HL Deb 02 August 1962 vol 243 cc416-45

3.10 p.m.

Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved yesterday by Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough: That there be laid before the House Papers relating to the current negotiations with the European Economic Community.


My Lords, doubts have been expressed and questions asked, in this House and outside, as to the effect that entry into the European Economic Community will have on our institutions, on Parliament, the Executive and, not least, on the jurisdiction of our Courts. I rise to address your Lordships in the hope that it may be helpful if I say something on these subjects now. For a considerable time these matters have been under consideration by my predecessor, my noble and learned friend Lord Kilmuir, by me in a former capacity, and by the present Attorney General. And it is right that I should add that we invoked the help of a number of eminent lawyers, to whom I should like publicly to express my thanks for the many hours of their time which they devoted to an objective study of the Treaties of the three European Communities—the European Economic Community, the European Coal and Steel Community and EURATOM, and the instruments they have made under those Treaties.

The language in which the Treaties are expressed is different from that to which English and Scottish lawyers are accustomed. It is often not as precise as the language of our Statutes, and it does not always fit our institutions and legal concepts. Sometimes, indeed, it is not easy to determine precisely the intended effect of a provision. Bearing this in mind, we have, to the best of our ability, considered the impact and effect of accession on our Constitution and system of jurisprudence; and the views I am about to express are not just my own opinions, but also those of my predecessor and of (he Attorney General, to whom, if I may, I should like to pay a special tribute for the work he has done. The Government intend to publish a White Paper which will state fully the conclusions which we have reached. At the moment, I will content myself by dealing with some of the major topics and major problems which arise for consideration, and I hope that what I have to say will, if it does not allay all the apprehensions that have been expressed, at least narrow the field of controversy and make the position clearer than it was before.

I have heard it said—not of course in your Lordships' House—that by joining the Six we Should be affecting, if not undermining, the position of the Crown. I wish to say, as emphatically as I can, that there is nothing in the Rome Treaty, or in the objectives for which it has been set up, which would in any way weaken the position of our Sovereign; and if proof of this were needed it can be found in the fact that two of the Six are constitutional Monarchies and a third is a Grand Duchy. In none of these States has the position of the Sovereign been in any way diminished or affected.

In the endeavour to achieve the objective of the Rome Treaty, of securing a large economic community in which trade flows freely and a person can exercise his skills anywhere, there must be some pooling of authority, so that the common policies can be universally and uniformly applied and effected. Some people have spoken of a supra-national community and of supra-national powers. I must confess that I am not enamoured of the word "supranational"—and I hope that I have my noble friend Lord Conesford with me when I say that. But the point I wish to make is that it is implicit in the Rome Treaty that there should be this pooling of authority—call it "supra-national authority" if you choose—to secure uniformity throughout the member States in the application of common policies. Further, I wish to stress that this pooling of authority is limited to the fields of activity covered by the Treaties.

The Rome Treaty, while leaving intact the separate existence of the member States and their constitutional organs, as my noble and learned friend Lord McNair pointed out yesterday, creates a Community, a new international person, with its own organs of Assembly, Council, Commission and Court of Justice. These organs on which, as a member, we should have United Kingdom representation, have in the spheres in which they operate, and in those spheres only, certain supra-national powers which override those of the national constitutional bodies, and Which also are incapable of challenge in the national courts of the member States. The Commission and the Council are given powers under various articles of the Treaty to make regulations, to issue directives and to make decisions.

There are three different types of action which the institutions of the Community are empowered to take, and it is most important to bear them in mind. First, they can make regulations which are self-executing—that is to Say, they become part of the law of the member States as they stand within twenty days of their issue, or on the date on which the regulation states it is to come into effect. I shall say something more later about these self-executing Regulations. Secondly, they may issue directives which are binding on the member States as to the result to be achieved, while leaving it to the member States to decide What steps shall be taken to implement the directive. Thirdly, in the administration of their policies they may take decisions, addressed to a particular person, firm or, possibly, a member State, which must be complied with by those to whom they are addressed. In other words, regulations lay down a code which becomes part of the law of each particular State; directives require the member State to take its own legislative or administrative measures for a prescribed purpose, while decisions are more concerned with detailed administration. Perhaps it might assist your Lordships if I gave an example of a decision.

The Commission may decide that a trading agreement between two firms restricts or distorts competition in inter-State trade and is therefore null and void. If the practice is not discontinued, following upon that decision, the Commission may by a further decision impose fines. Such decisions could not be challenged in our courts, but an appeal would lie from them, though only in the European Court. And if a fine was imposed, that would have to be enforced without question by our courts. In their respective fields—and I would emphasise only in their respective fields—therefore, the institutions of the Community exercise powers which would normally fall to the constitutional organs and courts of member States.

But, my Lords, I think it is essential to keep this exercise of supra-national powers by the organs of the Community in its true perspective. The policymaking and quasi-legislative functions of the Council and the Commission are closely defined in the relevant Articles of the Treaty, and their administrative functions are, of course, restricted to the same fields. None of these functions can be exercised for any purpose which falls outside the economic objectives for which the Community has been created. Your Lordships will remember that these objectives are set out in Article 3 of the Treaty. Thus there is no possibility whatever that, in the exercise of their powers, the organs of the Community could alter our criminal procedures, including the presumption of innocence or trial by jury. They could not affect our law of family relationships, of marriage and divorce, of landlord and tenant, of housing, of local government or police organisation. Their effect on the ordinary law of contract and tort will be negligible. Community law does not affect the laws of the Welfare State, nor does it take away the right of the Legislature to nationalise industries.

