§ 2.48 p.m.
§ LORD GLADWYN rose to urge Her Majesty's Government, after the necessary consultations, to name a date on which it would be their intention to sign the Treaty of Rome, and in any case at once to indicate the general lines on which an autonomous Western European Political and Defence Community, within the framework of the Western Alliance, might most suitably be constituted; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, we on these Benches have thought it right to devote this debate to an investigation into our general European policy because we Think that this is still the issue on which, so far as this country is concerned, almost everything will depend. Your Lordships may have noticed that the original Motion that I put down some time ago was rather long and detailed and dealt chiefly with Defence. The present Motion is, as you will see, much shorter and brings in the additional feature of a Declaration of Intent to join the Common Market.
§ These two proposals were recently put forward at a Liberal Party Press Conference, and were discussed to some extent in the Press. They are closely linked, as I hope to show, and are intended to point the way to constructive initiatives which any Government of this country, as we think would be well advised to take, if they were not prevented from doing so by old, unhappy, historical memories, on the one side, or perhaps by Party considerations of a rather ideological nature, on the other.
§ Let us take first of all the proposed Declaration of Intent. I should hope that after I have explained this to your Lordships there might be general agreement on this particular proposal. Certainly I should not want to put it forward myself with any Party consideration in mind. Indeed, my profound conviction is that, if we are ever going to unite Western Europe—and I hope we shall— 615 it will have to be either on some all-Party ticket, so to speak, or as a result, I am afraid, of a disruption of the present two great Parties in this country. That is my view.
§ Whether your Lordships accept this general feeling or not, the Declaration of Intent is really not a revolutionary, a useless or a self-destructive suggestion as has been represented by some. As a new idea it has given rise to a certain amount of opposition, which was to be expected. Nor is it likely to appeal to the Government—though I shall be interested to hear what the noble Earl, Lord Longford, has to say on the subject —in their present mood. I dare say that there are some members of the Government who secretly agree with it, and we should hope that perhaps on consideration even the Government might after a period of time do so, too. What I cannot see, however, is why the proposal should not appeal to members of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, for it seems to me—perhaps I am wrong, and I am sure the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, will tell me if I am—that they are moving steadily towards an acceptance of European responsibilities.
§ Having said that at the outset, may I now explain the idea? Slowly, and more especially since the Election, the instinctive conviction seems to have been spreading in this country that we shall never emerge from a period in which the pound is potentially in danger and the threat of grave deflationary, or alternatively inflationary, measures hangs over our heads, until we have made up our minds on certain basic choices—namely, whether to become a permanent satellite of America; or to "go it alone", perhaps with one or two other countries with highly socialised or, if you like, "directed" economies, with neutralist connotations; or, thirdly, to join the E.E.C. True, we may not achieve our objective, whatever it is, in full degree, but I believe that at some stage we shall be forced to do something, which implies a choice. If at that moment we in this nation know what it is we really want to achieve, then we shall already be far on the way towards achieving it.
§ Therefore, let us assume for a moment that under pressure, not only from all the efficient and up-to-date sectors of British industry and finance, and perhaps 616 even from certain modern and forward-looking trade unions as well, but also from those of all classes who are increasingly sceptical about organising the Commonwealth as an entity, political or economic, and who do not want just to be a weak associate of America, the Government of the day decide in their own mind that their objective is Europe. If they come to that decision, what should the Government most profitably do to achieve that end? There are those who say that the best thing would be to dissemble their love, to profess their continuing devotion to EFTA, to make out that they were doing extremely well as the best American pupil among all the others, and in their defence, not only of the pound but of Malaysia, the Hadramauth and the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi. In other words, we should let the Six come to us and our EFTA colleagues and beg us to enter their Community, at which point we should, as a point de depart, trot out Mr. Gaitskell's five conditions of 1962 and proceed to have another long negotiation in Brussels. In no circumstances should we give way in advance anything that might be considered a bargaining factor when and if the negotiations are resumed. In all circumstances we should insist on our absolute right to complete economic and political independence.
§ This would be a certain way of never getting into E.E.C. at all. Whatever may happen in the internal affairs of our nearest neighbour across the Channel, it is scarcely conceivable that the Six will ever take the initiative by suggesting that Britain should now join the E.E.C., or that EFTA as a whole should do so, still less that the E.E.C. should join EFTA, thereby transforming itself from a Customs Union into a Free Trade Area. It is not possible to imagine these things happening. De Gaulle, or no de Gaulle, the Six will in fact do precisely nothing unless and until the British Government make it clear that they at least accept all the political and economic implications of the Treaty of Rome and wish, if possible, to sign it.
§ Again assuming, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government at some point decide that that is what they want, then I suggest that they should have no hesitation in saying so now. This is all 617 that is involved in a Declaration of Intent. It would not be conceived of as a sort of legal document which would bind us in all circumstances to join the E.E.C. and sign the Treaty of Rome irrespective of the attitude of the Six. But at the moment nobody knows whether joining the Community really is the Government's long-term aim. From their pronouncements up to now one might legitimately conclude the opposite. Obviously it would be a great step in advance for anybody at all European-minded if the Government could simply say where they now think they are going. That is all that is being suggested they should do as a first step. But it would add greatly to the significance of any such Declaration if it also embodied a statement that it was the hope—no more than the hope, of course —that the Government would be able to sign the Treaty of Rome before January 1, 1968; that is to say, the date on which the Community enters into its third and final phase in which certain decisions are taken by a majority vote, and after which date it would be more difficult for us to join the Community, if that is what we want to do.
§ Suppose Her Majesty's Government got as far as that—and why not?—then surely it would be equally desirable for them to say also that during the next two or three years, that is to say before January 1, 1968, they would, so far as it lay in their power, do everything possible to prepare the way for the entry of this country into the E.E.C. by doing such things as gradually adapting our own system of agricultural production to that prevailing in the Community; seeking in some wider forum, such as the Kennedy Round, commodity agreements which would to some extent solve the problem of the disposal of the agricultural production of New Zealand and indeed of agricultural surpluses everywhere in the world; reducing tariffs in certain spheres in which they would be reduced if we did join the E.E.C., thus enabling production in this country to be concentrated in other areas in which there would be greater openings if Europe were united; getting on with such things as the adoption of the Centigrade and perhaps the metric system; and, of course, in a restricted sphere, where we all agree, doing our best to favour common projects with all our 618 European neighbours, notably with the French in such matters as aircraft production, Channel Tunnel, and so forth. It is clear that the Government, though in practice they may well do some of the things I have suggested, could hardly issue any such Declaration of Intent except after consultation with our EFTA partners and with the Commonwealth. I cannot see that there would be any great objection on the part of any of our partners, whether in EFTA or even in the Commonwealth, to such a course.
§ One would have thought, also, that if we made it clear that we wanted to issue such a Declaration of Intent, the Norwegians, the Danes and, I suppose, the Irish would be only too happy to follow our example and make similar declarations of their own; whereas other members of EFTA who could not do that, such as Sweden, Portugal and Switzerland, might make known their intention to conclude articles of association with the Common Market before the same date as we have in mind —that is, January 1, 1968—when, incidentally, the present ruler of France will be over 77. What I do know for a fact, my Lords, is that such a Declaration would have a tremendous effect on the Continent and would go far, by itself, to rally our remaining friends and thus strengthen our case. If there are any doubts about this, ask any European-minded German, Frenchman or Italian and see what he says.
§ All this would not prejudice the chances of EFTA's remaining in existence. It would simply presuppose, and, indeed, I think it would probably be the only thing that could result in, a gradual coming together of the Community and EFTA during the next two and a half years or so. There are, of course, matters which would have to be dealt with in formal negotiations, such as the voting formula and, more important still, perhaps, the method of distributing the agricultural levies—the vast sums accruing to the Commission in Brussels as a result of the agricultural levy. But these could suitably be left until a rather later stage, and in the meantime, if there was any good will on the part of the Six, as there might be, the Commission in Brussels might be of assistance in suggesting ways and means whereby our several economies could be adapted to those of the Six, or vice versa.619
§ Always supposing that we come to the conclusion that our future lies in joining the European Economic Community, if we possibly can, this seems to me to be about the only practical way of achieving our objective. Vague talk of associating EFTA as a whole in some way with the E.E.C., as has recently been suggested by the Prime Minister, under the influence of his European Socialist friends, though welcome in itself and, no doubt, a step in advance, is, I believe, only a very small step forward, just as I think are suggestions for institutionalising EFTA, even to the extent of making it equivalent to the E.E.C. and then trying to initiate negotiations as between one body and another. EFTA has no common tariff, and there is no possibility of achieving anything like an Economic Union. So it is quite different from the European Economic Community, and any efforts to institutionalise it would appear to some to be designed to perpetuate the division in Western Europe rather than as an attempt to effect some kind of union. If we are really "poised for a new initiative", which I understand is the Prime Minister's phrase, so far as Europe is concerned, then it must be something very different from this kind of thing.
§ Even if anybody should still be suspicious of a Declaration of Intent I would ask your Lordships to consider seriously whether there is any other hopeful technique which could be employed if we are now to give effect to what is, I believe, a real urge on the part of the people of this country to join the Common Market. The Government themselves are now aware, I am sure, of this, as it were, instinctive urge, and it is therefore to be hoped that they will be able gradually to overcome the well-known resistance of their powerful Left-Wing supporters. Apparently the tactics are to do nothing which would irritate those representatives of the people who would clearly prefer the second long term solution to which I referred in my opening remarks namely, Socialism, neutrality, and, no doubt, good relations with the Third World and the Russians. All I can say is that if this body of Government supporters can swallow the American policy in Vietnam and the maintenance of the base of Aden, they 620 could surely, without any very grave disaster to the Government, swallow some Declaration of Intent to join the Common Market.
§ I approach the second part of our Motion, which is perhaps rather more controversial. Always supposing that there is a desire, which is essential, of course, on the part of the British Government to join with the Six, as an equal in forming a real European entity, we believe that they ought also to make known here and now their views on the best way to organise European defence, within, of course, the framework of the Atlantic Alliance. A political and Defence Community is not, however, something that will necessarily and inevitably grow out of the machinery of the Treaty of Rome, though, of course, it might. It is true that by late 1967 the Six will almost certainly have to devise some kind of system of political control of the vast funds to which I have referred and which will generally be accruing to the Commission in Brussels from the agricultural levies. It is even true that by then, supposing the E.C.C. continues, they will be almost forced to contemplate establishing some body which will be, in effect, the equivalent of a European Ministry. But this still does not mean that they will by then inevitably have to have a common defence policy, still less that they will be on their way to achieving a common foreign policy.
§ At the moment, as we know, the Six are experiencing great difficulties in arriving at any common view on any political machinery. The French insist that if anything has to be established it must be of the loosest possible character, and simply approximate, as we understand it, to an alliance in which one member would have a special privileged position owing to its possession of an embryonic "Force de Frappe". They also seem to be suggesting that their colleagues must agree in advance that the new machine, when constructed, must be totally independent of America, and perhaps even of "les Anglo-Saxons", too.
Here, surely, is an opportunity, one would have thought, for Her Majesty's Government to state the broad lines of a Western European Political and Defence Community of a totally different nature from that, and one which, as we think, really would make sense and 621 would work. If it is going to appeal to "Europeans" then it will certainly have to be something more positive than a simple alliance in which we should just do our best to co-ordinate our policies. After all, such a body as that already exists, in the shape of the Western European Union. The reason why the W.E.U. —apart from its Parliamentary side—has been almost entirely useless so far is because it has no real creative content. In other words, it has no machinery set up by common consent for giving effect to common decisions, and therefore it is simply a collection of independent nation States each pursuing a totally independent foreign and defence policy of its own. If Her Majesty's Government feel, therefore, that it should be revised so as to provide for some effective machinery, then why should they not say so?
§ More particularly, I think they ought to say how they foresee the future of the British and French "Forces de Frappe". It is just no good passing over this thorny subject in total silence, for the only reason that the word "nuclear" sends shivers down certain spines. For if the idea of some common European defence organisation is accepted in principle—and it surely must be accepted in principle if we say that we want eventually to sign the Treaty of Rome—then clearly it will be for the European Defence Community to decide how best the two nuclear deterrents—the one small and the other, of course, still embryonic —could best be co-ordinated in the general interests of the Western Alliance.
§ On these Benches, my Lords, we go so far as to say—this came over in our declaration the other day—that the right thing would be to arrange for the provision of the necessary technical information on nuclear matters by the British to the French on one condition—namely, that France does not proceed with her arrangements for blasting off the hydrogen bomb and will, in fact, agree to sign the Test Ban Treaty. One would have thought that this suggestion might well be acceptable to the Americans and result in their also agreeing to our proposal. What, however, we simply could not do—as I am sure everybody will agree—would be to accept a system in Europe which allowed any European deterrent to be used, or its use threatened, against the wishes of the Americans, at any rate for so long a 622 period as their troops are in Europe and Europe depends primarily, as it does now, for its ultimate defence on the nuclear umbrella of the United States. But then, of course, neither presumably could the Germans or the Italians favour any such idea, either.
