HL Deb 03 August 1961 vol 234 cc281-307

6.45 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, we are almost at the end of a two-day debate on one of the most momentous questions we have had to decide upon in our history. As the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House said at the opening to-day, this is one of those questions which come before us once or twice in a century. Therefore, he appealed to us not to look at the Common Market question from a Party point of view. Speaking for myself, I readily respond, and in what I say, I would assure the House that every word will be what I honestly believe. I think the position is much too serious for us to indulge in Party politics or in insincerity.

The debate has been conducted throughout on the highest level, and the various aspects of the question have been adequately and most competently put before the House. We have had the tremendous advantage, as we have so often in this House, of having the views of experts and men of the greatest experience in many walks of life, highly relevant to this great issue. It would be almost invidious to mention names, but I would mention the three most distinguished maiden speeches that we have heard in the course of the debate. Over what is now becoming a fairly long service in your Lordships' House, I cannot remember three such distinguished speeches from such distinguished authorities in one debate as we have had in these last two days.

Now the time is approaching when we have to make a decision. I feel privileged to be making the final speech from this side of the House, as I did in the debate on June 21, when we had an exploratory debate on the Common Market. I do so with a strong sense of the responsibility which I realise falls on me. On June 21 we were merely exploring the position, and now, for reasons which I will give in a moment, we are called upon to make a definite decision. We are invited, in the terms of the Government Resolution, to support the decision to make formal application under Article 237 of the Treaty of Rome. I would have wished, in the non-Party atmosphere which the noble and learned Viscount suggested we should adopt, that we might have had a Motion which was so framed that it could be supported from all sides of the House. I think it is a pity that we have not such a Motion and that from this side of the House we have felt obliged to put down an Amendment. I do not propose to take up the time of your Lordships in discussing the merits of the Amendment, which have been so well presented in the course of the debate by a number of other noble Lords. There is really nothing that T can usefully add to the case that has been presented by them.

The noble Earl the Foreign Secretary, in introducing this Resolution yesterday, said [col. 111.]: …that the House is not asked today to decide whether or not the United Kingdom should enter the Common Market. In form he is right, for the reasons that he gave. But I submit that in actual practice we are to-day deciding to join the Common Market or not. It is true that under the terms of the Government's Motion we are only initiating negotiations to see whether satisfactory arrangements can be made on the vital matters set out in the Resolution, and we are free not to proceed if the negotiations are not satisfactory. But does anybody seriously believe that, after nine months of informal talks which the Government say they have had with the members of the Common Market, and after the many talks which the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House has told us they have had with the Dominions' representatives, the Government would take the heavy responsibility of risking a breakdown of these negotiations if they had not some kind of assurances in advance that the negotiations were going to result in the manner in which they would wish?

Article 37 of the Treaty of Rome states that in making application any European State shall address its application to the Council which, after obtaining the permission of the Commission, shall act by means of a unanimous vote. I take that to mean (the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack will correct me if I am wrong) that any one member of the Common Market can "blackball" our application. Surely we have taken the elementary precaution of ensuring that that will not be the case. I contend that I am right in saying that, apart from the formalities, to-day's decision is the vital and effective decision, from which we shall not be able, in practice, to withdraw.


My Lords, I think I must say categorically, first, that there has in fact been no assurance; and secondly, that the Motion means exactly what it says—namely, that this is not the definitive decision.


We can all draw our own conclusions from the facts. I draw my conclusions from the fact that there have been informal talks for nine months with members of the Common Market and for a long time with the Dominions, and it is as a result of these talks that the Government have decided to nego- tiate these decisions. I do not know that this is necessarily a criticism of the Government. But I want to draw the attention of the House to the fact that we are to-day making a serious decision; and your Lordships must not imagine that having decided to-day to proceed with the negotiations, we shall have any effective further opportunity of coming to a different decision later on.

I propose to summarise the arguments, for and against, which have been submitted during the debate, and generally to try to come to a decision which, as in all these difficult questions, will be one of balance. I do not want more than I can help to repeat what has been said in the course of the last two days, and I want to be as brief as I possibly can. I will therefore just treat the arguments in summary form. First, there is the economic case against our joining the Common Market, from the point of view of the Commonwealth; the economic effect on members of the Commonwealth. What it amounts to, broadly, is that there will be the loss to the Commonwealth of free entry of their products into the markets of this country, and the countries which will be particularly affected, it is said, are Canada, Australia and New Zealand. I do not think it has been disputed in the course of the debate that those countries, in particular, and others, will be affected to their detriment immediately if we join the Common Market.

I would say, however, that the effects will be cushioned to a considerable extent by the transitional period which is laid down in the Treaty of Rome; that most raw materials for industry, such as metals, wool and rubber, will be able to enter the Common Market duty free; and that, one hopes, it will be possible to negotiate as to other commodities in much the same way as the French have been able to negotiate as regards their own territories. Moreover, as I understand it, tropical products from such countries as Ghana and Nigeria will be treated in the same way as those associated with France and Belgium.