I venture to suggest that the vast majority of men and women in this country will never directly feel the impact of the Community-made law at all. In the conduct of their daily affairs they will have no need to have regard to any of the provisions of that law; nor are they at all likely ever to be affected by an administrative action of one of the Community institutions. With few exceptions, the obligations under the Community law will fall directly only on industrial and commercial concerns, long-distance carriers, and persons or firms engaged in the export of agricultural products.

My Lords, I now wish to turn to the relationship between the legislative acts of the Community institutions and Parliament. I know that some of the relevant provisions of the Treaty of Rome are causing uneasiness, particularly the provisions of Article 189, which require that regulations issued by the Council and the Commission shall be binding in every respect and directly applicable to each member Slate. I fully accept that such regulations would have to be given effect to in our law as they stand. Should they conflict with existing Statute or Case Law they would override it; and, as regards regulations which may come to be made after our accession, we should have to provide in advance that they should have effect as part of our municipal law. Similarly, where the Council and Commission issue a directive (which, as your Lordships will remember, differs from a regulation in prescribing the object only, while leaving the form of implementation to the discretion of member States) we should have to pass legislation to bring about the desired result. In this case Parliament would be free to decide on the form and the content of the Bill, but the result to be achieved by it would be prescribed by our Treaty obligations. In any subsequent legislation of our own we should have to take good care that it did not conflict with any Community regulations or directives.

So, my Lords, to the extent I have mentioned, in the case of both regulations and directives, the legislative function of Parliament would have to give way to that of the Council and the Commission. But this does not involve our having to adopt anything in the nature of a written Constitution. That is quite unnecessary, and this is my answer to the point raised yesterday by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of St. Albans. If one subscribes to the objectives of the Treaties it follows that one cannot logically object to the degree of supra-national determination and administration necessary to secure the uniform application of policy throughout the member States to attain these objectives. In the issue of future regulations and directives we should, of course, exert considerable influence. We should have representatives on all the institutions. The present system of voting in the Council ensures that decisions cannot be taken against the wishes of one of the larger States unless that State stands virtually alone. The voting system will no doubt have to be adjusted in the event of our entering, but in any case it seems to me improbable that the Council would, on a matter of substance, readily override important interests of this country.

By agreeing to be bound by a treaty we, of course, commit ourselves to comply with the provisions of that treaty. But making a treaty does not constitutionally involve the surrender of any part of the ultimate sovereignty of Parliament. An Act of Parliament would be required to apply these Treaties (I think the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, asked a question about that yesterday) and to give effect to present and future legislative acts of the Community institutions. That Act of Parliament, like any other, could be repealed by a subsequent Act; and if this happened the Treaties would cease to be law in this country, and the power of the European Council to make regulations having effect as law in this country would come to an end. But while Parliament's power to repeal the Act applying the Treaty remains, and cannot be fettered, I am not implying that it would be right for us to repeal it. The Rome Treaty is not limited in duration, and there is no provision for its termination. Parliament could repeal the Act applying these Treaties; it cannot be prevented from doing so. But it must be recognised that, in International Law, such a step could be justified only in exceptional circumstances; and if it were taken without such justification, and without the approval of other member countries, it would be a breach of the international obligations assumed on entry into the Common Market. Just as a person does not contemplate divorce when embarking on matrimony (or, if he does, it is certainly a bad start to the marriage), so here, if we decide to join, we must, I submit, do it wholeheartedly and with the intention of playing our full part as a member of the Community in fostering its purposes and objectives.

My Lords, I now want to say a word or two, if I may, about the impact of the Community law on our courts. I have already mentioned that many of the provisions of the Treaty, and instruments made under it, are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and other Community institutions. To this extent the task of our courts in having to interpret and adjudicate upon Community Law would be considerably lightened. Moreover, where matters appertaining to the Treaty, acts of the Community institutions, and regulations made by them did come before our courts, the European court would be the ultimate court of appeal on all questions of interpretation and, in the case of acts of the institutions, on their validity.

This supervision of the European Court, which is designed to ensure uniformity throughout the member States, is imposed, as your Lordships will remember, by Article 177, which empowers all courts of member States, and requires their final courts, to refer such questions of interpretation or validity to the European Court. I myself do not believe that the occasions for such a reference would be very many, and I do believe that we could take steps, within our own system, to see to it that there would be consistent and expert interpretation of the Community law so that the need for reference will rarely arise in courts of first instance.

However, it is inevitable that our courts will find some difficulty in dealing with the Treaty and instruments in existence at the time of our accession. They are drafted in a phraseology alien to our courts, and take account of constitutional institutions and legal conceptions not our own. Moreover, the processes of legal interpretation, canons of construction, in Continental courts differ from ours. However, I am satisfied, and those who work with me are satisfied, that our courts should not find any insuperable difficulties in applying and construing the language of the Treaty and instruments. The difficulties will be lessened in relation to future Community instruments, because English lawyers will then be taking part in the preparation and drafting.

My Leeds, as I mentioned earlier, our courts would be called upon to enforce the decisions of the European institutions and the judgments of the European courts, but this we think does not present any great legal difficulties. The assistance of the courts might also on occasions be invoked for another purpose. The Commission may, in order to supervise compliance with the codes on restrictive practices and the nondiscrimination in transport charges, send inspectors to enter premises, inspect books or vehicles, or interrogate persons. If the inspector is denied access, the member State concerned is obliged to secure it for him. This could, I think, be done through the courts.

I do mot think that this is ever likely to become a matter of practical importance. The power of inspection has been very rarely used, and I see no reason for thinking that it will be used more frequently in the future. There will not be an army of Community snoopers, and I mention the point only because I know that the existence of such a power is likely to cause concern. In any case, there could be safeguards against any possible abuse. The relevant provisions contemplate that the Commission's inspector may be accompanied by a police officer or Government official of the member State concerned; and, where forcible entry is sought, I am confident that there would be no obstacle whatever in Community law to our requiring an order of the High Court backing the inspector's warrant.

