§ 2.46 p.m.
§ LORD CASEY rose to draw attention to problems affecting the Commonwealth; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, when I first sought several months ago to have a Motion put on the Order Paper to enable us to discuss some of the problems of the Commonwealth, I had it in mind to concentrate on the subject of unity in the Commonwealth, or, rather, the lack of present-day unity. I believe that this is a matter of the highest importance and that up to the present it has not had anything like sufficient discussion in the Parliaments of the Commonwealth.
§ I start from the premise that the Commonwealth of to-day is a wholly 613 different association of peoples as compared with the Commonwealth of, say, 20 years ago, largely by reason of the lack of unity in thought and policy as between what may be called the members of the old Commonwealth and the members of the new, and that there is, in consequence, a danger of the Commonwealth drifting into the position of being a paper Commonwealth with declining influence on the world's affairs. If I am right in this supposition, I believe that this unfortunate state of affairs comes about largely by reason of the fact that the Commonwealth of to-day consists of a minority of countries that have had their independence for a very long time together with a number of Commonwealth countries that have achieved their independence in the last fifteen years.
§ Again, I believe, and I take as a premise, that there are few more important things, few stronger things, than the emotional strength of recently acquired independence. I believe that it tends to inhibit close and confident co-operation by the new Commonwealth countries with the old Commonwealth countries, by reason of the fact that there is the suspicion, as I believe it, in the minds of the newer Commonwealth countries that by close and confident co-operation with the members of the old thereby their independence of thought and action is put in some doubt. Hence, almost at one remove flows republicanism and non-involvement in an effort to put their independence beyond doubt.
§ Another factor of major importance is what I believe to be the fact that there is a relative and mutual ignorance among the members of the old Commonwealth about the state of affairs and the attitude of mind of peoples in the newer countries of the Commonwealth, and I believe vice versa; and with this relative ignorance come misunderstanding and eventual suspicion. From this, it seems to me, it flows that each side (if I may so describe it) tends to go its own way, to act in what it believes its own short-range interests with but relatively little regard to the interests of the whole. These facts are supported, most unfortunately, by the voting lists in the United Nations, where, as your Lordships will know, it is a relative rarity for all the members of the Commonwealth to vote 614 on one side. I believe it to be the fact that peoples who live differently think differently, and that many of the new members of the Commonwealth have a wholly wrong image of the older members; and vice versa. From that, I believe that we should make the most strenuous efforts and give close thought to the means that are available for a closer understanding between the members of the old Commonwealth and the newer members.
Not long ago I read the debates in your Lordships' House on the Indian Independence Bill of 1947, in the course of which the late Lord Halifax said:
Nothing so much predisposes men to understand as the consciousness that they are themselves understood,
I believe that to be a fundamental truth. In the same debate on the Indian Independence Bill, the present Prime Minister, the right honourable Harold Macmillan, asked for a little more warmth to be infused into our discussions about our future relations with India and Pakistan. At this point of time, 14 years later, I venture, with respect, to echo the Prime Minister's plea for more warmth in relationships between the older and the newer countries of the Commonwealth. The present situation, as I interpret it, between the members of the old Commonwealth and those of the new can be appreciably and, believe, progressively improved by conscious thought and action, largely by taking advantage of all the many opportunities for organised personal liaison between individuals and associations with common interests in the countries of the old Commonwealth and the newer members, in an effort to make the image of the old countries of the Commonwealth in the minds of the peoples of the newer members more realistic, and vice versa.
§ I had hoped to speak at a good deal greater length on the many directions in which I believe this conception could be implemented, but in the circumstances in which I find myself to-day this would take a great deal more time than would be available to me; so I will take some future opportunity, or possibly take some other means, of discussing this matter. My reason for curtailing what I had it in mind to say on this question of unity in the Commonwealth and how it can, as I believe, progressively be improved, is the fact that there is at present 615 in this country, and in every other Commonwealth country, a concentration of mind by nearly all thinking people on the problem of the Common Market. Anything that one might be tempted to say on the subject of unity must give way to the more urgent and highly important subject of the Common Market, which I think has to take precedence over all else in to-day's conditions.
§ I should like to emphasise the fact that in saying what I am hoping to say I have had no benefit of information from official sources; nor, of course, do I pretend in any way to voice the views of any country. Of all the matters at issue, the problem of the Common Market is, I believe, the most important that this country and all the other countries of the Commonwealth have ever had to face in time of peace. The factors are well known to your Lordships and to all students of public affairs. They are known in their qualitative sense, but not, I believe, in their quantitative sense; and until Her Majesty's Government become aware of all the problems in regard both to their qualitative and to their quantitative effect, I think the picture will not be complete. Even then, when all the facts, qualitative and quantitative, are known to Her Majesty's Government and to the other Governments of the Commonwealth countries, it will not be possible to say whether there is likely to be successful compromise with the European Economic Community as to the terms of entry of the United Kingdom into the Common Market.
§ As I understand it, the discussions that have taken place up to the present between Her Majesty's Government and the Six have been purely exploratory and cannot be described in any way as having been negotiations. Mr. Harold Macmillan, the Prime Minister, has had the advantage of a great deal of advice on this subject of the Common Market—a great deal of it, of course, contradictory. Fortunately, he has the stability of mind and the determination not to be rattled and not to do anything precipitate in this matter.
§ On the commercial side, the interests of every Commonwealth country as regards Great Britain seeking to enter or not to enter the Common Market are differently affected. If I may risk a 616 generalisation, I would say that, on net balance, the round dozen of independent members of the Commonwealth to-day are inclined to believe that the United Kingdom should seek to enter the Common Market on broad political grounds, providing reasonable compromise can be reached with the Six on conditions that are likely largely, if not entirely, to preserve their trade. However, I stress "on net balance," because among the dozen countries of the Commonwealth to-day there are some, maybe many, whose interests are likely to suffer economically—some grievously, at least on the short term.
§ Whether or not these assumed economic disabilities can be compensated in some way, I do not know. I should greatly doubt if they can. So far as the senior partner in the Commonwealth, the United Kingdom, is concerned, I think that, on net balance, she would be advantaged economically on the short term, and perhaps more progressively on the longer term, by seeking to enter the Common Market. Such of the United Kingdom's domestic interests as might be disadvantaged could, I believe, be compensated. As to the interests of the United Kingdom consumers, I believe that it would be possible to compensate them for any possible small increase in the cost of living: the proper sensitivity of Her Majesty's Government to domestic pressures can be relied upon in this regard.
§ The principal problem exercising the minds of the countries of the Commonwealth in considering the great change of policy that joining the Common Market presents is that, far from their having tariff preferences over the European countries in the United Kingdom market, the European countries would have preference over them. In other words, it would be a matter of high importance for the Commonwealth countries to find that the common tariffs barrier around Europe was also around the United Kingdom.
I seem to notice, in the many discussions that are tending to fill the Press of the United Kingdom to-day on this problem of the Common Market, that the plus and minus of the effect on the United Kingdom is canvassed thoroughly, and only to a much more limited extent the problems that would inevitably affect the members of the Commonwealth other
than the United Kingdom. I suppose this is inevitable. I remind the old Bengali saying, that
Every man oils his own spinning wheel first.
Perhaps I may be allowed to give two instances, out of a number, showing how the United Kingdom's entry of the Common Market would affect my own country, Australia. Australian wheat, for instance, comes into this country free of duty to the extent of about £10 million worth a year. If the United Kingdom were a member of the Common Market, Australian wheat would be subject to a duty of 20 per cent., or whatever other tariff level might be negotiated, and wheat from France would enter this country free of duty.
§ Dried fruits are another example. At present about £4 million worth of dried fruits from Australia enters the United Kingdom market free of duty; whereas its competitor, or one of its competitors, dried fruits from Greece, pays on entry into this country up to about 10 per cent. If the United Kingdom were a member of the Common Market, Australian dried fruits would be subject to a tariff duty of about 9 per cent., whereas Greek dried fruits would enter this country free. Of the total of about £200 million worth of Australian exports to the United Kingdom, about f125 million worth would be subjected, in varying degree, to disability in entering this market. However, negotiations with the Six in due course, if they were to come about, might blunt the teeth of this consideration.
§ My impression, in spite of what I have said, is that the long-sighted of the members of the Governments of the other Commonwealth countries believe that, provided reasonable provisions can be negotiated on the commercial side to meet the difficulties of the various Commonwealth countries—if that can be achieved—an economically strong United Kingdom, with ready access to the great European market of something approaching 200 million people, is to be preferred to a United Kingdom which risks economic decline if it cuts itself off permanently from its neighbours in Europe. This situation, I believe, is emphasised by the apparent fact that the economies of the Six are now growing at a greater rate than the economy of 618 any other relevant area of the globe.
§ However, I understand that the position of the United Kingdom, if she were successfully to seek to enter the Common Market, would not be called upon to implement overnight all the provisions of the Treaty of Rome. The provisions would be implemented over a period of from twelve to fifteen years; and I should expect negotiations to settle for what part of that period of twelve to fifteen years the present preferences to other Commonwealth countries would be kept in existence. So much, my Lords, for the economic, the commercial, aspect.
§ But there is another and possibly even more important aspect, as your Lordships will know very well, and that is the political side. If the United Kingdom were to join the Common Market she would have a prominent place in what is likely to be a strong, and perhaps progressively stronger, European bloc and would be in a position to contribute to and to influence European thinking on world problems. But if the United Kingdom were to be outside the Common Market her political influence as a world Power, as well as, of course, that of other Commonwealth countries, might well decline. In these circumstances, it is not difficult to envisage the world of the future as consisting in particular of three important entities: the United States of America, the United States of Europe, and Russia—with possibly, in due course, Communist China knocking at the door, and with the United Kingdom and the other members of the Commonwealth having but limited influence on the world's affairs. These considerations tend to make me believe that the political factor in this gravely complex problem of the Common Market is probably more important, in due course, on the long term, than the commercial factors, though I do not attempt to minimise or gloss over the high importance of the commercial considerations I have attempted to mention.
§ Now, my Lords, I come to the most difficult part of what I am trying to say to your Lordships to-day. I am in your Lordships' House in what might be described as a dual capacity: as an Australian and also as a Member of the Upper House of the United Kingdom Parliament, and so it might be said that my 619 allegiance is divided. As an Australian I am well aware of the important Australian industries and of the thousands of Australians whose livelihood is likely to be reduced, and could be in some cases extinguished, on the short term at least, unless a satisfactory compromise can be made with the Six. And, of course, what applies to Australia applies in varying degree, I expect, to all the other Commonwealth countries.
§ Against that consideration there is, as I have said, the wider political factor which is so highly important to the United Kingdom and, at one remove, to Australia and the other Commonwealth countries. By reason of the commercial considerations that I have mentioned, which are likely, I believe, to affect adversely in varying degree all the Commonwealth countries, is one to say, as an Australian, to the United Kingdom "You must not enter the Common Market. You must suffer economic and political stagnation on our account"? Is that what the countries of what one might call the outer reaches of the Commonwealth are going to say to the United Kingdom? Faced with this highly unpleasant choice, I can only say that, so far as I personally am concerned, I am generally on the side of the United Kingdom's seeking, to join the Common Market, provided that we are not faced with unacceptable conditions on entry.
§ Might I add, too, that these considerations—I think it is not using terms of exaggeration to say these agonising considerations—must be known to France and to the others of the Six? I believe that they realise the importance of the Commonwealth as a factor, and a great factor, in the stability of the world. They cannot wish to see the Commonwealth decline as a factor in world affairs. Against this background, is it not reasonably to be expected that the Six, the present Six, the E.E.C., will not impose impossible conditions? The Common Market, it must be realised, would be tremendously stronger by reason of the adhesion of the United Kingdom as a member.
§ My Lords, in saying what I have said to-day on this important subject—and, as I have indicated, I cannot conceive a more important subject facing the Commonwealth to-day or at any other 620 day—I have attempted to be as economical as possible with your Lordships' time. The subject is so large and there are so many facets of it that any attempt to cover them in anything approaching complete detail would result in one's taking up an unacceptable amount of your Lordships' time. No doubt your Lordships, from your greater knowledge of this subject in many directions, will fill in the many gaps in the picture that I have tried to paint.
§ If your Lordships accept my attempted analysis of this problem in the shortest time I can find words to put it in, then I think you will agree that this subject is the greatest subject that has ever had to be tackled in time of peace in the United Kingdom or the Commonwealth. I envy those people, in the Press and otherwise, who have no doubts and fears, who come down hard and fast without reservations that the United Kingdom should join or should not join. I believe that that is a gross over-simplification of this problem. This problem is being debated with heart's blood in every part of the Commonwealth. Your Lordships, I am sure, do not lack enough imagination to put yourselves in the place of peoples in certain industries in practically every Commonwealth country who are going to lose their jobs—for industries are going to decline and fade out—if the United Kingdom seeks to enter the Common Market under conditions that would not at any rate reasonably protect their industries and their livelihoods. So I leave the problem with your Lordships, relying upon the belief that our discussions this afternoon will throw considerable light upon this highly complex and important matter. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.10 p.m.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF HOME)
My Lords, one of the happiest features of our Parliamentary life in this country is that we are able to attract into Parliament, and to include in it, persons of wide experience of the Commonwealth, and persons who have held high office in the Governments of their own countries. The noble Lord, Lord Casey, is one of the most distinguished of those persons. Every time he talks to us we have the advantage of seeing a problem through the eyes of an Australian: and not only through the eyes of 621 an Australian, but through the eyes of an Australian who has seen as much of the world as any man alive. He need have no diffidence, I am sure, my Lords, in talking to us with a double loyalty—a loyalty to his own country and a loyalty to this Parliament; because everybody knows from his record of public service that he now has only the one axe to grind, and that is on behalf of all mankind. Having listened to his speech to-day, I welcome him as a colleague—and, indeed, I think, from what he said, as a collaborator. But though I may join forces with him to-day in the House of Lords, I must give notice that to-morrow, at Lord's, I shall be his implacable opponent. I hope that the members of the Six will understand that.
My Lords, when he makes his plea that there should be more discussion upon Commonwealth matters in the Commonwealth Parliaments I find myself in very close sympathy with him. I thought I detected, perhaps, just a hint of nostalgia in the thought that we might possibly have exchanged an old Commonwealth, tried and trusted in peace and war, and exercising an authority in world affairs that was unquestioned, for what he called, perhaps, a "paper" Commonwealth—one which, because of the divisions amongst ourselves, is able to exercise little influence in the affairs of the world.
It is of course true that the old Commonwealth, composed of people with the same religion and with the same language, whose political institutions were the same and who were nourished on the same traditions, was not only a tine conception but set a fine example in international partnership and cooperation to the whole world. That is true; but once the decision was taken by the United Kingdom to transform the Empire into a Commonwealth of Nations, free and independent, then that association could not stop at the partnership of those of purely European stock and origin. At least, if it had stopped there we should not have been content, because we should have lost touch with the great peoples of Africa and Asia, in whose countries so much of the story of the next 100 years is going 10 be written; and, with it, we should have lost our chance of exercising our influence with those countries in every Continent right across the globe. We 622 should have lost the opportunity, too, of allowing their influence, in turn, to affect our own decisions.
It is true, as the noble Lord said, that in the early days of independence there is an exuberance, an assertion of independence, and sometimes this is asserted in ways which may seem to us to be unnecessary and may lead to misunderstanding or to strain. But, my Lords, emotion has not been allowed to override the solid value which each Commonwealth country sees in association with all the others. And, with all its irritations, I see no agitation on behalf of any member of the Commonwealth to leave the association. Indeed, quite the contrary—there is a queue to join. The co-operation, as I have seen it—and I saw it over five years—in all the inter-Commonwealth machinery, is real. We work together in a way few other nations work together in this world. When Lord Casey appeals for greater contacts between the Commonwealth Governments and the Commonwealth people so that we may gain a greater knowledge of each other, his plea will fall on ready ears; because then, my Lords, the short-range interests and the opportunist policies which we sometimes do see will give way to the longer view. The modern Commonwealth is undoubtedly an experiment; but if, together, the old Commonwealth and the new Commonwealth can work it and it succeeds, then it will put all our previous achievements in our Empire and Commonwealth history in the shade, and it will be the greatest contribution to the well-being of all mankind.
My Lords, the example of the Commonwealth in interdependence leads me to put the problem of the Common Market, which Lord Casey has made the main theme of his speech, into its widest setting: that of international politics. As I see our contemporary world, there are two main trends: there is the trend towards domination and there is the trend towards liberty. Or, if that is an over-simplification, there is the trend which would divide the world into blocs, the better to subjugate the individual, and the trend towards greater interdependence and unity in freedom. I believe that if the second trend, that towards freedom, is to prevail, then there is no room for division of any kind, either economic or political, within the Free 623 World. Therefore I start from the premise that unity within Europe is a good thing, and that the unity of Europe and Britain is a good thing if that can be contrived. It is not only, I believe, in the interests of the Free World: I would go further, in face of the Communist challenge, and say that I believe it is necessary for the survival of the Free World.
Therefore, my Lords, at present we are in a situation in which there is a double opportunity in Europe. First, there is an opportunity to lay old ghosts. The enmity of France and Germany has twice led to European wars in which most of the world has been engaged. For the first time, Germany and France are finding a new friendship; and I think there can be little doubt that, if the United Kingdom were to come into closer association with Germany and France, that would add to the stability and add to the confidence. Then, again, we have the opportunity to prevent division. We must face the fact that with the union of the Six there is an economic division in Europe to-day. Nothing can be more certain than that if that economic division is allowed to persist, it will be followed by political tension. Therefore, in working for closer relations with the Common Market, I would claim that the United Kingdom is not working or acting out of character, or lunging off at a tangent.
To interdependence within our Alliances, to interdependence within the Commonwealth, we should be trying to add interdependence within Europe. If I thought that the Common Market, with the United Kingdom in it, was likely to be an inward-looking organisation, I would reject the proposition that we should join it: because the whole of our history has been built on an outward-looking Britain, looking, indeed, to the whole world as the platform of her operations. But I do not believe that it would be an inward-looking association; it would be one of several groups, of which the United States would be another, and the Commonwealth another, that would be contributing to the strength and the freedom of the Free World. So on the broadest political grounds, as Lord Casey, I think, concluded, there is good reason for British association with the Common Market.