Looking at the matter from an economic point of view, I believe that the Commonwealth would benefit from the increasing prosperity of this country through joining the Common Market and from having a large European market for their own ever-increasing manufactures. We all realise that to an increasing extent the Dominions themselves are becoming manufacturers, in the first instance to supply their own needs, but later in the hope of being able to export some of their own manufactured products. So it is hoped and believed that the Common Market will provide them with a market for their own products.

A great deal of the discussion has centred around New Zealand, in particular, and New Zealand butter. I believe that New Zealand butter is the best in the world, and I refuse to believe that if they did not sell their butter to this country they would not find a market for it elsewhere. In ordinary business, I think it is not a good thing to put all your eggs into one basket; it is not a good thing to be dependent upon one purchaser. I feel that it would be, I say this with all deference, for the benefit of New Zealand if she could distribute her butter over a wider field and not mainly to this country. It is sometimes a good thing to have a wrench from old established habits and to induce people to make an effort. After all, two-thirds of the people of the world are hungry, and if some of the New Zealand butter happened to find its way to some of the hungry people, that would be all to the good. At the end of the day, having said all this, it may be that we might have to help New Zealand and other countries over their immediate difficulties; and if that should be the position, I hope that we should not hesitate to do so.

Another difficulty is the position of agriculture. Here I join issue with the noble Lord, Lord Netherthorpe, and I agree with my noble friend Lord Stonham in suggesting that the present method of subsidy is not necessarily the last word in the way of helping the British farmer. This is the way which has been evolved since the war. But we are spending £250 million a year in helping the British farmers, some of whom need help, some of whom do not. I remember a speech by my noble friend Lord Walston some weeks ago, in which he pointed out that he was getting a subsidy in respect of one or other of the agricultural products which he himself felt he did not deserve, which was not justified and which he did not need, but he was getting it just the same. I hope the noble Lord is taking note of that.

The fact remains that this method of providing subsidy is not necessarily the best method of doing it, and there may be alternative means of helping the farmer which would be available for those farmers who need help, and not necessarily for those who do not. If those alternative methods were made available, the country might benefit to a substantial extent by the subsidy that is at present being provided. I do not regard the position of the farmers as one which is incapable of being solved. I think that is a difficulty which we can very easily overcome.

Probably the most serious case, the case most worthy of serious consideration, is the political case: the question of weakening our ties with the Commonwealth. I think we must give serious thought to this. It is a problem which a number of noble Lords have considered, analysed, and have felt some hesitation about. Will it in fact seriously weaken our ties with the Commonwealth? I myself feel that the ties which are economic and where we can offer help—and we have offered considerable economic assistance to the Commonwealth—are not the main ties. That has been stressed by those who are in favour of the Common Market and by those who are against it. My noble friend Lord Attlee pointed out that our lies with the Commonwealth were based on sentiment, tradition, respect, common experience and suffering; on the fact that on two occasions they have come to our help when we were alone, and have suffered with us and gone through great ordeals. I believe that those ties cannot readily be sundered. Those are the things Chart unite us far more than the economic ties; they are more permanent and more durable. I therefore believe that, when it came to the point, the Commonwealth would be ready and understanding in considering these questions with which we are faced. After all, this is not of our own seeking; it is not an academic exercise, this question of our entering the Common Market. It is one which is for us a matter of life and death, and I have no doubt at all that the Commonwealth will appreciate our position, and, while naturally wanting to safeguard their interests so far as they possibly can, when it comes to the final decision will well understand our position.

Then there is the question of the sacrifice of sovereignty. Here I greatly appreciated the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos. I think he was right to be absolutely frank on the subject and to point out to us that it might well involve substantial sacrifice of sovereignty if we came into the Common Market. He was probably right—and the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack will no doubt deal with this question—that even if immediately it did not involve political sacrifices of sovereignty, it could well do in the end. I myself, as I said on June 21, am quite prepared for our surrendering a certain amount of sovereignty. As the noble Earl who opened the debate pointed out, we have done so on a number of occasions. We have done so as members of N.A.T.O., and we have done so as members of a number of international organisations. Those of us like my noble friends Lord Attlee and Lord Longford, who are strong advocates of world government, are fully prepared to make our surrender of a certain amount of sovereignty in the cause of world government, and I myself see no objection in principle to making a certain amount of surrender of sovereignty in the case of our joining the Common Market.

Of course, we must draw the line at certain sacrifices. We feel that our way of life is one that we want to maintain. We would not sacrifice our way of life —of course not. We would not sacrifice those particular aspects of our life that we hold so dear and which have evolved over the years and the centuries. But we are not called upon to do that. We may well be called upon to make certain surrenders of sovereignty, and I shall be very interested to hear the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, when he replies, telling us exactly what we may "be in for" if we join the Common Market.

There is one other objection which has been raised in the course of the debate, and that relates to the freedom of movement of labour. I am sorry the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, is not here, and I am also sorry that I am commenting on a maiden speech, but he is such an elderly maiden that I am sure he will not mind my treating him I remember I was treated when I made my maiden speech. I was strongly criticised, and I am afraid I made a rather provocative speech; but so did the noble Viscount. He painted a rather lurid picture of what might happen in Notting Hill and Coventry if we had freedom of movement of labour into this country. But surely it is reciprocal. There would be a movement of labour into other countries as well and, at any rate, until we know where we are, as I understand the Treaty of Rome it would be strictly safeguarded. People would come to this country only if they had a job waiting for them. In the early stages there will be serious restrictions on their changing their jobs, and the whole object is to keep the thing well under control. I am sure that we and the other members of the Common Market will make quite certain that it is kept under proper control, and that we do not bring the whole question of movement of labour into disrepute by carrying it to such a point that it becomes objectionable to everybody.