§ My Lords, we have only to reflect for a moment to see that some kind of common command would be an inevitable feature of any European defence organisation that might be set up at the present time. How would it be conceivable for Europeans to conduct a defence policy irrespective or regardless of American wishes, at any rate for such time as they are dependent on American strength? After all, all that would happen if the Americans did, by any evil chance, withdraw their troops from Germany now, or for many years, would be that the Eastern Germans supported by the Russians would simply walk in and imprison the remaining French and British garrisons in Berlin. Nobody could suggest that they would really be deterred from so doing by any thought of retaliation on the part of Western Europe; at any rate, unless its own nuclear deterrent is far greater than is the present case.
§ My Lords, the Atlantic Institute, of which I am the British Vice-President and of which the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, is a distinguished Governor, will shortly publish a work entitled Beyond Alliance by a most intelligent member of the staff of the Economist, M. Francois Duchene, after consultation with a great number of the acknowledged world experts on the subject. I cannot quote from this excellent pamphlet, I am afraid, which has not yet quite reached its final stage, but I can say that it is a most able examination of the potentialities of an Atlantic Nuclear Force—I am sure that the Government would appreciate that—which reaches the broad conclusion that such a force is conceivable only if it embodies both an American and a single European veto, which in turn means that, somehow or other, a body must be constituted whereby a European veto can be exercised in case of need. We probably cannot contemplate the emergence of such a body as that in the near future; but what we certainly can do is to lay the foundations for this European Defence Community, if we will.623
§ So we should make clear what, in our view, are the essential features of any European Defence Community which would be suitable for us to join, and which we should like to see constructed. At the same time we should make it clear that if we do join such a Community it must have real powers, and not be a mere alliance on the lines now proposed by the President of France. In particular, it should at least embody the feature of an independent commission, consisting of men of distinction appointed by the Council of Ministers to whom European defence and political problems should be referred by the Ministers for advice, and who would tend to look at such problems from a general European, and not from a purely national, point of view. If possible, it should also embody the conception of qualified majority voting, at any rate in certain spheres, more particularly in the sphere of standardisation of armaments. Finally, I think we should make it quite clear that we favour some increase in Parliamentary control.
§ I suggest that that would be the sort of Community which we in this country might contemplate entering. In any case, it would be a very good thing for the Government to make up their mind on this point and, when they have made up their mind, to say what conclusion they have come to. There is no doubt at all that some pronouncement on these lines would do more than anything else to convince those Europeans who would not, if possible, wish to set up a defence community without our participation, that we were in earnest about European unity, and that therefore it was worth waiting for us to come in and join before starting off on their own on some form of unity, which in present circumstances would have to be an alliance based on the hegemony of one Power—namely, France—and which it might be increasingly difficult for Britain to associate herself with in the future.
§ Nothing would be lost by such a Declaration on our part—why could we not make it at the next ministerial meeting of the W.E.U.?—and much would be gained. It would not be accepted in W.E.U. at the moment, but at least we could put it on record that it was our view. After all, your Lordships will 624 see that we should not lose anything except a total independence—which at the moment we do not possess. Besides—this is another consideration—there are two possibilities. Of two things, one. Either the proposed nuclear deal for exchange of information works and for this or for other reasons opposition to our entry into the European Economic Community weakens, in which case we obviously need not insist for the time being on any supra-national features in the new Political and Defence Community if others should object: or a new situation arises in which, in order to get into the E.E.C., we should have to subscribe at least to certain supranational features, in which case we should probably by our Declaration have ensured our participation in advance.
§ My Lords, I would say only one word in conclusion. Nobody quite knows where the recent British interest in, and large acceptance of, the European idea has come from. Some people say that it is because of pressure from British industry and so on, to which I have already referred; and this may well be partly so, since I am afraid that all the great experts in this field are becoming increasingly alarmed at the long-term prospects for industry generally as a result of our exclusion from the European Economic Community. But others say that it is largely due to a realisation on the part of a much wider section of our community of the fact that the Commonwealth, admirable as it is as a sort of multilateral club, is not in itself the answer to our difficulties, as I am afraid this wide section was given to understand and to believe before the Election.
§ Gradually it is dawning even on those who,two or three years ago,on nationalistic grounds, strenuously opposed our joining the E.E.C., that our future lies with our ancient neighbours, and that linking ourselves with them will not mean the end of this great nation—very much the reverse—but only imply a willingness to take certain decisions in common, so that all of us will be strengthened in an effort to face a new and, indeed, I think, a rather frightening situation. There is perhaps the final suspicion, my Lords, that, if we really cannot make our peace with Europe, we shall no longer be in command of our own destinies, and that 625 all too soon we shall be seeing the writing on the wall. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.21 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, when I had the duty of introducing the European Free Trade Association Bill in your Lordships' House in 1960 I was very strongly pressed by the Labour Front Bench to give an assurance that this new Association would be used not to divide Europe but to unite it with the Common Market, which had then been formed without us, and of which we had not yet tried to become a full member. The Leader of the Labour Party in this House, the late Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, of beloved memory, was at that time silent on this subject, for there were many of his colleagues who, although they were not committed, were strongly inclined to the Common Market side of the fence. The noble Viscount, like a good and loyal colleague, bottled up his own feelings and waited until there had been a change in the emphasis of the attitude of his Party before he uncorked the vials of his wrath against what he believed might be the consequences to our society, and perhaps even to our salvation, of signing the Treaty of Rome.
Since the Labour Party has come into office there are signs that it may again be shifting the emphasis of its policy on this subject. When the Foreign Secretary was in Prague a short time ago, he is reported to have declared that it was our purpose to try to bring EFTA and the E.E.C. together, and the Press comments on the Prime Minister's recent party of Socialist celebrities at Chequers have surmised that at this party various ways of achieving this object were discussed. The newspapers, of course, may be wrong about this, but so far, on other matters, the newspapers have been extraordinarily lucky in their attempts to anticipate the intentions of the present Government.
Now, my Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, is asking Her Majesty's Government to give him almost exactly the same assurances which Lord Pethick-Lawrence asked me to give him five years ago, when EFTA was formed—although, perhaps, the tone of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, is a little more peremptory than that of Lord Pethick-Lawrence. In fact, when I read the terms of the noble Lord's Motion I 626 thought that the language which he had employed in framing his Motion was rather like that of an agitated and persistent Mama who demands that the date of the wedding shall be fixed before any engagement has been announced. The noble Lord must be aware that tactics of this kind may sometimes defeat their own object, especially when the suitor who is favoured by Mama has already proposed and been refused once. Whether he goes about making romantic declarations of intent is a matter the usefulness of which he must judge: it rather depends on the psychology of the other parties. I commend the noble Lord for his optimism, and I am all in favour of confidence and buoyancy in affairs of every kind; but, supposing the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, were to ask me, in the terms of his Motion, to "name the date on which it would be my intention" to dine at No. 10 Downing Street, and supposing I were to give him a satisfactory reply which was published in all the newspapers, I am not sure that this would really add to my chances of getting invited.
When the late Government applied for membership of the Common Market it was understood that all our EFTA partners would come in with us, and that if our application were successful it would not be implemented until all the others had come in. It was hoped that Norway and Denmark, being members of NATO, would become full members, but it was thought possible that those members like Austria, Switzerland and Sweden, who were politically neutral, might become not full members but associates—but they were all to come in. As I told your Lordships five years ago, it was made clear then that we regarded EFTA as a means, not of dividing Europe but of promoting European economic and also, we would hope, political unity; although it was equally recognised, and is still true, that if our hopes of greater unity should unfortunately not succeed, the EFTA partnership would still be an extremely valuable, permanent association.
My Lords, in regard to the Commonwealth, our desire that the Commonwealth trade should not be damaged by our participation in the common E.E.C. tariff was the main cause of the prolonged negotiations at Brussels. It was 627 agreed there that all the African and Caribbean members of the Commonwealth should be admitted, if they desired to be admitted, as associates, and that there should be no duty on tropical products; a concession was made about the imports of tea from India and Ceylon; and, with regard to the white Commonwealth, which was the most difficult problem of all, it was agreed in principle that special arrangements should be made about the importation of Canadian wheat, Australian wheat and New Zealand butter.
When General de Gaulle broke off negotiations in January, 1963, it was not because the negotiations appeared likely to fail, but because they appeared likely to succeed. He had always hoped that the negotiating parties at Brussels would fail to reach agreement on these difficult problems concerning Commonwealth trade. When he perceived that this was not going to happen and that we should probably become members by the end of 1963, having signed and accepted the Treaty of Rome, including the agricultural provisions and with agreements that satisfactory arrangements would be made about the trade of the white Commonwealth, General de Gaulle decided that he must use the sledgehammer and bring the negotiations to an end, because he had never wanted us to be members. I must say that within the last two years I have seen no sign of any change in the attitude of the French President or of his Government on this question.
What then should be our policy now? We have one idea about what the united Europe ought to be like and we believe our idea is shared by the majority of people in most countries of Europe. The French have a different idea and we shall only deceive ourselves and cause misunderstanding if we pretend that the two ideas are easy to reconcile. I think the difference between them was most succinctly expressed by someone at an international conference which I attended last year in America. He said that the motto of the strategic and economic united Europe ought to be, "Onward Christian soldiers"; but that the motto of the French was, "Inward Christian soldiers". That. I think, is still the difference between us. We want a Europe which will not desire the exclusion of American influence; we want 628 a Europe which will look out to the whole of the Free World and which will not be a small inward-looking European club. But if we want, as I think we must want, to persuade the French to change their policy, or at least to modify their attitude, I am sure that the right way to set about it is not in hostility to France but in co-operation with France in every practical field of endeavour.
Why is it that we want a united Europe? I do not think it is true to say, or to suggest, that Britain cannot survive economically without joining the Common Market. I think that is quite wrong and very misleading. The reason we want to join the Common Market and to have a united Europe is not to make Britain richer, but to make Europe stronger and to make the Free World more secure and more peaceful. The ultimate purpose of trying to have this great industrial base, as it is called, in Europe, an industrial base with a population which is greater than that of the United States, and with natural resources also greater than those of the United States, a base which could result in a vast surplus of industrial production, is not to make us richer but to make Europe stronger; to make Europe able to help the uncommitted countries and the rest of the Free World; to supply the capital which is so sorely needed by all the under developed countries of the world—by India, South-East Asia, Africa and Latin America—and to provide for defence wherever it is needed. But, perhaps most of all, it is to relieve America of the burden of carrying out all these functions by herself; for this is a burden of which the United States has borne a disproportionate share for such a long time.
That, of course, is one reason why a far-sighted statesman like the late President Kennedy was so anxious to have this united Europe, because he saw that perhaps the day might come (and I think the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, made a point of this in a recent debate we had on the subject) when America might get "fed up" with being the only country expected to provide for economic aid and capital equipment and to support to a large extent the undeveloped nations all over the world. If we had a united Europe and a common industrial base, we could do even more than the United States to help others; and that is the 629 reason why, as I have said to your Lordships before, when General de Gaulle vetoed our application and brought the negotiations to an end, General de Gaulle was not hurting Britain, he was hurting Europe. He was hurting the Free World and he was helping international Communism, which had gone all out to oppose and discredit the European Community, because international Communism knew that if Europe became united then very soon the whole of the uncommitted world and the undeveloped countries would cease to look to the Communists for help and would look to us, to Europe and the United States alone, for their material help and for their political inspiration.
My Lords, we must persevere in our endeavours to attain a united Europe; and as for our relations with France, while we must recognise the present divergence of our aims, we must seek to promote political, economic and military co-operation with France in every way. I hope very much that our economic difficulties will not cause any delay in our contribution towards the Channel Tunnel which will be a great impetus to trade and intercommunication between France and ourselves. We were all greatly relieved that what I think was a stupid blunder of the Government about the Concord last October was so quickly rectified; and while I know that many of your Lordships will agree with me that the Government made a very grave and culpable mistake in abandoning the TSR 2 (and I think it a great tragedy that we have done so) I think it will be a very good thing if we can join the French in producing together these advanced types of modern aircraft. Whether we have a Declaration of Intent or not, if there should be another chance of achieving a united Europe, how much easier it will be to reconcile our differences with France if we are partners in so many practical affairs!
I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, explained so fully the meaning of the second part of his Motion, because it had appeared to be contradictory to me—…an autonomous Western European Political and Defence Community, within the framework of the Western Alliance…Of course, it cannot be entirely autonomous if it is within the framework 630 of the Western Alliance, and it cannot be within the framework of the Western Alliance if it is entirely autonomous. The noble Lord explained what his purpose was in regard to that, and I do not wish to argue the matter with him. I would only say that, whatever our views may be about an independent nuclear deterrent, those who believe, as I do, that an independent nuclear deterrent is desirable for many reasons wish only the right to withdraw it from NATO in certain circumstances, if there is an emergency. It would be nonsense, I think, in a nuclear age, to say that the nuclear strategy of Europe by itself can be autonomous.
I would say that the kind of Europe we want is a united Europe which will be interdependent with the United States of America, and we must try to moderate the present disposition of the French Government to want to get the Americans out of Europe, because there can be no progress, either economically or strategically, in that direction. Europe and America must be interdependent, strategically, politically and economically, and I should hope to see, as President Kennedy desired, the tariffs reduced between them, with a view to ultimate free trade. I do not expect the noble Earl, who is now going to speak for the Government, to give us any kind of schedule of dates in this matter. I only hope that he will be able to tell us that the Government recognise the necessity of a united Europe, that the Government are conscious of its urgency, and that they realise that every year's delay is a year lost to the Free World and gained by its adversaries.