624 My Lords, a year ago in, I think, the first speech that I made to your Lord, ships as Foreign Secretary, I said:If Britain has to play her full part as a reliable ally and fulfil her rôle as a leading partner in the Commonwealth, then she must be economically strong.I still insist that if we are to be a reliable ally, and if we are to be a leading partner in the Commonwealth, then our economic strength lies at the foundation of our ability to fulfil those rôles. If that is true, then it is equally true that our economic strength—this sounds almost too simple to repeat, but we must repeat it over and over again—depends upon our ability to sell; and that depends on our ability to go where the markets are best and where the markets are expanding. We know enough about modern industry, and particularly about an economy depending very largely upon the engineering industry, to know that it operates most efficiently where it has a large home market. Europe is on our doorstep, with a market of 250 million people; and that market is expanding. We know enough about modern science and technology to know why it wants a base of a similar magnitude; and we know, too, that we want to try to give our best scientific and technical brains the chance to employ their skills in this country so that they are not attracted away overseas. Therefore, it is not only defence that is chafing at national frontiers to-day; industry and technology, the factors which generate wealth and promote prosperity, are displaying a like impatience.
Therefore, my Lords, on this economic side of the problem, which we are discussing, if we are to maintain our standard of living and consumption—and, of course, the ability of the United Kingdom citizen to consume has a direct impact on Commonwealth trade—and if we are to be in a position to export the capital for which the Commonwealth is hungry to-day, then we must ask ourselves—and the Commonwealth, too, must join in asking this question most seriously—whether we can afford to be excluded from this European market which is expanding so rapidly and offering so many opportunities. Not only that: in passing we should look at and face the question as to whether there is, indeed, any other way—any other comparable way—in which the United Kingdom can increase its wealth so that it 625 may consume the maximum amount of Commonwealth goods and may export the maximum amount of capital to the Commonwealth. Where else can we find the earnings on the necessary scale?
We have lately had considerable success in our exports to the United States of America. That is good, but it is not enough. I want to look, just for one moment, at the pattern of Commonwealth trade as it has developed in recent years. Your Lordships are familiar, of course, with its origin. Britain supplied, broadly speaking, the capital and the manufactured goods; and the Commonwealth in turn, supplied to us the food and the raw materials. On the basis of free entry for food and raw materials into the United Kingdom, and preference in Commonwealth markets for British manufactured goods, we managed to build up a very high level of trade. It still represents a very high proportion of the total intake from, and export to, the different Commonwealth countries.
But there has been over the years a gradual change—I believe personally an inevitable change; and one cannot complain about it. While the United Kingdom retained free entry for Commonwealth goods, the Commonwealth countries began to manufacture for themselves, and as they naturally wanted to begin to sell their goods to third parties, the preference for British exports has gradually been eroded. I will give an example. In 1950, the Commonwealth imported 28 per cent. of their goods from the United Kingdom. By 1959, the proportion was 22 per cent. I hoped when I attended the Commonwealth Economic Conference at Montreal that the resolutions which we passed at that Conference would reverse that tendency. But in fact—and again, I think for inevitable reasons, because Commonwealth countries are becoming manufacturing countries; and a topical illustration of this to-day has been given by the speech of the Finance Minister in Ottawa yesterday—the trend has not, in fact, been reversed.
Concurrently with a fall in our earnings within the Commonwealth the United Kingdom has exported to the Commonwealth over the years thousands of millions of pounds in capital. In 1960, the capital inflow into the sterling area from the United Kingdom was some £220 million. In fact, the sterling area relies for some two-fifths of its capital require- 626 ments upon the United Kingdom. We want to maintain and increase this investment in the Commonwealth from the United Kingdom, but clearly we cannot do so if our share of trade with the Commonwealth continues to shrink and if we are losing our share of world trade.
I must be fair: I must admit that a factor in any analysis of this kind is our ability to compete in world trade in our price levels at home. I must say that, so far as I am concerned, I feel that so long as we allow the wages-price spiral to govern our lives, then nothing, perhaps, can save us from going downhill industrially. But on the assumption that we see sense in time (and, by and large, we are a sensible people), a study of the trends and prospects leads me to the conclusion that we should be very unwise to turn our backs on the European Market, which is showing so much vitality. Because even if we succeed in expanding Commonwealth trade, we shall want the additional earnings that we could earn in European markets if we are to fulfil our duty to the Commonwealth.
I think that these were the sort of considerations which led the noble Lord, Lord Casey, to conclude—an agonising conclusion, I agree with him—that it would be well for Britain to consider very seriously joining the Common Market, and which led me to the conclusion, which I gave in a speech in Chicago—you do not get much notice taken of your speeches unless you make them 3,000 miles away from your homeland—that Britain in the Common Market might be able to give more help to the Commonwealth than Britain remaining outside. Therefore, I would conclude that while we should maximise our Commonwealth trade in every way we can—and I would commend to my Commonwealth colleagues and partners that they should study again the results of the Montreal Conference—at the same time, we should increase our earnings in Europe. It would be difficult to do that unless we were inside the Community. But, although the arguments seem to me to lean strongly towards such an association, I could not myself, nor could my colleagues, take a final decision until we know the price of entry, whether the requirements for ourselves and for the Commonwealth and for our E.F.T.A. 627 partners are negotiable or not. The conditions of entry, therefore, will play a very large part in the final reckoning.
The noble Lord, Lord Casey, mentioned certain commercial factors of which we must take account and said, very truly, that the conditions vary much from Commonwealth country to Commonwealth country. Perhaps I could just give a few general considerations in response to what he said. So far as most industrial raw materials are concerned—wool, which is very important to Australia, rubber, tin and copper—they will be little affected, possibly not affected at all. So far as tropical products are concerned, the question is more complex; nevertheless, the problems which they present are probably soluable. The difficulty comes and the urgency of finding the right answer is emphasised when we come to the question of temperate foodstuffs, of which the noble Lord, Lord Casey, mentioned in particular wheat, a great Australian interest, and a Canadian one, too. And I am very conscious, having been Commonwealth Secretary, of New Zealand's interest in butter. Any Commonwealth Secretary has "butter" written on his heart for the rest of his life. And, of course, there are manufactured goods.
In these matters, it is absolutely necessary that we should work out a satisfactory answer. So much of the economic welfare of the Commonwealth countries depends upon our finding an answer that is satisfactory to them. That is why, as a first step, although we have many other forms of inter-Commonwealth machinery, including the meetings of Finance Ministers and officials which are held once or twice a year, three Cabinet Ministers are visiting the capitals of Commonwealth countries in order to ascertain the Commonwealth's views and requirements. I am sure that that is a right step.
The noble Lord, Lord Casey, said that he envied people who are sure that we should enter the Common Market. So do I. It is very easy to make up one's mind and splash the headlines by saying either, "Yea", or "Nay", but it is not so easy as that. It is for this reason that we are taking time, because we want to be sure that, if we go into 628 the Common Market, we carry our Commonwealth partners and our E.F.T.A. friends with us in the enterprise.
Lastly, because I have taken up quite a lot of your Lordships' time and I cannot cover the whole of the Common Market question to-day and have deliberately limited myself to those aspects of the Common Market problem which have a Commonwealth impact—I have left aside, for example, the impact upon British agriculture—I want to ask this question: how far could membership of the Treaty of Rome infringe the sovereignty of the British Parliament, in which the Commonwealth itself is interested?
It is true that the Treaty of Rome carries political implications, but on that I want to make only three short comments to-day for your Lordships' consideration. If we were to enter the Common Market—on acceptable terms, of course—we should have a hand in deciding and controlling the political implications and the way in which these matters were handled. Secondly, I have seen no sign that any country in Europe is willing to surrender what I would call a significant amount of sovereignty. Let us consider. All the countries in the Common Market are Parliamentary democracies. All of them have built up their Parliamentary institutions with long traditions behind them. There are in the Common Market to-day two monarchies and one grand duchy. If the E.F.T.A. partners were to be added, there would be four more constitutional monarchies in the Association. I think it would be inconceivable that any of them or any of us, if we all came together, would surrender sovereignty to a point where it infringed and was harmful to our own national institutions.
Lastly, if we think in terms of reality and of interdependence, it is necessary in these days to accept, in favour of the common good, some derogation of sovereignty. This is not new. We do it in matters of defence, in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. In economics, we are members of the World Bank and other financial institutions which put a brake on absolutely independent action in this field. So, provided the economic conditions are right, I would regard the political implications 629 as perhaps the least of the difficulties; and, if we could get the economic conditions right, I believe that we could face the political consequences.
I have tried to set out broadly, in an objective way and I hope fairly, the considerations which have weighed with me. I have seen this matter for several years from inside the Commonwealth partnership as Commonwealth Secretary. It is because I am so concerned that we should get this matter right so far as the Commonwealth countries are concerned that I believe that the Prime Minister is right to send Cabinet Ministers to consult the Commonwealth Governments. I will not make a decision until I believe, until I am more certain than I am to-day—though I have gone a long way towards the conclusion—that Britain will serve the Commonwealth better by being in than by remaining outside. Therefore, I cannot come to a decision until I know more about the requirements and whether those requirements are negotiable; but I believe that to-day's debate, which has been so admirably begun by the noble Lord, Lord Casey, will be of great value in enabling us to form the balance sheet, and I can tell your Lordships that the Government will be immensely interested in the conclusion which your Lordships draw.
§ 3.40 p.m.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, I think we can, from all sides of the House, express our thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Casey, for his introduction of the Motion on the Paper. It is true that at the earliest stage of our anticipation of his Motion, as he has so kindly explained again to-day, we thought we were going to talk more about the general unity in the Commonwealth, upon which no one is in a position to speak with a greater breadth of knowledge than he is. We have memories of the noble Lord acting not only in foreign relations on behalf of Australia in more recent days, but in the United States, and in Downing Street for long periods, with colleagues of all Parties in this House in the then Government; and also we heard a lot about him when he went to India on the last great inquiry of 1946. Therefore, we can understand, with this experience, his being especially interested in the question of whether relationships between the 630 older and the newer members of the Commonwealth are in the most desirable condition at the present time.
However, we must always consider, when we think of those relationships (and I fancy from one portion of what the noble Lord said that he had this in mind) the behaviour of older members of the Commonwealth and how that is going to affect the views of those who have just obtained independence. When we come to consider the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Casey, of the different votes in different directions in the United Nations, we realise that that does not always react upon the new members of the Commonwealth in the way we should like; and we must be careful how we express our views and exercise our vote in the United Nations.
I cannot help feeling (I have a Question down for Monday on this subject) that the recent vote upon. Angola would not have a very good effect upon the newer members of the Commonwealth. However, in view of the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Casey, switched the main theme of the debate to the Common Market, there is no time to go into that to-day. Nevertheless, I would say, from my own contacts with representatives of the newer members of the Commonwealth, brief as they have been, and from them getting a sort of indication of the general attitude of the new members, that we are bound to confirm the view expressed by the Foreign Secretary that there is no sign of any of the newer members wanting to leave the Commonwealth, and there are still some who are waiting for admission. I think that is something for which we can be profoundly grateful.
I come now to the difficult question which the noble Lord, Lord Casey, has tackled. I am rather intrigued to know why he has switched to this one; on whose importunity, perhaps, that switch may have started; whether he talked it over in circles of influence and it was thought better that he should turn from his old intended subject to this one. There has been so much propaganda of one sort or another about this matter that it is difficult to understand exactly all that is going on. For example, the paper which used to be regarded as the special Labour paper says on the front page this morning 631 (and it is no doubt of great interest to the general public) that it is already settled: it is one of those whose confidence, apparently, is envied by the noble Lord, Lord Casey, because they know already which way they want to go.
But the Labour Party certainly have not made-up their mind upon this issue; nor do they think it right that either the political Parties of our country or those of the Commonwealth countries, or the general population, the electorate, of whom we have to think, should be pushed along a road of rush and hurry in order to take a decision on a matter of such vital importance, which I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Casey, is far more outstanding than any similar problem in peace time in our history. In fact, I do not go far from the point of view expressed by the Sunday Express last Sunday: that if you compare June, 1940, and the issue which at the opening of that summer was facing us and what had to be accomplished during that summer, with the issue in June, 1961, then I say the summer of 1961 is almost of equal importance. Whatever decision you take upon this, whether it is the right or wrong decision—and I am not going to say which is right or wrong on this occasion—will be fraught with very grave consequences indeed.
I do not propose to comment upon the details of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Casey, which was amply effective from his point of view. He thinks that most of the round dozen of the Commonwealth countries would, in certain circumstances, favour entry into the Common Market. I am not at all sure that that can be borne out as yet by any stipulated facts. I have not much evidence to make up my mind upon that particular issue, as to where the members of the Commonwealth stand; nor have we been supplied with very much information from the Government. We have had a request made in this House by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, for a White Paper, and there have been requests in another place for more information.
We hear from time to time that it is proposed to send a Minister here or there to confer, but as to what the basic facts are we are left to try to make up our 632 minds upon the various propagandists, some qualified and some not—not that I would always accept the advice of political economists, because certainly in the fifty years of my public life they have been wrong about four times out of five. I am not over-awed by the economic opinions which have been expressed in the last few months with regard to the "for" or "against" entry into the Common Market. But we certainly want more information. What is more, if I may continue on the point I was making to the noble Lord, Lord Casey, it is perfectly clear that members of the Commonwealth want more information. And they do not want information purely in a number of facts given to them by the home Government here: what they want is to meet jointly in consultation.
If you take the question I have already put before in this House, as to whether Mr. Diefenbaker was right or not in asking for a Premiers' Conference to discuss the Common Market, I must say that, although the Prime Minister in answering a Question last week in the other place said that he felt that up to the present the general impression had been favourable to the procedures the Government were proposing, the Toronto Globe and Mail for the week afterwards, the issue of June 14, contained this passage:The desirability of a Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference to consider the problems of Britain's entry into the Six Nation Common Market was stressed in the House of Commons by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. Because of the potential consequences to the Commonwealth of Britain joining forces with the new Continental trade bloc ahead of France and Germany, Mr. Diefenbaker said that the fullest consideration should be given at least to a ministerial meeting of member countries.That is to say, in answer to the case made from the home Government here, that you cannot often get a meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers because their time is so fully occupied, that nevertheless there ought to be a Ministerial meeting of high rank, so that they could examine each other's point of view in joint consultation in a Commonwealth conference. At present, I do not think we have reached the stage where we may easily, or with reliance, accept any report of the collection of voices of the various countries in the Commonwealth. I am pretty certain myself that, 633 in the case of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, there will not be unanimity in support of entry into the Common Market.
It is perfectly true that the position of Mr. Holyoake in New Zealand is perhaps somewhat different because of the predominance of his dairy interest compared with that of Australia. It is perfectly true, perhaps, that the wool industry of Australia can stand pretty well upon its own feet anywhere in the world, and New Zealand wool is not far behind that now. If Mr. Holyoake can secure the proper protections for his dairy produce, Australia would also gain not inconsiderably as a sideline on their Australian dairy produce. So it is quite true, as has been said, I think, by the noble Lord, Lord Casey, that the different trade interests within the Commonwealth countries will be completely divided upon the issues in this matter, for some are going to be hit very hard indeed. When the noble Lord comes to discuss, as he has this afternoon, whether one is going to be hit only for the short term or the other one for the long term, it demonstrates the need for getting much closer together in joint consultation and conference. I think that wants to be looked at very carefully indeed.
If you look at the last question which was dealt with by the Foreign Secretary, the question of sovereignty, it is all very well to say "There may not be much in that, considering what has been going on. You have not seen much of this going on in Europe." But how many people have studied this book which contains nothing but the provisions of the Treaty of the European Economic Community? It is full of conditions, full of rules, full of procedures. It sets up its own democratic empire. There is something for everything. There is the Council for Ministers, there is then a sort of Executive, then there is the Council of Representatives, and there are also rules which lay down what can be done by members of the Community, and what is subject entirely to the will of the high power.
What sort of thing are we going into? We may be right to go in later on, but on what conditions? How are we bound? I was greatly assured by what the Foreign Secretary said this afternoon—that of course there can be no question of going in unless the condi- 634 tions are satisfactory. I hope that applies to political sovereignty as well as to other things, because this country of ours has always been a political democracy. If you were to go to the ordinary electors of the country and talk to them about leaving vital decisions upon the economic factors of their common, everyday life to an outside Parliament, and tell them that the elected representatives of the people are no longer sovereign in conducting from beginning to end the discussions and legislation for the whole of the conduct of life of their own people, then you would be on most dangerous ground indeed. I have never before seen anywhere in the world, a combination of nations for collaboration, political and economic, which can be compared to the conditions which are laid down in this document; and they could be exploited against us in every possible way.
I am not saying that the Foreign Secretary is not right when he says, "Of course, the point is they would be there anyway. If we keep out they would be working for their own ends, and if we go in we shall have a voice, and we shall have some influence upon them." How much? How many members will there be of the main council, the sort of Parliament that they will have? Is it 170 when we have to join? Is that the right figure? What will our representation be—32? It is quite a powerful bloc within a bloc, but 32 voting against 170 does not give you an overwhelming influence, does it? At any rate, it is obvious that in all these matters there must be much greater discussions and much greater light let into the subject than has yet been let into our minds by the Government.
Can that light also be let into the minds of our people? Our people have the right to know what is going on, and if vital decisions have to be made they want to have the opportunity of stating their opinions before the decisions are made. There may be events in the lifetime of a Government upon which they have to take important, immediate and vital decisions, without reference to the electorate at large. That may well be so. But very often they will have to delay on urgent things because they have no mandate. There was no mandate in the 1959 election for this kind of departure. This departure may, in the long 635 run, as the noble Lord, Lord Casey, said, prove to be the right one. But who knows? What factors have we on the economic side to persuade us to take a larger and more overwhelming political step at the present time? It is for the Government to tell us, and we are not being told.
When you come to talk about the power within the Common Market assembly, in reading this book last night I was struck by the conditions under which, when you make application for changes, there must be unanimity. It seems to me that, if the Government are quite sincere about their refusal to go into the Common Market to the damage of their friends and to the exclusion of the proper defence of what they consider the proper rights of our Commonwealth countries, then they have to remember, first of all, that they have to get unanimity in the Common Market. There are many people who say—in fact I heard a member of the Labour Party say the other night—"It is no use thinking about that. Of course, you cannot get conditions of that kind on entering into the Market. You have got to go in". That is how a great many people on the side of the Common Market are thinking at the present time.