It is said that there is no mandate for this; that there ought to be a General Election before it is actually carried into effect. I expressed my views about that on June 21. I personally do not think that this is a suitable matter for a General Election. I do not know how you would actually put this before the electorate. What would happen if you had two candidates, one from each Party, both of them either opposed to or supporting the Common Market? For whom would the poor electors vote and what kind of mandate would that be? But I want to put this to those noble Lords who are not wholly in favour of the Common Market. I believe that there is very strong popular support in the country already. Some of my noble friends have complained that we are lacking in information, that we ought to have had a good deal more information given to us about the Common Market. I think that is probably true, but it is surprising how well informed I find the general public, and tremendous interest is taken in this subject in the most surprising quarters.

I do not want to elaborate, to mention personal instances, but I have been astonished by the people who have come to me and talked to me quite intelligently about it, from quarters where one would least expect it. They have spoken of the pros and cons of the Common Market and what it would mean to them in terms of purchases, prices and so on. It certainly looks, judging by the public opinion polls, as if the great majority of the people in this country are in favour of entering the Common Market. If we are to judge by the speeches in this House and in another place that is certainly the case. So I would not venture the idea of going to the country on this particular issue. I think Parliament must take the responsibility. It has been fully threshed out and the Government must make up their mind and indeed Parliament, as I have said, is to-day making up its mind on this subject.

I have referred to some of the disadvantages and have tried to state, but have not said very much about, the positive advantages of going into the Common Market. There would, of course, be a vastly increased market available to us. It is not necessarily one that we should take advantage of, but we should have the opportunity of doing so. And it would be up to us to ensure that this vast market of some 300 million, if you include E.F.T.A., would be available to us on equal terms with other members of the Common Market, and indeed it would be a great spur to efficiency. May I say —and here I am going to be a little provocative and perhaps fanciful—that we do not necessarily end at the 300 million and those countries who are prospective candidates for admission; that is, the E.F.T.A. countries and Greece, I understand. I see no reason why in due course we should not accept as possible candidates, say, Yugoslavia or even some of the satellite countries of the East if they would come in. I think it would be a wonderful step if we could get them into the Common Market.


What about Moscow?


My noble friend says, "What about Moscow?" It may well be that this is the way in which East and West will come together one day. But I do not put high hopes on that at the moment and I am not putting this forward myself as one of the main arguments for the Common Market, but I see possibilities. I see possibilities of this extending and expanding and becoming bigger and bigger and, in that way, bringing in nations which are at present in conflict, nations which might be brought together by means of their economic advantage. We are living to-day in a contracting world, and I believe that perhaps the most important aspect of this matter is that something of this kind is inevitable. It is in accordance with the trend of history. Throughout civilisation there has been a trend for small units to become bigger and bigger and I think if we were to oppose this we should be standing in the face of history and in the face of world trends.

There is one other aspect of it and I am very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, referred to it. That is that the bigger these units become and the greater their interests are intertwined the less likely is it that war can break out between them. It seems to me that if we joined the Common Market at any rate war between the different countries inside the Common Market would be inconceivable. Their interests would be so great and their understanding would be so great that it would be almost unthinkable that they should not be able to resolve their conflicts by methods other than the barbaric method of war.

I have tried, I am afraid rather inadequately, to set out the pros and cons, and at the end of the day we have to weigh these up and come to conclusions. I think I have indicated which way my own mind is going, but undoubtedly even if one agrees with all the various aspects of the matter there is room for difference of opinion. Many of the considerations that I have given are imponderable and incalculable and one can put as much weight as one thinks right on any one of them. Some may regard the question of sovereignty as completely dominating the issue; others may think that the question of the Commonwealth must finally decide the whole thing. Each one of us must give such weight as he thinks right to the various issues before us. Speaking for myself, I have made up my own mind that it is in the general good that we should enter the Common Market and I therefore approve of it for political and economic reasons and all the other reasons which I have given —above all, because I believe that we shall be bringing universal peace nearer than it has ever been before.

Therefore, while not approving the terms of the Government Motion and preferring those of the Amendment, I welcome the decision that we are about to make to-day. I have no doubt that with the big battalions that they have brought to bear on this question the Government will defeat the Amendment —and we do not propose to vote against the Motion—and they will be given marching orders to-day both in this House and in another place. Speaking for myself, and I am sure for everybody in this House, I wish them every possible success in the very difficult negotiations which they are about to embark upon. I do so realising that this is one of the most responsible and difficult tasks that has ever confronted any Government, and I know that we shall all be waiting eagerly to hear the results of their efforts.

7.20 p.m.


My Lords, before I follow the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, in trying to select what seemed to me the most important points to take as criteria in this serious but heartening decision, I would ask your Lordships to allow me a little indulgence just to make a brief survey of this two-day debate.