§ 3.43 p.m.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (THE EARL OF LONGFORD)
My Lords, I am sure that we are all most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, one of the leading authorities in this country on international affairs, for introducing this subject in such a distinguished way and to the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, for continuing on the same plane. I hope that they will forgive me if I do not attempt to follow them point by point, as though I was improvising, so to speak, in reply to their speeches. I am sure that I am paying the previous speakers and the House the correct compliment in coming here with a deliberate statement on Government policy with regard to Europe at the present time. My 631 noble friend Lord Walston will be replying to the debate as a whole later on.
Many other noble Lords, with great knowledge of these questions, will be speaking. I am only sorry that my noble friend Lord Henderson is not speaking on this occasion. He has rendered a priceless service to this House by the long series of constructive debates on Foreign Affairs which he initiated when we were in Opposition. I hope that the two noble Lords who have spoken will feel encouraged rather than discouraged about our European intentions when I have finished. I do not know whether there is any difference between an "intention" and an "intent"—perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, an expert on these fine distinctions, will explain that on some other occasion.
Before I come to the debate as a whole, I am sure that the House will wish me to pay tribute to the work of Sir Pierson Dixon, formerly Her Majesty's Ambassador in Paris, the news of whose death came as a great shock to us all the other day. He followed the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, whose Motion we are considering to-day, both at the United Nations and at the Paris Embassy. While in Paris, Sir Pierson Dixon had laid on him the additional duty of acting as the official leader of the British delegation in the Brussels negotiations of 1961-1963, and perhaps it is fair to suggest that he may have shortened his life by his extraordinary exertions during that period. Certainly Sir Pierson and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, worked tirelessly in the interest of achieving closer relations between the United Kingdom and Europe and between Britain and France, in particular. In him, the country has lost a brilliant public servant and many of us have lost a dear friend.
I am glad that the present Motion gives us an opportunity of discussing the question of our relations with our European partners. No doubt many Members of the House have read the late H. A. L. Fisher's History of Europe and may recall the last sentence of the introductory chapter to the first volume.Ever since the first century of our era, the dream of unity "—that means, European unity"—has hovered over the scene and haunted the imagination of statesmen and peoples. 632 Nor is there any question more pertinent to the future welfare of the world than how the nations of Europe, whose differences are so many and so inveterate, may best be combined into some stable organisation for the pursuit of their common interests and the avoidance of strife.Those words appeared in the 'thirties, but certainly their force is greater, rather than less, at the present day. Let me say at once, speaking deliberately on behalf of the Government, that our relations to Europe are of vital concern to us. We are, of course, as a country, bound to Europe in many ways already—by geography, history and common interests. Britain is a major European Power and we have an important contribution to make to the development of European unity. Conversely, developments in Europe must always play a major part in our affairs.
I break off to say that although I am primarily concerned, as the Motion is, with Western Europe, I am not forgetting that Western Europe is only one part of Europe; I am not forgetting that we are the heart of the Commonwealth; nor am I forgetting the cause of World Government, to which so many here are dedicated. But, I would repeat, we in this country could not afford to dissociate ourselves from developments in Europe, even if we wished to do so—and it is certainly not our wish to do so.
The Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister have both recently made clear our wish to see a closer relationship with all European partners established. In a debate in another place as recently as the beginning of this month, the Foreign Secretary said:We are a European country. Our future is bound up with theirs. This is as true in economics and in politics as it is in defence. It is possible to envisage a situation in which two of the groups we find in Europe, E.E.C. and EFTA. should become one group. Such a development although, for reasons which the House knows, it is not as yet practicable, is a development that would in itself be welcome.But since it is not at present practicable, it seems to us right and sensible to concentrate on immediate measures that bring those two groupings closer together.The Prime Minister, in a recent interview given to representatives of European newspapers, said:I do not think there is any question at the moment of our being invited to join the European Economic Community; so the question of negotiations is not at the moment a practical reality. But I would say that our ultimate aim "—633 and I would lay particular stress on those words, because they are important—is a common European market embracing Britain and as many other European countries as are prepared to join. If this market were of the right kind, outward-looking, prepared to continue imports from the outside world, then I cannot see that our Commonwealth interests would prove any bar. Given these conditions, they would not be irreconcilable with British interest in Europe, but complementary to it.My Lords, in purely practical terms, the interdependence of the nations of Europe is demonstrated more clearly every day. We meet together and cooperate bilaterally in NATO, EFTA, The Council of Europe, the O.E.C.D., W.E.U., and in countless other multilateral organisations, and at all levels. Our exports to other Western European countries alone amounted in 1964 to £1,583 million, or 38 per cent. of our total exports. We took goods to the value of £1,760 million from the same countries in the same year, or 32 per cent. of our supplies. One has only to think of these vast quantities of goods, or the millions of British tourists who visit other countries in Europe each year and of European tourists who come to Britain, to realise how closely the life of individuals and our life as a trading community is bound up with the rest of Europe. Our security is inseparable from that of Europe, and in close alliance with the United States and Canada we assure it together in NATO. Our foreign policies are bound up with those of our allies. In cultural and social affairs, too, as we are all well aware, we have close interests in common.
But our relations cannot remain static: Europe is evolving towards unity—here I agree with what I think is very much in the minds of both the previous speakers—and we have the ability and will to play our part. If I deal with our relations in the fields of economics, defence and foreign policy separately, it is as a matter of convenience rather than because we think it is possible or desirable to draw any clear distinction between these fields. But let me emphasize at the outset that the Europe we want to see would be outward-looking—this is certainly very much in the mind of the noble Earl, Lord Dundee—part of an Atlantic partnership, and aware of its world-wide responsibilities. Europe cannot he self-sufficient in an interdependent world.
634 To take first, then, the field of economics, it is here that progress towards integration has in some ways been greatest and here that the concept of European unity has attained the most concrete forms. We have, as we all know, these two groups, the European Economic Community and EFTA, each developing in its own way towards greater unity. We in this country, whatever Government has been in power, I am sure, have always wished the Community well in its development. We have always, also, regretted the economic divisions within Western Europe which have characterised the last decade of the Continent's development. It is tempting—I am not sure whether the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, succumbs to this temptation—to think that these divisions can be easily overcome. It is tempting to think that they are so clearly undesirable and irrational that some easy formula is possible as a result of which these problems will disappear. It is tempting to think that the United Kingdom, leaving aside her other interests, should by one stroke or gesture resolve or dispose of the whole position. I do not say that the noble Lord or other noble Lords fall into that temptation; but certainly others do.
The Motion itself recognises, however, that it is not possible for the United Kingdom merely to sign the Treaty of Rome without further ado. The Treaty of Rome itself foresees a process of negotiation between the Community and the prospective new member. It does not foresee merely that the new member should attend some ceremonial signing. Some process of negotiation is clearly involved. It is envisaged that the conditions of admission, and the adjustments of the Treaty of Rome necessitated by it, should be the subject of an agreement between the member States and the new applicant. Such negotiations would inevitably raise many of the problems which came up at the time of the abortive Brussels negotiations. There is, I am afraid, no indication that positions within the Community have changed in such a way as to make it more likely that at this moment new negotiations would succeed where the previous negotiations failed. That, I think, must be generally agreed.
Perhaps the consultations referred to in the Motion which the noble Lord, Lord 635 Gladwyn, has in mind are discussions with EFTA countries and Commonwealth countries designed to secure their acquiescence—I gathered from the noble Lord's speech that he had discussions of that sort in mind, and that they would be designed to secure such acquiescence—in our signature to the Treaty of Rome. If so, I think it is clear that these consultations would throw up points which it would be necessary to discuss with the Community. So that, again, unless one is exceptionally over-optimstic, it is unrealistic at the moment to think in terms of setting a date for signing. Certainly it is impossible for us—I am sure it would be impossible for any Government in this country—to say at what time or in what circumstances negotiations might become possible.
We may well see the day when circumstances have changed to the point where negotiation has become possible, and the character of the interests which need to be protected may well have changed itself in the meantime. But it is certain that there will remain problems to be overcome and interests to be safeguarded, in one way or another, if and when negotiations are undertaken. I say this not to exaggerate the difficulties, but merely in order that they should not be minimised. We cannot mislead ourselves into thinking that by one decision, to sign the Treaty of Rome, no matter how far in the future its implementation is set, all the barriers would disappear over night.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Earl? All I was suggesting was that the Government would say it is still their intention and hope to sign the Treaty of Rome. We have not got as far as that yet.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I have not got to the end of my speech yet. Nevertheless, we remain convinced that the present economic division in Europe is bad for us, bad for Europe and bad for the world. As the Prime Minister said in the interview from which I quoted at the beginning, our ultimate aim is a common European market, embracing Britain, the Six and as many other European countries as wish to join. I do not want to quibble over words. That is a statement of aim. You can call it a statement of intent, if you wish, but I am 636 not primarily concerned with terminology this afternoon. We believe that such a grouping, the biggest single community of nations in the world, should be outward-looking, prepared to continue imports from the outside world, and prepared to play the active rôle in world affairs which would be appropriate to it, enabling all member nations to play a full and equal part. If this could be achieved, then our Commonwealth interest, our relations with the United States, and our other world-wide interests, which are to the advantage not only of ourselves but of Europe as a whole, would, in the Prime Minister's phrase, not be irreconcilable with British interests but complementary to them.
We must continue to work towards the objective of the wider unity of Europe by all means that are open to us. In the first instance—and I hope the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, will take this in a spirit of optimism; because he seemed to be rather scornful of it—it remains our policy to ensure that progress within EFTA is as swift as possible. I know that the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, will not be scornful of operations with EFTA, from the reminiscences which he mentioned earlier. The programme for the abolition of industrial tariffs in EFTA is already well advanced. We look forward with confidence to the further development of the Association as an important and prosperous trading group in its own right, and as contributing eventually to the unity of Europe. We support EFTA, not to divide Europe, but in order to assist in its unification. It was one of the original intentions—and here the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, will support me—of the founders of the European Free Trade Area in 1959 that it should serve as a stage on the road towards a wider European unity, and we and our EFTA partners still keep this goal in front of us.
With the progress towards the consolidation of E.E.C. as a Customs Union. and EFTA as a free trade area, there are real dangers—certainly not overlooked by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn—that the economic and political division of Europe may be sharpened. This could, if unchecked, lead to rigidities which would be very difficult to overcome later, even if the will to overcome them later arrived. The House will realise that we are fully conscious of these dangers, and that we 637 are not standing idly by twiddling our thumbs. We shall do all in our power to prevent these dangers from becoming a reality.
At the meeting which the Prime Minister had with international leaders at Chequers during the week-end, there was great interest in the objective of attaining closer relations between the E.E.C. and EFTA, and we ourselves are keen to use any opportunity which may present itself of bringing the two organisations closer together. We shall hope (and if I may interpolate this, I feel that this is perhaps the most arresting part of what I have to say to the House) —and this aim is obviously shared by those leaders who were present at the Chequers meeting—to discuss any ideas which may lead to such closer relations between the E.E.C. and EFTA at the Vienna Ministerial Meeting in May. Indeed, I can go further. I am authorised to say what has not previously been published, that our Prime Minister believes that the discussions in Vienna should be at Prime Ministerial level. The Prime Minister is proposing this course to his EFTA colleagues, and believes that there is good support for it. Speaking for myself, I venture to think that this is an initiative of the first importance.
My Lords, it is our objective to make a success of the Kennedy Round of tariff negotiations. We hope that a successful outcome to these negotiations, besides bringing benefits for the development of world-wide trade, will go some considerable way towards mitigating the economic divisions within Europe. We have been encouraged by the progress already made on the discussions on the Kennedy Round, and by the importance that both main groups in Western Europe attach to it. Certainly we in this country will do whatever we can to achieve a successful result. We hope that we may achieve, in consequence, a reduction of tariffs, especially within Europe, of something like 50 per cent, over the widest possible field.
We are also concerned to prevent the further widening of economic divisions within Europe, and to do this by the co-ordination and, when appropriate, the harmonisation, of policies in organisations which link us all together. Some of those have already been mentioned. We shall certainly do whatever we can 638 in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Western European Union and the Council of Europe, to see that policies remain in step. We shall continue to make the best possible use of the bilateral economic committees which we have, in conjunction with various individual members of the Community, and we shall do all we can, through ordinary diplomatic channels, to remove bilateral differences.
We shall continue to co-operate with our European partners in undertakings such as the European Launcher Development Organisation and the European Space Research Organisation, and in various organisations which can bring us all technological benefit. Especially, we have recently been discussing with European Governments the possibility of intensifying industrial and technological co-operation. It is our purpose to develop closer practical European cooperation in the field of aviation and other forms of advanced technology. These things can mean much or little, but I should like the House to realise that the Government lay the greatest possible stress on this technological cooperation. Our aim at this stage, whatever may be the ultimate future, is a much closer working unity in Europe.
