty business are, I think, a great mistake; and I hope the Lord Chancellor will clear this up in his final speech to-night, and make it clear that it is not so much the surrender as the 269 joint exercise, by common consent, of certain defined sovereign Powers which is inevitable if this thing is to work. And if we face up to that we must, as the noble Lord, Lord Strang, said, give up some sovereignty. I think it is far too early to talk of confederations or federations—words which can be interpreted in so broad a sense that they are almost interchangeable.
I agreed with the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, when he said that in the initial stages it will obviously be effective co-operation between the Governments concerned, with some kind of consultative assembly. After that, we cannot tell what will happen. We know only that we shall be able to play our full part in shaping the future political framework of a united Western Europe, which we have never been able to do up to now. We took no part in the framing of the Coal and Steel Community, or the European Community. Now we shall be in a position to play our full part in framing this political Community, and we are bound to be taken very seriously. If we decide at some future date that we cannot agree to anything, then we can either go out, or they will agree to a satisfactory compromise. It is no good going into details now, because we have not started talking about it. The only thing we must accept, in principle, is that some derogation of national sovereignty is essential.
I come, in conclusion, to what is by far the most important aspect, to my mind, of this whole problem—and it has not, curiously enough, been mentioned much in this debate. It is the question which exercises all our minds most, the question of peace or war. For centuries the Continent of Europe has been the main battleground of the world, and we have never been absent from it—never. It is all very well for Lord Hinching-brooke to talk, in another place, about the "small ship" philosophy which defeated Napoleon and the King of Spain. Has he forgotten Ramilles, Malplaquet, Blenheim? The Peninsula, Corunna, Waterloo? Loos, Neuve Chapelle, the Somme and Paschendaele, where the flower of an entire generation was destroyed? There were not many little ships there. We have been engaged for two centuries in a whole series of bloody wars upon the Continent of Europe simply because the Continent of Europe 270 refused to get together, co-operate, and unite.
This is, to me, the most powerful argument, far transcending the question of national sovereignty. This is the question of peace and war, and before I sit down I hope your Lordships will forgive me if I quote briefly from the Burge Memorial Lecture of the late Philip Lothian who was a great man in many ways, a great Member of this House and a great Ambassador—not always right, but with remarkable intellectual power. In a sense, this lecture was his final message to us, because he put more into it than anything else. He wrote and told me so, and sent me a copy. I copied out this passage because I think it is profoundly true:I return to reason with my pacifist friends, men and women who hate war, who are prepared to make any personal sacrifice to end war, but who are in doubt as to how they should proceed so as to produce the result for which they strive. They will at least have no doubt about my opinion. It is that if they want to end war and establish permanent peace among men they must work for nothing less than the merging of part of the national sovereignty in a federation of nations. That is the predestined method by which alone the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man can come into visible expression on earth. It is interesting to remember that the Founder of Christianity was sent to his death by a Palestinian mob because he refused to lend his support to a nationalist movement to break out from the Pax Romana.It has always seemed to me that there was a great deal of truth in those remarks. Of course, there must be anxiety about this course that we are being invited to take. It is one of the great decisions in the history of this country. Nobody denies there must be anxiety; but for my part I feel as if I were emerging, after these last ten years, from a long, dark tunnel, because I genuinely and sincerely believe that if these negotiations are successful, and we join the Common Market, we shall have taken a giant stride along the road we must all travel if the human race is to survive.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ LORD NETHERTHORPE
My Lords, it is perhaps not surprising that I should intervene, after the apparent uncompromising attitude that has been indicated towards this subject by the agricultural industry on a wide front. Even so, I should like to echo the words of the 271 noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, that we are not here and now being asked to endorse or ratify an agreement. We are being asked only to condone the Government's application for membership under Article 237, in order to enable them to start negotiating as to the basis on which entry could be effective and ultimate acceptance of the terms of the Treaty endorsed.
My view, Whatever it has been hitherto, resulting from this debate is that the future is so absolutely riddled with conjecture that the only way possible to find an answer to these problems is to seek to negotiate; to see how far we can achieve a prospective agreement within the terms of the assurances that have been so categorically given to both Houses of Parliament, in this House by the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary, and in the other place by the Prime Minister. I think that their statements have contained such assurances as to permit us to support the Government in this application to remove same of these conjectures. I would, however, presume to issue this word of warning: that it would ill become us if we took the apparent blessing of the Government in embarking on this stop as an anticipation of the degree of support if the assurances were not capable of fulfilment. I think that is the bull point of this particular issue.
It has been a privilege to be in this House and to listen to the maiden speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, and the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos. We, at any rate, should be under no illusions now as to what the possibilities—not the probabilities but the possibilities—may be. I would only say, however, that in any negotiations that subsequently transpire it will need the greatest possible skill of negotiators to enable Her Majesty's Government to reconcile some of the widely divergent standpoints that currently exist. I would cite agriculture as a case in point.