As has been said more than once, this debate has been distinguished by three notable maiden speeches. The noble Lord, Lord Poole, is an old friend of mine with whom I have sailed, both literally and metaphorically, in foul weather and fair. His speech gave me enormous pleasure. He gave us a clear, closely reasoned and powerful argument which went to the heart of the matter and, I think, I can say without contradiction, impressed every one of your Lordships. The noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, supported the thesis for which I am speaking, but with that Elizabethan forthrightness which so often delighted his colleagues in the three Administrations in which I had the honour to serve alongside him, he bade us in no uncertain terms to keep our eyes open to the consequences of what we are doing. The noble Lord, Lord Plowden, who contributed a speech of the highest distinction, showed the results of the ex- perience and ability which we had all been led to expect. To the three of them I say, with great sincerity, and I am sure on behalf of all your Lordships, "Speak again, and speak again soon".

This debate has also been unusual in that it has produced that situation, always moving, always tinged with a little sadness, where those in all quarters of the House find a great issue that divides them from old friends and colleagues with whom on so large a front they agree. But the final and most remarkable feature of the debate, unique in my seven years' experience of your Lordships' House, is that on a great and controversial issue we have now had 28 speeches delivered, and 25 out of the 28 have been in favour of the thesis of this application for negotiations, and only three against. I do not know if your Lordships can remember anything similar; I certainly cannot in my time.

Before I deal with the more concrete questions, I should like just for a moment to give my response to (and I use the words unashamedly) the emotional reactions to Europe which came out so clearly from the speeches of some noble Lords opposite—I have in mind particularly the noble Lords, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, Lord Stonham and Lord Longford—as well as from my noble friends Lord Bessborough and Lord Auckland. I think it would be unfortunate if a debate of this kind did not seem to show some appreciation of Europe as it is to-day and the changes we have seen. I know that we are deciding the issue raised in the Motion, to approve of our making formal application to initiate negotiations to see if satisfactory arrangements can be made. And with all respect to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, that is the issue before us.

But the mere fact that we make application, the decision on the part of Her Majesty's Government to do that, represents an act of faith in Europe and in the unity of our Continent. This unity, the idea that Europe is one, that the things we have in common are the things that matter, is not new. But to-day it is becoming a reality. There are still differences between the countries which are neighbours in Europe, but they are coming more and more to resemble the differences of one part of a large country from another. The millions of people from this country who visit other countries in Western Europe every year know this to be true. They are differences that can be enjoyed, but, as my noble friend the Lord President pointed out, so many of the basic elements in our life are common with other countries in Europe: religion, law, and respect of the individual.

It may be said that the unity of Europe about which we have talked so much to-day is a false unity, because of the division between the East and the West of our Continent to which the noble Lord, Lord Layton, referred. Nothing is more tragic than this division; and we shall certainly do nothing to make it longer lasting and deeper than it need be. But we shall not help to check the division between East and West by remaining divided ourselves. We cannot wait for the millennium. We must build with what we have and in the time that is given to us. The road on which Europe is now set will lead to unity. The pace, and the precise direction, remain open and will, no doubt, vary; but the general purpose is now widely accepted.

My noble friend Lord Boothby referred to episodes with which, as he has hinted to your Lordships before, and indeed to-day, I am not wholly unfamiliar. But I would say this to him—and I ask him to take it as his signpost for the future: even if the steps have sometimes been faltering, we have come a long way. We have the Council of Europe; we have O.E.E.C., soon to become O.E.C.D.; we have N A.T.O.; we have Western European Union, and then the three Communities of the Six. Some say that there are too many of these organisations. That may be so, hut I believe that Europe has rightly experimented. It can only be by experience that the best way can be found. As the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, said yesterday, Britain has played a noble part in many of these developments that I have mentioned and has spent freely in the cause of European defence. We have always supported the concept, and we are now taking a further and historic step on a path that we have already followed. I say to my noble friend—and I should like to feel that through him I am speaking to many old friends of his and mine who were among the early workers for European unity—that I would ask them now to face the new situation with some thoughts for the hopes we had, and for what has been achieved, despite the disappointments that the noble Lord has mentioned.

Another interesting point in this debate, in which I have had the advantage and pleasure of hearing every word of every speech that has been delivered, is that no one has denied, or could deny, that the future relationship between Britain, the Commonwealth and Western Europe is something that goes far deeper than the prosperity of one country or the protection of one interest. That relationship affects the whole nature of the East-West struggle. It is fundamental to our answer to the purpose of Soviet "competitive co-existence" which is part of their economic, political and ideological struggle to establish Communist supremacy in the world balance of power without resorting to nuclear war.

No one has begun to question that the consolidation of Western Europe into a compact, economic and political community will strengthen immeasurably the reply of the Western Alliance. Again, no one has denied that if we stand aside and allow the present economic division in Europe to persist, the rift will widen, and sooner or later our military coherence and strength will weaken, if, indeed, it does not collapse. If we become part of this larger unit many of our industries will of course benefit from a vast, "internal" market, and could secure the economies of large-scale production.