Finally, we should be required under various regulations to impose and enforce sanctions of our own for breaches of Community law. This could present practical difficulties for our courts, because in many oases the offences would not be defined with the precision to which the courts are accustomed, but I think it is the case that, here again, steps can be taken to overcome the difficulties and to ease the task of our courts.

My Lords, may I now turn to the interesting speech made yesterday by the noble Lord, Lord Cohen of Birkenhead, who spoke with all the authority of his great experience, and with particular authority as President of the General Medical Council? He raised the question of mutual recognition of medical and other qualifications under Article 57 of the Treaty. This is part of a chapter dealing with freedom of establishment—that is the Treaty's term for it—and since there was no reason which the United Kingdom could advance at the outset of the negotiations why it should not comply with this chapter, the Government, as the noble Lord rightly said, did not at that stage seek to make any formal reservation on this Chapter, beyond recording that the United Kingdom might need additional time to bring its law and practice into line with the Community's programme. This programme envisages mutual recognition of qualifications by 1967. Article 57, of course, has to be read as a whole.

Under the first paragraph, the Council of Ministers may, by qualified majority vote, issue directives for the mutual recognition of qualifications. But they may do so only on proposals made to them by the Commission, and after consulting the European Assembly. We can bring no influence to bear on these procedures, unless and until we have joined the Community. But if we join the Community, it is highly unlikely that any such directives will have been issued by the Council before the date of accession, though drafts may have been published. But there are further safeguards. Directives under paragraph I can, in the special case of the medical, paramedical and pharmaceutical professions, be of no effect until conditions for the exercise of these professions have been co-ordinated.

Paragraph 2 of the Article provides that voting on those matters must be unanimous. Voting must also be unanimous on any matters which are the subject of legislative provisions in any member State; and, as the noble Lord said, that certainly applies to the registration of medical practitioners in this country. My Lords, I think these are substantial safeguards, and I hope, indeed I trust, I shall be forgiven for this rather technical recital, because the noble Lord, Lord Cohen of Birkenhead, himself was in some doubt about it. I need hardly say that the Government entirely understand the importance of this subject, and if we join the Community the Government will keep in close touch with the General Medical Council, and all other interested bodies, while playing our part in the Community's proceedings; and we will certainly have regard to the standards achieved in this country, as the General Medical Council have urged us to do.

My Lords, the main purpose of my intervention this afternoon has been to place the constitutional and legal implications of accession in their proper perspective. Some of these matters are by no means free of complexity, and there has been room for much confusion of thought and misunderstanding. Apprehension and suspicion are often bred by unfamiliarity, and I hope that I have been able to dispel some of these misgivings by my explanation. In seeking to explain these complex matters, I have naturally gone into the difficulties at length, and pointed out in some detail provisions which could have implications on our legislative and legal systems. I am sure your Lordships wanted me to do that. But I do wish to stress once again that, although I have not set out the relevant provisions fully, it would be quite wrong to attach any greater importance to these than they warrant in the context of the Treaty. As I have already said, the exercise of all the powers to which I have referred is confined to a limited field—the free flow of goods and services, and the free exercise of work and skills throughout the Community. Community law operates only in these fields, or in matters directly related to them.

My Lords, I have not dealt to-day with the problems arising under the E.C.S.C. and EURATOM Treaties which operate in rather different fields, and those will be fully dealt with in the White Paper which will shortly be published. In my belief, in the limited spheres in which the relevant provisions operate and entail a transfer of legislative, executive or judicial power, that transfer is no more than is required in order to achieve the objectives of the Community, to which, as a member, we should and would whole-heartedly subscribe.

3.39 p.m.


My Lords, I rise with some hesitation. My noble friend Lord Longford has pointed out that people of my age are quite out of date, our views are quite hopeless, and I have to accept that. But there is on this matter a great divergence of view in our Party, and in the Party opposite. T rather gather that those on these Benches who support the Common Market are in a considerable majority. Whether that reflects the views of the Party as a whole, I do not know. I should like to say a few words on why I take broadly the same point of view as my noble Leader, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough. I listened with great interest to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, but far be it from me to try to deal with any of these legal matters. My noble friend Lord Silkin, who is speaking later, will be able to deal with them. But, of course, the point at the back of my mind on these things is the thought that, at the present moment, we are totally in the dark as to what our powers are to be under this Treaty. We do not know whether it is majority rule or any other sort of rule, or for how long.

I listened with great interest to the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary yesterday. I cannot say I was convinced. I read with great interest Mr. Butler's speech in another place. What struck me was that at every point he had to say, "But, of course, nothing has been decided". It seemed to me a mass of loose ends. It is extraordinarily difficult to judge at this time. Of course, it is an awkward time to have a debate of this sort, when these matters are still under consideration; but, sooner or later, there must be a debate, sooner or later there must be a decision; and one's general impression is that the Government have not been too anxious for a full discussion, nor have they been anxious to give very much information. I must say it is rather strange, considering the immense importance of this subject and considering we are going to change the whole policy of this country which has been carried on for years and years, that this should be done without any reference to the country by a Party that manifestly has not got the confidence of the country, judging by recent by-elections. And yet it is an entire change of policy from what we have been accustomed to.

It is a remarkable change which has come about in the Conservative Party. I have a document here in which the Conservative Party puts the Commonwealth first, expressing the view that, with the Commonwealth, we can maintain our position in. the world and can get a rising Standard of life. One of the misfortunes is that this subject was introduced in a general attitude of pessimism. We were warned we must go in for the Common Market; it would be so terrible if we did not: that we were going down the hill, losing markets; that we have stood still while others have advanced. Of course, that is perfectly true. Since 1951, unfortunately, we have stood still. A Government who believe in general hedonism, general contentment, have allowed this country to slip behind. The advance of the countries in the Common Market must be judged not merely from what they have done but from what has been neglected to be done in this country. The Conservatives came in on a general revulsion against the policies connected most closely with my friend the late Sir Stafford Cripps. We were accused of austerity. We refused to do the popular things, and we had the clamour that the public should be given every kind of thing—quite a difficult situation. Only now, after eleven years, are we told that we must have back some austerity—only now. I do not think this Government are likely to give us anything of the sort.