When it comes to a question of not getting unanimity, then the Common Market does nothing for you at all. Moreover, if there is a dispute within this Common Market on any action taken by one of its members, one which is of damage and which, in the ordinary course of events, under common law in any country would be a matter for the general courts of the country, they have their own high court, and their own court decides. I hope that that will be carefully studied by our lawyers to see exactly how it is operating, or likely to operate, and that we shall be given the real facts about it. The noble Lord, Lord Casey referred to the question of food prices. Well, I looked up Hansard in another place to have a look at external tariffs of the Common Market, which are supposed to be going to work. I think we may just as well put them on record in the OFFICIAL REPORT of our own House. This is the answer given by Mr. Erroll in another place on May 18—and I quote from the OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, column 1550. He 636 said that the common tariff rates asked for were: beef fresh, chilled or frozen (meat and offal) 20 per cent.; beef, salted, in brine, dried or smoked (meat and offal) 24 per cent.; mutton and lamb; fresh, chilled or frozen: (meat) 20 per cent, (offal) 12 per cent.; mutton and lamb; salted, in brine, dried or smoked, 24 per cent.; wheat—which we have had from the noble Lord—20 per cent.; bacon; salted, in brine, dried or smoked, 25 per cent.; otherwise, 20 per cent.; butter, 24 per cent.; cheese, 23 per cent.; tea; in immediate containers, 23 per cent.; otherwise, 18 per cent.
My Lords, I have had a long connection with the retail food trades and I understand pretty well how they work. I suppose the organisation which I used to represent would certainly have been doing, in its best days round about 30 per cent. of the country's trade in the food trades. I know how they work. If you are going to have all those instances of external tariffs on these matters, if they are imposed, on Commonwealth countries especially, you are going to have a rise in the cost of food in this country incomparably higher than that suggested by P.E.P., who suggested a figure of 1½ per cent. over five years.
The whole point about managing a business, especially of a retail kind, is to see that you do not lose money, and to gain some if you can. What happens under these tariffs if you buy a world commodity at world market price? You must add 25 per cent., plus carriage, before you put it on your shelves to sell. You then have to take account of your actual business expenses in distribution costs—or selling it over the counter, if you like—and then get enough margin above that to cover both the kind of capital required, through having higher sums to pay out, and higher sums to reserve as well, to work out the amount of the profit the increased capital employed in the business can yield. So these tariff figures are not final statements of what will be the increased cost to the consumer after perhaps trying to work out a jigsaw puzzle as to how much of them will be reduced by free imports of these particular commodities from other countries within the Common Market.
We want a lot more detail. We want a lot more examination. We want a 637 great deal more detail about what is the situation which you are likely to discuss in relation to agriculture. All Parties in this House are agreed, as has been said by the Government many times, that our present system of assistance to agriculture, in order that it may have stability and expansion, so as to help with our balance of trade and also to keep down the price to the consumer, is the best. It means that if there is anything to be met in regard to it, the balance has to be met by the general taxpayer of the country in order to secure, first a sound agriculture and secondly an improved balance of trade; and that is the object of the assistance. What is going to be substituted for it? It can be said that in the Common Market there will be arrangements made for a continuance for certain agricultural countries to be able to give production grants in their own country. But, of course, all our grants are not entirely production grants. We may be paying about £250 million a year, and out of that sum £150 million to £160 million could be described as production grants. That leaves a balance of about £90 million to £100 million to be found by the farmer. Have the Government looked at that? It is all very well to say you suffer over the short term or the long term, or that you can get over this in the short term or the long term. Let us have the facts. We have not had any real attempt made by the Government to give us the facts?
There are two other matters which I mention, because I want information from the Government about them. How do the Government regard this proposal that they are now seeking to negotiate in regard to labour in this country? I ask that from two points of view. One of the conditions laid down in this Treaty that I have here is that there shall be made regulations for the mobility of labour. Mobility of labour is no doubt a very desirable thing, if you can arrange it with due concord and a happy state of your own workmen at the same time. But if you look, for example, at the mining industry in this country and see what happens in the mines of this country when you seek to bring Italian unemployed in to work in the mines, I think you had better make quite sure on this point exactly how a system of mobility within the Common Market is going to work in this country.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, may I ask the noble Viscount: is it not a fact that in the Rhondda Valley there are a thousand vacancies in the mines?
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
That may well be so, but there are others, besides the Italians and the Europeans, who would like to work in the mines. They come from other parts of our own Commonwealth; and they have to be considered, too. At any rate, we want to know the views of the Government about it, in a debate of this kind.
The other point I want to raise is the question I heard put from one of my friends in another place yesterday: what is to be the status of the trade union movement in this country if we join the Common Market? I want to know. What is the status of the trade unions of the Six in the Common Market now? They seem to have no position at all, except what you might call a consultative position. In this country we have access to the Minister of Labour, or the Ministry of the trade concerned in the particular dispute; and very often a great deal can be done to ease matters. I do not know how you are going to deal with the matter inside the Common Market.
It is all very well for people to say, "You must wait and see." We have not been responsible for the canvassing of this proposal at all. Every Party in the State is divided on it—every single Party: even the Liberals, who officially have said they were in favour. But I know Liberals who have very grave doubts on some of the results of escaping from their old and one-time free trade policy. It is not there now. And so you have divisions right through the whole country.
I want the Government to take advantage of the occasion of this debate introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Casey, to give us more information. I understand that the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, is going to answer on behalf of the Government. He has all the resources and the backing of the Treasury behind him. I am sure he can tell us quite a lot. And I should have thought that if there are any questions to be answered with regard to the legal and political sides, we ought to have equally good and fair answers. I welcomed very much the 639 tone of the Foreign Secretary's speech. His general approach to it seemed to me to be one of good will. It is clear that he has very much convinced himself that the best thing is to go into the Common Market. But, if I understand him aright, he has such a concern for the Commonwealth that he would not go in against the desires or against the best interests of his friends. And, on that, I cannot speak too highly of our friends in the Commonwealth. Any Minister who had responsibility in 1940, knows what the alternative would have been if, when every other source of support had left us, we had not been able to depend upon Canada, Australia and New Zealand. And we remember how they answered the call! I hope that we shall never forget that our friends are deserving of our consideration and our trust.
§ 4.10 p.m.
My Lords, the subject which we debate to-day could hardly have been sponsored more happily than by the noble Lord, Lord Casey, whose suitability as a Parliamentary godfather is equalled, if I may say so, only by the very great esteem in which he is held in two hemispheres, and by the felicitous and interesting way in which he has introduced the Motion to-day. Indeed, at this time it is, of course, of the greatest value that we should hear at first hand the views of one with such a wide and inborn sense of that new world of the South with which we have such a proud and very close connection—a relationship, as the noble Earl, the Foreign Secretary said, which not only stands up to any test but revels in tests, whether in the Lords or at Lord's.
In passing, I should like to congratulate the Government, if I may, not exactly on their implementation of the Life Peers Act—for their method of implementation of it is rather surprising—but, if it is not impertinent, on their selection of personnel, especially in extending it to the Commonwealth. For I think there is little doubt that your Lordships' House has gained greatly, in vitality and in value, from the excellent speeches which we hear from Life Peers and Peeresses, be it from elder statesmen's sonority or, occasionally, Lady Loverly's chatter. The Foreign Secretary 640 has been good enough to grace us with his presence to-day, and we have also had a most interesting speech from the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition. I always find it especially interesting when we have a speech of the Right from the Left and a speech of the Left from the Right. It is at times rather confusing, but it does add gaiety to the debate. As the terms of to-day's Motion obviously offer scope for more than a fortnight's debate, I am going to be very brief and not say very much.
In the first place, I think we ought to get it quite clear that the old false dichotomy, that supporters of the Commonwealth must be Tory and that non-Tories are of course unpatriotic, is totally untrue. For my own Party I do not claim any particular infallibility. The fact that politics—and I think particularly British politics lately—have become more and more liberal and liberalised throughout the world is, for us, a cause for great satisfaction. The fact is that our clothes are continually being stolen; but as we think they are the best clothes, we are not particularly surprised.
We are particularly pleased, of course, when Her Majesty's Government, in their Colonial and Commonwealth activities, veer towards the liberal policies of greater emancipation and of urgent assistance towards self-determination in under-developed countries as soon as that can reasonably be applied. Indeed, a broad liberal outlook as an essential in every field of progress to-day is, I think, so generally accepted on all sides that I would apply to the nation at large a remark which appears in the current issue of the Economist and which describes the House of Commons as consisting of 400 liberals and 200 non-liberals. I think this dictum merits consideration, because it is penetratingly true, particularly as the anti-liberals are taken from both of the other Parties.
Speaking as a Party Liberal in the narrow sense, I would underline that we in the Liberal Party are most deeply concerned with the welfare of the Commonwealth and the Colonies, and we consider that in any projected step such as the approach towards the Common Market (which we alone as a Party do support: we certainly endorse the approach which 641 the Foreign Secretary has outlined today, but we claim to be the only political Party which, in principle, does support this approach) we have the deepest moral, and, I might say, parental responsibility to those territories all over the world which have owed their prosperity, and indeed their very existence, originally to this country. We believe that, with the general safeguards and such adaptations as are possible, which it is our duty to seek, the Commonwealth and the Colonies cannot fail to benefit and prosper from an expanded and enlightened European economy, which, in turn, should lead to world-wide prosperity of a much greater magnitude.
We must not lose sight of, or lose touch with, those smaller dependencies; and their welfare must never be used as a sort of international coin expended to reap some passing advantage for ourselves. I confess that within our own economy I have sometimes been a little worried about how these things are looked at. I have never fully understood, for instance, on what justification the local troubles of the Lancashire cotton industry were eased by a reduction in the output of cotton imports from Hong Kong. I am sure that no pressure was applied, but in that country there is no feeling of satisfaction. Hong Kong, of course, is a rich community and can look after itself. But we must consider such others as Mauritius and the Falkland Islands, and other small places whose comparative weakness imposes a particular moral responsibility upon our shoulders. I was going to expand in some detail on why we support this Common Market, and I had notes to that effect. But the case has been so adequately put by the noble Lord, Lord Casey, and by the Foreign Secretary, and since I find myself under something of a physical disability at the moment, in the nature of a cough, I will say no more than that, as a Party, we support this project, and I would strongly support the Motion of the noble Lord.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, may I just begin by adding my own to the chorus of congratulations to the noble Earl, the Foreign Secretary, on his speech, which seemed to me—and I say it with great deference—sensible, farseeing and wise My Lords, any serious 642 move to associate this country more closely with the Common Market, or indeed with Western Europe, is hound to give rise to emotions and apprehensions. That is entirely natural, for, after all, such a move would be to some extent a breach with many traditions and with habits of thought. But when we hear wild accusations, not, I need hardly say, in this place, but elsewhere, that a Conservative Government is plotting to abandon our countrymen overseas, to say nothing of Socialism in our time, betraying our Dominion over palm and pine, hobnobbing with Catholics Fascists, selling the Commonwealth down the river, and even of preferring Europe to the Commonwealth—a stark choice with which, as has been rightly said, no Englishman must ever be confronted—when we hear these shrill cries, it is high time for the average citizen to stop, look and listen.
All this is great nonsense, and some of the most vociferous know that it is. No reasonable man has ever suggested that we should sign the Treaty of Rome if by so doing we should cause any grave harm to members of the Commonwealth, to all of whom we are deeply attached for reasons of sentiment and history. To take an obvious case, we could clearly take no action which would result in the bankrupting of New Zealand farmers. That is only one instance. No sensible person denies that such matters must first form the subject of negotiations, and that we must have reasonable assurances as regards them—that is to say, as regards the general flow of Commonwealth trade—if we are ever to sign the Treaty of Rome. The same goes, of course, for home agriculture, which is not under debate to-day, and for our E.F.T.A. partners. Nobody denies either, I think, that if we go out to meet the Six politically they should come some way to meet us economically, notably, of course, as regards our Commonwealth trade difficulties, which are many and real.
Happily, there is strong reason to suppose that in negotiations we could, given a minimum of good will, arrive at solutions which, far from damaging our trade with other members of the Commonwealth, could in the long run benefit them and us and the Six. Even if our acceptance of a common agricultural policy involved in the long run 643 some moderate duties on foodstuffs, I think that they need not necessarily be very heavy, as the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, said. That would be a matter for negotiation. There should be ways and means of maintaining the level of supply of both home and Commonwealth products, more especially since the consumption of food (which is a point not always recognised) on the Continent of Europe is increasing by leaps and bounds as prosperity increases.
Besides, in a few years' time, the whole question of international trade in foodstuffs is like to become a question of the disposal of surpluses, which will be bound up necessarily with the whole question of aid to under-developed countries. Nor should there be much difficulty, as I think the Foreign Secretary also said, about Commonwealth raw materials, 90 per cent. of which at the moment come into the Common Market free of any duty. Even the thornier question of possible discrimination against Commonwealth industrial goods might be coped with by means of agreed quotas, and perhaps also to some extent by some modification of List "G" which the noble Viscount will find in his blue volume if he reads far enough.
It is necessary, I suggest, to think big in these matters, and not to be put off because some interest or other thinks that it might come off second best. Admittedly, there are people, both in the United Kingdom and in other countries of the Commonwealth, who would stand to lose something if we joined the Common Market. But it is really pathetic to oppose our entry into the Common Market, and thus, in effect, in the long run to prejudice the defence of the whole Free World against Communism, because it may conceivably in a few years' time put up the price of a British sausage, and not to realise that if we remain divided the price of sausages will be determined, not in Brussels, but in some point much further East.
Anyhow, as the Foreign Secretary has said, the first thing to grasp is that the main stream of our British overseas trade is changing direction fairly rapidly. In 1957, for instance, 45.3 per cent. of our exports went to Commonwealth countries; in 1961, January to March, only 644 41.6 per cent. For our imports the same percentages for the same periods were respectively 42.4 and 36.8 per cent. With Western Europe, on the other hand, our exports increased from 30.6 to 35 per cent., and our imports from 28.1 to 32.6 per cent. It will be seen that the gap between our trade with the Commonwealth and our trade with Western Europe is rapidly narrowing. So it is principally, I suggest, to the enormous potentialities of Western Europe that we should be looking if we want to align ourselves with what is, broadly speaking, the tendency of the times. If, therefore, we are denied, or partially denied, access to the countries of the Community, as we shall be if the common tariff is gradually established, we shall be hit, and hit very severely. It is not even clear how, if we were virtually cut off economically from the industrial heart of Europe, we should be able to finance our essential imports.
Moreover, in recent years, our economy has been exposed to repeated strains resulting in repeated crises—I think it is said that there is one in every two years. Whatever the diagnoses—and they differ widely, of course—might not one of the reasons be that we tend to regard the sterling area as a sort of imperial relic which is essential for our standing in the world? I think the question is at least worth asking, for, after all, if we cannot carry on an ex-imperial system with our present industrial base, it follows that we must somehow enlarge that base if we are to preserve it.
One would have thought that in these circumstances it would have been generally admitted that, even if the European Economic Community did not exist, it was time for a stocktaking. In his remarkable and able speech I think that Lord Casey fairly faced that issue and agreed with it. But the E.E.C. does exist, and it really is most desirable for us, if we can, to come to terms with it. How this can be done otherwise than by joining it is not evident; nor has anyone ever put forward any plan to this end which has had the slightest chance of success. Whether we can join will depend, of course, on the economic terms which we can get. I think that the Foreign Secretary made that point quite clear. But it is evident that we must negotiate.
645 Perhaps I have carried most of your Lordships with me so far, but there is one other point which may present for some a much greater difficulty. The Foreign Secretary, if I heard hint aright, thought that perhaps it was the least of the difficulties; but, after hearing the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, I am not so sure. That is the political issue arising out of our membership of the European Economic Community. I do not myself think that it is any good, as it were, pushing this issue under the rug. I think it should be squarely faced and debated. It seems to me that noble Lords agree with that, at any rate.
What are these political issues? Perhaps if we analyse them and face them we shall find that they are not quite so frightening as some people think. Well, if we did join we should have to accept the Treaty as it is. Why? Because there would be just no question of amending, so to speak, the structural part. You could not even get the Six to agree among themselves and it would take years to negotiate, probably with no result. So we shall have to take or leave the structural part as it is. But, if so, one thing is obvious: within a few years' time we should not be able to change the common external tariff, except as a result of a weighted majority vote in the Council of Ministers, acting, presumably, on the advice of the Brussels Commission.
This necessary obligation would certainly restrict our entire freedom of action, more especially since measures designed to protect our industries or our balance of payments by means of quotas or otherwise would also, in principle, be subjected to a common decision. That is true. Besides this, we should have to accept the jurisdiction of a European court which might possibly decide against us in cases regarding the application of the Treaty (with particular reference, I think, to the safeguards provision of Article 226), and which could in certain limited spheres overrule the judgment of a British High Court. It is true, on the other hand, as has been said, that we should have an equal influence on the economic policies of France, Germany, Italy, and so on, who would be subjected to exactly the same disciplines as we should. But the fact remains that we should have accepted 646 a binding and, so to speak, an organic commitment wider than, and different in kind from, our commitments under our existing Treaties, far-reaching as some of those undoubtedly are.
There would be other potential commitments arising out of the Treaty of Rome, much of which, of course, really consists of a statement of objectives. How far these particular objectives would be achieved would depend on events. It might be that once in, we should be the foremost champions of further integration. But whether the whole thing will end up in a Confederation or a Federation or merely in some form of Political Association is anybody's guess; nobody knows. It is no good saying, "We must know in advance exactly where we are going." That will depend on what Governments, including our awn future Governments, decide. But no great national decision can ever be taken except with some element of risk. And, in any case—and this is the important point—it is known that under the Treaty of Rome no supra-national Parliament can be established except by common consent—that is, by unanimity. So it follows, and I think it logically follows, that no actual Federation can be established except by common consent. If this ever happens, therefore, It will be because the Parliament at Westminster thinks it is a good thing, and not otherwise.
In a word, all that is certain is that if we do join the E.E.C. we shall be taking at least the first step to linking ourselves with a wider European association of some kind, and that within a fairly short period some important decisions (it is no good blinking this fact) will have to be taken elsewhere than in this Palace, even though it would be quite unlikely that they would be taken except after long debate here and, I think, probably with this Parliament's general agreement.
I should now like to revert to the specific aspect of the Commonwealth, which is the immediate subject of this debate. It is indeed becoming clearer and clearer that if we do not, or cannot, take the first moves towards joining it will be by reason of inhibitions which the word "Commonwealth" inspires. It seems to me (I am talking of popular feeling generally) that such inhibitions are the result of a basic misconception.
647 In the first place, seeing that all members of the British Empire, even if they are Republics owing no allegiance to The Queen, are usually all painted red on the map, and seeing that at intervals the leaders of this very disparate group of nations assemble in London in the glare of great publicity, it is commonly believed that the Commonwealth as a whole is something, broadly speaking, similar, so far as world power politics go, to the Soviet Union or the United States of America. Of course, as we all know, it is nothing of the kind. There is no central machinery for elaborating any common policy. All that can in practice be commonly agreed upon, therefore, is expressions of principles. This, of course, is a good thing—it is not a bad thing; it is a good thing in itself. But in practice, as we all know, the policies of individual members of the Commonwealth are entirely divergent.