I need only remind your Lordships of the remarkable speech of my noble friend Lord Knollys. If when he reads this he will forgive the hard-worked joke of his friends, when the "Vickers Viscount" says that \his is an historic moment for British industry, then the industrial forces of our national life move assured to their new exertions. If we are content to remain outside, I believe that we condemn ourselves to finding it more difficult to compete not only in European but in world markets. As my noble friend Lord Swinton said, in that most thoughtful speech of his, we handicap ourselves enormously in regard to the receipt of investment in this country from the other side of Atlantic.

I would draw the attention of the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition to a most material and important sentence which he omitted from the Canberra communiqué. He read the words on each side of it, but he did not read these words: They saw merit in such unity since a continuing division in rival economic groups would he a source of danger and weakness, while a powerful and experienced group of free European nations can do much to preserve the world's peace. I say to the noble Viscount that he cannot forget that. If the United Kingdom is adequately to continue—


My Lords, if I may intervene—


If the noble Viscount looks at column 130 of yesterday's OFFICIAL REPORT he will find three dots, which mark the words which he omitted and which I have just read.


I am looking at the one in February from which the noble and learned Viscount is quoting.


What I said is that the noble Viscount left out from his speech the words which I have just quoted, and if he looks at column 130 he will find that that is so. They are most important words, and cannot be left out from our consideration.


I must protest. I am not saying that I read the whole communiqué. I was not pretending to read the whole communiqué. The same kind of words can be found later on in the communiqué.


Yes. All I am saying is that the noble Viscount is perfectly entitled to make his own case, but if he quotes from a communiqué and leaves out words as important as those I have just read, I am entitled to bring them to the attention of the House.


I should have had to read the whole communiqué.


But it is better, if there are words that go against your argument, that they also should be before those who are considering it.

If the United Kingdom is adequately to continue its aid to the Commonwealth by way of defence, or by way of capital investment, as was so powerfully deployed by my noble friend Lord Brand in his speech—and we are not talking in the air; I am sure that my noble friend Lord Brand had in mind our contributions to the India Five-Year Plan, to Pakistan and the general level of investment in the private sector—then that ability can be earned only out of increasing trade. That was emphasised at the beginning of this debate by my noble friend the Foreign Secretary; and on that subject Lord Plowden spoke winged words, which were emphasised by Lord Chandos. It is therefore for the benefit of the Commonwealth itself that we should look and negotiate for the trade increases which we hope that this means.

We are accused of delay. We are asked: Why have the Government waited so long? I remember, in particular, the references made by the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition to the Prime Minister's speech in another place in November, 1956. Again I make no complaint. I hope that the noble Viscount will not take it amiss that I should say that he made his selection to back his own point. But, of course, what he did not quote from the speech of the Prime Minister (the then Chancellor of the Exchequer) was that he then went on to say [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 561; col. 35] that we must search: for a course of action which … would enable us to play our part in strengthening Europe as an integral part of the whole free world. At the same time, we must fortify and strengthen our Commonwealth links". The noble Viscount did not say that. And surely this is material: that after that, in the succeeding period, we went on to try to create the European Free Trade area on a comprehensive basis. It is quite true, as my noble friend Lord Bessborough said, that at the time Mr. Macmillan made that speech the Treaty had not been signed—the signing of the Treaty was a matter of months ahead. The negotiations for the larger Free Trade Area had still to come; and they went on. Again, these are relevant matters which we ought to consider. In any case, need anyone be ashamed of not foretelling that the Treaty has been a much greater and quicker success than even its friends believed possible?

At the same time, there has been a widely expressed desire for a greater coherence and momentum in the arrangements and action of the nations of the Free World. We have seen what the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, once termed the traditional Russian policy of 200 years—that is, from behind a cordon sanitaire of satellites probing to spots of believed weakness. We have seen that operating with increasing determination in many parts of the world. In the face of these developments, wise men must reconsider their views and must be ready to remember. We are being charged by the noble Viscount with being wise after the event. My Lords, there may be some truth in that charge; but it is better, even after the event, to be wise rather than foolish.


My Lords, I must say, on this reference to the Prime Minister's speech—I do not think there is any need for noble Lords to laugh; I do not cause you very much trouble in this House with questions of this sort, but I want to be fairly treated—that when I was dealing with the Prime Minister's speech I think I was absolutely fair about it, because I said [col. 125]: It was a speech which was very broad in the area of debate which it covered in dealing with the general question of European trade". You cannot begin to deal with a speech of ten columns by trying to pick out everything that you want in it when you are making your case. I pointed out the very big area of the debate, and then I went on to say: But it was also a speech which dealt very specifically in certain passages with the question as to how entry into the Common Market, which was only just then beginning to think of functioning, would affect the Common-wealth. and it was on that that I was choosing my quotations. I was perfectly entitled to do that, and I do not like these reflections.


But, my Lords, I said that the noble Viscount was perfectly entitled to choose the bits that supported his case. All I am saying now is that if you look at the speech you will find, in my view, even stronger support for my case if you go to another part of the speech. The noble Viscount, as an old Parliamentarian, knows that it is difficult to give proper representation of a speech if you make very selective quotations from it; but I think that I am entitled to read that part which shows that the Prime Minister had this problem in mind, and to remind the noble Viscount about the date (which he had obviously forgotten, or he would have told us) of the signing of the Treaty and the negotiations with the Free Trade Area. I hope he will not mind my reminding him about them; they are very material points. I do not do it in any Committee spirit, but merely to present the argument fairly from my point of view.