When I look at this as a proposal, it is really an extraordinary change. We used to put the Commonwealth first. It is quite obvious now that the Commonwealth comes second. We are going to be closer friends with the Germans, the Italians and the French than we are with the Australians or the Canadians. People are talking about what will happen thirty years hence: but, you know, twenty years ago I should never have imagined that we would be putting, as close friends, the Germans in front of the Canadians, the Australians, the New Zealanders, the Indians or anyone else. That does make for an. entire revolution. It is also an entire revolution in the historic position of this country. I am not putting it forward that necessarily old things are right: I should be showing my age too clearly if I did that. It may be they are right; but make no mistake: this is an enormous change.


My Lords, would the noble Earl allow me to interrupt him for one moment? I think he is really misrepresenting our position—quite unintentionally, no doubt—when he says that we are deliberately putting our friendship with the Germans, with the French and with other Continental Powers in front of our friendship with the Canadians and the Australians. That is not so. Our motive in entering the Common Market is so as to be able to serve our old friends better by getting additional friends for Britain. He must not, I am afraid, misrepresent our purpose in that way.


I am afraid I cannot agree. The Government are carrying this country into a close link-up with a number of Continental countries. When we are submitting ourselves (as the noble Lord, the Lord Chancellor, was pointing out) to the whole code of law under which we are, with them, part of a single whole, to pretend that that is not putting a more favourable relationship between us and our Continental friends than between us and the Commonwealth is a complete delusion.

Yesterday the noble Earl used a curious phrase. He said that Britain should always be at the centre of markets and at the centre of power. Well, our geographical position put us in the centre of markets. That was one of the great strengths of our position. We did not have to look merely into Europe; we could look outside. We had our relationships with the Colonies overseas, later the Dominions; with the United States; with all continents, just because we were not tied up with the Continent of Europe. Now we are to be tied. It might be right, it may be wrong; but do not make any mistake: it is entirely different from anything we have had before. We are to become part of a larger whole, an appendage to Europe. It may be right now, but, historically, that has not been our position. We may have been at the centre of markets, but we have not bean in one market and out of the others. We have had to fight against hostile tariffs; we have had to keep our end up. We have never put ourselves into a position in which we were inside a ring-fence with a number of Continental Powers. Make no mistake: it is an entire change.

I do not quite know what is the meaning of, "being at the centre of power". We are apparently joining one power bloc. Here, too, the historic position of this country is that we do not, except in the case of a grave emergency like war, join ourselves with any one power bloc. We have kept aloof. I grant you, conditions are entirely different in the world to-day. We are right away from the days when we could do what we pleased, with the Navy at our back. We are in a very difficult world, a world of air-power, and a world of atomic weapons. I do not quite understand what the noble Earl meant by saying that we have to be at the centre of power. The two most powerful nations from that point of view are the United States and the U.S.S.R. We are not joining either of them. Is this a sort of third force which is to be built up?

That leads one right on to the political issues involved. Now one can argue a great deal about the economic advantages or disadvantages of the Common Market. I have heard a great deal on one side and on the other. I am bound to say that I found a good many of the arguments curiously unconvincing. I am told that to go in with certain European Powers would open a wonderful market to us, although they are countries highly industrialised, and they also have access to us. Whether we win or lose on that, I do not know. I am told, on the other hand, in regard to the newer developing countries, despite their great potential strength, "Ah, you must not think of them, because they are building up their own industries." Of course they are. But then the others have already built their industries. I cannot see the force of that argument at all.

When we come to the political point, I confess I feel gravely disturbed. We are allying ourselves with six nations of Europe; it may be more, but six at present. Four of those we rescued only twenty years or so ago from domination by the other two. Now we go cap in hand to the people whom we thought we beat in war. I am all for having agreements with everybody. I am ail for getting on in the world with countries very differently organised to ourselves, capitalist countries, even Communist countries; but I am rather doubtful about these present proposals.

People keep talking to me about what is going to happen twenty or thirty years hence. Can anyone say what is going to be the position in Germany or France or Italy ten years hence, or even five years hence—countries which have extremely unstable Governments? France is under the temporary semi-dictatorship of General de Gaulle. Can anyone prophesy how long that is going to last or what is likely to eventuate? Germany at the present time is ruled by the Party of Christian Democrats. Their chief opponents are the Social Democrats. I grant you the Social Democratic Party is not like the old Junker Party; but is there not a danger that in Germany the tendency will be that all reactionary forces will well round those who are against the Social Democrats?

In Italy again it is very difficult because there is a strong Communist Party. It does not seem to me to be a very good tie-up for us; and if we are to go in irrevocably and tie ourselves up with other States, I think it is an extremely doubtful proposition for Britain. I think the political dangers are very great. Once you are in there, it is quite different from being in an organisation like NATO, which is a defence organisation directed against specific perils. It is a general link-up with Europe. You may find yourselves supporting irredentist aims in Germany. You may get some very queer bedfellows. We may find we are in association with General Franco and reactionary Spain.

My noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth rather suggested that it was a really good Socialist policy to join up with these countries. I do not think that comes into it very much. They are not Socialist countries, and the object, so far as I can see, is to set up an organisation with a tariff against the rest of the world within which there shall be the freest possible competition between, capitalist interests. That might be a kind of common ideal. I daresay that is why it is supported by the Liberal Party. It is not a very good picture for the future.