Much reference has been made during this debate to the economic condition of this country and the weak base, comparatively, from which it starts negotiating. I think it is patently obvious that a country with 52 million people, importing half of its total food and three-quarters of its raw materials, must export to survive. That is almost the 272 parrot cry of the day; but there is one aspect of the export problem that I do not think is sufficiently borne in mind; that is, that if we have to earn our living by hard work in the export market we must equally remember that we have to pay not only for half our food but for three-quarters of our raw materials.
Therefore the objective should be to contain, so to speak, within the exported manufactured product the minimum amount of imported raw material but the maximum amount of human endeavour and human effort, be it in technical skill resulting from research work, or technical skill in the artisan field. Even so, it must contain the maximum amount of human effort, and in view of the fact that human effort is measured in cost of labour—in salaries and wages—then the food cost content of the cost of living is of very critical importance. I do not think it is sufficiently appreciated that we in this country must hold the balance very delicately poised, as it were, between having our food so cheap that we denude our would-be buyers of manufactured goods of purchasing power and so dear that it cuts us out of world markets by our incapacity to compete. That being so, I would say that the challenge before this country to-day is to ensure that that balance, delicately poised as it has to be, is maintained.
I would suggest that the legislative machinery that is in being has not wholly stood up to the test that was required of it. We have had the flexibility of the Agriculture Act, 1947, supplemented as it had to be by the Act of 1957. We have also had, at the other extreme, legislation produced to enable dumping to be prevented, or at least curtailed. But between those two extremes, in my view, the essential cog is missing—namely, positive action on the part of this Government to provide the essential complement. The Government are responsible for the biggest single market for food in the world, yet they failed to accept the responsibility of seeking to maintain stability in primary product markets, in respect of both raw materials and, particularly, food. And I believe that that essential complementary action should have been positive initiative by the Government of this country to avert a complete collapse in food prices on this market and, equally, to stimulate home production so that we 273 were not exploited in the food market through being placed in a position of having to buy in a sellers' market.
These points are extremely important, my Lords, because they condition very substantially our competitive power and our capacity to get into the position of having a credit balance of payments to enable us to fulfil the functions of a major world Power, be they in investment of capital in under-developed territories, in the Services, or in sustaining a standard of living in this country through the means of a viable economy.
It has been suggested that agriculture cannot go on receiving the present measure of support, to be sustained in the face of the extent of dumping of produce that is threatened; and that in fact we should be severe on British agriculture or go under the protective umbrella of the Common Market and their "managed market" philosophy. It is somewhat ironical that we should contemplate such action, when we are supposed to be championing the cause of free trade, based on deficiency payments—that is the difference between what the market will yield and the standard price negotiated annually—merely enabling this country to permit the free entry of food to our markets, so helping payment for our exported manufactured products. Therefore, if we conceive the idea of a managed market it means that we are, in fact, going into a protectionist market rather than a free market for food. That indeed has its limitations.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer in another place, in his speech about the economic condition of the country and the "little Budget" that he produced, gave us a forewarning that a very keen scrutiny of the agricultural support must be anticipated. That, however, was very unfortunate coming from a Government which as recently as December, 1960, had said that in their viewthese considerations fully justified the policy of maintaining a stable and efficient agriculture embodied in the Agriculture Acts of 1947 and 1957, and this would continue to be their policy.That was a recent declaration of faith, and yet it would appear that there is some concern as to whether the commitments under that policy can be fulfilled unless we go into the Common Market.
274 Be that as it may, I believe we shall never really get to grips with the problems inherent in our economic plight as we now find it, unless we examine in a positive sense what are the terms and conditions that would enable us to participate or to become members and to be able to ratify the Treaty. We have an old saying, in farming parlance, that you never buy a pig in a poke. In fact, you go into the sty and poke the pig up and see first what colour it is; secondly, whether there is any meat on it; and, thirdly, whether it is going to live. I believe this technique now proposed by the Government is the only way to see the pig and make it come out of its poke. Then we shall have to wrestle with our consciences about issues of sovereignty or any other aspect, and then, not now, appraise the balance of advantage to this country. I am bound to support the Government in this particular action because I believe it is the only way we can see the problem in its nakedness as the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, portrayed it. But after seeing the colour of the other man's eyes I believe and hope that, as a result of negotiations, either the assurances that have been given by Her Majesty's Government to the nation on all three counts can be redeemed, or that the Government, as men of honour, having given assurances that cannot be fulfilled, will decline to enter the Common Market.