I have devoted some considerable time to the question of co-operation in the economic field, since it is here that, in one sense, progress has been the greatest, and, in another sense, that divisions have become most apparent. The consequences of these continued divisions—as we all know, and as others have said already —will be great and burdensome. It is our policy to overcome them as best we can. But in the field of politics and defence, the consequences of disunity could be even greater—though I do not say they will be. It is impossible to dissociate policy in one field altogether from another. Twice already, first in the 1958 negotiations for a Free Trade area, and then in the 1961 negotiations, an attempt has been made to create European economic unity. The effort failed on each occasion. It failed in part (I am trying to speak gently) because not all those who were negotiating were genuinely ready for progress of the kind that might have resulted from the negotiations. That was a point put more bluntly by the noble Earl, Lord Dundee.
639 It failed in part because of the real and practical differences of policy between European nations. There are well-known differences of approach to political and defence questions within the Western Alliance, and even within the Community itself. I need not enlarge on that aspect to-day.
Europe is only just beginning to make progress towards closer political unity, and we must be careful in whatever we do not to create new divisions. The desire for progress on political cooperation is shared by this country and by other countries, as well as the Six. We here in Britain have shown the will to harmonise our policies through political consultation and programmes of joint action in Western European Union and the Council of Europe. We believe that it is purposeless—and I hope that the House agrees with me here—to try to harmonise European foreign policies, or to try to shape the political future of Europe, in a group as restricted as the Six. This work of harmonisation can be done effectively only if we and all other European countries willing to participate are enabled to play our part. For our part, we have made it plain that we are willing to join in the process whenever our Continental partners make it possible.
It may be argued—indeed, sometimes it is argued—that one cannot have effective political development without some considerable prior measure of economic integration. The argument runs that it is unrealistic to expect to participate in talks on Political Union without being a member of the European Economic Community. It is true that the Community tends to build its political hopes for the future upon the economic structure which is already in process of creation. But membership of the Community—I cannot say this too often—on terms which would safeguard British national and other interests is, as I have said, not open to us at the moment; and it does not appear to us that exclusion from the one process of integration should prevent our participating in political discussions. On the contrary, as in the economic field so here our aim is the wider unity of Europe. If the will to avoid new divisions is genuinely present it should not be difficult to 640 devise an appropriate political arrangement.
The Government's view, that in further developing European unity we must constantly bear in mind the need to maintain and increase the cohesion of the Atlantic Alliance, is well known. We should earn the condemnation of posterity if, in uniting Europe, we were to produce disunity in the Atlantic Alliance. We believe that a United Europe cannot ensure its own security, let alone exert its full influence on the course of world events, unless it works in close partnership with the United States. We therefore reject the view that an economically and politically united Europe should also seek to create the means for ensuring its own exclusive defence. The desirability of maintaining the closest relationship with the United States in this field is, indeed, recognised in the terms of Lord Gladwyn's Motion.
The security of the Atlantic world is indivisible, and it is this consideration which led us to put forward our proposals for an Atlantic Nuclear Force. I need not turn to these in detail to-day, but, as the House is aware, these proposals provide an answer to the problem of the relationship between the nonnuclear Powers and the Allied nuclear deterrent. They would strengthen the Atlantic partnership and also enhance the position of Europe in that partnership. I will not go further into these proposals now, but I would just repeat what has been said already in other debates; that they are under serious consideration with our allies, and we have now reached the stage when multilateral talks are expected to begin soon.
This is not to say that there may not be a European point of view on defence. There is room, for example, for much closer European co-operation in research and the whole question of development and production of armament and aircraft. We are now actively seeking to promote co-operation in these fields. But a European point of view on defence can be effectively expressed only within an Atlantic framework. There is no room for a separate European defence grouping. In particular, we oppose a separate nuclear deterrent, not only because it would mean proliferation, to which we are firmly opposed, but also because it 641 would divide the Alliance. We support the concept of European economic and political unity but in an Atlantic partnership. We reject the two-pillar concept of European and Atlantic defence.
In concluding, may I say this? The Government welcome the increasing public interest in, and discussion of Britain's relationship with, (the rest of Europe, and to that degree of public interest no individual in this country has contributed as much as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. Our policy must take account of the realities as we find them. The Government's policies as I have described them form a cohesive, realistic and practical programme of action. They certainly do not solve all the problems of Europe at one blow, and anyone who claimed that he had a solution of that kind would be recognised as a charlatan. But we have our objectives for the future, and at this stage the best service we can render is to lay an adequate groundwork upon which to build an enduring European unity.
The noble Lord has asked for a Declaration of Intent. As I said earlier, I see no special magic in the word "intent" as compared with statement of intention or aims. I am therefore not quite sure why the noble Lord attaches quite so much importance to that particular formula. I hope that I have made the intentions of the Government clear, and that I have said enough to convince the noble Lord, now that he has listened to my speech, and, if I may say so with respect, when he has had time to read it and consider it, that we take his Motion and his suggestions very seriously. He will, I trust, realise—as I hope the whole House will—why we find it impossible to name a date as suggested by the terms of the Motion. But the noble Lord and all others present may be assured that the question of our relations with Europe is one to which the Government are giving continuous thought and effort. I hope that the whole House will realise that our hearts are in the right place and that we come before you as good Europeans.
§ LORD BLYTON
My Lords, could the noble Earl say whether the Government have rejected the five conditions laid down in Labour's Policy on Europe?
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ LORD SHERFIELD
My Lords, European integration is such a wide subject and so complex that it is hard to deal with it effectively in the course of a short speech without making perhaps too sweeping or too simplified observations. However, it is useful to consider from time to time what can be learned from our experiences of past negotiations with Europe, to make an assessment of the present situation, and to consider what posture it will be best to take up in preparation for the resumption of negotiations for a closer relationship with Western Europe, for they must be resumed sooner or later. One can applaud the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, in his efforts to promote discussion, to seek the best point of departure and indeed to try to find a consensus, which I agree is necessary, without accepting the approach which he himself advocates.
My own approach is a rather different one, because one lesson seems to me to emerge quite clearly from what has gone before, namely, that in approaching negotiations with our friends in Europe, blueprints, Declarations of Intent, public preconditions and deadlines should as far as possible be avoided. I remember when first I was shown the project for the Free Trade Area negotiations, myself querying the wisdom of laying down certain of the preconditions as likely to prejudice the successful course of the negotiations. And I believe our Common Market negotiators were handicapped by similar preconditions which inevitably emerged as a result of the public or semi-public discussion about the negotiations with the Commonwealth and with domestic interests; though these preconditions were not in the event responsible for the failure of the negotiations.
The same applies to the question of blue-prints or projects for alliances, because it seems that these elaborate constructions are apt to disintegrate when they are submitted in serious negotiations. Then, over the years there has been an increase in the political content of the negotiations with Europe. Even in the Free Trade Area negotiations, conducted purely on an economic plane, it seemed at an early stage that an agreement in economic terms would elude us unless the political factors were positive, in the sense that our partners in the negotiations saw 643 political advantages in their success. When it turned out that these factors were negative the negotiations were bound to fail.
Reduced to its simplest terms, at that time the position was that the French Government, by most able negotiation, had put themselves in such a favourable position vis-à-vis their Common Market partners that any change in the terms obtained by France to accommodate the United Kingdom would have brought, in the short term at any rate, some loss of advantage. There had therefore to be a political impetus to push the wheel over the dead centre, but in practice there was not only no such impetus, there was negative resistance.
In the Common Market negotiations, the political factors were much more obtrusive, and equally needed to be positive if the economic and technical difficulties of the negotiations were to be overcome. In practice, the political pattern underlying both sets of negotiations was remarkably similar, and in neither case were the political factors needed for success present. Whether this could have been ascertained in advance in 1961 remains an open question. In each case it was the French Government which decided the issue against British participation. Since the breakdown of the Common Market negotiations the French Government's opposition to the participation of this country in the Community has not obviously diminished. And there seems to be no particular wish to associate us with any discussions of political union in Europe. Moreover, the French Government has been active in challenging other major policies which we are pursuing or supporting in the international political, financial and economic fields. The mainsprings of this policy are as clearly stated in the previous writings as they emerge from the current pronouncements and actions of General de Gaulle.
To say this is merely to recognise that an impasse exists at the moment, and it is not necessary—indeed, I think it would be very foolish—to complain about it. As the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, implied, it need not interfere with amicable relations with the French Government and with the French people. It need not prevent our working with 644 them in fields such as the technological field, in which it is mutually advantageous for us to do so, and where we think real reciprocity can be secured. It does nothing to diminish my long-standing admiration for General de Gaulle, both in thought and action; and in any case a strong France is of greater value to the Western world than a weak one.
But there is no doubt in my mind that the course on which General de Gaulle is at present bent creates policy differences which are deep, and which involve the United States Government as well as our own Government. I do not see any immediate prospect of bridging these differences, certainly not by further Declarations of Intent; and while they remain unresolved, I can see no basis for resumption of negotiations between the United Kingdom and the Community. In any case, this, in present conditions, would carry the implication of a choice between American policies, with which I think most of us fundamentally agree, on the one hand, and predominantly French policies on the other hand—a choice which it is unnecessary, if not impracticable, to make in present circumstances, and which it must surely be our purpose to avoid.
Before, therefore, we can further consider the extent of our political integration with Europe, which it is evident that the membership of the Community will entail, there must surely be a much greater degree of harmonisation of policies than there is at present within the Atlantic framework. It has sometimes been suggested that it is in our power to make some offer in the nuclear field, which might persuade the French Government to change its mind or attitude. I was not quite sure whether an implication of this kind was contained in the proposals which the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, put before us. I personally do not think there is much in the idea. In the first place, I do not think we could make such an offer without a breach of our nuclear understandings with the United States. Secondly, I doubt whether General de Gaulle is in the least interested in negotiating in this kind of manner; and thirdly, if he were, I think he would be quite successful in swallowing the bait without becoming impaled on the hook. The problem of nuclear control must surely be approached and settled on an
645 Atlantic basis, and the search for the right formula or arrangement must continue to be sought within that framework.
If, therefore, one shies away, as I do, from initiatives such as those recommended in the present Motion, it does not mean there is nothing to be done. Indeed, seems to me that about as much is being said and done by the Government at present as is useful. I agree, particularly, that it is worth while exploring once more the possibility of some accommodation, association or agreement between EFTA and the Community. To my mind, we have not made the most of EFTA. It has been persistently undervalued, and has stood, needlessly, on the defensive. Indeed, I find that in an earlier debate on this general question one noble Lord went so far as to dismiss it as a "washout"; and to-day the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, certainly damned it with faint praise. There have been many reasons for this: the opposition of the Common Market, the lack of enthusiasm of the United States Government of EFTA at the time of its formation, the feeling that it was a means to an end rather than an end in itself. Finally, there were the preoccupations and disturbances caused by the Common Market negotiations, though, in the end, the belief that the existence of EFTA would be an obstacle to the conclusion of the negotiations turned out to be quite incorrect.
Certainly, too, in the earlier years, it did not seem that British industry was exploiting the opportunities of the EFTA market as energetically as they might have done, or to the same extent as other EFTA countries were doing. Recent experience seems to be rather better. If my figures are correct, in 1964 our exports to the E.E.C. increased by only 2 per cent., to rather under £850 million; but our exports to EFTA increased by 11 per cent., to over £600 million—relatively a quite substantial figure, having regard to the comparative sizes of the two markets. Our imports increased by 19 per cent. in the case of the Community, but by 22 per cent. in the case of EFTA, and trade between the EFTA countries as a whole continued to expand much more quickly in 1964 than their trade with the rest of the world. Although, of course, the prospects of expansion in the EFTA market are smaller than those in the Common Market, or in a wider European Market, they remain substantial. Therefore, 646 I think there is everything to be said for taking EFTA seriously.
I know that the possibility of making progress in discussions with the Community on an EFTA basis was explored at an earlier stage, without much success; and it may not succeed in 1965; but conditions have changed, and I believe it is timely to make a further attempt. In any further negotiations with the Community we must carry our EFTA partners with us, and they are old and tried friends. The concept of EFTA was that, within its limits of size and population, it was useful and viable in itself, but that it would also form a bridge to the European Economic Community and to a wider European market. I think that this is still the right conception of it.
Then there is the Commonwealth. Presumably, the Commonwealth Conference this summer will give the Government an opportunity to assess for itself what future there is for this country in the special Commonwealth economic relationship. The experience in the recent past seems to demonstrate that it is a diminishing asset. But, however this may be, the Commonwealth interests must be safeguarded, and, as the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, pointed out, the negotiations at Brussels went a long way, before they were terminated, in safeguarding these interests.
Then there are the general tariff negotiations, the Kennedy Round, which are an essential element in progress to better European Economic Relationships. The noble Earl, Lord Longford, mentioned the Kennedy Round; but I must say that it is a different subject for the ordinary mortal to keep track of, and perhaps the noble Lord who speaks for the Government at the end of the debate will tell us where it has got to. Finally, there is the attitude of the United States, whose support and good offices will certainly be needed, at least behind the scenes, at the time of the resumption of negotiations with Europe.
I come, therefore, to the unadventurous and pragmatic conclusion that there is no obvious alternative at the moment to quiet and exploratory steps, which indeed the Government appear to be taking. I do not believe that new projects or declarations would be productive, and in any case, as the noble Earl, Lord Longford, pointed out, there would 647 have to be new negotiations with the Community before there could be any question of our joining it. I will only add that I hope the Government will not feel obliged to state, or restate, or elaborate upon the conditions or terms on which they would be willing to resume discussions with Europe. In saying that, I include the conditions which they themselves have previously laid down.