Now I said I was willing to join up with anybody. In my view, this joining up exclusively with Europe is a step backwards. The great advantage to the British Commonwealth is that it stepped out of the old idea of European dominance. We are full partners with India, Pakistan and Ceylon, and now the Government are adding Africans, Malaysia and the rest. It is the great strength of our Commonwealth. If we overstep these limits of race and locality, so far from this being a step towards World Government I think it is a step backwards to the old idea of a Europe apart from the rest of the world, and a Europe that I do not think contains the best elements of democracy. I would far rather have the Scandinavian countries than I would any of these. I am not making a claim that we have should have some kind of Socialist International, but we must have the democratic countries and our great democracies in the Commonwealth overseas. That does not mean exclusion. That does not mean we should not work as fully as we can with the countries of Europe. It does not mean we should not work as fully as we can with the United States of America; and I welcome the recent pronouncements of President Kennedy. But this will put us back, so to speak, to where we have never been. It will put us back as one of a collection of European States in the pretty close confinement of a political organisation. It seems to me a step backwards.

Further, I think that inevitably we are going to be confined in our powers of running our own affairs. I believe in an ordered progression. I believe in a planned economy. So far as I can see, we are to a large extent losing our power to plan as we want and submitting not to a Council of Ministers but a collection of international civil servants, able and honest, no doubt, but not necessarily having the best future of this country at heart. I do not want to see this country planned purely economically. When we were in office we took powers, which we implemented, to raise the standard of our agriculture. We wanted a proper balance between town and country. You must have a proper balance between different parts of the British Isles. You have to look after Scotland and Wales; and our plan was not just an economic plan; our plan was a social plan.

I think we are parting, to some extent at all events, with our powers to plan our own country in the way we desire. I quite agree that that plan should fit in, as far as it can, with a world plan. That is a very different thing from submitting our plans to be planned by a body of international civil servants, no doubt excellent men. I may be merely insular, but I have no prejudice in a Britain planned for the British by the British. Therefore, as at present advised, I am quite unconvinced either that it is necessary or that it is even desirable that we should go into the Common Market. We may get such terms as will make it worth while. The longer negotiations go on, the less likely it seems we shall get what we want. Ministers work hard. They return and say they put forward this and that, but they seem to return empty-handed. I hope that before anything is done further than exploring or making tentative agreements, there will be a full discussion in Parliament again in the autumn. I hope, too, that the matter will be submitted to the judgment of the country.

4.0 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for his very interesting and helpful exposition. I am glad that a White Paper is to follow. His words will be helpful to us and will be studied also by the Political Committee of the Council of Europe, which has been asked to make a Report to the European Assembly next month on the legal aspects of entry into the Community. The rapporteur on this subject is appropriately a member of the British Delegation. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, has spoken with his usual forcefulness and sincerity, which we all respect. He has referred to the differences in his own Party, so perhaps I need not comment directly upon what he has said.

The need for greater unity in Europe is no new discovery. The signing of the Treaty of Rome was a notable step forward in a limited area of Europe. It was unfortunate, I think, that the words "Common Market" in the Treaty came into popular use as expressing the aim of the Treaty. As noble Lords are well aware, the aim of the Treaty was to build a European Community and one of the means to achieve this end was to be the establishment of a Common Market to remove the physical barriers at European frontiers. But the words "Common Market" caught on and created the unfortunate impression that "the Six" countries were concerned only with the flow and expansion of trade between themselves.

Until a year ago, very few people in this country had seen a copy of the Treaty of Rome. In signing the Treaty, the Six Governments realised that, if the Community they wished to build was limited to themselves, they had no right to the title "European". So the Treaty contained a clause calling upon other peoples in Europe who shared in their ideal to join in their efforts. The ideal was sat out, in the first sentence of the Preamble—namely, an ever closer union among European peoples. Because of the popular use of the words "Common Market", and because the Treaty of Rome itself dealt only with the means in economic terms for furthering the union, many believed that we were being invited to join simply a free trade association. The early discussions which took place, even at governmental level, seamed to confirm this impression. It was not until recently that the Lord Privy Seal succeeded in making clear to the Ministers of the Six that, in the British view, European union must be political as well as economic and that, as members, we should want to strengthen the Community's political development. Until this had been made clear, the question of our possible membership in the Community which was being built had not really been brought within the orbit of practical politics. None of the Six was ready at any time to limit the commitments of any member to economic matters.

In spite of the limited terms of the Motion before us, which refers only to current negotiations, I do not wish to say anything at the moment about these negotiations. If I may say so, the Lord Privy Seal has shown consummate skill and ability in presenting our case in all its aspects. I am sure that he has the complete confidence of those of us who support the Government's decision to apply for membership, and we wish him a very happy issue out of the many difficulties with which he has to deal. But if and when these difficulties are resolved, as I hope they will be to everyone's reasonable satisfaction, there still will be many problems to be faced.

I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, said yesterday on changing our traditional attitude. I believe that the prospect opened up, if we work together with other Europeans, to be stimulating and exciting. Even if our most optimistic hopes of a wider union of European peoples is achieved, we must not forget, as the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, reminded us in his able speech yesterday, that we have no right even then to call it "European" unless we leave the door open to other peoples who share with us Europe's past achievements. We hope that they, too, will join us one day, to build a true and fully European Community.

I referred a few minutes ago to the great problems which will face us, even after the conclusion of negotiations at Brussels. The Lord Privy Seal indicated some of them in his speech to the Ministerial Council of Western European Union on April 10 last, printed as a White Paper in May. I wish that this could have been taken as the basis for to-day's debate. It deserves more attention than it has had. Personally, I shall be surprised if a treaty of political union between the Six is not signed during the coming autumn. I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, said about any arrangements likely to be acceptable to the Six at the moment. They would not, I think, cause Her Majesty's Government any concern. But we must look ahead or, at least, think a little ahead. We know that the impetus behind the Treaty of Rome came largely from federalists, of whose work and aims the noble Earl. Lord Attlee, I understood, approved. Clearly it will be impossible to resist for very long the demand, which is very strong on the Continent, for the acceptance of majority decisions in the Council of Ministers.