It is true that there is an important economic bond. In the first place, there is a preferential system of trade, a vast traditional interchange of goods and services, which will certainly continue if only because the United Kingdom is, and will continue to be, the largest market for foodstuffs and raw materials. There is no reason to think we shall not go on being the largest market; of course we shall. For various reasons, however, quite unconnected with Europe, the preferences, which now apply to only half our exports to the Commonwealth and average only 5 per cent. to 6 per cent. ad valorem, are gradually being whittled away, as I think the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary admitted. Some, of course, notably in New Zealand, are still very important; but New Zealand is, anyhow, rather a special case. There is also the system of the sterling area whereby funds resulting from trade exchanges are deposited at the Bank of England. This, of course, is important. But how much more important if the sterling area were linked with and supported by Western Europe! Whether this is possible or not, one thing is certain: the standing of the pound, which is sometimes called in question, is much more likely to improve if we enter the Community than it is if we stay outside.
What is also certain is that the Commonwealth, good though it may be as, so to speak, a club for intimate discus- 648 sion between free peoples who in some ways share a common tradition and way of life, is in no way a Power in any positive sense of the word; still less a Power directed in any way from the ex-capital of the Empire. We do not have to be anything but sympathetic towards its continuance to express the view that it sometimes looks as if the younger members of the Commonwealth were more "independent", shall we say, than the Mother Country. Certainly they have no hesitation in pursuing policies which seem to them to be in accordance with their immediate interests. I am told—I do not know whether it is right—that a journal, said to be under the control of a newly-joined member of the Commonwealth, recently proposed that the United Kingdom should be expelled from the Commonwealth! Nor would many, I think, be prevented from pursuing their own ends by general considerations of Commonwealth solidarity. If this is so, then it may not perhaps be entirely out of order to express the hope that eventually the United Kingdom also may be accorded some form of Dominion status.
My Lords, I repeat that it is not as if anybody were suggesting (certainly not I) that the Commonwealth should not be as strong as possible; still less is it as if anybody were suggesting that the United Kingdom should consciously do anything which reduces trade with the Commonwealth countries as a whole and increases our trade with the rest of the world at the Commonwealth's expense. What is desirable is that everybody should have more trade. On general grounds it stands out that the greater the market in Europe, the greater its production and general prosperity, the more the price of raw materials will tend to rise and the more trade there will be between Europe as a whole, including, I should hope, ourselves, and the Commonwealth countries. If this came about, then far from being weakened, Commonwealth links with Europe would actually become stronger, since Europe, including the United Kingdom, would be on its way to being one of the greatest factors in the Western world.
My Lords, I suggest we have come to the moment of truth. We cannot go on any longer basing our policies on 649 illusions of any sort, however comforting these may be. Either we become a modern nation in a twentieth century world or we gradually go under. In part we are already a modern nation, of course, but in part I think we have not yet shed the traditions or habits of mind suitable to the time when we were the undisputed and the powerful leader of an Empire upon which "the sun never sets", and which even had some pretentions to being a World State.
How can we achieve a new status consonant with, but not overshadowed by, our tremendous past? Only, I suggest, by somehow combining with other ancient States, our neighbours, most of whom have gone through very much the same historical process as we have, and all of whom would like, as we should like, to preserve friendly and intimate relations with their former colonies which have grown, as we all know, into totally independent nations.
All this surely means that if we join the E.E.C. the Commonwealth connecsure it will—but will actually be tion will not only be maintained—I am strengthened. There is no reason why, because our preferences have been reduced or even abolished, and because, as a result, there is more direct trade between Commonwealth countries and European countries other than the United Kingdom, the regular meetings of Commonwealth Prime Ministers should cease to take place. On the contrary, it could be, as a result of such meetings, that the Commonwealth as a whole could be expected to influence the foreign policy of the new Europe in a way that it could never do if the United Kingdom were not a member of the Community. And, for this very reason, if we stay out, the influence of the Commonwealth will diminish in the world.
How far the Community could arrive at a common foreign policy, of course, cannot now be determined. There is nothing about that in the Treaty of Rome. But if the general tendency is towards a closer association, it must be assumed that one day we shall at least have a co-ordinated foreign policy. Even this, my Lords, is not alarming, because only by accepting it—and, indeed, by accepting all what are called the political implications of the E.E.C. 650 —can this country really accomplish its true destiny as a go-between among Europe, the United States and the great uncommitted nations of Africa and Asia.
So your Lordships will see that what I should like the three missionaries who are now happily setting out for Commonwealth countries to say is something quite simple, rather like this:It seems to us"—that is Her Majesty's Government—that the moment for a great decision has arrived. We can, of course, carry on as we are now, but this would result in a split in Europe and no doubt, therefore, in the eventual triumph of Communism. It would also probably result in a slow decline of Commonwealth trade and, indeed, in a weakening of the Commonwealth link. We therefore ask you to agree in principle to our joining the E.E.C., on condition that we negotiate economic terms which will result in the maintenance of Commonwealth exports to the whole of Europe, including the United Kingdom. In such negotiations we should, of course, consult you individually whenever some specific interest appeared to be affected. We cannot guarantee their success; but we can assure you that, after long thought, we have come to the conclusion that this is the only way whereby the Commonwealth can continue its essential rôle as a stabilising element in the cold war now involving all the most powerful nations.And I should hope that, as soon as our representatives have returned—and, of course, when E.F.T.A. has also been formally consulted—we should feel equal to starting, with the least possible delay, that process of economic negotiation with the E.E.C. without which there really is no hope of progress towards a happier and securer future.
Though I have not consulted them, I am fairly sure that in expressing these views I am generally reflecting those of the people who signed the Statement on Europe which was published on May 25 last. These leaders in almost all walks of our national life, who include members of all the main political Parties, were not by this action, I need hardly say, attempting to criticise or embarrass the Government—though, naturally, such of them as are members of the Opposition reserve their right to criticise and oppose. It is agreed that the Government, who alone possess all the facts, must be the judge of tactics. But I am sure that there is a great and growing body of opinion in this country which feels that we ought, in principle, to 651 negotiate and consequently, as a preliminary, to accept the political consequences of joining the E.E.C. which alone can make any negotiations possible. It is my hope that the admirable decision of the Government to send, so to speak, doves out from the Ark will result in this opinion being gradually accepted by the whole country.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, the first reason why I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Casey, for initiating this debate is that it gives us the chance to-day to counter the increasing tendency there has been in some quarters to write off the Commonwealth as a world force, politically and economically. The noble Lord, Lord Casey, talked of the possible danger of the Commonwealth's losing its influence. I think that politically, morally and—and I am not afraid to use the word—spiritually the Commonwealth is still the greatest single force for freedom and for the things we think are right against the things we think are wrong in the whole world to-day. Economically, although it has been weakened by post-war policies with which some of us are not in entire agreement, still it is a great trading organisation with which Britain does approximately 50 per cent. of her trade. However, in spite of those two truths, we hear to-day voices belittling the Commonwealth; saying the Commonwealth is of small importance, saying the Commonwealth is outmoded, saying the Commonwealth is outdated and saying that Britain's future lies not in the Commonwealth but in Europe.
I think it was the Foreign Secretary who, in his speech, said that there are those who say "Yea", there are those who say "Nay" and there are those who have not made up their minds. That may well be so; but the second reason why I welcome this debate is because it gives us an opportunity of countering what Lord Gladwyn so rightly mentioned—this ceaseless pressure, this persistent, insistent and often twisted propaganda for the United Kingdom to join the Six and to sign the Rome Treaty at once and now. Some say—and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, said this, I think—that these pressures do not exist in responsible quarters; but if one reads 652 newspapers and what are supposed to be authoritative periodicals, one will see that some say that we should go in, as it were head-first, now, sign the Rome Treaty, and negotiate after.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? The people with whom I am associated have never suggested that.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
No. I was thinking of a particular article in the Spectator. I would not for a moment suggest that of the noble Lord. But there are those who say that we should go in heard-first now, sign, and negotiate after, which in fact means signing a political and economic blank cheque and hoping one will be able to fill in the amount afterwards to an extent that can be honoured. Then there are others who say that we should express a willingness now, in principle, to sign, subject to later, satisfactory negotiations on the Commonwealth and on agriculture. I hope I am not saying something to which the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, will object, but it seems to me that he belongs to that school.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, I think that school is nearly as dangerous as the first, and I will tell your Lordships why. If you say you will sign in principle now, subject to satisfactory negotiations, you really put yourself in an impossible position, because you have agreed in principle and you will find, in negotiation, that you are really driven all the time from position to position if you are not to abandon the principle to which you have allied yourself. But it may well be that both those schools of thought are, as it were, shadow boxing, because no single signatory of the Rome Treaty has, as yet, indicated any willingness at all to modify the Rome Treaty in those essential, major directions in which we should have to see it modified before we could join.
Fortunately, Her Majesty's Government have made clear their decision. Their only decision, as I understand it, is that no decision has yet been come to as to whether any grounds at all exist for Britain to enter into negotiations. It is a decision that there is no decision. I trust that when those Ministers go (as 653 it were) peddling the cause of Europe around the Commonwealth, they will not ask the Commonwealth countries to make sacrifices of their own progress and welfare for the sake of Britain, which faces grave economic difficulties.
Of course, this is a grave issue on which, as the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, rightly said, the electorate need more facts and less propaganda. But I would assure the Government that there are views held just as tenaciously, if less vocally, by what I would call the "Europe at any cost" camp. I would assure the Government that, in and out of Parliament, there is a great body of its own supporters—and, I believe, a great body of citizens who do not belong to the Party to which we owe our political allegiance—who will not accept entry into Europe at any cost, not only at the cost of the existing Commonwealth position, but at any cost that prejudices and limits the possibilities of future Commonwealth trade expansion between the Dominions and ourselves on a preferential basis, such as at present exists.
Perhaps we are old-fashioned, but to this body of opinion the principle of free entry into the United Kingdom of Commonwealth produce and products is something beyond economic measure. It is, to us, symbolic of Britain's service to Commonwealth interests as the centre of the Commonwealth. The noble Lord, Lord Casey, quoted a Bengali saying:Every man oils his own spinning wheel first".In this case it is not so. This great body of opinion feels that, if necessary, we will face economic difficulties in order to preserve that principle of free entry of Commonwealth produce into this country. The very basic principle of the Rome Treaty—the common external tariff—must cut right across this principle, as requiring a tariff on the entry of Commonwealth produce into this country. The noble Lord said (although, if I may say so, he made rather light of it) that there might be small duties, but that they would not be of any great account. I think that is a fair summary of what he said.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, let me assure that, although he holds his view perfectly sincerely, we hold our view just as sincerely. We should fight to the last ditch, and we assure the Government that devices like quotas, or any other devices which might soothe the present position, but which would limit future expansion, would be quite unacceptable.
I personally refuse to accept the predictions of the gloomy forecasters who say that, without entry into the Common Market, Britain's economy is bound to wither. The noble Lord, Lord Casey, said that we risk a decline if we cut ourselves off from Europe. The Foreign Secretary asked, I think: Can we afford to be excluded from Europe? No one is talking about cutting us out of Europe. Already we have the Free Trade Area, with a large volume of trade, for which I will shortly give your Lordships comparative figures at the present time. Indeed, on examination of the present Commonwealth trade and future expansionist comparisons with Europe, a case can well be made out for far greater possibilities by concentration on the Commonwealth, rather than on Europe. If I may say so, with great respect, I was rather disappointed at the Foreign Secretary's special pleading as to the great possibilities of expansion of trade in Europe—a 250 million population; a booming, expanding market—when he said not a word about the great future possibilities of the expansion of Commonwealth trade.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, if I may say so, my noble friend is not quite accurate, because I think I said (I will check tomorrow), that we should try to maximise our Commonwealth trade. But I thought that even if we did that, we should also need entry into the European Market if we were to fulfil our duties to the Commonwealth in the provision of capital.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, I may have been wrong, but the impression I got was that the Foreign Secretary was building up his case on the doubt whether we should say yea 655 or nay, but with a strong inclination to yea, rather using the great potential possibilities of Europe. I would only remind your Lordships that the European expansion rate since the war has been based very largely on what I would term a boom of reconstruction resulting from the ravages of war; and capital goods and increased consumer goods demands have certainly made for a booming economy in Europe. But I would question whether, when that demand has been satisfied, the rate of expansion in Europe will continue in years to come as it has in the past.
In the past years, Britain's pattern of trade has been, broadly, just under 50 per cent. to the Commonwealth, 25 per cent. to Europe, and 25 per cent. in miscellaneous directions. If you look at that slightly more closely, you will see that Britain sold to the Commonwealth, exclusive of South Africa, £1,337 million worth of goods in 1960. In that same year, we sold to the Common Market countries £514 million worth of goods. We sold to the Free Trade Area £426 million worth of goods. So that the total sales to the Common Market and to the Free Trade Area amounted to £941 million, as against Commonwealth sales of £1,337 million. Britain's best customer in Europe is Germany; but Germany bought £50 million less than Canada did, and about £100 million less than Australia did. We sold more to New Zealand than we sold to France, to Italy, and to Holland.
As for the great expansion possibilities of the 250 million population in Europe, let us look at the possible expansion in the next few years of Canada. In 1945, Canada had a population of 12 million. It was up 50 per cent., to 18 million, last year, and may well be 35 million by 1980. I submit those figures to your Lordships only to show that there are vaster possibilities in the Commonwealth than the propagandists would make out exist in Europe.
In post-war years we have chosen the path of international multilateralism, based on non-discrimination, as the principle for our economic policy. This has resulted to-day in a knife-edge economy, with constant crises, recurring fits and starts, and a constant balance-of-payments problem. Many may still regret that after the war we did not follow the 656 course of trying to rebuild the Commonwealth bloc, based on reciprocal trading advantages. Of course, the pace of the advance would have been slower during the last fifteen years than it has been, but maybe it would have been on a sounder basis. However, that is jobbing backwards and is only of academic interest at the present time.
This policy which we followed in past years has caused the Commonwealth, quite naturally, to look elsewhere, and may be one of the reasons for the decline in the foreign trade of the Commonwealth which the noble Earl mentioned in his speech. But world imbalance gives us a chance still, maybe a last chance, of pulling the Commonwealth together. I believe that there is still time to denounce G.A.T.T. in its present complete form and try to rebuild the preferential system, even though this shocks the United States, which is the greatest of all discriminatory trading nations.
I would say a final word on the political aspect. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, who said that we must face this issue squarely. It is no good trying to slide over it. It was a European statesman, one of the leaders of the Common Market, whose name I cannot recollect for the moment, who said, "We are not in business; we are in politics." The basis of the Treaty of Rome is political as well as economic, and the aims of the Rome Powers are ultimately and frankly political. These political aims must prejudice further Commonwealth expansion, as well as limit our own freedom as regards our own affairs, in the way that the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, said may well occur. In the fields of finance, foreign policy and social services, we should be limited to some extent in Governmental and Parliamentary freedom of action in future, and in the economic field it would be impossible to help New Zealand or any other Dominion with an advantageous offer for the primary produce of such a Dominion, for we should be handing over our tariff policy to a committee of the Rome Powers.
A few days ago, in answer to a question, the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, quoted the unanimity rule which exists in the Treaty of Rome. If I may say so, that is a very poor defence, because if we subscribe to the Treaty of Rome 657 we obligate ourselves in principle to harmonise and co-ordinate the activities I have just mentioned. If we submit to something in principle and then, every time there is any positive suggestion for implementing that principle, we object to it, we become very much like the Russians with their veto at U.N.O. I hope that we are not going to hear the unanimity rule quoted to us again to-day.
I have always said—and your Lordships have been good enough to listen to me on various occasions—that there must be some conflict between Commonwealth and European first priorities. The Government have always denied that there was any conflict. Now we see that conflict. I have always said that one day the choice would have to be made. Now we are having to face that choice. I have always said that, as a policy objective, we cannot have two exactly balanced first priorities. We can compromise, but this gives the best of neither world, and courage for a positive decision is called for. The Prime Minister has said that this issue of the Common Market is one that may split the Parties. I conclude by saying that millions of people in all Parties, on grounds of sentiment, brotherhood and economic well-being, have the firm conviction that, whatever we do in Europe, the Commonwealth interests, both present and future, must—I repeat, must—always come first.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I think that, whatever our differences may be, we should all agree with the first sentence of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Casey, in which he said that the Commonwealth to-day is utterly different from the pre-war Commonwealth of twenty years ago. The main aspect of this difference is that it is a far looser association of nations than it was in the past. Surely this is an inevitable consequence of the emergence since the war of the new countries in Asia and Africa with interests and policies and historical backgrounds very different from those of the old Commonwealth countries, all of which shared a European origin.
The task of Her Majesty's Government—and here, again, I think we should all agree—is to avoid so far as possible actions and policies that divide the Com- 658 monwealth, particularly those that emphasise the division between the old and the new Commonwealth countries, and to adopt policies that strengthen the links of co-operation between them and draw the two sides of the Commonwealth more closely together. Judged by this criterion, there is much that the Government should not do to avoid causing greater disunity, as well as much they should do to promote greater unity. I think that that is the main theme of the debate this afternoon.
The most important of the topics which arise from discussion under that broad heading is certainly that of the Common Market. It was extremely interesting to note that the noble Lord, Lord Casey, sitting as an Independent, the noble Earl, the Foreign Secretary, sitting on the Government Front Bench and my noble friend and Leader, sitting on the Opposition Front Bench, all agreed that the only thing to do at the moment is to keep a suspended judgment. A suspended judgment is very difficult to keep, even more difficult to keep than a pound note, because we always tend to listen to our emotions and are disinclined to follow the voice of reason. But how can we decide now whether the United Kingdom should enter the Common Market or not until we know the price that has to be paid, until we know the conditions that have to be fulfilled? Surely the main purpose of the debate this afternoon is to help us all—and I think most of us are in this uncomfortable position of suspended judgment—to weight the pros and cons and formulate a judgment about what is, as the noble Lord, Lord Casey, said, the important issue that has faced this country and the Commonwealth in peace time.