It had been my intention before I sat down to refer to the sad and untimely death of Sir Pierson Dixon. The noble Earl, Lord Longford, has already paid tribute to him, but perhaps I might be allowed to add just a word or two. I think it is true that he wore himself out in his efforts to further the recent negotiations for our association with Europe. He had a hard double role, which he performed with his customary skill and modesty. He was my friend and colleague for nearly forty years. He had the experience and ability to make an invaluable contribution to the discussion of European problems, and I agree with Lord Longford that it is indeed a misfortune that the country is deprived at this moment of the fruits of his sensitive and penetrating mind.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear!
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ LORD BLYTON
My Lords, although I disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn—and I would remind him that I am not a Left-Winger—I wish to thank him for giving us the opportunity, after a lapse of two years, of discussing this big issue of the Common Market. I hope in the course of my remarks to be able to answer some of the noble Lord's arguments. Three years ago, in the Press, in speeches and in writings, a great attempt was made by propaganda to "brainwash" and stampede the British public into the Common Market. The two main Parties, Labour and Tory, were divided, but the British people were never given the opportunity to decide. We were told by the Common Marketeers that if we did not go in we should perish, and that if we did go in there would be rich rewards for us.
§ LORD BLYTON
I took part in the Common Market debates in the other place, and I can assure the House that what I have said is right. But General de Gaulle saved us from all this, and I am now afraid that we are going to face another barrage in the future to try to get us into the Common Market.
It was my privilege in 1949 to be in at the beginning of the first set-up of the Common Market, and at Strasbourg in 1950. I put the British Labour Party's position. We took the view then, on the Schuman Plan, that we should do nothing to hamper or prevent the economic integration of Europe. We stated that when the Common Market was set up, while we could not join it or be full members of it, we would at all times make agreements between us where it was necessary or where it was complementary to each other's economy. The whole concept of the Europeans in building their economic integration was their aim ultimately to have a Federal Parliament and a Federal Government. That is still the basis of all the treaties that have been made since the Schuman Plan was brought in. It was also assumed by Europeans that in building this up they would become a third force in the world between Russia and the United States.
Our reason for not joining was that, because of our special position in the world, and with our Commonwealth commitments, we could not agree to the political approach on which the treaties are based. During the years that have followed we have made articles of association with the Six and EURATOM in regard to the peaceful uses of atomic energy, and also in regard to coal and steel. During this period one could not help noticing the enthusiasm of the Europeans for a Federal Europe, which they always hoped would be attained by economic integration. They always wanted a Federal Parliament in order to be able to control the High Authority of these economic units because their powers are so tremendous. The powers of the Assemblies under these treaties are negligible, and the only power they do possess is that of being able to dismiss the High Authority by a two-thirds majority. It is also rigidly laid down in the treaties, though this has not been stated to-day, that no elected Government of those who are participants can upset any decisions of the Authority. 649 Governments can challenge its decisions, but they must go into the Community's own courts, in which decisions are given by their own judges. It is because the Europeans want this Federal Parliament to control the whole of the affairs of Europe that die political implications arise for Britain when we have to deal with this matter.
I have noticed in the last three years `many of the pro-Common Market people, in all Parties, becoming anti-Commonwealth. I hear people talk about the old Commonwealth of New Zealand, Australia and Canada with remarks like, "What did we get out of them?". But I cannot forget how they came to our aid twice in my lifetime in our terrible struggles with Germany, when this country was in dire peril and when we very much needed their aid. Then there is the new Commonwealth of emerging nations, and it is a sad commentary on the position that to-day some people would throw it away in the interests of Europe. They say quite bluntly, "We will abolish the whole system of Commonwealth preference system and replace it by a system of preference for Europe".
What does this mean to us? We buy many of our imports from the Commonwealth, a great part of them food products, representing something like 40 per cent. of our food consumption. All this, as well as large amounts of our raw materials, enters the United Kingdom tariff-free and quota-free. This has been the basis of this island's standard of living and export trade over the years. Whilst I appreciate that Commonwealth trade has gone down, this is mainly due to the fact that the Commonwealth two or three years ago felt that they were being "sold down the river" in the Common Market negotiations. I hope that when the Prime Ministers' Conference takes place this year our Prime Minister will try to arrest this trend which emerged from those earlier negotiations. Supplies of low-priced food and materials from the Commonwealth meant lower costs for British industry, which gave us a stronger competitive position in the world. France, Germany, Italy, all impose high tariffs on food to protect their farmers and they import little food from outside Europe. That is why on the Continent food prices are so high. 650 The common external tariff which the Six place on all imports from the outside world includes a very high tax on all the main foodstuffs such as wheat, meat, bacon, butter, cheese, and many raw materials as well.
I would say to the Opposition Front Bench that the terms which they accepted in 1963 in their sorry experience of an attempt to enter the Common Market would have foisted higher food prices on us and higher industrial costs. Even more astonishing was the fact that they were prepared to endanger the Commonwealth in order to impose a reactionary food tax regime in this country. In the Agricultural debate Lord St. Oswald himself admitted that prices would have had to go up, though there would be some compensation to the consumers. What they were being asked to do was to raise tariffs on goods worth four times the total on which we would lower them, by signing the Treaty of Rome. It is overwhelmingly to the benefit of the less-developed Commonwealth countries that they should have the right to send their goods here tariff-free.
If we signed the Treaty of Rome we should be forced to accept the external tariffs of the Six as they now stand, and we should be taking the biggest step backwards towards protectionism that I have known in fifty years. We should be placing new tariffs against nearly the whole world on trade worth many times the value of that upon which we should be removing them in favour of a very small area. Secondly, the acceptance of these high taxes on food and materials would be the biggest shift towards indirect taxation in this country, and away from direct taxation, for many a year. New food taxes would replace subsidies partly financed by direct taxation. Because this would raise the price of food it would hit much harder the old people and the lower paid workers with large families. Since it would force the burden of taxes back on the poorest, 1 am really surprised at the support that was given to our entry into the Common Market as full members.
Rises of this order in taxes on food and raw materials would also be a blow to our competitive power. They would force upon us a general rise in food prices and living costs. Wage rates would have to rise to compensate partly for the 651 higher prices. This would mean that labour costs would go up and real wages would come down, and this, together with higher material prices, would force up the costs in British industry and so increase the prices of our exports. Therefore the external tariff of the Six on food and materials is a threat not only to the British Commonwealth but also to the economic future of the United Kingdom.
What are the arguments which are advanced to suggest that the United Kingdom might reap advantages by signing the Treaty of Rome? They are three. The first one is that the Six can offer us a great, expanding market. This argument has been greatly exaggerated due to the failure to recognise that our exports to the Six have been rising anyway, regardless of whether or not we sign the Treaty and enjoy the tariff cuts. What has to be measured is the quantity of extra exports we could expect within the Common Market as a result of signing the Treaty of Rome. Our exports to the Six have been rising, until now they have risen by about 20 per cent. The Common Market exports have risen in the last two years from 17 per cent. to 20 per cent. The exports of the Six to one another have been rising at the rate of 25 per cent. to 30 per cent. As a result of this experience it may he said that the extra imports likely to be gained by signing the Treaty are, at a generous rate, about 122 per cent. a year, or about 2 per cent. a year of our total United Kingdom exports. Against this should have to be set the loss of the EFTA preference which we should suffer if the two groups merged, the loss of Commonwealth preference which we enjoy, and the general loss of exports due to higher food and material prices if we did not retain free entry for food and materials. The idea that we must sign the Treaty of Rome or be excluded from Europe just is not true.
What is the second argument? It is that, if we join, the dynamic growth of the Six will soon affect us. In fact all the evidence shows that the growth of the Common Market had nothing at all to do with the Treaty of Rome. The treaty of Rome was effective from 1959 and the growth in the economy of Europe occurred from 1952 to 1959, long before the Treaty of Rome was signed. Yet we 652 are asked to make great national sacrifices for this dynamic society, which I believe in the future will prove to have been an illusion.
The third argument is that if only we will join there will be a bracing cold wind of competition that will make British industry efficient. If this is true we had much better abolish all tariffs unilaterally. Certainly competition and tariff cuts are needed, but what they will do of themselves is not to create efficiency but to expose inefficiency. The present Opposition, when they were in power in 1958, abolished the import quotas and caused four years of balance-of-payments deficits. In 1925 the pound was over-valued in exactly the same way as tariff cuts would over-value it, and those of us who were working then know to our cost the years of unemployment that we faced.
Then, again, we have one totally unprotected industry to-day—namely, shipbuilding. Can it be said it is a shining example of efficiency and success? The Treaty of Rome would impose on us another major economic handicap—namely, the free movement of capital by British residents out of this country. If we signed, this could not be stopped, even in a crisis, without the consent of the High Authority in Brussels. At the moment, when we are outside the Common Market, that process is subject to Government control. It would no longer be subject to Government control if we were to sign the Treaty of Rome.
As I recall the frantic efforts of the late Government to get into the Common Market, and the terms they accepted for entry, together with the humiliation of this great nation when the door was slammed in its face, I wonder why the Conservatives are still so keen to get in. How this great failure can be depicted by the Conservative Party as a brilliant piece of statesmanship, I can never understand. But let us see what were the conditions which we were to accept on going into the Common Market. I must quote them, so that they can go on the Record. The late Government abandoned to the Common Market the power to decide farmers' prices, incomes, and food prices for the British people, and they also agreed to end the protection of the British farmer by 1970. They agreed that British farm prices and food policy should be decided by the Brussels 653 Commission, responsible to no one and with whose decisions the elected Government could not interfere, no matter how harmful they were to us. They agreed to tax cheap food from the Commonwealth and to let European dear food come to us tax-free. This would have meant an actual discrimination against the Commonwealth and damage to underdeveloped countries.
Another acceptance was discrimination within the Commonwealth. African dependencies were to be treated as second-class citizens and were to get, in return, a favourable entry into the British market, while New Zealand, Canada and Australia did not even get this. The late Government also agreed on food import levies from 1970 on all of our main foodstuffs, and it was calculated at that time that there would be approximately 5s. per head increase on food for every person in England. There is no doubt, if one studies the terms that were agreed upon then, that the Government of that day were endangering the Commonwealth; and it is no wonder that many hard things were said at the time at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.
Now the Government are asked to name a date to sign the Treaty of Rome. What happened under the last Government was without a mandate from the people. In 1959, before the Election was fought, the Conservatives were against the Treaty of Rome. EFTA was born as a result of their troubles. Let me quote what Mr. Maudling said, in February, 1959:…we must recognise that to sign the Treaty of Rome would mean having common external tariffs, which, in turn, would mean the end of Commonwealth free entry, and I cannot conceive that any Government of this country would put forward a proposition which would involve the abandonment of Commonwealth free entry. It would be wrong for us and for the whole Free World to adopt a policy of new duties on foodstuffs and raw materials, many of which come from underdeveloped countries, at present and enter a major market duty-free."—[OFFICAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 599, col. 1381, February 12. 1959.]That was said by Mr. Maudling prior to the 1959 Election.
What happened in the last Election, after the late Government had accepted these disastrous conditions? Sir Alec Douglas-Home said, "Ah! now we have 654 been defeated in the Market. We cannot get in. It is no longer an issue. "Our present Prime Minister made it very clear in a statement on the radio that the five conditions for entry into the Common Market laid down by the Labour Party Conference were the basis of the Labour Party's position.
That was not all. We were asked to go into the Coal and Steel Community. I am not going to go into that question to-night, but it seems odd that those people who were prepared to have our steel industry planned and controlled within the Coal and Steel Community, will later on this Session be voting against the Steel Bill, which will hand over the steel industry of this country to the common people. So it appears all right to hand over the control of steel to the people on the Continent, who are responsible to no one except themselves and can make a decision with which our elected Government cannot interfere, but it is wrong for the elected representatives of the people to attempt to control the steel industry. I am looking forward very much to the Steel Bill, to see what the attitude of the Opposition will be.
I should like, for a moment or two, to deal with the political implications of the Treaty of Rome which we are asked to sign. As I have already said, the ultimate aim of all of this is federalism, and none of us who opposes becoming full members would deny the idealism implicit in Germany, France and the Low Countries joining together, and ending the old enmities which have destroyed their countries in the past. Let us pay tribute to them that they want to join together, and it is no part of my business to try to prevent that. But, so far as I am concerned, it is a position that I could not accept. Some say that it is not federation but political integration which they are seeking. What is meant by this I do not know, and we ought to be told by somebody what our entry on this basis would mean, because of the serious political obligations. Are there to be majority decisions on political issues, just as there are majority decisions on economic matters? We might be told whether other countries will be able to out-vote us. There is no assurance on this point at all.
If Great Britain went into federalism, it would no longer be great but would 655 be just the off-shore island of Britain in a federation. When the Commonwealth had gone, as it would be sure to go, then our greatness would go with it. It would be the end of Britain as an independent nation; and it must be remembered that our influence in the world at all times would never have been as much had we not had the Commonwealth with us. This is a position which, I say quite frankly to the Opposition, and to my own good friends, I could not accept; and if the issues are placed before the British electorate I am certain that they will not accept them, either.