The possible effect on the Commonwealth has been perhaps the most important consideration in the whole of this debate. Your Lordships have spoken fully about it, and there is relatively little that I want to add. But I want most clearly to answer the call which was made by the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, as to the position of the Prime Minister and the Government. My Lords, I venture to quote—I hope your Lordships will forgive me, but the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, wanted this point emphasized—two passages from the statement of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister. He said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 645 (No. 159), col. 928]: … if a closer relationship between the United Kingdom and the countries of the European Economic Community were to disrupt the long-standing and historic ties between the United Kingdom and the other nations of the Commonwealth the loss would be greater than the gain. The Commonwealth is a great source of stability and strength both to Western Europe and to the world as a whole, and I am sure that its value is fully appreciated by the member Governments of the European Economic Community. He then went on to say {col. 929): No British Government could join the European Economic Community without prior negotiation with a view to meeting the needs of the Commonwealth countries …". I quote those to the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, in addition to the passages which he quoted; but I want to assure him that he could not put too much importance on the passages which he quoted. He asked for a Ministerial assurance that that was so, and I give him that Ministerial assurance in completely unqualified terms.

May I say one personal point to the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth? I, also, was pleased with his reference to New Zealand. Owing to the wandering habits of my folk, I have more cousins in New Zealand to-day than in Sutherland, and I echo the special interest to which the noble Lord referred. I repeat that the desire—and, indeed, the movements—for a united Europe, on the one hand, and the effective deployment of the power of the Commonwealth, on the other, are not for a moment mutually exclusive. There are three especially valuable contributions to our civilisation which the Commonwealth makes, apart from defence and trade. The first is the understanding, by countries which are thousands of miles apart, in different parts of the world, of the individual problems of each member of the Commonwealth; the second is the demonstration to each member of the Commonwealth of the importance of world problems; and the third, and I hope you will allow me to say the highest, common factor of so many territories is the system of justice which, based on the Common Law, always exalts the dignity of the individual human spirit.

My Lords, we are the centre of the Commonwealth, and it is both our privilege and our duty to keep strong and fresh these imponderable but essential ideas. But I go further than this. My own information and belief, based on discussions with important people in Europe, goes as far as this: if our entry into the Community were to be at the expense of breaking our links with the Commonwealth, the Community would not only regret it but would be, by that, the less anxious to receive us. They want us as the centre of the Commonwealth; as the country that can perform these actions and deal with the situation.

I am not going to say much about the question of a Prime Ministers' Conference, because we have promised consultation before and during the negotiations. When these have reached a definitive point, the method of a final consultation must be a matter of agreement between the Commonwealth Prime Ministers; and we have said over and over again that, if they wish it, we are prepared to have such a Conference. I do not think I can go further on that point.

I was rather sorry that the noble Earl, Lord Longford, in the course of his speech, with the whole of the rest of which I agreed, I think, entirely (and, therefore, the noble Earl is probably thinking now that it has its dangers), spoke in one phrase rather contemptuously of E.F.T.A. I should like just to put this to him. Not only the creation of E.F.T.A., but the countries who joined E.F.T.A., thought that that piece of international co-operation would not only help themselves but might be a method by which the rift would ultimately be healed. I am not going to argue it, because it is now a marginal point, but in case anyone should have any wrong ideas about our attitude I want to make three things clear. We will not join the E.E.C. unless satisfactory arrangements can be made for our E.F.T.A. partners; all the members of E.F.T.A. will co-ordinate their actions and remain united throughout the negotiations; and E.F.T.A. will remain in being until the objective of its members, which I have mentioned, has been achieved through the creation of a wider European grouping.

I was going to say quite a bit about agriculture, but your Lordships will be relieved to know that I think I can, without anything but the fullest consideration for that industry, cut short what I intended to say. I should not like to cut it so short, however, as not to remind the House of the point made so forcibly by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham: that is, that our farmers are, from the point of view of efficiency, fully able to hold their own against any competition they are likely to experience. My noble friend Lord Netherthorpe, in the course of his excellent speech, really endorsed, if I understood him correctly—and I think I did—what my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said yesterday in these words [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 645 (No. 161), col. 1488]: Our view that we cannot carry matters further without formal negotiation applies with special force to agriculture. The common agricultural policy is not spelt out in the Treaty for all to see it is in process of being worked out by the Six, and by engaging ourselves in discussions with them we should be able to take a hand in shaping it". Therefore, following that, and following what the noble Lord said, I do not think that at this stage there would be any advantage in going into what must be hypothesis which will arise during the negotiations. I hope the noble Lord will agree with the course I have taken, because the last thing I should like to do, as I say, would be to show any disrespect for that important part of the problem.