§ 5.53 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, I think we shall all be glad that in a formidable debate and a fascinating debate, in which vast industrial talent and experience has been deployed, we have had a speech from a representative, and the most authoritative representative, of the oldest industry of all. Hitherto, before this debate came on, in debates which have taken place, speeches which have been made in either House of Parliament or out of doors, the field has generally been taken by those who are either convinced—dyed-in-the-wool, I might almost say—supporters of the Common Market or those who are its bitter opponents. There are some on the one side who virtually say: "Of course, get terms if you can get them, but there is not very much you can do under the Treaty, and you must go in at all costs". While I respect the deep sincerity of that attitude, I should have thought that it 275 was not very likely to conciliate and bring over to your side those who hold the opposite view. I would also venture to suggest that it is not very helpful to those in the Government who will have to conduct what will be about the most difficult negotiations that anybody has ever had to conduct.
On the other side are those (we have one or two of them in this House; there are certainly some in another place) who look back nostalgically at Ottawa, and I am bound to say that that must strike a sympathetic chord in my heart. I think I am the sole survivor of the Ottawa Conference, and I appreciate what the Foreign Secretary said about what we did there. But that was 30 years ago, and conditions in the Commonwealth have progressively and rapidly changed since the time of the Ottawa Conference. I am sure that the circumstances of to-day are much more as described by the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary and, in a fascinating speech, by the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth.
My Lords, this is a decision which, after the fullest consideration of all the Empire interests, the British Government must take. Some people talk as though there were a sort of power of veto by all the other countries of the Commonwealth on what the British Government do. That sort of attitude does not help the unity and the common work of the Commonwealth. I remember that at one of the Imperial Conferences, when we were being rather hard pressed, I once said to my Commonwealth colleagues, "Gentlemen, I wish you would remember that we enjoy Dominion status too". We understand each other, I think a good deal better than some people would suppose; and, if I may say so in passing, I think we were all completely fascinated by Lord Morrison of Lambeth's careful, nicely modulated praise of his own colleagues. It reminded me of something M. Barthou once said at Geneva to Sir John Simon when he addressed him as, "Mon cher collègue et presqu 'ami".
To most of us, I think, the issues are a great deal more complex. Fortunately, we are not asked, as has been repeatedly said, to vote in or out, but only to vote whether the Government should 276 go into negotiation with the strongest desire to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion, but pledged to seek satisfactory conditions—satisfactory, that is, having regard to our own industrial interests, which I am bound to say I think are pretty obvious, and to our agriculture and the Commonwealth and, of course, to our partners in E.F.T.A. We cannot know what the conditions are unless we do go in and negotiate. In a very few words (and I am going to be, as I always am, or try to be, brief) I think perhaps at the close of this debate I can best help to clear the issues—indeed, to clear my own mind—if I try to register certain facts on which I think we shall all be agreed. Complex as the solution to our problems is, most of those facts are pretty simple.
We all agree that it is vital that we should get the trade balance right, and we all agree that we cannot get the trade balance right unless we have a very great increase in our exports. I think we all agree, too—or anybody who thinks about it will agree—that we need the widest possible area for export and the best chance of getting our exports into that area; that is to say, to have the lowest tariffs and the fewest restrictions against us. There is another consideration which again, certainly after the speeches which were made, such as those made by the noble Viscount, Lord Knollys, and the noble Viscount, Lord Ch[andos, must be very plain: to export competitively an industry needs a large home market. Here, my Lords, beyond a peradventure those who are inside the Common Market enjoy an enormous advantage. They have a large, rich, home market which ensures a large volume of production and consequently the ability to sell competitively both inside the Common Market and outside it.
We are all equally agreed—these are indeed glimpses of the obvious, but in these complicated circumstances do not let us lose sight of the obvious; it is extremely easy to fail to see the wood through the trees—that the stability of our currency depends upon our trade balance. I would add something which I do not think I have heard said during this debate but which I think needs to be said because it is profoundly true. There are many Commonwealth interests at stake in this matter; but surely a 277 great interest, and possibly the greatest Commonwealth interest of all—certainly in the whole of the sterling Commonwealth—is the stability of sterling and the ability of the Commonwealth to borrow on the London Market.
Then there is another consideration. In the past we have had great industrial investment here for export. That has not been only our own investment. In the past there has been here a great deal of American investment which has been invaluable to us. It brought in the dollars. There has been dollar investment in British companies, or American companies establishing their subsidiaries in this country, which has provided employment in this country, earned money here and increased exports from here to Europe and to other markets. With the coming into being and the development of the Common Market there will be—indeed, there is already—a tendency for American investment, and for British investment too, to go inside the Common Market; for it to be used for manufacture for the Common Market and for exports from the Common Market to the world outside rather than for that capital to be invested in this country.
United Kingdom industry must export in its own as well as in the national interest. To do that it must be ready to compete with European industry on equal terms. It will have to do that whether or not we go into the Common Market, because you can protect a home market but you cannot protect yourself in the competitive markets of the world. We in British industry will surely have a better opportunity in competing if we are members of the Common Market.