Let me say something about the bearing of the Common Market on the Commonwealth, because that is really what we are thinking about this afternoon. Even if entry into the Common Market should be desirable for this country on economic grounds—and I think that a strong case has been made out—it could do incalculable damage to the Commonwealth if this step were taken without at least the acquiescence of all our Commonwealth partners; and I think that, by implication at least, the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary agreed with this view. As a former Secretary of State for the 659 Commonwealth, I would say that the word "Commonwealth" as well as "butter" is written on the noble Earl's heart It was satisfactory to hear from the noble Earl that our friends in the Commonwealth will certainly not be sacrificed to the Common Market. What I think the Government should do, in dealing with the Common Market as a Commonwealth problem, is first of all to exert every possible effort to obtain the largest measure of agreement within the Commonwealth before starting negotiations with the Six. The Government have sent three missionaries, as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, called them, to the far ends of the earth to visit different Commonwealth countries, and we welcome that as the first step. But unless agreement is reached between us and the countries we are consulting at this stage—and complete agreement is almost unthinkable—then surely the Government should at a later date take the initiative in convening a Conference of Prime Ministers. I am afraid we have repeated this advice on a number of occasions, but we regard it as of great importance, and often repetition and sheer perseverence obtain the desired result. We feel that a meeting of this kind at the highest possible level to obtain a consensus of Commonwealth opinion about the terms and conditions, both political and economic, on which the United Kingdom would agree to join the European Economic Community is an essential preliminary to negotiations.
In the last resort, of course—and this is a matter for any Government of whatever Party complexion it may be—it is for Her Majesty's Government to decide, in the light of British and Commonwealth interests and our responsibilities to the world outside, whether to negotiate for entry into the Common Market. But it would be impossible, I think, to justify a decision to do so that was not taken after the fullest consultation with our Commonwealth friends, or was one that placed an intolerable strain on any of our Commonwealth relationships.
The noble Lord, Lord Casey, would be the first to admit that we all look at the Commonwealth from the viewpoint of our own position in it. Perhaps, therefore, your Lordships will excuse me if I say a few words about the likely 660 attitude of the Commonwealth countries in Africa to the Common Market. I am encouraged to do so because Africa is rather unrepresented in your Lordships' House. We are fortunate to have two noble Lords from Australia, the noble Lord, Lord Casey, and the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne; we have the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, from New Zealand, and the noble Lord, Lord Sinha, from India; but Africa has no one sitting in this House to put the African point of view. Therefore, inadequate as my offer may be, I should like to say something about what I think the attitude of the African countries is likely to be to the Common Market.
I am thinking here mainly of the economic aspect. I would say that if these African countries were to stay outside the Common Market the tariff wall which would go up around the Six would give an enormous advantage to their competitors in what used to be French Equatorial and French West Africa, because they sell the same commodities and they sell them on the Continent of Europe. The French African countries always had access to the Common Market, because when they were dependencies of France they became associate members of the European Economic Community. Of course, the former British West African territories, which are now the independent countries of Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, would greatly benefit if they could be associated in the same way with Western Europe; and, conversely, they would lose a valuable market for their crops if they were cut off from it. So if we can obtain for these countries, by negotiation with the Six, the advantages of associate membership, they would have the economic benefits and would also be less likely to take exception to our associating more closely with some of the former colonial powers—namely, France and Belgium. I think this is an important point to bear in mind now, because the associate membership of the French African countries expires next year and they will, therefore be re-negotiating their relationship with the Economic Community as sovereign states. This would, therefore, seem to be a particularly good moment to consider the similar position of the Commonwealth African countries that were formerly British.
661 One has also to consider the tariff wall which, by surrounding these countries and Western Europe, would cut them off from their markets in North America. The ideal solution would be to get an agreement with the United States for the free entry of tropical products, in return for a similar agreement on the part of the West European countries.
But the importance of the European market to West Africa is really one aspeot of the more general significance of the commercial policy of the old Commonwealth countries. It is by providing markets at reasonable prices for their foodstuffs and raw materials that the developed Commonwealth countries can do most to help the under-developed Commonwealth countries and to strengthen the links between the two sides of the Commonwealth. What is needed is not only to remove trade barriers, but to ensure a stable price level for tropical products. Here what we want is long-term commodity agreements between the consumers and producers, such as we have now in the case of certain commodities. It should not be forgotten that a small drop in world prices can wipe out the aid an under-developed country has received over a number of years. So we must try to remove the millions of people who live in those countries from fluctuations in the world price of commodities which reduce them to starvation level and undo what good is being done by economic aid. Here again we need the co-operation of the United States, and I hope her Majesty's Government will do what they can to bring them in.
After trade, the second factor in helping to close this gap between the old and the new Commonwealth countries is increased economic aid in both money and men. The form in which aid is given is important, as well as the substance of it. For example, a multilateral scheme like the Colombo Plan is a more valuable demonstration of Commonwealth solidarity than bilateral aid schemes between one Commonwealth Government and another. The Colombo Plan is the ideal pattern for schemes of economic aid, and one hopes that its example will be followed when schemes are worked out by O.E.C.D. for other underdeveloped areas in the Commonwealth. It is essential for the donor countries to 662 get more closely together if aid is to be fairly distributed and to be determined by need and capacity for development instead of by political considerations, which are, of course, so important at the moment. The Commonwealth had the vision which started the Colombo Plan. The same vision is needed for the planning of aid to Africa and to the West Indies, to take two obvious examples from the Commonwealth.
But the amount of aid available from the old Commonwealth countries is even more vital than the method of giving it. We must contribute more in both money and men. If capital aid depends on our productive capacity and the surplus we have for investment overseas (I think everyone will agree with this) we must turn away from the policies that have led to our present industrial stagnation and trade crises to new policies that will expand our production and our share in world trade. These policies are for Her Majesty's Government, who have all the information and expert advice, and not for the Opposition, to find.
One solution which has been suggested by the Foreign Secretary is to go into the Common Market. That may be the right solution, but there must be a solution if we are to be able to provide the capital for helping the under-developed members of the Commonwealth. Of course, there are others, which I will not mention now. It is a dangerous though comfortable illusion to suppose that we can establish a better relationship between the new and under-developed countries and the older countries if we offer them men instead of money. But the first requirement is more capital investment from overseas; and they will measure us by our willingness and capacity to meet this primary requirement. But, in any event, whatever the solution may be, the necessary growth of our own economic strength will take time, and will cover a period of years. There is no doubt that we are in a better position at the moment to supply men than money. We have a splendid opportunity now to mobilise the resources of the old Commonwealth countries in professional skill to help the new countries. They need teachers, doctors, engineers, and other experts, until such time as they can train their own people to do these professional jobs.
663 I am sure the old Commonwealth countries could do much more than they are now doing in this direction. There is something to be said for a Commonwealth Overseas Civil Service in addition to the present Oversea Service of Her Majesty's Government. On the other hand, there are difficulties in this idea, which I know the noble Earl will recognise. An even better way of securing the services of professional men would be to second them for a limited period of time for services overseas in underdeveloped Commonwealth countries. This is already being done in the case of teachers from this country, and I hope that other professions, such as the medical profession, will encourage their members to do the same thing. It is, of course, essential that a man should not be handicapped in his career at home by service overseas. His career is at home, and his base is at home; but he should be encouraged to spend a period of time in the course of his career in the employment of a Commonwealth Government in an under-developed country. In fact, such service offers an unrivalled opportunity for experience and character training, as I am sure the professions will recognise, especially for the young man who has just qualified and who has not yet acquired home ties. It is a marvellous opportunity for adventure and service to the outside world and to the Commonwealth.
The most urgent of the needs of the under-developed countries is for technical help and teachers. The desire for learning and knowledge in Africa is even stronger than the desire for health, although the standard of health is not particularly high. This need can be met only by the combined effort of the old Commonwealth countries of British origin pooling their resources in skilled, trained, professional manpower.
Finally, I should like to remind the Government and the House—although it may not be in the least necessary for me to do so—that the Commonwealth is now a predominantly Asian and African Commonwealth, and that it is essential not to lose the good will of the Asian and African peoples within the Commonwealth. There are three ways at the present time in which I think we are in danger of losing this good will and, therefore, of increasing disunity and 664 the gap between the old and the new Commonwealth. The first is the problem of immigration. There are reports in the Press that the Government are considering restricting immigration into this country. I hope that those reports are not based on any serious evidence. But I express the view very strongly indeed that the principle of free entry, which we alone of the Commonwealth countries have maintained, is of the utmost importance and should be retained, even if it may be in some ways inconvenient to ourselves. I am quite certain that if any restrictions were placed upon entry into this country from the Commonwealth—and, of course, in theory this would apply equally to white and non-white countries—it would be regarded in Asia and Africa as a colour bar, because, in fact, it would keep out, for the most part, immigrants from the West Indies. I think this is a matter of immense importance from the point of view of good will in the non-European countries.
§ LORD KILLEARN
My Lords, will the noble Earl forgive my interrupting to ask a question? It is the question of reciprocity. How would that strike the noble Earl?
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
There is no reciprocity; I do not think we can expect reciprocity. I think we have to set an example. We have set it, and I hope we shall go on setting it.
The second matter about which we run the risk of losing good will is colonialism. It is difficult to understand what Africans feel about colonialism unless you have been to Africa. But it is really a burning feeling, and we must do everything in our power to avoid being associated in the minds of Africans with out-of-date colonialism. I must be perfectly frank about this. I am thinking principally of Portugal. I think that Portugal and Spain are the only Colonial Powers which have not entirely altered their policies in the last ten years. I am quite certain that if we abstain from voting, as we did at the Security Council of the United Nations on a Motion to study the position in Angola, and if we send troops for exercises in Portugal—whatever the reasons may be for doing these things—it will certainly create a great deal of hostility to us in the minds of Africans, 665 because they will associate us with out-of-date colonialism.
The third thing is this. We must try to maintain African good will in Central and East Africa. When these countries become independent they will be choosing between staying in and going out of the Commonwealth. Several countries—Eire and Burma, for example—have chosen to leave the Commonwealth and to become foreign countries. At the moment the African leaders in Central and East Africa want to stay with the Commonwealth. But if we lose their good will—and when these countries become independent, they will become independent with African majorities—we shall run the risk of losing these important countries as members of the Commonwealth. From the Commonwealth point of view, we must be perfectly honest that African opinion in Africa is more important than European opinion in Africa. I am thinking particularly of Central and East Africa, where the situation is particularly difficult. I hope that the Government will do everything in their power to retain the good will of the African leaders, because in the long run they are the people who will decide whether these countries stick to the Commonwealth.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ LORD LAWSON
My Lords, I have been in Parliament now, in one House or another, for something over 40 years, and I do not recollect any time when the House has been so surcharged with emotion as it is in to-day's debate. The noble Lord, Lord Casey, someone from thousands of miles away over the world, comes here and speaks as one of us, intimately and with a deep knowledge of our personalities and natures. I daresay that he will recognise the part of the country that I come from, because masses of miners have gone from the northern coalfields and have settled out there with their families, and many of them, on the occasion of the two great wars, came back in order to play their part.
Lord Casey said that the problem we were dealing with was one that was faced not only rationally but somewhat emotionally. I would go further than that. Emotion, I have always thought, is something that strikes one but does not go so deep as the things of the spirit. 666 I would say that this is a problem which strikes deep down not only in the people in every part of the Commonwealth but also in the people of this country. Incidentally, I was glad that my noble friend Lord Alexander of Hillsborough mentioned the newspaper which this morning told us what we have to do. Well, you certainly cannot tell a Durham miner what he has to do, and I should advise anybody who is making a contribution to a London newspaper that if he wants to reach any particular end not to use language like that.
As I was saying, this is a subject that touches the spirit of our people deeply, and the noble Lord, Lord Casey, spoke very warmly of the way in which this question touched the people of this country. I think it is a thing that grips the spirit very deeply. Indeed, I have often thought, and dreamed, that one day the relationship between the peoples in the different parts of the Commonwealth would be such that it might strike the imagination of the world outside and ultimately make a contribution to something like a permanent peace. I say that because we are apt in this matter to assume that the Commonwealth and we in this country are one to such an extent that we can do almost what we like in matters of this kind without risking any danger. I would warn your Lordships, if I may, that you can do a thing like this only once; and the real danger is that such harm as is done is vital, so that the old spirit that has linked us together in this world, this Commonwealth of ours, may never be resumed. That would be a very deep tragedy for this country in which we live. It would be a very deep tragedy for the world, because I think we hope that some day, as I said before, our example of living to-day in friendship may strike so deep that it may make a considerable contribution towards the end of war.
The noble Earl, the Foreign Secretary. when he spoke gave us a promise of what would be done so far as he could, but the strange thing about it in the country generally is that an attitude of mind has been created in which very responsible people say it is all settled. I would ask all the noble Lords here whether they believe that the next stages of discussion with the Commonwealth representatives, and the negotiations to 667 be gone over with the other countries, if it is decided to link up with the Common Market, should take place whatever other views may be held. I wish the Foreign Secretary were here, because I should have liked a definite answer from him. At the moment, in the country the attitude has been created, "What is the good of worrying about it? It is all settled." Well, I should warn the Ministers and the Government about facing this problem in that spirit, because I think the average Briton and the representatives of your Lordships' House and another place are sufficiently strong-minded to make some noise or kick up a row if there is any attempt to force this thing through without the proper consultations at every stage, and I should say before there is an appeal made to the people.
I rose to speak for just a few minutes as I feel very strongly upon this matter. It was started in great style by one who has, of course, rendered very great service to the Commonwealth and I am sure of the spirit in which he spoke, and I followed him very closely, and watched him, to see how far he himself was affected. I followed him very closely to see if he treated this as a debate which could settle anything. As this matter goes on stage by stage, I hope that Ministers are going to take note of the fact of this deep suspicion that is in the country that it is all "just as good as settled". I personally feel very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Casey, for raising this matter here to-day in the finest spirit representative of this great Commonwealth, which I hope remains intact. I hope that the British people and British Governments will rely upon the Commonwealth instead of those who have caused more trouble in the world than ever they will be able to atone for.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, first of all I should like to take advantage of the privilege of echoing our thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Casey, for raising this debate. I will go further, and say how his fine speech to-day has emphasised what we have already learned to recognise as the contribution that his presence can make, and does make, to our deliberations in this House. Next I would say it is often that I find myself in agreement with the views of my noble 668 friend who has just sat down, and to-day; his moving tribute to the extent to which the Commonwealth is a real force in the world is one which we like to hear. After that I would ask: Well, where are we? At this stage of the debate we can do no more than put forward a few thoughts which occur to us from experience and which may be useful in the consideration of this matter.
So far as the speech of the noble Earl, the Foreign Secretary, is concerned, we are no longer in any doubt as to the hopes of the Government. His own views were, as we have come to expect, properly qualified with discreet reservations as to conditions. We now find, too, that the Opposition, as represented by the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition, find themselves rather in opposition to the proposals that the Government hope will come to fruition. While that is a difficult position for the ordinary rank and file Back Bencher Member, for myself I have listened to a great deal, and read a great deal, of the multitude of committees which the Federation of British Industries have over the past two years set up. I am inclined to think that, on balance, the decisions of the heavy industries are categorically in favour of jumping into the Common Market. The light industries regard the situation with reservations.
That brings me immediately to refer to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. We certainly admired the fluency of his contribution, and indeed with his long experience he is entitled to give a contribution to which we must all pay attention. But I must admit that I was a little alarmed at the confidence with which he put forward views which were markedly in contrast to the views held by that body of opinion which my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye represents. I would express, with regard to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, a little fear about the assurance with which he told us that not being in the Treaty of Rome would surely weaken the Commonwealth. He is entitled to that view. Many of us take a very definite opposed view on that point.
Perhaps I may, with his permission, refer to other points he made. He dealt greatly with the exports to Europe. My 669 noble friend dealt with exports to the Commonwealth. I do not think that imports resulting from this have been referred to in any speech to-day. We all talk about the big exports to Europe that are going to result. My noble friend thinks there is the possibility of great exports to the Commonwealth. There are certainties of substantial imports into this country, and imports represent employment here. Of course at the present moment, thanks to the able management of the Conservative Government, we have high employment, even over-full employment.
From that point I would pass to the speech of the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Opposition. He, very properly and naturally, referred to the political angles. We can divide this into the economic, coupled with the agricultural, and the political implications. If I may just follow up those divisions, the noble Earl, the Foreign Secretary, made clear that the Government have no intention of committing the country to any signature which would imperil the relations of the United Kingdom with the Commonwealth. The rest of us believe that the agricultural complications are great, partly for the United Kingdom basis of subsidies as against tariffs, and again for the repercussions on the Dominions.
The political situation would seem to include the fact that, since the Treaty of Rome provides for the free import of merchandise, capital and labour, we must have a free inflow of workers from all the countries involved in the signature, of whatever size they be. These people will come from countries where the welfare services, rates of wages and standards of life, are very different from our own. Is it not inevitable that that commitment, if observed, will bring about conflict in the United Kingdom? We have enough conflict now; we have enough unofficial strikes, let alone official strikes. But in the event of a world reduction of activity in trade there would be all sorts of complications as to the position of all this possible large volume of people coming here from other countries. I should like just to mention the question of G.A.T.T. as an illustration. The infractions by other countries of their commitments surely should be kept in mind. We should recognise that, in the past, there have been, under 670 pressure of domestic economic circumstances, infractions of political commitment and unilateral devaluations.
I should like to refer to the dispersal of population. We in this country have always believed that there is advantage in developing the attitude of loyalty to the Crown and to the British way of life, with a free movement of people to the White Dominions. Surely the desire of the Dominions to maintain a high British content in the inflow of immigrants is something that might well be further imperilled if we had so close an association with Europe. I repeat at this point that none of us ought to be categorical as to his views; we can bring up only points that occur to us at this stage.
It is natural that the position of Africa should be considered. We are concerned now with thinking of moving into the Common Market. Lord Gladwyn referred to the Commonwealth area as a red colour on the map, and not as an integrated continental force like the United States or the Continent. Certainly many of us have been concerned about a too rapid throwing over of our responsibilities to the white settlers. Without saying more on that, perhaps I might be permitted to say, as an illustration, that when historians give pride of place to those who are credited with being the great forces in the dismemberment of the British Empire, among them will be found Lord North and our present Colonial Secretary. But at least Lord North had this in his favour: that when he gave away the American territories he gave them to the white settlers and not to the native Red Indians.
I have not given notice of these questions to the noble Earl who is going to reply, but I should hope that if he cannot make any comment on them he will at some stage give a reply to them. Emphasis has been given to the suggestion that more profit would come from overseas investments in Europe than in the Dominions. The Foreign Secretary emphasised that we have only £220 million to invest in the Dominions. But surely, as has been stated, we are investing a large amount each year in overseas territories outside the Commonwealth. Would not some encouragement be given to exports and to overseas 671 investment were it allowed to be made from untaxed profits?