I know that the Liberal Party is all for Europe being federal. In fact, Mr. Jo Grimond said this on television after the 1962 Liberal Conference:You could have a Commonwealth link, and not of course a political link. You could have a Commonwealth link of other sorts. But of course a Federal Europe I think is a very important point. Now the real thing is that if you are going to have a democratic Europe, if you are going to control Europe democratically, you have got to move towards some form of Federation, and if anyone says different to that they are really misleading the public".That was said by the Leader of the Liberal Party, who to-day expects, some day, to be the occupant of 10 Downing Street.
I have always held the view that if we can associate with Europe, with agreements complementary to each other's economy without the loss of nationhood; if we can make agreements with other States in Western Europe while maintaining fully our links with the Commonwealth and safeguarding fully the interest of our friends in EFTA with freedom to plan our own economy, with our agriculture protected through guaranteed prices and production grants, and with the right to maintain our own independent foreign policy; and if the Common Market stops being inward-looking, then there would be some hope of building a bridge between the Commonwealth and Europe and ourselves.
My Lords, I want to conclude with the words of Hugh Gaitskell at the Brighton Conference, when he laid down the five conditions. In one of the finest speeches that ever I heard him make, he said this:After all, if we could carry the Commonwealth with us, safeguarded, flourishing and prosperous, if we could safeguard our agriculture, 656 and our EFTA friends were all in it, if we were secure in our employment policy, and if we were able to maintain our independent foreign policy and yet have a wider, looser association with Europe, it would be a great ideal. But if this should not prove possible, and the Six will not give it to us, if the British Government will not even ask for it, then we stand firm by what we believe, for the sake of Britain and the Commonwealth and the world, and we shall not flinch from our duty if that moment comes.My Lords, when that moment comes I hope that our Party and our Front Bench will stand by the stirring words with which Mr. Gaitskell left us four months before he died.
§ 5.3 p.m.
§ BARONESS EMMET OF AMBERLEY
My Lords, if I had known that I was to have the pleasure of succeeding the noble Lord, Lord Blyton, and had understood his line of argument, I should have enjoyed preparing my speech in response. Unfortunately, one does not know these things in time; therefore I hope he will forgive me if I just say that, alas!, I cannot agree with him. I feel that anything which strengthens Britain strengthens the Commonwealth and that the unity of Europe would help the Commonwealth far more than if we were to remain in isolation. Perhaps he will now forgive me if I go on with my own trend of thought.
My Lords, my slight justification for occupying your Lordships' time must be my personal familiarity with European problems from the European side, having been brought up and grown up in Europe and having kept in constant touch not only with old friends there but with present-day politicians. I would make two points only, which I venture to think are of interest: the first relating to the balance of power, and the second relating to the British approach to the signing of international obligations. Turning to the first point I would say that we know that for many centuries British foreign policy has been dictated by an endeavour to maintain a balance of power between contending nations. One can be only thankful that the ruthless dynastic diplomacy used up to the Victorian era has now been discarded, and poor Princes and Princesses can marry whom they like without any further trouble.
By the end of the Victorian era, when Britain was an Imperial Power and ruled the seven seas, the U.S.A. had grown 657 to manhood and the German and Italian nations coalesced as individual nations, the balance of power, from our point of view, was an easy one. Then we had the carving up of Africa and the European countries asking for "a place in the sun" there. That brought its dangers to the balance of power and, of course, all our present-day problems in that continent. It would seem as though the struggle of 1914–18 was really an effort to re-establish the status quo, with the League of Nations as guarantor, but it lacked the wider vision of a united Europe. This idea really came only after the Second World War, through Sir Winston Churchill's historic vision in his Fulton speech. It had already been preceded by his offer of unity to France during the war, which was, alas!, rejected. I am sure that Sir Winston saw that, in order to restore the balance of power in the world, with the emergence of the enormous units of the United States of America, Russia and China, European Powers could play little part unless they got together. Unfortunately—this is not my maiden speech, and, therefore, the noble Lords opposite will forgive me if I am controversial—at that time the Labour Party was in power, and our country did not respond.
Now the rapidity of communications and transport, the obligations of defence, economic stringency and the immediate repercussions of danger or disaster in one part of the world on the other have forced home the lesson of interdependence to the extent that even the present Labour Government are beginning to see daylight in this respect. This is undoubtedly a development in their point of view on Europe, and one would like to know whether they are going to stand on the five points made by Mr. Gaitskell. The Prime Minister gave no answer to this question in another place on April 1. I hope they will agree with the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Sheffield, who spoke just recently, about not making conditions in advance of getting on with the job. It must surely be the task of every politically-minded person in this country to bring home to the mass of our people that splendid isolation can lead only to splendid disaster and is the quickest way of drying up our trade, which is the lifeblood of our nation.
I do not myself think that political unity in Europe is very close at hand. 658 The problems in the way are still too great. Economic integration, however, is a necessity, and is increasing apace among the Six. It was also doing very well in EFTA until the surcharges were imposed. From this economic integration at ground level there will surely be political evolution in due course, because, as we know, the Old Book says:There where your treasure is will the heart be also".I think this evolution must come naturally, at its own pace, and not be hastily imposed from above; but we should be there now to help it to evolve. It is in this respect that Europe especially needs us. It is our political genius that is recognised, desired and respected, though I fear—and I say this from personal experience, having been in Europe during the last month—that the recent surcharges have very gravely damaged our reputation. Our people do not realise yet the traumatic shock that this breaking of our treaties was—and especially of those with our EFTA partners.
Some of the problems that have to be faced and solved before political unity can be established are, the intransigence of our friends in France; the existence of two very strong Communist parties in Italy and France; strongly divergent religious trends which still have their effects on politics; and differing legal systems. All these things will take time to transform and coalesce; but the European Convention on Human Rights was a good starting point. There is also the International Court at The Hague which I do not think we use enough. But we should be there in Europe now. We should be sharing in the discussions of political evolution; and I think that the tremendous impact that Britain's willingness to join would make, right throughout the world, is beyond imagination. There would be an immediate strengthening of the balance of power on the Western side and we should be returning to our traditional foreign policy with a much wider vision.
My second point is a brief one. When I was at the United Nations recently I noticed a very strong divergence between our way of accepting and underwriting Conventions and that of other nations. We were willing to vote for and help pass Conventions but would not ratify 659 them until we had convinced ourselves that we could carry out every requirement. Not so with other countries. They voted for, and ratified, Conventions which they hoped at some time or other to fulfil. Here, I believe, lies the great difference between our approach to the Treaty of Rome and the Continental one. We feel unable to sign it at the moment because it contains clauses that we could not fulfil. The Six have no reservations of that kind: although they by no means carry out all the Treaty obligations now, they hope to do so at some future date. I believe that these two different attitudes to the Treaty represent the real obstacle to understanding. I do not think they have been fully recognised.
I ask myself how one can solve this very difficult problem. I notice in the United Nations that the French ratify Conventions, but always with reservations; and I wonder whether some such solution might not be found acceptable to all parties, provided that honesty of intent was declared and accepted. Be that as it may, if Europe is to survive as a vital factor, and to play its part in keeping the balance of power, it must come together in some form or another. Perhaps at first it may be for practical purposes; and so, gradually, will evolve a European conscience. Let it speak with one voice and contribute from its vast historical experience towards the progress of civilisation and human well-being.
But, my Lords, time is not on our side. Every time I go to Europe—and I go quiet often—I see a closer growing-together of the Community in economic matters. The greater number of European nations undoubtedly desire our participation, but they are not going to wait for ever. Already we risk being shut out from great industrial enterprises in Europe—and Europe can, at a pinch, do without us. And if the European door is shut against us for good we shall endure a lingering decline. I do not want a European State, forged artificially and superimposed; but I want a European Community in which we shall be a part, making the most of the individual genius of the various nations and working in harmony for the common goal. This is really a great opportunity. We have already missed it once or twice. I hope to God that we shall not miss it again; 660 but that we shall grasp it and go forward into the future with our neighbours.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, it "is a commonplace of political observation that by the time politicians are old enough to exert an influence on the destinies of their countries they are mainly interested in avoiding repeating the mistakes of their youth. All over the world in the last ten or fifteen years things have been complicated by national leaders "standing up to Hitler". I think it is clear, on looking back on it, that the noble Earl, Lord Avon, when he was Prime Minister of this country, was "standing up to Hitler" in Egypt in 1956. It is possible to believe that President Johnson is at the moment "standing up to Hitler" in Vietnam, very much helped by Mr. Acheson, who appears to be the spearhead of the hard American policy there, and is probably omitting to abandon South Korea, which he did ten years ago.
On this analogy it appears to me that the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, to whom we must be grateful for being the stimulus of this debate, is, by the actual terms of his Motion, going to Messina; he is taking a late train to the discussions of 1957 or 1958 at Messina where the Treaty of Rome was drawn up. I believe it is to take a late train for us to go to Messina now. It seems to me that the idea of political union arising out of the E.E.C., whether with us or without us, is by now out of date. It might have been a practical idea six or seven years ago, or even five years ago, when West Germany was still a manageable particle in European affairs. Since that time, it seems to me that West Germany has become so much more powerful, so much richer, and has also been so much courted by her friends, by the United States and by France, in competition, by this country, to a certain extent, and even by the Soviet Union in the days of Khrushchev, that what with her internal strength and her external bargaining position which she now has it can hardly any longer be in the interests of the other countries within the Six to have a political union of which West Germany would be automatically a full member. One must not forget that Germany remains divided and the difficulties of constructing a real political union, one side of which, as it 661 were, is open, is drawn down the middle of a traditional nation State, would be absolutely enormous.
Also during the years since the Treaty of Rome was signed we have seen the end of what one may call the Adenauer-Dulles education programme in Germany. A whole generation of West Germans have been brought up to believe that the way to wipe out the errors and tragedies of history is for West Germany to acquire military strength, that they must be tremendously staunch anti-Communists, with even the suggestion that Communism is worse than Nazism ever was. Now, in the new climate of Europe and the world, we are having to tell the West German people something different. We must say, "We are sorry. This was all rather a mistake. We do not want you to concentrate entirely on military factors; we want you to help reach a detente with the Eastern countries".
And there has arisen, because of these reasons, I fear, a generation in West Germany which is profoundly lost politically; it does not know which way to jump. It has had its educational formation kicked from under it with the growing detente. It is courted, as I have said, in rivalry by America, France and other countries; and with all this is combined a vast economic and growing military strength. I think it would be a foolish statesman who would seek to build a small international or supranational political unit containing West Germany. It seems to me that now once again—as has been so familiar in the history of Europe—Germany is too strong to he contained in any international unit, except one comprising the whole, or very nearly the whole, of Europe.
If, for these reasons, though, the idea that political union and, a fortiori, a defence union, based on the Six, is now out of date, I would say that the idea of economic union is very much in date still. It seems to me that, as a general principle, one does not need at this juncture to go seeking very large international political unions. One does not need in particular to go seeking the idea of World Government at the moment. It is an idea which can be saluted by those of all political persuasions, but its immediate achievement, of course, is very far 662 from being the case. This being so, it is a difficult question to decide how big a political union we should go for. I believe myself that we should go neither for a very big one nor for a very small one; nor should we be in a great hurry. For the moment I think it would be a good thing if we in this country were to follow our economic noses for a bit and leave aside the great and tortured questions of political and defence unity. It is for this reason that, rather than the noble Lord's policy, I prefer that of the Government, as it was stated by my noble friend the Leader of the House earlier this afternoon, which policy I take to be the building up of EFTA, with a view to constructing some sort of a fusion between EFTA and the E.E.C. I think it is good news indeed that it is the desire of Her Majesty's Government that the next meeting of the EFTA Ministers should he at Prime Minister level, and I hope that this leads to a swift beginning to real talks between the two Markets, which are growing up in an undesirable degree of separation the one from the other.
While we are doing this, let us also, on the side as it were, go in for as much functional regionalism as we can get. One can see at the moment a sort of shadowy aircraft community arising. Practical factors suggest that our aircraft industry should work closely with the aircraft industries of certain other countries—France, Holland, perhaps West Germany, particularly Italy. This is all very good. We may find ourselves a sort of industry-based regional unit in aircraft without having tried for it with any political consciousness at all. Other examples could be found fairly easily. I think it is a pity that the last Government decided to carve up the bed of the North Sea on a purely national basis with a series of bilateral treaties. I think that an opportunity was missed there for the creation of a kind of North Sea community, an international authority which could have been erected for the purpose of exploiting the wealth under the seabed, internationally rather than nationally.
However, our main line must obviously he this bridge-building between EFTA and E.E.C. The Council of Europe is there to do it, when the time is ripe. These two organisations are already grouped in a broader one. But there is 663 a yet bigger Europe than this. In his speech, my noble friend the Leader of the House quoted from H. A. L. Fisher's History of Europe:Ever since the first century of our era the dream of unity…has hovered over Europe.So it has. But I would add a footnote to that. Never since the first century of our era has the unity dreamed of been so small a one. The traditional Europe is bigger than the Six or than EFTA, or than EFTA plus the Six. The biggest bridge-building operation of all—I mean the dismantling of the Iron Curtain and the winding up of the cold war—is something that can and should be prepared at the same time as we are building the smaller bridge between EFTA and E.E.C.