I now come to the point on which a number of your Lordships have rather been raising hopes—the question of sovereignty. I have re-read what my noble friend Lord Gladwyn said yesterday, and I am in broad agreement with it. I am relieved that, after all, I have not to arbitrate between the Foreign Secretary and Lord Gladwyn on this point. However, I should like to put the problem in my own words, as I have been asked about it. If we were to join the Community we should be committing ourselves to a number of general obligations in the economic and social fields: for example, that we should work towards and in due course adopt a common commercial policy as regards countries outside the Community. My Lords, I think "surrender" is a very unfortunate word. This is really a co-operation, and a continuing co-operation. I think my noble friend Lord Layton had a good phrase for it too.

I should like to reassure the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, on this point: that there is nothing in the Treaty which prevents his indulging in nationalisation. And, in addition, one sees—I hope I shall not annoy anyone by saying this, but I think most noble Lords will agree with the view—in France a considerable element of dirigisme in the working of their economy, and you have seen in Germany rather less than is generally expected. Yet both these trends are going on quite happily while the Treaty is working. The other point that I think Lord Attlee has been a little too pessimistic about was on the question of restrictive practices and cartels. As he knows (because he was one of those who set me to it) I have been working on that subject for some seventeen years now, and I do not think it is so impossible of solution as the noble Earl suggested; and it is, as my noble friend pointed out, one of the matters specifically dealt with in the Treaty.

But these general obligations will be translated into specific obligations by means of decisions or regulations adopted by the Council of Ministers, or, in certain limited circumstances, specified by the Treaty of Rome, by the European Commission. We might be obliged, when appropriate, to give those the force of law in this country, even if we did not entirely agree with them or had voted against them in the Council. It is unlikely that this would happen, at least until toward the end of the transitional period of twelve years, because in the earlier stages the more important decisions have to be taken unanimously. I do not want by noble friend Lord Chandos to think I am purveying in tranquillisers. I am stating the effects of the Treaty, and if anyone who has studied it has any doubts I shall be only too pleased to try to deal with them. At the end of the transitional period, commercial agreements with third countries would normally be negotiated and concluded by the Council, acting on behalf of the Community as a whole; and to that extent there would be a concession in regard to our treaty-making powers.

My Lords, the European Court of Justice would have competence on matters arising from the interpretation and application of the Treaty. This would mean that the United Kingdom courts would be obliged, in the final instance, to refer to the European Court for a ruling on questions concerning the interpretation and application of the Treaty; and in addition, nationals of this country would, in certain conditions, have direct access to the Court. The judgments of the Court would be enforceable in this country, including penalties awarded against persons or firms in this country. Now, it is true, as my noble friend Lord Strang said, that although this country has been outstanding in its scrupulous observance of international law, and has frequently had recourse to the International Court of Justice, there is no precedent for an international tribunal being given powers which, even to a limited extent, would overrule our own courts. I am quite prepared to face that; there is this limitation to the interpretation and the carrying out of the Treaty. The Treaty is made by a number of nations, and I think there must be some international body to deal with that point. There is the position. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, agrees that I have set it out accurately—I see that he does.

We in this country have already accepted important limitations on our sovereignty in these post-war years. I would remind your Lordships again of the United Nations, the O.E.E.C. (which will become O.E.C.D.), Western European Union, N.A.T.O. and G.A.T.T. The noble Lord, Lord Layton, pointed out a very interesting example. Under the Convention of Human Rights we have been brought up before the Commission and had to justify to the Commission our action in dealing with Cyprus on an emergency basis. So we have not been afraid to secure international co-operation through some surrenders, and I do not think that those I have mentioned should frighten us either.

The contractual obligations are set out, and thus it is true that in accepting derogation of sovereignty of a different nature from before we should be taking an unprecedented step. But this has to be seen in perspective. The loss of sovereignty involved in the Treaty of Rome is related solely to fulfilling the basic aims of the Community as set out in Articles 2 and 3. It is functional (and I believe my noble friend Lord Layton used that word) and not federal; and this is very important: any extension of the powers conferred by the Treaty of Rome on the common institutions could be brought about only by a unanimous vote. Your Lordships will have heard of the majority vote afterwards, but on that point, which is of vital importance—that is, any extension of powers—a unanimous vote would be required.

If we were members of the Community we should be able to have a definite say over the direction which such development might take. In the last resort, like other members, we should have the power of veto if we disagreed. But, needless to say, we should not want ever to have to be in a position in which we had to exercise such a veto. The present members of the Community wish to strengthen the political as well as the economic unity in Europe. That is an ideal which we share and which has been a leading factor in our decision to ask for negotia- tions to begin with a view to our joining the Economic Community. Signing the Treaty of Rome does not commit any country to an ultimate political Federation of Europe. It does, however, imply that the signatories will work to draw ever closer to each other in the political field. That is a process in which we wish to take part, and it is a good thing that we should do so before any decisions are taken to which it would be difficult for us to conform.

It has been said before, and I say it again, that if one looks round Europe one sees no sign that the present members of the Community are in any danger of losing their national individuality or showing signs of merging their national sovereignty to any further extent than the specific requirements of the Treaty of Rome. Those requirements are the price which they have had to pay, and do not appear to have regretted, for participating in such a dynamic venture with its prospects of increasing enormously their peoples' well-being.