There are many suggestions that our exports generally could be largely assisted if we imported Russian oil. It certainly looks appealing to those who are interested in the consumer industries, but, as I understand, of the total importation of oil into this country of 45 million tons, some 15 million tons comes from American companies. I am not impressed with the force of the majority view. Thinking of one's own experiences, two illustrations spring to mind of how wrong a majority view can be. We went back on the gold standard in 1926 and crucified the export industries with a 15 per cent. rise in the value of currency. Again, in 1931, there was the intense application of orthodox deflation, with nearly 3 million people out of work. Again, Lord Gladwyn emphasised the great prosperity in Europe over the big land mass. In the 1920's I worked in, and not with, the United States, and I saw the tremendous upsurge of prosperity and an expanding economy. Where did it land us?—in the biggest explosion, in 1929, that has ever been seen. What guarantee have we, when we find ourselves in Europe, that we shall not be tied by the tail in a worse situation than we could get into on our own? Those are only thoughts based upon one's own personal experiences.
There is the balance of payments problem. What about sterling? Can sterling retain its prestige as a measure of international currency and exchange if we go deeply into Europe? The invisible exports surely will decline. I am confident that shipping profits will come much less from trade with Europe than they would from trade with the Commonwealth on longer runs.
Lastly, in the near run, if, in their wisdom, the Government are satisfied that all the safeguarding provisions have been obtained, what happens if something happens to de Gaulle or Adenauer? What sort of situation is going to occur in Europe? Basing our thoughts on the experience of the terrific upsurge in capacity of Germany, are we sure that Britain would be the leader in that party? It may well be that Germany would be the leader in the party, and it would not be the force of the Commonwealth, as 672 my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye has so properly emphasised, which would be given great thought in this picture.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, I was going to speak on the Common Market, but we have heard so many experts on the subject to-day that I feel that we have heard sufficient and I will confine my speech to other aspects of the Commonwealth. Before I do so, I should like to say, as I have said before in this House, that I have always been of the opinion that if the United Kingdom joins the Common Market, by making us stronger economically it will help the Commonwealth, and I cannot see why the Commonwealth cannot share in the European Market. We have this huge market of 250 million people. New Zealand provides lamb, and Australia beef. There is hardly any lamb or beef in Europe. I agree that there is a question about wheat, but you cannot have it all ways. On the whole, by making Britain far stronger economically so that we can buy the primary products of the Commonwealth and provide capital investment, it should, in the end, help the Commonwealth. But I would make reservations regarding the political implications of the Treaty of Rome.
I rather fear for the continuance of the Commonwealth, but for different reasons than joining the Common Market. A great number of people of my generation and younger people frequently say to me, "What is the Commonwealth? It is a collection of States of all different races. Some owe allegiance to the Crown, some are Republics, some are at variance with us in the United Nations." It really seems to some people—and I cannot wholly agree with them—rather a farce. The only thing these States appear to these people to have in common is a desire to "soak" the British taxpayer. It is rather like having a football team the members of which all want to play by their own rules and completely disobey the referee.
The public, I think, are still bemused by South Africa's departure from the Commonwealth. They are bemused because they see other instances of racial discrimination in the Commonwealth. There is, for instance, the persecution 673 of the Tamils in Ceylon. We also have the immigration policies of Australia and Canada. I do not criticise them at all, because they obviously know their own business, and presumably it is as it should be. But, my Lords, many members of the public are, I think, rather left with a feeling that as regards South Africa there has not really been fair play according to the British code of conduct. If we think of the past, what has kept the Commonwealth together is a common allegiance to the Crown. Of course, we have seen many States throw off that allegiance and become Republics.
Apart from that, we have the principle of no interference in internal affairs. But, my Lords, we have also seen that principle repudiated. What have we in its place? We have perhaps a principle of no racial discrimination. But is this genuine? It is an extremely fine ideal, and if it were genuine it would be an extremely happy position. But in fact it is only a lip-service ideal. For instance, if the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary will excuse me, I will quote what he said, when he was Commonwealth Secretary, speaking in a Commonwealth debate last July. The noble Earl was speaking on the question of South Africa's doctrine of apartheid, and he said—I quote from Hansard of July 6 [Vol. 224, col. 1141]:I believe that the Commonwealth Prime Ministers gave a lead at their meeting which this House will do well to mark. They insisted on two things: first, that the independence of each Commonwealth country must be respected by all. If there was even a suspicion that Commonwealth membership conferred on the majority the right of inquest into the internal affairs of another country in the Commonwealth, that would be fatal to the whole structure, and the Commonwealth would come to an end.Well, my Lords, we have had that interference, and I, for one, am extremely worried about it. We must, of course, do everything in our power to see that the Commonwealth does not come to an end. But if the precedent set by South Africa is followed the noble Earl's words will, I am afraid, probably come true.
Racial discrimination can be eliminated only gradually through the passage of time. To make it an excuse for interference will not only break up the Commonwealth but put back the 674 clock in racial relationships. Our aim should be to have a really united Commonwealth which can speak with one voice on all the great international issues. I know, of course, that this is very difficult to attain, especially with the growing power of the Afro-Asian members. But I do not think it impossible. If we had a united Commonwealth with the ideals of peace, liberty, human rights and the rule of law, we should be of immense benefit to the rest of the world and would hold the balance of power between America and Russia.
We have, of course, the Economic Advisory Council, which was set up at the Montreal Conference, whose duty it is to survey Commonwealth economic affairs two or three times a year. This is, of course, an excellent step in the right direction. But cannot we have something similar from the political point of view? I quite realise that in the early days of the Dominions, when they were emerging into independence, they were probably very chary of Whitehall domination, and perhaps some of them had an inferiority complex regarding their independence. But, my Lords, this is all old history now. Every member of the Commonwealth has complete freedom: it can either join or it can be an independent Republic outside the Commonwealth. Surely we could now devise some machinery by which we could have more pointed discussions on foreign affairs and on political subjects of great moment.
Of course, if there were this form of secretariat it would have to be equally representative, equally divided amongst members of the Commonwealth. We could not have it dominated completely by Whitehall. I honestly think it is essential to try to have something like this; and while fully realising the wonderful work that the Commonwealth Relations Office does, I fear that, if we do not have something more cohesive for the Commonwealth, in these next few years we are going to have to cross some very stormy seas, and I am rather afraid that quite a few of its timbers may break loose. I agree that, intrinsically, if the Commonwealth has not got a common faith and a common purpose, no machinery can ever keep it together. The only thing that machinery can do is to put power into that faith and purpose.
675 Also we have the position of these new emerging African countries becoming members. But it may well be that some of them will not feel able to shape up to, or abide by, the ideals which the other members of the Commonwealth set themselves. If that is so, we must have great patience, because immaturity is inclined to make you rush ahead and do foolish things; but I do feel that the British taxpayers cannot be asked for ever and ever to support régimes that have nothing in common with the ideals of the Commonwealth. We ought to support them, I think, for a considerable time, in the hope that they will change. But the point of the Commonwealth, as I see it, is its ideals. The point is not so much its numbers: it is its quality. If we once allow that quality to be debased, I am afraid that the objects of the Commonwealth will be null and void.
My Lords, I have not said anything on the Common Market, but I should like to quote from quite a well-known Canadian newspaper, the Globe and Mail, to try to show people who are very anti-Common Market, for fear that it may harm the Commonwealth, that a group of businessmen in Canada, anyway, do not think so. I quote from the issue of May 31. According to Mr. R. Smith, of the Canadian-America Committee, which is a private group of business experts from both countries:The trend of trade … has taken away much of the force of arguments that the trade blocs would drive Canada into the arms of the United States. Instead of this happening … Canada's trade with Europe was increasing, while trade with the United States was declining.He goes on to say that Canada should look with equanimity on the possible entry of Britain into closer economic union with Western Europe. My Lords, there is at any rate a group of businessmen in Canada who do not see any great danger in our joining the Common Market.
I rather feel that the danger to the Commonwealth has been over-played. If we join the European Economic Community and the experts find out eventually that it is going to harm the Commonwealth, I should then be against it, but I cannot really see this being so because, as I have said in this House before, the Commonwealth can survive 676 only if there is a strong Britain economically and politically. By going into Europe I am quite certain—it appears to me to be common-sense—that we should be far stronger economically, and we should also have a greater say in world affairs through our connection in Europe. If we can link the Commonwealth, through us, with the Common Market, I believe that our future, together with that of the Commonwealth, will be extremely bright.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, I share with all your Lordships the gratitude which many of you have already expressed to the noble Lord, Lord Casey, for giving us the opportunity of listening to and taking part in this extremely important debate. I must say that while listening to him thoughts passed through my mind which evidently passed through the mind of my noble friend Lord Listowel. We are fortunate indeed to have representatives of the Commonwealth such as Lord Casey with us, but I think we are unfortunate in not having more such representatives. I will go further and speak more bluntly than my noble friend did; I think it will be a very great day for your Lordships, and an even greater day for the Commonwealth, when the first coloured Peer takes his seat in your Lordships' House. I hope that we shall not have to wait very long for that, because I feel that it would be a very great symbol of what we call the Commonwealth—this rather mystical thing—showing that we really believe in the unity of the Commonwealth, and that it is not just something reserved for a few people whose faces happen to have one particular tinge.
The Common Market has taken up most of our time to-day, and rightly so; but I think it would be unfortunate if any of us got the impression, or gave the impression, that the Common Market, whether we enter it or not, will solve all our problems: that it is either the panacea or the complete end of everything for which we stand and strive. What is it, in fact, which holds the Commonwealth together? I believe it is a combination of three things. It is a combination of sentiment; of mutual respect; and of economic interest. Undoubtedly, the Common Market has 677 a very great bearing on the last of those three, but it has nothing to do with the first two of them.
So far as sentiment is concerned, what does it mean? Can we analyse it? I do not think I can. It is something which is tied up with history. It is something that is centred, however remotely, on the Crown and on the person of the Sovereign; and it does count throughout the Commonwealth for a very great deal indeed. I had the privilege a few months ago of being in St. Lucia on Federation Day, which has taken the place of Empire Day. On those occasions (the noble Lord, Lord Twining, is not here, but he would remember it well) it used to be the custom for the Governor, or the Administrator, as representing the Governor, to parade in full uniform, with military band, Union Jack, and all the rest of it; and it was, so I am told (I never attended it), an impressive ceremony. On this occasion, Federation Day took on a rather different character. The Administrator was not there. In his place was the Chief Minister. The Union Jack was there, flying side by side with the Federation Flag; and at the end of the ceremony, the Federation Anthem was played, and, finally, "God save the Queen". That, my Lords, I think is an example of the effect of sentiment, how it actually works in a small part of the Commonwealth, and how it does help us to hold it together and make it mean something. It is something which, however materialistic we may be, however hard-headed we may be, however progressive we may be, we must expect and want, and strive to maintain.
Now, the second point, the mutual respect. What is that based on? There again we have to go far back in history for that. With all our faults in our Colonial history—and there are many of them—we have succeeded over the centuries in creating a very large measure of respect, not for us as a country, not for any of us as individuals, but for the things we stand for. I am convinced that the greatest step forward that we have taken recently, not only in maintaining that respect but in increasing it, was in the attitude of the Labour Government towards India. I am certain that what was done in those days by that Government did far more than any other single action to raise the respect 678 that this country was held in by a member of the Commonwealth.
Since that time we have had our ups and downs. We have had episodes like Suez, and like Cyprus, which weakened our respect in many parts of the world. We have also had Ghana, Nigeria, and the West Indian Federation, which has strengthened that respect; and, on balance, I think we have come out of the last ten or fifteen years with greater respect in the Commonwealth than we had in 1945. We are going through tricky times now; my noble friend Lord Listowel dwelt on them at some length. What is going on to-day in Kenya, in Central Africa, and in the Rhodesias, is being looked on, not only by our own Commonwealth, but by the whole world, with very great interest; and on our actions will, in turn, depend whether we are able to enhance the respect with which we are held, or whether we forfeit some of it. I will not pursue that any further; I think your Lordships know clearly on which side I stand in that matter.
There is another topical matter in which we can gain or lose respect—a matter raised by my noble friend, and taken up by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel—the question of immigration. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, said (I think he was right in saying so) that we should keep an open door for imports from 'the Commonwealth. But surely human beings are more important than goods. By all means let us keep an open door, for what the men produce; but let us keep an even wider open door for the men themselves.
I would remind your Lordships that it is no fun for someone who has been born and brought up in the West Indies, or in West Africa, who has his way of life, his friends and family, and his customs, to uproot himself and come to this country. He does not do it just for amusement; he does it only because he is forced to do so, and because the opportunities in his country are not sufficient for his ambitions. To a large extent it is our responsibility that these opportunities are not there for him. So whatever else we may do, by all means let us be certain that we keep an open door to enable every member of the Commonwealth to come to this country. 679 And I hope that our example will be followed by other members of the Commonwealth. One of the things we can offer to the Commonwealth in this respect is example. So let there be an open door, and there will be a complete freedom of movement not only of members of the Commonwealth to the United Kingdom, but throughout the whole Commonwealth itself. It will make it into a far happier and tightly-knit family than it is at the present time.
So much for those two points, sentiment and respect. Now to the economic side. Your Lordships have heard from many expert, learned and knowledgeable people this afternoon some of the factors involved in this economic situation. But one or two factors have come out which are disquieting. One, in particular, was mentioned by the noble Earl, the Foreign Secretary, when he spoke, and he spoke of it with some pride. He said that we provide 40 per cent. of the investments (I think that was the figure he gave) in the sterling area. Forty per cent. ("two-fifths" were the words he used)—is surely a lamentably small amount for this country, which should be the main provider of capital, not only for the Commonwealth and our former and present Colonies but also, as in the past, for a very large section of the world. I do not look on 40 per cent. as a figure to state with pride, but as a figure to state with a certain amount of shame, and with a determination that, in the future, that figure must rise.
We must be in a position, if we are to retain our position in the Commonwealth, to provide an ever-increasing amount of capital with which to develop these very largely under-developed countries. When we move out from supplying the capital, who comes in? Germany and the United States are the two main countries. I have no objection to either of them. If they have the capital and are prepared to invest it there, well and good for them; and well and good, I hope, for the countries that receive it. But I did not feel happy at seeing us pushed into second and third place by the United States and by Germany, particularly when it is in the sterling area and more particularly when it is in the Commonwealth. Surely this is a serious indictment of the whole economic policy of the present Govern- 680 ment. We have been told up to now that we have "never had it so good", but we are not having it good enough to be able to fulfil our obligations to those countries to whom we owe a large debt for historic and economic as well as for sentimental reasons.
There are a few more figures I should like to give to bear out our economic relations with the Commonwealth. The percentage of exports of Commonwealth countries to the United Kingdom over the five years, 1954–58, the latest for which I have been able to get information, fell by something like 20 per cent., whereas the percentage of exports from Commonwealth countries to the Six remained constant. In other words, the Commonwealth countries are looking increasingly towards the Six and decreasingly towards us for their exports.
When we turn to imports, the picture is even less pleasing than that, because we find that for the same period the Commonwealth as a whole imported from the United Kingdom in 1958 12 per cent. less than it did in 1954, and imported from the Six 12 per cent. more. So, quite apart from whether it enters or is allowed to enter the Common Market, and it is not on its own, in its economic activities the Commonwealth is turning away from this country and increasingly towards the Six in Europe, and of course to an even greater extent to non-European countries.
There are many reasons for this. Above all, there is our economic position in this country. As I say, that is the gravest indictment which to-day lies at the doors of the Government: that they have completely failed to build up the economy of this country, not only to our own detriment, in spite of our "never having had it so good" before, but at the expense of our old and traditional allegiances and ties. But it is not entirely the fault of the Government. Private individuals must bear their share of the blame. I would give your Lordships just one example I came across recently, again in the West Indies. While I was there, the Eastern Caribbean was visited by two high-powered trade missions from the United States and from Germany. They were going around these islands, big and small, asking the people what they wanted and offering trade facilities because they wanted to trade with them. There were 681 no trade missions from this country out there. Nothing was done by Great Britain to counter that business effort by private individuals of those two countries, which every month are increasing their influence in what we still call, and I hope will go on calling, the Commonwealth.
What should we do to make good some of these weaknesses? I have mentioned investment. We must find the money to make more investment available throughout the whole Commonwealth, and particularly in underdeveloped areas. We must also be prepared—and the noble Lord, Lord Casey, mentioned this during an earlier economics debate—to realise the enormous benefit, particularly to primary-producing countries, of long-term contracts and the security that goes with them.
Your Lordships are always patient with me when I quote my West Indian experiences. I hope your Lordships will allow me to give another. When I took over my estate out there, the annual wages bill was £7,500 a year. Now the annual bill is £30,000. One reason for this is that some ten years ago a private concern came out and gave to the four Windward Islands a long-term contract for bananas. They undertook to take every single banana produced in the Islands for the next fifteen years and to pay whatever the ruling price was on the English market. The only stipulation was that bananas should not be sold to anybody else. That was a sound business contract, from which I hope the buyer has done well, as he deserved to do, and from which the Island people have also done extremely well.
To go back to my own example, if the collective wages packet in a small community of a few hundred people goes up from £7,500 to £30,000 in the space of four years, obviously there is a lot more money to spend. And, on top of that, the people themselves are growing bananas and increasing their incomes by their own efforts. Their standard of living has risen. Traders on the Islands, even those who do not grow bananas, share in the prosperity, and more import trade comes into the Islands. But they are not buying sufficiently from this country, but increasingly from the United States and Germany. That is an example of what happens when there are long- 682 term contracts. I am convinced that the greatest single contribution we in this country can make to the welfare and prosperity of the members of the Commonwealth is by offering to them long-term contracts, so that they can plan their development, increase their capital expenditure and efficiency and raise the standard of living.
I do not know whether the Common Market is going to make any of these things easier or more difficult. None of us can know that yet. I strongly suspect that, so far as investment is concerned, the Common Market will make it easier for us to do things, because I am one who believes that the whole economy is going to benefit tremendously. What is more, I believe that if we enter the Common Market we shall be in a position to maintain our full employment and pay better wages, and therefore able to be a greater consumer of the produce of the Commonwealth. I think it is significant that in the last few days we have read in the papers that the British Motor Corporation is contemplating the purchase of the Borgward Motor Factory in Bremen. I strongly suspect that they are doing that in case tariffs are put up against us in the Common Market and they will have a full foothold in the Common Market itself and be able to produce motor cars there. But if they produce motor cars there, they will be employing German labour and not English labour, and the people who make these cars are going to receive the wages we want in this country to enable us to buy things from the Commonwealth. I believe that we should enter for that reason.