How is this to be done? I think that it needs to be done upon three levels simultaneously. First of all, there will have to be a settlement of the old and anguishing question of the control of nuclear weapons within the Western Alliance. I do not believe, any more than the Government do, that the idea of two pillars, of a European deterrent force, however closely linked to the national American force, is a good one. I would revert, with a feeling of confidence and safety, to the remark of the Prime Minister in one of his first public speeches after the Election, when he said that the notion of a separate European deterrent would be categorically excluded by his Government. I think that this is right. We do not want to get a yet further break-up of centres of nuclear command within our Alliance. The confusion is bad enough as it is. Perhaps the way forward would be that the A.N.F. should be redesigned. It would not be a fundamental change; redesigned or, if you like, re-presented as the Western half of a controlled low-level balanced deterrent structure with the Warsaw Pact. This would have many advantages. I think that it does need redesigning. In the first place, although one can welcome the news that it is still alive—my noble friend the Leader of the House has just told us that multilateral conversations are about to begin on it—yet certain deviations in our course should be made.
It was not widely noticed in this country that last week the President of Finland, 664 speaking in Moscow, said that if we went ahead with this, or a fortiori the M.L.F., he would consider invoking the terms of the 1948 Treaty between Finland and the Soviet Union, which would make possible or call for a military partnership between neutral Finland and the Soviet Union itself. If this were indeed so, if this were not an empty threat, this would be an undesirable consequence of going ahead with A.N.F. without the sort of revision I have in mind. If, on the other hand, we were to cast the A.N.F. in the role of the Western part of a balanced minimum deterrent situation, I believe that we could make progress, not only on that front within NATO, but also on the front of East-West arms control.
This idea of a balanced minimum deterrent between the Warsaw Pact and NATO is something which has been discussed for two or three years now in the disarmament talks at Geneva. Could we not link up our own proposals in NATO with the East-West proposals for systematising the whole situation in Europe between the two blocs? A low level balanced deterrent situation is exactly what the Russians have been asking for. They call it a "nuclear umbrella". It is the same thing. If we could present our redesigned A.N.F. to them as our half of the nuclear umbrella, I believe that they might well withdraw their objections to what we propose to do about NATO control of these weapons. It might also prove to be the key to fairly far-reaching reductions in weapons levels between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.
This in turn would prove a key to the third matter which needs handling, if we are to get a true European integration —that is, the division of Germany itself. We cannot hope for any rational ironing out of European difficulties, on the political, economic, and, above all, defence levels (which is such a waste of money, if nothing else) until we can get that people reunited. I think it is simply not safe to continue, generation after generation—and already one whole generation has passed by—with the largest Power of West or Central Europe split right down the middle. They went to great pains, did the Germans, 100 years ago, to get united. We have divided them. Presumably, they will in time go to equal pains to get reunited once again. The quicker we can help 665 them to do it, the more safely shall we remove one of the great dangers hanging over us and our children.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, I am following the noble Lord's argument with great interest. Could he say at what stage he would contemplate the evacuation of the American Army from Western Germany?
§ LORD KENNET
I would contemplate the evacuation of the American Army from Western Germany at a stage when one was assured of the evacuation of the Soviet Army from Eastern Germany and its demobilisation in a manner which would ensure that it could not return any more quickly than the American Army could return to Western Germany. There are difficult problems, but not insoluble.
We have been talking about big arms reductions, and you cannot talk about that without talking about China. This becomes truer every day. It appears to me to be necessary, if we are to get European settlement and integration, that we should come to some sort of modus vivendi with China. It will almost certainly be necessary to get them into the United Nations, and it is obvious that we cannot do this until we get a settlement in the Vietnam war. This is far afield, but I think it is profoundly true to say that this year the brakes on European integration will he removed in Vietnam first, and only then in Europe.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ LORD ROBERTSON OF OAKRIDGE
My Lords, I apologised, even before this debate started, to the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, for my inability to be here in time to hear his speech. If during the course of my few remarks I say things which he feels it would have been unnecessary to say if I had heard him, then I apologise again. I shall, at least, be brief in what I have to say. I think there is little argument among us, though there is some, about the ultimate goal. The noble Lord speaks in his Motion of…an autonomous Western European Political and Defence Community within the framework of the Western Alliance…I think there is little difference of opinion on that subject. To talk of this country as an island, and therefore insulated naturally from the rest of Europe, may sound as if it meant something as part of 666 a grand piece of Gallic rhetoric, but in point of fact it does not mean anything to-day.
As to the economic argument, it is, I think, clear that people who should know best—that is to say, the great industrialists, and those at the head of commercial and banking firms in this country—are quite clear on the subject. I quote from a report of the conference held by the F.B.I., B.E.C. and N.U.M. last January, I think at Eastbourne:British industry has for many years actively wished to see an economically integrated Europe.The noble Earl, Lord Dundee, said (and it appeared that his remark drew a good deal of approval from the House) that this country could manage without going into Europe. Those are not his exact words, but I think it is pretty clear that that is what he meant: that this country could be prosperous without associating herself with Europe. I think those are brave words. I should not dare to contradict the noble Earl, but I would quote some words from the keynote speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, at this same conference:It is doubtful, at least in the long run, whether a market the size of the United Kingdom or even of EFTA is large enough to promote technologically advanced industries and firms to be big enough and specialised enough to afford the research and development necessary to enable them to compete in third markets…That statement appealed to me very much. It does not contradict what the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, said, but I think it justifies my remark that his were brave words.
It is also clear to most of us to-day, I think, that our position in the Commonwealth need no longer be regarded as a bar to our entry. There are some difficulties, some discussions that would have to be held, and some conditions we should like to make. But as one looks on the situation as it is to-day, and as we see the members of the Commonwealth positively vying with each other in a race to make their own direct arrangements with the Common Market, it seems that the time has come to think a little about our own position. It would be a strange paradox, would it not, if we were found, in the end, to be the odd man out?
The goal, I think, is very clear; and I have heard only one speech that was 667 in any way against Lord Gladwyn's main contention. But the noble Lord is not content with describing the goal; he has also told us the steps that we should take towards it. It was the words that appear in the Motion under that head that made me wish to join in this debate. The noble Lord wishes the Government to name a date; and he asks them to state their conditions. I wonder how often, during his long and so distinguished diplomatic career, the noble Lord has adopted the tactics of stating the conditions at the start of an argument. It is not something that one generally does. I personally was relieved to hear the noble Earl, Lord Longford, make it clear that the Government would have quite a number of reservations under this head.
§ LORD GLADWYN
May I interrupt the noble Lord for one moment? I divided my Motion into two parts, my main one economic and the other defence. On the economic side, I said that I thought we ought to make a Declaration of Intent. Whether a date is stated is a secondary consideration. It was simply that we still wished to join. I did not say that we should lay down any economic conditions. I said specifically that at a later stage there would have to be negotiations on certain essential points, and that we should not state in advance exactly what were our conditions for such negotiations. On the defence side, I said that it would be a good thing if we could outline our particular view of what the European set-up should be. I think we should take the initiative.
§ LORD ROBERTSON OF OAKRIDGE
My Lords, I am at a great disadvantage, as I was not here when the noble Lord spoke, and I should not seek to argue the point. I will content myself with saying that my view is that it would be a mistake to mention a date, and that I can see considerable difficulty about stating conditions on both the political and defence scores. There are many questions that would have to be asked, and it is not easy, I think, to preface them with a statement of conditions.
We want to join a European Economic Community, but much has happened since we first looked at this question. What kind of a Community should we 668 be joining now if the way were open to us? Would it be a Community of equals? That is not an easy thing to talk about beforehand, but it is something that we should certainly want to know. Would it be a Community of equals, and one in which we had an equal voice in shaping its future? One feels a good deal of doubt about whether it would be compatible even with our position in regard to our Atlantic commitments and the United States. Sometimes it appears to be presented to us as a choice (I think the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, had the same impression when he was speaking) between maintaining our commitments under the Atlantic and other alliances and our relationship with the United States, on the one hand, and joining the Community, probably under the leadership of France, on the other. If that were the choice, I believe that most of us would say that we should prefer the Atlantic.
This brings me to say a word about the defence issue, with which the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, has dealt adequately. It is good, I think, to remember why President de Gaulle applied the veto. The simple answer to that, in one word, I would suggest, is "Nassau." That at least prompted his action. It was on that account that he did it. I am quite sure that we shall not find a solution to this question of our entry into the Common Market until we have found a basic solution to the defence issue. With that I think the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, will probably agree. I feel myself in accord with the noble Baroness, Lady Emmet of Amberley, when she said that she did not see much possibility of an early solution on this question. I fear that she may be right. These defence issues are very complicated and difficult, and with the best will in the world it may not be easy to find an early solution. Moreover, I feel that France's attitude at the present time towards the Communist countries, towards the SEATO and NATO Alliances, is not likely to facilitate the process of finding quickly a solution of the defence issue.
In saying all this, I do not want to give the impression that I am against joining the Common Market: on the contrary, I made that the theme of my 669 maiden speech in your Lordships' House two and a half years ago. I have always wanted us to join the Common Market, and I am still passionately in favour of it. What I am not in favour of is creating a false impression and arousing unjustified hopes. That is what I feel would happen if we were to start talking about a date for our joining. It is all very well to say that the date is contingent on the conditions being right; but once a date is given people will be apt to forget the rest and to expect us to sign on the dotted line, wherever that line happens to be drawn. I do not think that we should do our good friends on the Continent—and certainly not ourselves—any service by adopting that attitude.
Having said that, I would add that I very much agree again with the noble Baroness, Lady Emmet of Amberley, that all this does not mean that we can do nothing: some positive steps, I am sure, are possible, and desirable. I quote again from what one might call the authoritative voice of organised industry. The President of the Federation of British Industries said recently in Bristol:But it would be the greatest mistake if, out of disappointment or pique, or sheer irresolution, we were to shelve this question, and let it slip from our consciousness in the vague hope that by doing nothing the problem will resolve itself.I very much agree with him.
What should we do? The noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, seemed to be telling us that he did not think we could do anything beyond what the Government are at present doing. But I should like to suggest two ways in which we could act, and I think they are ways that he could accept. In the first place, let me say, with great respect, that when the Labour Party were in Opposition some of their spokesmen gave an impression, to me at all events, that they were not really very much interested in European affairs, but that they thought we could get on quite well, if not better, by not involving ourselves in European commitments. The noble Lord, Lord Blyton, in his speech this afternoon, gave me the impression that that attitude is perhaps not quite dead. Other spokesmen gave me at least the impression that their attitude towards Germany had not changed from the attitude which they had 670 —and which was then quite understandable and justifiable—twenty years ago. But this attitude to-day, in my view, is un-Christian and, from any point of view, unwise.
Here I certainly join issue with the noble Lord, Lord Kennet. He said something to the effect that the present generation of young Germans had no other thought in their heads than the rebuilding of German militarism and the acquiring of arms. If I have misquoted the noble Lord, would he please put me right?
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, I must say to the noble Lord that he has most fundamentally misquoted me. My point was that the present generation of young Germans were lost because the education which had been given to them was being changed rapidly, in view of the new need for a detente with the Soviet Union.
§ LORD ROBERTSON OF OAKRIDGE
Of course, I accept what the noble Lord says, but I think that when he looks at Hansard he will find some words about rebuilding German militarism very close to those he has just quoted. At all events, let me say that I am quite sure that the present generation of young Germans have not got their heads full of re-creating German militarism, and I feel quite confident that I could produce definite evidence to the contrary.
The noble Earl, Lord Longford, speaking for the Government, made it clear that, whatever impressions may or may not have been created in the past, these attitudes towards Europe and towards Germany are not the attitudes of the Government to-day—and one accepts entirely what he said. The Prime Minister's words, the Prime Minister's actions, are certainly in a different sense. What he has said in Rome, the remarks he made about the Vienna Conference, and so forth, are certainly evidence that the old attitude—if that is what it was—is not the attitude to-day. But I suggest to the Government that they might yet go a bit further, and that they might show—may I call it?—a real warmth in their attitude towards our friends on the Continent, including Germany.
As to Germany, I should like particularly to welcome the forthcoming visit of Her Majesty to that country, something which I personally have looked forward to for many years. The recent visit to 671 this country of Herr Willi Brandt was also helpful, and especially the excellent speech he made at Coventry. But I think we should show a little more warmth in this direction, particularly at a time when we are welcoming a new German Ambassador, a man whom we know from past experience to be well disposed towards us. I suggest that now is a good opportunity to take this line.
There is one other thing which I think we should do to move a little further along the road to the accepted goal. I refer to the quiet, unsensational, but extremely valuable work of technical and professional bodies, seeking to strengthen and develop their contacts with their colleagues on the Continent. As a particularly good example of what I want to say, I would mention the Conference to be held in July, under the auspices of the European Movement, to discuss industrial co-operation between European countries in fields of advanced technology. That is the kind of thing which the Government, and I think all of us, should encourage by all means in our power. We have a great deal to offer—more, probably, than any other European country—to our friends in these fields. The Conference will undoubtedly provide fresh evidence of the immense advantage to ourselves of entering a very large market in which, due to its size, expenditure on fresh research and development is possible. It will also undoubtedly produce fresh evidence of the value of the countries of Europe of having our co-operation in these fields.