Above all, we must make up our minds about the kind of Europe to which we are ready to give our loyalty, for if we enter a European Communty, we must loyally support that Community, which we shall be helping to build. Any special arrangements with the United States must in time become multilateral arrangements so far as the Community is concerned. Is it necessary, therefore, to make any stipulations, stipulations such as that before this happens the German problem must be resolved? On such a basis would the United States Congress give its agreement?

It is not wise for the United States to give advice, as hey have done on the admission of the so-called neutral countries, which was not sought or welcome. Congress will, perforce, have to deal with whatever political institutions Europeans consider desirable in the Community. These European institutions will express an independent view, as does the United States. Neither well be able to impose a view on the other, but both, we hope, will realise that any serious unresolved disagreement could be disastrous for both. I am quite sure that no European Parliament would be willing, as the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, suggested, to forgo its right to influence and approve policies for the defence of Europe. I also fear that with the spread of knowledge for peaceful purposes the use of that knowledge for the preparation of weapons will be increasingly possible. It has always been possible to misuse knowledge, and we must face this fact.

The noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, has given us a good deal to think about in his speech. May I indicate a few other more general matters upon which we have to think? Perhaps I might call it a holiday task for the British people? First, what sort of European Parliament should we like to see? How should it be constituted? We must not forget that its relations with the Commission are defined and circumscribed by the Treaty of Rome. Secondly, the Commission is a new and interesting experiment in Government, in some respects almost platonic in conception. We shall have to find our quota of perhaps some 400 or 500 European civil servants to work in this most important executive body. At present the Commission is ably staffed, for the most part by independent-minded young men from the Six who are dug in and experienced and who usually speak all the languages of the Community. There are also the other bodies created in the Community upon which we shall be entitled to representation. We have to think how suitable men and women can be found.

Thirdly, the Commission are charged with responsibility for regulations on matters such as patents, licences, restrictive practices and other important technical matters. They are proceeding with the issue of regulations with caution, trying, as they put it, to avoid creating two new problems for every one they solve. Fourthly, what about the study of languages generally? I listened to the Minister of Education in one country say recently that he was determined that by 1970 the new generation in his country should speak all the languages of the Community. But, before that can be achieved, teachers have to be taught. How far can the new methods of teaching help us to progress quickly; and what are we doing about it here? Fifthly, what about getting rid of passports? The requirement of identity cards as a substitute for passports, as is the case among the Six, is not really a great advance. But unity, if it is to be a unity worth anything, must mean something real to ordinary people, and that will not be the case while they are still held up by barriers at frontiers.

It is sometimes said of us that we speak with two voices: with a European voice when we are in assemblies with other Europeans, but with a narrow, national voice in our own Parliament; or that we are silent when we should speak. So, if I may, my Lords, I would end by repeating a few of the words that I used in the Assembly of the Council of Europe in May last. First, on the reason why we are devoted to Europe and all that Europe means to us. I said: Most of what we value in life in the world of the mind has been nurtured and shaped in Europe. In the preservation and spreading over the centuries of the standards of value and judgment which have sprung up from its soil, Europe has performed a unique and outstanding service to the world. We want to see a Europe united, and when we say 'united' we mean a Europe which speaks with political vision. If we are frank, we have to admit that the political field is the one in which the failure of Europe has been only too evident throughout its history over a thousand years and more of great achievements in other fields. There are few countries in Europe who can point to and be proud of having had political institutions which have stood the test of time. In spite of the long record of British Parliamentary evolution, we have to recognise that even our institutions were not sufficiently influential politically to restrain the destructive forces which Europe generated side by side with great constructive thoughts and works. It is as if all the liberal sentiments collected or created in Europe were concentrated upon the arts and science and all the illiberal sentiments went into politics. There are of course a few, but far too few, notable exceptions, and we should take warning. It would appear that in a developing civilisation, as in nature, there is action and reaction with which the mind of man must cope. It may be that it is not possible, or that it will be increasingly difficult in the future, to separate the potentially constructive from the potentially destructive; and that the answer must be sought in the minds of men rather than in political institutions. If this be true, it is all the more necessary that all of us in Europe should, as it were, grow together in association of mind and of experience. There, my Lords, I think, rests the case of those who would see this country a part of a European Community.

4.19 p.m.


My Lords, I will be brief for three reasons. First of all, I have already addressed your Lordships' House upon this subject on two occasions; secondly, I have very little to add to what I venture to call the superb speech delivered yesterday by the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth; and, thirdly, because we are speaking while most delicate and difficult negotiations are actually in progress and, therefore, to some extent, in the void. In these circumstances, my Lords, one can speak only in generalities, and in terms which one must hope will aid rather than impede our very able team of negotiators in Brussels.

If, as the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, said, we are now batting on a rather sticky wicket, it is to some extent our own fault. Immediately after the war, when we were the only country in Western Europe that had been neither conquered nor occupied, we could have had the leadership of Western Europe on our own terms, on any terms we liked; they begged us for that leadership and we did not give it. Mr. Ernest Bevin, whose greatness as a man I do not impugn for a moment, would not look at it, nor would the Government of which the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, was the head; they would not play at that time. Lord Morrison of Lambeth's tenure of office as Foreign Secretary was too short to enable him to do what I think he wanted to do.