But I do not agree to our entering—and here I am at one with every noble Lord who has spoken—if we are going to jeopardise our ability to safeguard the interests of the members of the Commonwealth. In that connection, let me underline what I think my noble friend Lord Listowel said: that in France, which has her associated territories who are in the front of the trade position in the Common Market, the same problem has to be decided, and it is going to be decided in the next few months. I believe that if we were present at these negotiations we should be in a far stronger position to obtain reasonable and fair conditions for our own interests and those of the Commonwealth than if we were 683 to continue to haver and stay on the brink and wait until they had made their decisions without us and then try to get in. For those reasons, I believe that the Common Market, far from hindering our relationship and weaking our ties in the Commonwealth will make them stronger as the years go by; and that is unquestionably the desire of us all.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF COURTOWN
My Lords, I venture to speak to your Lordships this evening mainly because this year I paid an extensive visit, on business, to Australia, New Zealand and Canada. During that visit I met a great many people, mainly business people and those in industry, but also statesmen, politicians, people from the universities and the Services, and also from many other walks of life. During that time I did not see an English newspaper, nor did I hear the English wireless or see television. As a result, I was isolated from the propaganda which tends to get thrown at one the whole time in this country. I do not claim to be an expert in any way, but I did get various impressions which I think are relevant to this debate; and those impressions, I may say, confirmed views that I formed during visits made in previous years to other Commonwealth countries.
Much has been said to-day about the Common Market and its effect on the Commonwealth. I found, both in Australia and Canada, that when I spoke to people, particularly business people, about it, they had not really formulated any opinion in this respect, but felt that it was largely our own business. I would support what the noble Lord, Lord Casey, said: that, in the main, these Dominion countries would not be against it. But New Zealand is a different case, about which we all know.
Apart from the whole question of the Common Market, there is no doubt that our economic links with the Commonwealth are very much changing, whether we like it or not. Canada, as is well known, has for years looked largely across the border to the United States, both economically and industrially. Until I visited Australia I had not realised the extent to which Australia also looks industrially and economically towards the United States. It is not 684 unnatural that that should be so, because the United States is nearer to Australia than we are, and travel is quicker. Many people look at the industrial development of Australia as being equivalent to that of the United States some decades ago. Therefore, they look for lessons from the United States to a greater extent than they do from here. I think there is a great need for us in this country to put over in Canada and Australia the fact that we are not backward in our industrial thinking, in our business methods and general industrial initiative, and that our dynamic thinking is as far ahead as that in the United States.
In New Zealand, and to a lesser extent in Australia and Canada, they are obsessed with the idea of diversification and building up what we should probably call secondary industry. There is sometimes a tendency in this country to decry small nations that go in for what they call economic nationalism, but it is largely our own policy which causes this to be done: it is due to the protection of our agriculture and the development of synthetic fibres and the like that these primary producers feel that they must diversify if they are to maintain, and indeed improve, their standard of living. The effect of this development of secondary industry, and with it the development of exports—because they want their industrial development to be exported, as well—on our exports to the Commonwealth countries is going to be considerable.
Noble Lords have spoken to-day in figures of millions and percentages, but I cannot help wondering what specific products we are going to sell in the Commonwealth, and what products they are inevitably going to manufacture themselves. I think that we have to see the whole pattern of our trade with Commonwealth countries changing_ and we must realise that many of the staple export products that we have sent them for generations will be replaced by new manufactures. To take their place we must export new products and, in particular, those whose sufficient manufacture requires large and expensive manufacturing units and advanced technical "know-how." It is a great challenge to the industry of this country to maintain our level of exports to these Commonwealth countries. We have a great deal of good will there, and it 685 is up to us to take all the advantage of it we can. I hope, also, that as the secondary industries develop in these countries our own manufacturers will realise that they are bound to lose their export trade in those products in these countries and will go in by setting up factories themselves and not leave it to other countries to do so.
The result of this is that the economic links with the Commonwealth are changing and will change, whether we go into the Common Market or not; and in many ways the possibility of going into the Common Market opens up only an acceleration of what is going on now, the general changing of the pattern of our exports to those countries and of our imports from them.
I am sorry that time did not allow the noble Lord, Lord Casey, this afternoon to enlarge on his idea of greater unity for the Commonwealth. Nobody has had greater experience than he has of the Commonwealth as a whole. Few people have had the privilege that he has had of serving the Commonwealth in leading positions in this country, in the Middle East and in India, as well as his native Australia, and which he has carried out so well through his own ability. I should like to feel that we had many more Lord Caseys in the Commonwealth; and I think we ought to look for more of that type of person. When a Governor has to be found for such a country, he ought not necessarily to come from the ranks of the administrative services in this country. We might well have a situation where a Governor in one Dominion is taken from another Dominion. Lord Casey is an example of that sort of thing happening, and I am sure that a repetition of this practice would enhance the general unity of the Commonwealth.
Noble Lords have referred to other ways in which the links of the Commonwealth are being changed—for example, the fact that originally they consisted of all countries with similar democratic institutions, and that we now have republican countries within the Commonwealth. I am one who believes, like other noble Lords who have spoken today, that the Commonwealth has a tremendous effect for good, both for the world at large and for the members of the Commonwealth, in particular. But 686 we cannot go on chipping away these vital links within the Commonwealth without putting something in their stead.
I believe, therefore, that the Commonwealth requires re-thinking. That has been brought on, anyhow, by the coming of the Common Market. I think that, even if we do not go into the Common Market, the whole pattern of the Commonwealth requires re-thinking, and in particular thought should be given as to whether there should be some sort of new Statute of Westminster, some new statement of intentions. It is quite remarkable that part of our Constitution, the Monarchy, is the one part which really seems to have changed with the changing nature of the Commonwealth. During the last week I met people from India and Pakistan, who were both remarking on the remarkable effect which the visit of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh had to those countries earlier this year. They have, by their visits and their example, done much to strengthen these links which have shown signs of getting weak. It is for us to think how in other ways they can be strengthened.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I start, as I think every speaker before me has done, by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Casey, for having changed his mind about his Motion, and having introduced something which is on all our minds and which we are delighted to have had the opportunity of debating this afternoon. It has been a valuable discussion. We have had a number of thoughtful speeches, and I am sure the Government must be grateful to a number of noble Lords for giving us the benefit of years of thought and experience. I hope the Government will look at those speeches and consider them, because I think they will add much to the ties between our-selves and the Commonwealth. I should like to refer particularly, if I may, to the speeches of my noble friend Lord Walston and the noble Earl, Lord Courtown, who has just sat down. I think they both require a good deal of consideration.
The debate has inevitably become widened beyond the scope that was originally contemplated, because it is quite impossible to discuss the Common 687 Market in relation to the Commonwealth alone. The Commonwealth is a factor, and a very important factor, in our considerations, but I would submit—and here I disagree fundamentally with the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye—that it cannot be the only factor in our consideration.
§ LORD SILKIN
Then we are in agreement on that. It was interesting that, except for two or three speakers who quite clearly came down on one side or the other, every speaker agreed that it was wrong to arrive at a final decision, although the views of most of the speakers were pretty clear as we went along. Indeed, if I may say so, I thought even the Foreign Secretary made his own views fairly clear, although he recognised that they could not be finalised pending our getting satisfaction on a number of matters which will have to form the subject of consideration.
We all agree that we are to-day discussing something which is vital and fundamental—probably one of the most important questions which has come before us for centuries. It may change the whole of our conception of government, the whole of our relationship with the world, and it is right, therefore, that it should be discussed frequently; that there should be no undue delay in arriving at a decision; that there should be the fullest opportunities for debate in this House, in another place, in the Press and everywhere where people meet and discuss matters of common interest. I must say that, from my own experience in ordinary conversations at dinner tables at public dinners, the Common Market is the subject which arouses the greatest interest of all. Even when you are sitting next to ladies at a public dinner, they are most interested in the question of the Common Market. I was at a public dinner last night, and my wife told me that she was sitting next to two gentlemen, one on each side, and the only subject of conversation with her and between themselves was the Common Market. That is the extent of the tremendous interest which this matter is arousing among the public.
The interesting thing is that the more we discuss it, the better the public is 688 becoming informed. I do not complain, therefore, as some people do, of the fact that certain periodicals—the Daily Herald, the Economist and the Spectator —have come out strongly in favour of the Common Market. One must realise that there is a newspaper which has the second largest circulation in the world coming out against it—the Daily Express with its Sunday associate, the Sunday Express. It is for the public to read all sides of the question and to make up their minds. I believe this is an example of democracy at its best. It is our democratic way of life, and the way in which I think ultimately we shall arrive, and ought to arrive, at some kind of decision.
In the end, as in practically every problem in life, when we come to a decision it will be on weighing up a number of conflicting factors, of balancing advantages and disadvantages, some of them imponderable and difficult to assess. But we shall have to make up our minds in the end. Let us do so with as full a knowledge and understanding of the facts as we possibly can. I am sure that, at the end of the day, it will be quite legitimate for different people, sincere, objective, conscientiously wanting to get at the truth, to arrive at different conclusions. One noble Lord said that he envied people who were able to-day to arrive at a conclusion one way or the other. I must say that I do not envy the Government in the responsibility which faces them of having to make a decision, and having to make it fairly soon.
What are the elements that call for a decision, and about which we must make up our minds before we can arrive at it? I would say that there are four main elements. I want to say a word about each of them in due course. The first is the question of our own economic advantage. The second is our relationship with the Commonwealth, which we all agree must be preserved—I was going to say at all costs but, at any rate, must be preserved—and this has been the main subject of our debate this afternoon. The third element is the question of the sacrifice of our independence, of our sovereignty, and of our right to decide our own affairs. The fourth is our commitment to our fellow members of the European Free Trade Association. Those are the four matters about 689 which we must make up our minds, and everything that has been said this afternoon comes within the compass of one or other of those four questions.
May I say just a few words about each of them? First, there is the question of economic advantage. We have to consider this question of joining the Common Market for a variety of reasons, first, because of our deteriorating economic position; and I think there can be no doubt that our economic position has been deteriorating. Whether it is permanent or not nobody can say, and I should be very glad to hear the noble Earl when he rises give his own forecast as to what is the future if we do not join. But many people believe that our economic future is a gloomy one unless we can expand our markets and join with a larger association.
I was glad to hear the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary use the expression that we start with a premise that it is desirable, and indeed necessary, if it is at all possible, to join the Common Market. I do not wish to come down on one side or the other at this moment, but I am bound to say that my inclinations are with him. I think prima facie, but without finally committing myself, that it is both necessary and desirable that we should go into the Common Market, that it appears to offer us great opportunities, and that it would make for stability and confidence both inside the Common Market and inside this country.
There are other factors we have to consider. What is the alternative from our own economic point of view? If, as my noble friend Lord Walston pointed out is the case, manufacturers are already beginning to settle in the Common Market countries to establish themselves there, and if that is done on a large scale, the effect must be, in my view, disastrous to this country. The noble Lord, Lord Barnby, who is an industrialist himself, is doubtful of it. I cannot possibly see the advantage to this country of our industrialists settling and producing in other countries which do not form part of a common market with us and where we should possess no particular advantages.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, the noble Lord has been good enough to refer to me. The point I would make on that is, as I have said, that it might well yield a greater income to this country than could possibly be obtained by a comparable amount of exports. Capital would gain, but organised labour, as I ventured to say in my speech, would suffer greatly from the loss of employment here, and again by the possible impact of foreign workers coming into this country.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, that, of course, is the great debate. In my view we can only suffer if this production is additional to what is being produced in this country. But what I fear is that it may not only be additional to, but in substitution of, and if that were the case it would be very serious indeed. That is one of the things which we have to consider and one of the factors which will have to be in our minds when we come to a decision. That is the first question—the question of our own economic advantage. Will it benefit us in the ways in which various noble Lords have stated in the course of this debate, or will it be to our disadvantage to go in?
The second point I wish to raise is on the question of the Commonwealth. I think we have to satisfy ourselves that entry into the Common Market is not irreconcilable with the maintenance, even the strengthening, of our Commonwealth ties. I think my noble friend, Lord Walston, dealt very well with this aspect of the question. He pointed out that our ties with the Commonwealth were both economic and what he called spiritual. He referred to them as those of sentiment and respect; and said that our entry into the Common Market would not affect the ties of sentiment and respect, which very often are much stronger than the economic ties. I believe, for instance, that nothing can disturb the relationship between this country and Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India and Pakistan; not even an alteration in our economic relationship. I believe that our ties are so strong with these countries that even entry into the Common Market, possibly to their economic disadvantage in some respects, would not affect it.
But the Government must be satisfied, first, that, if they enter the Common 691 Market it is not going detrimentally to affect the countries of the Commonwealth, or that, if it does, it does it in such a way as to be least harmful to them; that is, by the effects being spread over a long period of years, or that, in some other way, remedial action can be taken. If I understood the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, correctly, I thought that his view was that if there was any detrimental effect at all on the Commonwealth we ought not to join the Common Market.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, if it is any question of breaching the principle of free entry of Commonwealth produce, that would be a price which I personally and a great many other people would not feel prepared to pay.
§ LORD SILKIN
That is very much what I have in mind. It may well be that this principle of free entry is not reconcilable with our entry into the Common Market, but I think it would be quite wrong to say that, for that reason alone, the Common Market is ruled out. I think that is taking far too narrow a view. I think we ought to consider what are the actual effects on the Commonwealth: whether, as I said, those effects can be alleviated or remedied, or whether it would necessarily be disastrous to them if they did not have free entry into our markets. Further, would there not be some counter-advantages from their point of view in our going in? After all, we have to look ahead. We cannot take a narrow or short-term view. I believe that Australia and other countries, as other noble Lords have said, have a tremendous future. It may well be that the population of Australia will be doubled and quadrupled in the foreseeable future and that they will need an outlet for their industries, and they will find it in the Common Market; and, if that were so, would that not counter-balance the possible disadvantages of their not having free entry into our markets? I say these things not because I regard these arguments as conclusive, but as factors which we have to take into account in our consideration of the matter and on which we want further information. Noble Lords may have noticed that we on this side of the House have been putting a number of probing questions on the Common 692 Market in the last week or two. This is not intended to embarrass the Government—I do not know whether we have in fact embarrassed the Government—but because we are very concerned about the position, and we have tried to think out various matters on which we want further information.
The third point I referred to which we have to consider is the question of the sacrifice of sovereignty. I believe that that matter can be very much exaggerated. It is not as if we are to-day a completely sovereign country, able to decide things for ourselves in the way we did 50 years ago. It is no longer true to-day. We are members of the United Nations Organisation. We are not completely free to settle our own foreign affairs. We cannot have a completely free foreign policy; it has to be subordinated both to the United Nations Organisation and to our friends and Allies. And even if we are entering into a Treaty with other countries we are subordinating, to a certain extent, our foreign policy. We had a rather painful example of that in Suez. We are no longer, as members of the United Nations, entitled to be judges in our own cause and take the law into our own hands; and on the occasion when I think we slipped up and did take the law into our own hands we were very quickly pulled up by the United Nations Organisation, and as discretion was the better part of valour we walked out. That is an example. The same applies to other countries. The United Nations have just been discussing the question of Angola. That is an interference with the sovereignty of Portugal, so far as they are able to influence it.
We are no longer sovereign, also, in the realm of defence. We are members of N.A.T.O. As members, we are subordinated to the views of N.A.T.O. They decide what is to be the strength of our forces, whether we are to have bases in this country, and so on. All this very much weakens our sovereignty. Many of us are supporters of world government: I think the Labour Party has recently become a supporter of world government, which I may say is a non-Party Organisation. We have many members from all Parties. A good many noble Lords, and others, have been advocating a United Europe. That certainly contemplates some sacrifice of sovereignty. In the economic 693 field there is the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. We are bound by that. That certainly limits our economic sovereignty; and the same is true of our membership of the World Bank. I do not want to develop these matters at too great length, but the fact remains that the world is a small place to-day, and we, of necessity, living in the world, have had to limit our sovereignty and to work in co-operation with organisations, to join and work in co-operation with them and consequently to limit out sovereignty.
Some noble Lords have expressed a fear of the possibility of our going into the Common Market and other countries "ganging up" against us—I think that was the implication. Is that at all likely? Why should they "gang up" against us? If we go in, we go in on equal terms with every other country, and I assume that matters which come before the Common Market will be considered and discussed on their merits. It is not as if the members of the Common Market are themselves agreed in all respects on everything. As we know, there are differences among them which they are discussing at the present time, and which they have not yet reconciled.
Fears have also been expressed of foreign courts deciding disputes between ourselves and traders inside the Common Market. It is not uncommon to-day, when you are doing a transaction with a concern in another country, to provide that settlement of any dispute shall be in accordance with the law of that country, and not in accordance with our own law. Furthermore, the general question of jurisdiction arises. But British subjects are quite frequently taken to foreign courts, and I have no reason to think that the systems of jurisprudence in other countries which will be members of the Common Market are inferior to our own. The standard of jurisprudence and of law is quite high in all the countries which would be members of the Common Market. I do not think we have anything to fear, and I must say, from my own experience, generally businessmen do not fear the jurisdiction of other courts. They certainly do not like the inconvenience of it, but then that cuts both ways.
Then there is the question of the European Free Trade Association. I believe that most of the countries, if not 694 all of them, who constitute the Seven are ready to join the Common Market. The noble Earl may correct me, but so far as my information goes, they are all waiting for our decision. If we were to decide to go in, I think they would automatically go in as well; and if they did, it would, of course, greatly strengthen the Common Market Area, the population, the resources, and consequently, in my view, our own position as being a much more valuable market.
Those are the matters, among others no doubt, about which I think the Government have to make up their mind, and I should hope that the noble Earl may be able to make some statement on some of those points this afternoon. It is fairly urgent that we should come to a decision, because time is working against us; and if we are to join the Common Market, the sooner we go in the better, and the greater our influence will be on matters which are still under discussion. Nevertheless, I would not ask the Government to come to a too hasty decision without ascertaining all the relevant facts upon which the decision may be based. In the end, it is for the people and for Parliament to decide; the Government cannot go beyond what is the public opinion in this country.
My Lords, I do not pretend to know what public opinion is. There have been public opinion polls, but I think it very much depends upon the newspaper that carries them out, and I would not suggest that the majority of the people are at this moment of one view or another, or that they have the necessary data upon which to arrive at the decision. It has been suggested that before coming to a decision there should be a referendum. I would deprecate that idea. It is a very difficult thing to frame by way of questions; even questions can appear to be tendentious. To submit to the public, a series of, say, half a dozen questions and ask for their answers would be very difficult, and I doubt whether it would add very much to the wisdom of the Government.
There has also been a suggestion that the Government should come to a decision having had a General Election. That I should deprecate even more, because I cannot think that that would be a suitable subject for discussion at a 695 General Election; nor who would be the proposers. Supposing you get two people who are both in favour of the Common Market but are of different Parties. How would the public have an opportunity of deciding on the Common Market point? I do not think that is the right course to take, because this can never be a single issue at an Election; nor would it be right, because the Parties themselves are divided at this moment on the subject. Therefore it would not produce a reliable result.