There is one other consideration which I think applies to the Commonwealth as much as to our own industry. As we in the United Kingdom need the widest area of export, so surely do the Commonwealth countries in an expanding world. The more production and trade expand in Europe, the more raw materials Europe will be able to buy and will need to buy. This should benefit the primary producers in the Commonwealth countries. All these are reasons why it appears to he in our interest to enter the Common Market if we can obtain satisfactory conditions—conditions satisfactory to our agriculture, to the Commonwealth and to our E.F.T.A. 278 partners. I would add this. If we can enter the Common Market on satisfactory terms, then it seems to me that we have that long-term policy which was, I must say, singularly, but perhaps inevitably, absent from the Chancellor of the Exchequer's recent Budget.
So much for us. I think one speaker (I am not sure whether it was one of the Government speakers) said that we go in keenly to negotiate, but we do not go in as suppliants. I think that is profoundly true. If we need Europe—and we do—Europe equally needs us. A free Europe needs us as much as it did in two wars and we want to play our part. I agree so profoundly with what the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, said on that at the end of his speech. But having said that, I think I must add—and I am not saying it for the first time—that if Europe were split into conflicting economic blocs we could not long maintain unity in defence or N.A.T.O. as an effective organisation. If we were kept out of the European market or had to get in with protective tariffs against us we could not—nor indeed would the people of this country tolerate that we should—spend vast sums in foreign currency in order to maintain British troops on the Continent. To say that is not to bluff or in any sense to be menacing. I believe, and think the whole House would agree, that if that were to happen—and pray God it will not—that result would be an inevitable economic consequence of the split.
Your Lordships may well say that all that I have said is pretty obvious. Well, I think it is. But if so, then is it not equally obvious that we must enter into these negotiations?
To clear my mind further, and to clear the issue further, I should like to put two specific questions to the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor. It is our good fortune that on difficult legal matters we can get the most authoritative decision. I am not going to follow up, vitally important as it is, all that has been said about sovereignty. I would only say—this is not a matter of interpretation; it is a matter of one's own view and appreciation of the personalities of Europe—that when you get a great international 279 civil service they are great Empire builders and they try to run it all as much as they can.
That may be a potential danger with all civil servants—here I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, would agree with me. I think we in this country have the best Civil Service in the world, and national Ministers can control it. When you have an international body with a committee of Ministers, who are not always there sitting in their own departments with their permanent under-secretaries of State coming in to see them all day, then there is a great tendency for the functionaires, the administrators, the civil servants of the international organisation, to take too large a part. But that can be cured, and it will have to be cured, because, after all, Governments are responsible to Parliaments and Governments govern, and collectively they must govern in international institutions quite as much as Governments govern in their own nationalities.
In looking not only at the personalities of Europe and the trends of national sentiment, but also at the personal views of Ministers, I should think that the risk of a great federation coming into being—I say "federation" as against a looser "confederation"—is a very remote one indeed. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Strang, was entirely right in his conclusions, assuming that his premises were right. But I think that he, as a great civil servant, was perhaps attaching too much importance to the civil servants and not quite enough importance to the statesmen, or perhaps I should say the politicians. However, I do not believe it is a very great risk we have to run.
The two questions I want to put to the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor are these. First, under the Treaty of Rome would it be legally competent—and I say "legally competent" advisedly; I am not asking whether they would be likely to agree it or not—for the six countries who are parties to the Treaty to agree to allow the United King- 280 dom to continue to give free entry to Commonwealth products, whether those products come from independent Commonwealth countries or from dependent colonial territories? My second question is this: would it be legally competent for the parties to the Treaty of Rome to allow the United Kingdom to continue its price support policy for United Kingdom agriculture? On the first question, concerning the entry of Commonwealth products, I am not quite clear about all the details. But I believe the French Government negotiated very special terms for some of the French colonial territories when they went in, and I do not see why the sauce should not be sauce all round and why that margin of Commonwealth preference should not be allowed to us.
My Lords, I have put those questions as to whether it would be legally competent because, although I know there may be great difficulties in any negotiation, one of the difficulties we have all been under here, I think, is that of interpretation. Although we now have the Treaty of Rome it is extraordinarily difficult for a layman, even a layman who was once a lawyer, to interpret it. I should be greatly obliged, as I think the House would, if the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor would answer those legal questions which I have put.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I think the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, who is likely to be speaking next, would probably agree that the convenient course for the House to take now, as there is a Royal Commission imminent, would be to adjourn during pleasure for the Commission, and I beg so to move.
§ Moved, That the House do now adjourn during pleasure. —(Viscount Hailsham.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House adjourned during pleasure.
§ House resumed.