In 1951 we had another chance. Sir Winston Churchill had, for several years, been the strongest advocate of a United Europe. After the famous Zurich speech he asked for, and indeed demanded, in the Council of Europe the creation of a European Army "in which we should all play a worthy and honourable part". The noble Earl, Lord Kilmuir, whose absence from the Woolsack we all regret but whose presence in this House we still enjoy, came out to Strasbourg as Home Secretary and told the Consultative Assembly on behalf of the Government that there was no refusal on their part to participate.

That very night the noble Earl. Lord Avon, announced at a Press Conference in Rome that we would not participate in the European Army on any terms. Again, I would not wish to cast any doubts upon the tremendous services he has himself rendered to this country over the years; but this is the old, and I must say at all times a friendly, conflict between myself and him. I believe the noble Earl, Lord Avon, to be not only the architect but the creator of the Six; because it was that action on our part which forced M. Spaak to resign the Presidency of the Consultative Assembly, and which compelled him to advocate what was then called the "little federation" of the Six. It was due to the disillusionment of the Council of Europe with Britain at that time—and I was a member of the Council of Europe, and I saw it, and it was a horrible time to have to go through—it was due primarily to that reason, that the Six ever came into existence at all. As I have said, the noble Earl, Lord Avon, and I have been well aware of this conflict between us, and it has always been conducted on very friendly terms. But I feel that he ought not now to criticise too hard a Government which are doing their best, in far less favourable circumstances than those which confronted him, to retrieve a situation which he deliberately created. I shall come later to another point on which I think we shall find ourselves in substantial agreement, and that is on the question of Atlantic Union.

My Lords, there came another chance. The Strasbourg Plan, passed unanimously by the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe, sought to associate the Commonwealth closely and at the very outset with the economic development of Western Europe. It was transmitted to Her Majesty's Government with the simple and sole request that it should be submitted to the Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers for their consideration. It was never so submitted. It was poleaxed, as I have said before, by that dreadful Department the Treasury overnight; and this was before the negotiations for the Treaty of Rome had even begun. We had the chance then, with the full approval of all the European countries, without exception, of bringing the Commonwealth into the economic development of Western Europe from the very outset; a chance which President de Gaulle later took in respect of French territories in Africa.

I come now to the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, to whom we have listened, as we always do, with very great attention and almost with awe. But, my Lords, I hope the noble Earl will forgive me if I say he did really distort the facts in saying that Her Majesty's Government were now definitely preferring, or putting on a higher scale, the countries of Europe to the countries of the Commonwealth. I really do not think that is true. The noble Earl has devoted the last three or four years of his life to the cause of World Government. It is a noble cause. He has exhausted himself in his efforts on behalf of that cause; and I, for my part, admire him, because I am profoundly convinced that for the long run he is right, and that this is the ultimate and only solution for mankind.

Unless we can establish some form of World Government or order before the end of this century the doom of mankind is, in my opinion, sealed. The noble Earl spoke disparagingly of inter-national civil servants. If we are ever to have a World Government it will be pound to have international civil servants. I merely say that it cannot be lone now, for obvious reasons; and it certainly cannot be done in one single jump. If it is to be done at all, it must be done in stages and, to my mind, the first stage is the creation of a United Europe. In his message to the 21st Anniversary of Federal Union, the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said: The real challenge for the future is how far we are prepared to surrender the old concepts of absolute national sovereignty. He went on to say:

Europe now has to serve the world. And the peoples of Europe must got together to put their long traditions to the service of humanity as a whole. I confess I do not quite understand how he reconciles those statements with the speech he made to-day.

As I see it, the main hope, and perhaps the only hope, for the future lies first of all in the creation of a United Western Europe, by stages—not too much "supra-national" structures, not necessarily Parliaments—beginning with the Governments, but going much faster than lately. Secondly, in the development (and here I think I will carry the noble Earl, Lord Avon, with me) of a rather looser but still organic Atlantic Union, which will include Canada and the United States and a United Western Europe; I think that is an absolutely inevitable next stage, because it is on the march now; it is in the stars. Finally, of course, as the ultimate objective, there ought to be agreement between the mighty forces of the Communist world and of our world, each with the power to destroy each other or to negotiate, to liquidate not only the hot war but the cold war, and to establish, as the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, wants so much to do, some kind of world order. I think it may take a generation; but I think, if it is going to succeed, it has got to be a continual process, that we must not stagnate or stand still, sit back and say, "We cannot get on this way or that way at the moment", and do nothing. We have got to be getting on with it all the time.

I turn for a moment, and in conclusion, to the critical negotiations which are now taking place in Brussels. There is no doubt whatsoever that M. Spaak and M. Jean Monnet, who can justifiably be described as the practical pioneers of European union, want us to come in; so does Dr. Erhard; so does Dr. Hallstein; so do the Italians; so do the Dutch. The difficulty, we are given to understand, is General de Gaulle. I do not know to what extent this is true. President de Gaulle is not a very easy man; we all know that. The noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, suggested yesterday that he might still have some bitter memories of certain arguments which he had to conduct with President Roosevelt and Sir Winston Churchill during the war; and, I have no doubt, from time to time, with my noble friend Lord Avon, although I also know that at all times he did his best to smooth things over. Who can tell? I think it may still rankle.

Nevertheless, anyone who heard his speech in Westminster Hall, who has read what he has written in the magnificent prose that he has written it in, and seen what he has done in Algiers, cannot fail to appreciate the essential greatness of this man. He is a great man. I had the privilege and the honour of lunching with him the day after he travelled to London from Bordeaux in 1940, and the day on which he made the broadcast speech which altered the course of history. Thereafter he was always a good friend to me. I do not presume to suppose that anything I now say can possibly influence his judgment or his actions; but in politics you can never be sure. A chance remark may make a difference. Therefore I would venture to appeal to President de Gaulle to make things a little easier for us, and not so much harder. If he did that, I am quite sure it would be for the benefit of all of us.