So, my Lords, I think that we are proceeding, on the whole, in the right way by general discussion—and I hope that we shall have more discussions in this House as we get more information—by articles in the Press, and by the public taking a greater and greater interest in the matter. It is because I regard this debate to-day as a most valuable step in the direction of formulating public opinion, that I am so grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Casey, for having given us this opportunity this afternoon to discuss his Motion.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, I think your Lordships are all agreed that the noble Lord, Lord Casey, opened the debate with a speech of high statesmanship and public spirit; indeed, I do not think that anybody in an independent position could have stated the terms of the problem which we have all to consider with greater fairness or with greater authority than he did. I should like to add that I think the example which Lord Casey set has been followed by your Lordships throughout the debate. I have listened to all the speeches that have been made in this debate, and it appeared to me that they treated the subject objectively, honestly and I think in every case, from one point of view or another, helpfully—particularly if I may say so, the winding-up speech from the Opposition to which we have just listened. I found myself so entirely in agreement with everything that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has just said that I think his speech might also serve for a winding-up speech from this side of the House as well as from his own.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I am sorry if I have unintentionally torpedoed the status of the noble Lord among any of his friends; but I really meant what I said and I was not trying to be at all facetious.
Some of your Lordships have inclined more strongly than others towards joining the Common Market, but many of the apparent disagreements between one speaker and another which seem to have appeared from time to time have been diminished by the process of interruption and counter-interruption, and there is certainly no great cleavage of opinion that would justify any lengthy intervention on my part in concluding the debate. As the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said, I think we are all trying to get information as to what is the right thing to do in the interests of ourselves, in the interests of the Commonwealth and in the interests of our partners in E.F.T.A. It seems to me that although none of us, not even the Government, has nearly as much information as we need, there has been a fairly substantial agreement in the country as to what our aims and objectives ought to be on this problem for more than five years.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
When my noble friend the Foreign Secretary was at the Commonwealth Relations Office in 1956, he arranged for me to undertake a speaking tour in Canada sponsored by the Commonwealth Relations Office. One of the subjects about which I had to speak was this. Of course at that time we were trying to achieve a European Free Trade area which would be associated with the Common Market yet not part of it.
The attitude of the Government, and I think of the Labour Party and of the country in general, too, at that time, was that we must not do anything which would adversely affect Commonwealth trade with us. That was one point which I had to make clear. The other point was that one effect of a great European commercial or trade association would be that with more rapid increases of capital goods, mass production, there would be a vastly greater facility for the export of capital which was what the Commonwealth chiefly needed. That applied to Canada too, 697 and still does, although Canada is one of the more highly developed countries. I think it applies even more strongly to those African Colonies now becoming independent, of which the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, spoke with so much feeling and knowledge and which are in such great need of aid of every kind, particularly for their capital development.
I also listened with sympathy to what the noble Earl said about the need for stabilising the markets and prices of their raw materials; I should hope that a great Free Trade Area in Europe would make it easier for them in that way. But the project of a Free Trade Area did not succeed, to the great regret of all of us in all Parties, and it is no use now indulging in any kind of recrimination about it, because that would do no good, although we may think it was a pity that our proposals were not accepted by the Common Market countries.
A year later we formed, with the Outer Seven, the European Free Trade Association, which I had the duty of explaining and commending to your Lordships on more than one occasion. I think it was clear to everybody that our object in doing that was not to create a rival organisation to the Common Market but to make it easier for a much wider European trade association to be formed. When we discussed the general question of the Common Market on a Motion of the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, two years ago I ended up by saying [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 218, col. 738.]:We mean to continue the work for the establishment of a comprehensive Free Trade Area in Europe, and, meanwhile, I think we can claim that this Free Trade Association"—which we had just decided to form—is a most valuable advance towards our object of making Western civilisation economically strong so that it may be able to lead the rest of the world on the road to freedom.Noble Lords opposite, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, spoke very much in that sense and were often pressing me to say what progress was being made towards this wider association. In the following year we had another discussion arising out of the European Free Trade Association Bill, when I ended up by saying [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 22, col. 893]: 698I assure the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, that we are not slackeningin our activitiesto see that this Association will eventually lead (as we all hope it will) to the larger union which we unfortunately failed to get a year and a half ago.There never has been any change of principle in the objectives at which we have been aiming for the last five years, both in our own interests and in those of the Commonwealth. It was about ten months ago, last August, that a new approach was begun, when the Prime Minister and my noble friend the Foreign Secretary went to Germany to discuss this subject, among others, with the Chancellor, Dr. Adenauer. It was then decided that we would explore through diplomatic channels, by official and ministerial talks, to see whether a basis for negotiations could be found.
Now, my Lords, I am anxious to give our Lordships all the information I can. It seems to me that we are all in agreement about what we want to do. Some of your Lordships have asked the Government to give more information. But, of course, nearly all the information which everybody wants about this is really of two kinds: first, what provisions would be necessary to safeguard the Commonwealth, and would the Six agree to them? If we had that information now we should not be having this debate.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, may I ask on that whether the conversations that the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary had with Dr. Adenauer or the conversations, say, of Mr. Heath with the Dutch, and the like, have given any firm ground upon which you can base the claim that negotiations can be opened in the direction about which the Foreign Secretary spoke this afternoon on being able to get protection from the Commonwealth point of view?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, I will certainly tell the noble Viscount all that I can about that. But I was just going to say that the other kind of information which your Lordships, and so many of us, want is an answer to the question: what is going to happen, constitutionally and administratively, in the Common Market as it develops? Of course, the answer to that usually is that 699 the Common Market countries (that is, the Six) have not even begun to decide the details of these questions among themselves. In the event of our joining them we should no doubt in due course help them to decide such matters. But in the meantime the general position is that the Rome Treaty just lays down aspirations or general principles to be aimed at, and the implementation of these provisions is left for subsequent decision by the Council of Ministers. In nearly all cases these decisions have still to be taken, and it would of course be open to us if we were to join the Common Market to play a part in their formation.
There is the question of sovereignty about which the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, spoke; and the noble Viscount also was concerned about it.
§ LORD LAWSON
My Lords, am I to gather from all this that the Government are about ready to make application without any further consultations?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, that is the opposite of the conclusion I should have imagined my noble friend would draw from what I am saying. Perhaps he will allow me to answer the general question which has been asked. We are not ready to make a decision. Surely that has been made quite plain again and again, and I am trying to tell your Lordships why. But at the moment I was on the point of sovereignty about which the noble Viscount asked some questions, as did the noble Lord, Lord Silkin.
I think it was my noble friend Lord Gladwyn who pointed out that it is really anybody's guess what form any sacrifice of sovereignty would take, because France and the other Common Market countries have not in the least begun to decide whether they are going to have a federation or confederation; and it is therefore premature to ask exactly what kind of sacrifices in sovereignty would be made, since the people who have already joined in the Common Market have not yet made any moves or taken any practical decisions in that direction. I am inclined to suggest to your Lordships that to take part in negotiations for joining the Common Market does not involve us in any more prospective sacri- 700 fice of sovereignty than taking part in, let us say, a disarmament conference. We all know that disarmament could never be effective without some sacrifice of sovereignty. The least would be that every country joining the disarmament agreement would have to submit to fairly strict international inspection. Unfortunately, it is the refusal of Russia to do that which has frustrated our present hopes of getting agreement on disarmament.
But there are some people who go further than that, as I think Lord Silkin did just now in his speech: they believe that disarmament could never really be effective unless there were some kind of world government. But whatever view you take, there would have to be some sacrifice of sovereignty, not necessarily a great deal—possibly more, possibly less: it depends how things work out. It seems to me that that exactly the position in regard to the Common Market. There are some obvious ways in which sovereignty might be curtailed or restricted, as it is by our membership of N.A.T.O. or by our acceptance of membership of the United Nations, and in many other ways. But I do not think it is possible or reasonable to try to define so far in advance exactly what kind of political federation or unity would ultimately emerge from the Common Market.
Now in regard to the more immediate and important question: how much should we have to insist on in order to make sure that the interests of the Commonwealth were not sacrificed?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
And labour at home. The noble Viscount asked a question, I think, about freedom of movement of labour. That is one of those questions on which, as the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said, noble Lords opposite have very rightly been pressing the Government for information. In practically every case I think the answer is that it is one of these general principles mentioned in the Treaty of Rome which the Six have not yet begun to put into effect or to consider exactly how they are going to put into effect.
I have tried, since the noble Viscount spoke, to get as much information as I can on this question. There is the 701 general principle stated in the Treaty about free movement of labour within the Community; but the manner in which this principle shall be implemented was left for subsequent decision by the Council of Ministers. No regulation has yet been made. It is understood that the freedom would be freedom to take offer of employment rather than to go looking for work, and it is expected that administrative control by member countries would continue. It seems likely that priority would continue to be given to national labour. But all these questions are questions which have merely been stated as more or less aspirations in the Treaty of Rome and whose implementation would be left possibly a long time ahead to subsequent regulations in which all members of the Community would take part.
My Lords, as for the effect of the Community on the trade of Commonwealth countries, the questions regarding the United Kingdom's relations with the Common Market have been discussed by Commonwealth Governments among themselves almost continuously during the last few years, both through normal official channels and by Ministers and their official advisers collectively at several conferences and meetings, particularly the Prime Ministers' meeting last year, and the Commonwealth Economic Consultative Council, which met last September.
After that meeting the Finance Ministers of the Commonwealth countries declared in their communiqué that the Council recognised the importance of political and economic unity in Western Europe. It was accepted that in any negotiations that took place the essential interests of Commonwealth countries should be safeguarded, and full account taken of the continuing importance of inter-Commonwealth trade. Since then, there have been a number of informal and exploratory talks between the British Government and the Governments of several members of the Community; and, at the same time, the Government have kept in very close touch with the other Commonwealth Governments, and also, of course, with the Governments of our partners in the European Free Trade Association.
702 The noble Viscount particularly asked about what we have said in the diplomatic discussions which have taken place with representatives of the Common Market countries. We have repeatedly and authoritatively stated that we are not prepared to join the Community unless proper treatment can be assured both for our Commonwealth friends and for our E.F.T.A. partners; and before we take any decisions, we need to have further discussions with the other Commonwealth Governments on the points, both political and economic, that would arise if we should seek to negotiate membership of the Community. Also, of course, we need further discussions with the other members of E.F.T.A., though it is with the Commonwealth countries that we are concerned to-day. We cannot decide anything until further consultations with their Governments have been held; not can we decide now what decision to take after consulting them. That would be ridiculous.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
Do I understand from that that there will be no final agreement with E.F.T.A. countries as to how far you can go with your negotiations before you know; and do I understand also that you will not get a mandate from Parliament on how far you go in these negotiations for entry into the Market?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I do not know how I can anticipate what may be decided by Parliament, my Lords. I am trying to give the noble Viscount all the information I can about our attitude towards this. He has suggested—and, indeed, many people have suggested—that there should be collective discussion now among Commonwealth Ministers, and the Government certainly do not rule that out. But, of course, the economic effects on each Commonwealth country would differ very widely from one to another; and at this moment it seems to us that the best and quickest way to get more information is to send Ministers out to visit personally each of the Commonwealth Governments in turn. But these visits cannot be regarded as the end of the consultation with the Commonwealth—of course not. Even after a decision to seek negotiations with the Community, if one were taken, we should look for very close 703 and continuous consultation with the other Commonwealth Governments during the course of such negotiations—and, of course, there would have to be further consultations, in whatever form was found most suitable, to decide whether the results of the negotiations were acceptable.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
I am just wondering whether that goes quite far enough—and I am glad to see the Foreign Secretary present—in relation to what was reported in the Press this morning as being stated yesterday, when dealing with other internal financial difficulties, by Mr. Fleming, the Finance Minister of Canada. This is what I noted down from the Press this morning as what he said:The effectiveness of this consultation"—that is, the one coming on with Mr. Duncan Sandys—will depend, of course, on the extent to which the United Kingdom is able, in advance, to provide us with the specific information.That is point number one. We are not getting very specific information ourselves, here.While such consultations on a bilateral basis are clearly essential, the Canadian Government is urging that there should also be full opportunity for joint consultations among all Commonwealth countries".I am not quite sure that the answer that the noble Earl is making is going as far as that.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
The noble Viscount is asking me to comment on an interjection in the middle of a speech about a statement reported in a newspaper which I have not read by a Canadian statesman whose words I have had no opportunity of studying. I cannot, of course, go into the matter in these circumstances; but, prima facie, listening to the words which the noble Viscount read out, I cannot see anything at all difficult or inconsistent with our objects.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
—but I am literally a private Member of the House. I have no 704 secretary; but I do read the papers. He has quite a horde of secretaries at his disposal.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, I have one secretary, that is all, and no other staff. Furthermore, it is not part of my secretary's duties to put before me every morning speeches which are made by Canadian Finance Ministers—or, indeed, by anybody else. I really cannot see why the noble Viscount should expect me to be familiar with the speech which he has quoted, or that I should be expected to comment on it without notice; but, having heard what he has read out, I cannot quite understand what difficulty he is in, or in what way the statement he refers to is inconsistent with what we are all trying to do, which is to find out what conditions we should have to make on behalf of the Commonwealth.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, before the noble Earl leaves that point, may I ask him this question? He has told us that we have put forward to members of the Common Market that we need satisfaction so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, and so far as E.F.T.A. is concerned, before we can negotiate. Could he tell us what reception he has had on that statement? Are they generally prepared to meet us?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I think, my Lords, I could make a general statement about that. I was just going to say that my noble friend the Foreign Secretary has already distinguished between the different kinds of product which we shall have to consider negotiating about, so I need not go over that again. There is the difference between raw materials, on which there is practically no duty at all; the tropical products, which my noble friend told us he thought were not insoluble: and the temperate foods and manufactures, which constitute the main difficulty. As your Lordships know, one of the great trading problems, not only of Australia but of Canada, is disposing of their wheat surpluses. That was one of the questions which I had to deal with when I went, on my noble friend's behalf, to talk to the Canadians in 1956. Great Britain was and, of course, always has been by far their greatest purchaser of wheat. The next three largest purchasers were all about equal, but took 705 only about one-third of what we took. They were Japan, Belgium and Germany. Belgium and Germany were taking a very large quantity; and I think the Canadians appreciated at that time that, although they might not get any reduction in the European duties on wheat, the increased prosperity and production resulting from a rapidly expanding European Common Market would enable them to sell more of their products in Europe. But it is the temperate foods and the manufactures which will obviously constitute the toughest problem that we have to try to solve.
Now, my Lords, I will conclude, if I may, by saying something in reply to the interruptions of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, which he made just now. In our talks with the members of the Community, we have found them very conscious of the great importance of the British Commonwealth, not only to us but also to themselves, as a valuable factor making for stability in the rather uncertain world we all have to live in. There is its immense significance as a group, which brings together, on a basis of equality and of cordial informality, countries which are separated geographically as widely as is possible, and with widely varying backgrounds, and that are in very different stages of economic development. I think the European Community countries appreciate the value of all that.
They are also conscious of the great and active part that countries like Canada and Australia play in helping to ensure the security of the Free World as a whole. They have made it clear to us that they attach great importance to not weakening or alienating the Commonwealth countries, or the ties which bind them to each other and to us. We, for our part, have made it clear that, without proper arrangements to safeguard our Commonwealth friends' trade, we should not join the Community. I think that is all the answer I can give to Lord Silkin's question; I think it covers it as well as it can be covered at the present moment.
Some of your Lordships, I thought, rather tended to take the line that, by joining the European Common Market, we should make it impossible for our trade with the Commonwealth to expand very greatly. I do not think that is so 706 at all; I think the two things ought to be complementary, and not antagonistic, to each other, and we hope it will be possible that they will. We are not trying to choose, and we ought never to have to choose, between Europe and the Commonwealth. What we want to do is to combine the interests of the Commonwealth with the interests of Europe, and we believe that it is very much to the advantage of humanity and to world peace that those interests should be combined.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ LORD CASEY
My Lords, fortunately it does not fall to me to attempt to sum up this very long and interesting debate. I am only glad that the Motion I had the privilege of moving has had such a useful and wide-ranging result. I am most grateful personally to the noble Earl, Lord Home, and to the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, and, indeed to other noble Lords for the kind, personal things they have been good enough to say, and also to the two noble Lords who have spoken for the Government for the light which they have found themselves able to throw on the many facets of this highly complicated problem. I think we can all take comfort in the fact that the United Kingdom Government are going to do their utmost to protect the commercial interests of the other parts of the Commonwealth. I think that if they are unable to protect them by negotiation with the Six, the United Kingdom Government will not pursue the matter of attempting to join the Common Market. I do not think any of us in any part of the Commonwealth, however distant, could take more comfort from a statement than that.
If I might briefly comment on one or two matters which seemed to me important, there is first the question of whether there should be a Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. I think that this matter should be taken further. It seems to me that the greater part of the matters at issue are matters which are bilateral between each one of the other Commonwealth members and the United Kingdom. Certainly they are on the commercial side. The United Kingdom Government are aware of the difficulties which may be foreseen if the United Kingdom were to seek to enter the Common Market. That must be a 707 bilateral matter for discussion between the United Kingdom and each of the Commonwealth countries.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
If I might be permitted to intervene, there are also other factors at issue between the Commonwealth Members, as well as directly with the United Kingdom.
§ LORD CASEY
Yes, I agree. Perhaps, as I say, it would be better to have a meeting of the Ministers on the main issue—that is, the political issue—and the United Kingdom must discuss this fully with the members of the Commonwealth. I believe that the itinerant Ministers going round the Commonwealth capitals will be able to exchange views on the importance of the political issue of joining the Common Market, and I must suggest that this could best be done around a Commonwealth Prime Ministers' table. I do not think anyone has wiped out the possibility of a general Commonwealth Ministers' Conference, but I do not think that the task of informing each other can be done merely by the bilateral conversations about to take place.
Perhaps I might be allowed to say something to the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, who, I think, had a suspicion that I had been moved by someone to change my mind as to the content of the debate that I 708 proposed to try to tackle. He has been answered, I think, by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, who has had the same experience as myself. It is now the case that in this end of London, or in the City, or in the country, one is bombarded with questions about the Common Market, which for some reason has become progressive in recent weeks; it has more and more come to absorb altogether the whole minds of men, to the exclusion of other matters of public consequence. I am entirely guiltless myself; I have not been "got at" by any Minister or public servant of this Government, or any other Government, to make me change my mind; it just seems to me the common sense thing to do. I will not take up the time of noble Lords by speaking on other of the many aspects which have come to light in this very interesting, and, I like to believe, most useful afternoon's debate. I would.ask leave of your Lordships to withdraw the Motion for Papers.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.