My noble friend Lord Swinton asked me two questions on a strictly legal basis. He asked me whether the Six could legally agree to Commonwealth imports into the United Kingdom being free of duty. The answer is, Yes: under Article 237 they could agree to any conditions of our entry, subject perhaps to those conditions not being repugnant to the Treaty. But the object would be more readily achieved if the Commonwealth countries concerned were given Associated Overseas Territories (generally known as O.A.T.) status. Secondly, my noble friend asked whether the support price system for agriculture could be continued. Again the answer is, Yes. Under the Agricultural Articles only general policy is laid down. Article 40 (3) shows that this system is among those which the proposed common organisation could contemplate.

That is the law. My noble friend did not ask me to assess the likelihood of anything and I have answered his question on the basis on which it was asked. I wish to make that quite clear. On the entry of Commonwealth goods, I believe my noble friend knows (but I should just like to remind him) that protocols—for example in page 281, paragraph 1—have made special provisions for certain countries; for example, Moroccan imports into France.

I am sorry that I have detained your Lordships for so long, but it is such an important subject and so much has been raised in the debate. I gave your Lordships the contractual position, but I say again that the Treaty of Rome is more than an economic grouping. It is also a great venture in political co-operation; and we welcome this political co-operation. It is natural that partners who have been able to agree on so much in the field of economic activity should go on to extend their co-operation to the field of political activity. The declaration shows that the E.E.C. Powers are now going to work out how to organise their political co-operation. Their intention is to allow the process to develop naturally so as best to fulfil the tasks which may arise.

Curiously enough (and I would ask the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, to consider this, for I so much agree with him that in the past when one has had to deal with an a priori approach to problems one sighs for the inductive British approach), here—and it is an interesting point—the approach is essentially pragmatic; and as the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, said, it is one with which we are familiar, and it is an atmosphere in which it is easier for us to work. What is more, we have much to contribute to it. As the centre of the Commonwealth we have a unique contribution to make, and I am sure our partners will recognise this. If we were to exclude ourselves from this developing unity I am sure that we should find ourselves more and more on the fringe of the councils of the West until the time

came when major decisions involving our vital interests were taken by others in our absence. This could easily happen without any hostile intent.

It seems to me almost an inevitable process, in the long run, as the European Community develops its vast potential resources, that, whether it wishes to or not, it is bound to draw part of its increase in strength from us if we remain outside it. But if we are inside then the great political and economic upsurge will be for the benefit of us all and for the benefit of the whole free world. The great Duke of Wellington always used to say that one should consider what were the thoughts of the men on the other side of the hill. I look at two of his relatives among your Lordships, and I am sure that they will endorse the wisdom of that approach.

At a time when the Soviet Union would dearly like to foment divisions in the Western Alliance I believe that the Bonn declaration is a source of great comfort and strength to the free nations. The unity of the E.E.C. Powers in the political as well as the economic sphere is a vital element in the Atlantic Alliance. If we and some of our E.F.T.A. partners can extend the area of that unity without weakening its cohesion or diluting it in any way, then we shall be making a major contribution to the strength of N.A.T.O. and to the partnership between Western Europe and North America. This is the guarantee of our liberties. It is, my Lords, also the hope of the world.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 17; Not-Contents, 86.

Alexander of Hillsborough, V. Lindgren, L. Shackleton, L.
Amwell, L. Longford, E. Shepherd, L.
Attlee, E. Lucan, E. [Teller.] Silkin, L.
Burden, L. [Teller.] Morrison of Lambeth, L. Stonham, L.
Henderson, L. Nathan, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Latham, L. Peddie, L.
Ailwyn, L. Auckland, L. Carrington, L.
Airedale, L. Barnby, L. Chesham, L.
Airlie, E. Bathurst, E. Conesford, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Boothby, L. Congleton, L.
Ampthill, L. Bossom, L. Cowdray, V.
Amulree, L. Boston, L. Coutanche, L.
Argyll, D. Brand, L. Craigton, L.
Ashton of Hyde, L. Bridgeman, V. Croft, L.
Atholl, D. Buckinghamshire, E. Cullen of Ashbourne, L.
Davidson, V. Horsbrugh, B. Poole, L.
Denham, L. Iddesleigh, E. Ravensdale of Kedleston, B.
Devonshire, D. Jellicoe, E. Rea, L.
Drogheda, E. Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor.) Rochdale, V.
Dundee, E. Lansdowne, M. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Ellenborough, L. Layton, L. St. Oswald, L.
Exeter, M. Limerick, E. Sandford, L.
Fairfax of Cameron, L. Lothian, M. Sinha, L.
Foley, L. Marks of Broughton, L. Spens, L.
Gage, V. Merrivale, L. Stuart of Findhorn, V.
Gladwyn, L. Mills, L. Swanborough, B.
Goschen, V. Milne, L. Swinton, E.
Gosford, E. Milverton, L. Terrington, L.
Grenfell, L. Monk Bretton, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Hailsham, V. (L. President.) Morrison, L. Waldegrave, E.
Hampden, V. Netherthorpe, L. Waleran, L.
Harvey of Tasburgh, L. Newall, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Hastings, L. Newton, L. [Teller.] Wellington, D.
Hawke, L. Ogmore, L. Wolverton, L.
Home, E. Perth, E.

On Question, Motion agreed to.