The only caveat that I would enter before I sit down is that, if we do go in such a mighty union as there will then be—over 250 million people, the richest and cleverest and the most prosperous people in the world—the union must be outward rather than inward looking. I think that this is tremendously important. We cannot become part of a prosperous and highly protected enclave in an impoverished world. If this union comes about, in one form or another, we shall have greater obligations and duties not only to the Commonwealth, but to all the underdeveloped countries of the world than we have at the present time; otherwise, in the long run, Communism will prevail.

There is, I think, in some quarters a tendency to regard this as a safe, highly protected, highly prosperous and self-sufficient organisation. It cannot be that. Over two hundred and fifty million people, the richest and most prosperous people on earth, cannot isolate themselves from the rest of the world. I should like to emphasise once again that if this comes off—and I think that it will come off—we shall have to make it quite clear that, for our part, we recognise that we shall have tremendous obligations and duties to the outside world as a whole. I think that, if we go in, our influence will be decisive in this particular matter.

On the question of sovereignty, there is little that can usefully be added to what was said yesterday by Lord McNair and to-day by the Lord Chancellor. I can only add that, in my firm belief, insistence on absolute national sovereignty has been the curse of what we call the free world ever since the war. It has held everything up; and it has been exploited by the Communists to the point at which it has become an intrinsic part of their own dialectic. This virulent nationalism throughout the East, in Arabia, in Africa and Asia, has worked against us.

Finally—this is my last word—I want just to say that I am a little worried about the timetable. We are now settling the future, not only of this country, or of the Commonwealth, or of Europe, but in fact of the world; because the future of the world will depend largely on what happens as a result of these negotiations. This really does not have to be done by July 31, or even by August 10. My final plea is simply this. These negotiations are most complicated and difficult. If a pause is necessary for further reflection and consideration on the part of all, let us have it, even if it takes us to September or October. We are not running a race. These things are far too important. There was a moment when one might have imagined, from what Her Majesty's Government were saying, that we had to get decisions taken before Parliament rose, and therefore by to-morrow. When you are deciding the future of the world such considerations are absolutely ludicrous. I would only suggest to your Lordships, if it becomes necessary to take a little further time to consider these enormously difficult and complicated questions, let the Lord Privy Seal have no hesitation in saying that we will have not an end to, but a brief adjournment of, these negotiations.

4.36 p.m.


My Lords, it had not been my intention to intervene at all in the debate this afternoon. I am sorry that I did not hear the first words of Lord Boothby's speech. I got here as soon as I heard that he was speaking. I did not know he was going to refer to 1953–54 on the question of the European Army. If I intervene for a moment, it is merely because I think this point, which was quite fairly raised, is one that is germane to what we are discussing now.

Let us look for a moment at what actually happened; let us go back into that time. What happened was that E.D.C. eventually came before the French Parliament for ratification by them, and severe pressure was put upon France to ratify. We were urged, or asked, to give a number of guarantees, which we did give; but the principal pressure at that time came from the Americans, most eager that France should go into E.D.C., not eager that we should go into E.D.C. That was the American advice, and it was given, if I rightly remember the phrase, with an agonising reappraisal. So that was the advice. So let us look and see what happened. The French went through much Parliamentary travail. Long debates were held and, as I have said, assurance after assurance was given by us in the terms which they were asking. But eventually the French Parliament decided that they would not accept the European Defence Community. That was their decision. But was it a wrong decision? I do not think so.


I think it was right.


Then I do not quite see where our blame lies.


If the noble Earl will forgive me for a moment, if we had gone in of our own accord from the beginning, without listening to the Americans, the French would have accepted it. It was our refusal that made them throw it out.


That is presupposing that E.D.C. was a better arrangement than that which has now been arrived at. If the noble Lord will allow me to open up my argument, I am going to try to show him that the present arrangement is infinitely better than the E.D.C. could have been.

What is the difference? The E.D.C. would have been a compact Europe even without a regiment, but with the great military power outside it. What we did as a result (if I may I will come back to my story of the French refusal to ratify) was to say: "All right; if we cannot get agreement on a small European Army, the problem behind it is German rearmament. Let us have German rearmament where it is safest, not in a European Army but in N.A.T.O." That is what we did. I thought that was what was agreed. It was a fortunate solution and one extremely advantageous for the future of the world. In other words, if you can get an Atlantic solution it is even better than a European solution, and you take a European solution only if you cannot get an Atlantic one. Is there any noble Lord here this afternoon who would not infinitely prefer this problem if it were an Atlantic problem instead of a European one. Would anybody feel any real anxieties if we were moving towards a Federation across the Atlantic, including Canada and the United States? Not one of us. The difficult problem that we now have to settle is a more limited one.

My Lords, I intervened only to give my views on 1954. I should be sorry if I were led into a speech when I had not given any notice of my intention to do so. But I should like just to add this. I do not want to say anything about the current negotiations (I do not think that anybody can do that helpfully at this moment), except perhaps just to put this thought into the mind of the House. It may be that it would be wise, as the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, hinted, not to try to press the negotiations unduly. But there is a timing in these things which only those negotiating can feel.

There is one impression that I should like to correct. I read several reports in the newspapers over the week-end which spoke of a "crisis"; and one passage I noticed said that "the Government's negotiators were in a weak position." I do not quite know what that meant. I should like to say, as one with a little experience of negotiation, that I do not believe that is true. Because, my Lords, the British Government are asking for three sets of conditions which they themselves have laid down—and which are, I believe, supported by the great mass of the people of this country. There may be differences of opinion on whether we should be in or whether we should be out, but there is virtually no difference of opinion that those three terms on which the Government orginally went in must be substantially fulfilled. And, for my part I believe that in trying to get them the Government are speaking for the nation.