In brief, my Lords, I am as anxious as I believe the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, is to see us enter the Common Market, and I am only venturing to suggest to him something that he knows far better than I do: that in diplomacy timing is all-important. In diplomacy, just as in golf, if you snatch at the shot it may end in a bunker; and that may spoil the whole round.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ LORD ROYLE
My Lords, I should like in the first place to join with other noble Lords in expressing gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, for having initiated this debate and thereby given us the opportunity of participating in it and raising some of the problems which are on our minds with regard to the 672 Community. I do not want for one moment to go into the whole of the economic, political and defence aspects which have been gone through during the course of our debate to-day. I feel that they have been very fully covered, and the hour is getting late. I want to concentrate on one particular aspect in relation to agriculture.
I do not know whether I have really any right to speak about agricultural matters; I am not an agriculturist, I am not a farmer. But my business activities have always kept me in very close contact with that community, and in more recent years I was one of the Members of another place and Members of this House who had the opportunity of attending the Council of Europe at Strasbourg. In the course of that experience I was a member of the Agriculture and Food Committee of the Council of Europe. I am happy to see my noble friend—if he will allow me to call him so—Lord Stonehaven present at this debate. He was a colleague of mine on that Committee at that time. So from those days I have tried to take some kind of interest in the agricultural activities of the Continent of Europe, apart from the agricultural questions of our own land. But there are very close relationships since the existence of the E.E.C., and this is a vital subject at this time.
Whilst I cannot go all the way with my noble friend Lord Blyton in his drastic denunciation of the suggestion of entering Europe, I sympathise with many of the doubts which he has expressed, and I want to put forward the sort of problem which is in my mind in relation to agricultural matters in the European Economic Community. If I have taken him down correctly—he will correct me if I am wrong—my noble friend Lord Longford stressed one factor which I think is crucial in considering the vital question of our relations with the European Economic Community. When he referred to Commonwealth interests in a fairly early part of his speech, he spoke of a Common European market of the right kind, outward looking, prepared to continue importing from the outside world. I think my noble friend was quoting from some remarks of the Prime Minister. My noble friend came back to the same theme later on in his speech in another context.
673 It is clear that in the forefront of our doubts about the value of the Community —and these doubts are shared by people of different political allegiance—is the way in which the Community is developing its common agricultural policy. We have seen the chicken war, when the severely protective effects of E.E.C. regulations governing poultry imports from outside the Community made their first impact. There has been talk of a rice war, and unless the Community develops along liberal lines I feel that we may soon be hearing of a grain war. I gather that the Community has adopted for the year 1967 a target price for wheat equivalent to 38.7d. per cwt. compared with our guaranteed price of 25.5d. per cwt. for this year—I know it is hardly cornparable—and our minimum import price for soft Continental wheats of 22.6d. per cwt.
I quote the example of cereals only because it is of such fundamental importance to the agricultural community of our country and because it is the commodity group where the course of the Community's agricultural policy is becoming more apparent. But it is only one indication of a general tendency. I see it reflected in policies affecting other commodities as well, and I will not trouble your Lordships with examples. For example, I hear that our EFTA partner, Denmark, is very perturbed indeed over the exclusion of her agricultural products from the traditional markets within the Six. The point I want to make to your Lordships this evening is this: what my noble friend called the inward looking, and I would call the self-centred, way in which the Community's agricultural policy is taking shape is something not laid down in the Treaty of Rome. It is a result of the policy decisions which the organs of the Community have taken as to the way in which the provisions of the Treaty should be implemented.
I do not intend to burden your Lordships again with a long quotation from the Treaty of Rome, but may I remind you of Article 39, which provides that the objectives of the common agricultural policy shall be, briefly, rational development of the agricultural industry to give a fair standard of living to those engaged in it whilst providing stable market conditions, guaranteed supplies 674 and reasonable prices to consumers? To me this sounds very much like the preamble to the 1947 Agricultural Act, but there it is.
Parallel with these objectives, however, there came Article 110, in which the Community pledges itself to contribute to the harmonious development of world trade and progression to the abolition of restrictions on international trade. I was very encouraged the other day when I saw that the Community had decided that Article 110 as well as Article 39 should be specifically referred to in the preamble to each of its agricultural resolutions. It came a little late, but it is a good and heartening sign. Dr. Mansholt and other Community spokesmen have paid lip-service at least to the ideal of more liberal trade attitudes and the Community's willingness to make contributions which can properly be expected in this regard. But I would say, if your Lordships will permit me, in this context "Fine words butter no parsnips"—talking agriculturally. I am sorry about that one.
The real issue is whether the Community intends to strike a balance between its internal considerations, that is to say Article 39, on the one hand, and its international considerations, Article 110, on the other. So far we have only the chicken war and the cereals prices position to help us to judge. It may be that forthcoming discussions in file Kennedy Round will provide the setting for the Community to appear in its right colours, and give the Community the opportunity to convince us all that it is conscious of the responsibilities which go with the position it occupies as a major economic bloc and to show that it realises that its economic policies cannot continue to be based on shielding its own agricultural industry, which contains both good and bad farmers, behind an excessively high protective wall.
May I express the hope that Her Majesty's Government will lose no opportunity for bringing home to the Governments of the Six the importance which attaches to the position which the E.E.C. takes up in the Kennedy Round of negotiations, and of pressing the Community to demonstrate, by operative decisions, that the liberal sentiments expressed in Article 110 of the Treaty 675 of Rome are not mere words? I suggest, modestly, that in this way we should be supporting not only the ideals of the proper development of international trade, but also the vital interests of Commonwealth and other countries, to whom trade in agricultural produce is of special importance. As my noble friend implied, the adoption by the Community of more outward-looking policies on these issues will help us to narrow the gaps which seem to exist between us. Before any new negotiations are entered upon, I suggest that there must be clearer understandings on these points, or the agriculturists of the United Kingdom will continue to look with grave doubts at association with Europe.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ LORD BROWN
My Lords, I am most grateful to all those who have taken part in this debate, because over the last three or four years I have confessedly been something of a fence-sitter on the problem of entry into E.E.C. It is not that I have not thought about it; but every argument that has been put to me seemed not to balance against the other arguments. For example, I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, with great interest this afternoon, but I felt he was making too little of the economic difficulties which we face. I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Blyton. I thought about the difficulties he postulated to us. They are real. On the other hand, if we were to bow to those difficulties and refuse to move in the direction of joining with a bigger Europe, we might find that we were worse off by not joining than if we did join, in spite of the real difficulties to which he pointed. I listened to the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, and I must say that I was delighted to find myself in such sympathy with what he said. Finally, I listened with great attention to what the Leader of the House had to say. I may be naïve, but it seemed to me that there was very little dispute indeed between the Leader of the House and the noble Earl, Lord Dundee. This is a most welcome thing.
But I think that the policy of Her Majesty's Government is a welcome and a proper one in current circumstances. It is flexible. Indeed, when one is proceeding tentatively towards a bargaining situation, one can have no other policy 676 but one of flexibility to meet the changing circumstances and the exigencies of those with whom one is bargaining.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord a question? I am just wondering how flexible the policy of the Government is, in view of the reply by the noble Earl, Lord Longford, to his noble friend Lord Blyton, when he asked him whether the five conditions for re-entry still applied, and the noble Earl, Lord Longford, said that they did.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I think that anybody who wants to explore that piece of scholarship had better look at the question and answer, neither of which was in exactly that form.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, it was in a negative form, in the sense that Lord Blyton asked whether the five objections to joining still applied. Those were the objections as promulgated by the late Mr. Gaitskell. Lord Blyton, as I understand it, asked, in effect, did those conditions still apply, and the noble Earl said that they did.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I am sorry, but as I have been referred to specifically, perhaps I may be allowed to say that before the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, condemns me or anybody else he should look at the actual question and answer and he will see that neither the question nor the answer took the form he has mentioned. I do not raise this as a point of order. I certainly did not raise this as Leader of the House. It would be right to put this question to the noble Lord, Lord Walston, who is going to reply to the debate. How Lord Brown can possibly deal with my answer to Lord Blyton, I am afraid defeats me.
§ LORD OGMORE
I am sorry; I thought the noble Earl was getting a little cross. I am not inexperienced in the proceedings of this House, having been here myself for fifteen years. The noble Lord, Lord Brown, who made a perfectly good point, was saying that 677 the Government's attitude was flexible. I think I am quite entitled to ask him how he maintains that the Government's attitude is flexible when the noble Earl, Lord Longford, whom he had just mentioned, replied in the way he did to his noble friend Lord Blyton, who asked, as a matter of fact, a question that I was thinking about asking myself.
§ LORD BROWN
My Lords, if I may be allowed to continue, I may be able to give the noble Lord some satisfaction because I shall be getting quite near the point he raised at a later stage in what I have to say. But I will leave that for the moment, if I may.
To close the opening part of what I have to say. It is sufficient to draw attention to the fact that I find myself much in favour with the policy which has been enunciated by the Leader of the House this afternoon, and I am delighted to know that apparently there is little difference between that policy and the statement made by the noble Earl, Lord Dundee.
I want to go on from this to make two rather unrelated, but I hope quite practical, points. The first is a precise matter, and I am mentioning it here because I think this particular point ought to receive more publicity. It is simply this: that there is attached to the Rome Treaty a protocol. I need only read the first part of it. It reads as follows:The high contracting parties, in consideration of the conditions current at the time, in consequence of the partition of Germany, are agreed on the following provisions which are sub-joined to this Treaty as an appendix:(1) Since trade between the German territories within the scope of the basic law of the Federal Republic and those outside this scope are a constituent part of internal German trade, the application of this Pact in Germany requires no modification of the existing system.This is extremely turgid language, as one might expect in a translation; but if I may interpret this statement, it is that if Western Germany desires to import goods from Eastern Germany they may do so without paying the common external tariff. I think this is an extremely serious point, of which I have found a large number of people in relatively important positions are unaware. It is an example of the sort of point which will have to be most carefully looked at if we reach the stage when negotiations reopen 678 again: for if it is not examined carefully we might find that the Germans have opened a back door through which raw materials of every kind and description from the whole of Eastern Europe might flow into Germany. They would then become the recipient of materials of a wide range at prices up to 20 per cent. cheaper than those available to the other members of the E.E.C. Furthermore, if they became the chief importer of these materials on behalf of the E.E.C.—which could happen—then the main currency earned by Eastern Europe would be marks, with the detrimental effects which would occur to our own flow of trade with Eastern Europe.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, is the noble Lord suggesting that this is something which will happen in relation to the present E.E.C., or only if we go in?
§ LORD BROWN
It is a matter which could happen now, and might continue to happen if we went in it is a danger. I mention it particularly because some two or three years ago, just prior to the time when we were excluded and when negotiations were terminated, I was in Germany and a German industrialist of some standing actually said to me, "You are not going to have much opportunity for further extension of your trade with Poland and Russia if you join the Common Market." He drew my attention to the protocol, and that is why I obtained a copy of it. This is an example of the sort of point one must be careful about. Having mentioned it, I will not dwell on it further, because it is something that has to be taken care of.
The second point is this. With respect, I consider that one of the great mistakes made by the last Government in their approach to these negotiations was to send their team in to negotiate and at the same time to announce publicly that if we did not enter the Common Market it would be something approaching a national disaster. To send any negotiators in under those terms and conditions is completely disastrous. It is depriving them of all bargaining power, and this is a bargaining situation.
The last point I wish to make is this. As the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, has pointed out, it would be too much to hope that we shall receive an invitation 679 from the Six. We must somehow make it clear to them that we do not sit down and passively wait at the door until it is opened. We must make it clear to them that in default of reasonable opportunities being opened up in negotiation we must perforce think about alternative policies. This is likely to be interpreted as a suggestion on my part that we should turn our backs on entry into the Common Market. I am anxious to make clear that it is nothing of the sort. The best way to get into successful negotiations is to make it clear that time is not in fact on the side of the other party in the negotiations. Unless we make clear our readiness to discuss alternative policies, then they will treat us as supplicants instead of as equal partners in a series of negotiations which will be greatly to the benefit of the whole of Europe, and possibly the world.
I dare not suggest in too great detail the sort of things that could be considered, because I am not sufficiently experienced in these matters to make such suggestions, but there is great opportunity for further expansion of trade with EFTA. This country must begin to show the world—and I speak as a business man who has been engaged in exports for many years—that it is prepared to put economic advantage in our relationships with other countries in front of a consistent effort to maintain what I might call diplomatic sweetness to the detriment of our economic advantage on too many occasions. As a country, we are weak in pursuing economic advantage in our negotiations with others because we have a great heritage of successful diplomatic negotiation, and we tend to put that first. One of the countries which noticeably does not do so is Germany.
There should be a combination of more trenchant behaviour in this way, and an examination of some of the continuous deficit balances of trade which we have with a number of countries and which seem to go on year after year, and at least a suggestion that those countries should take steps to give us better opportunity for exporting at a greater rate to bring about a balance. I refer, for example, to a country like the Argentine, where consistently, year after year, we have a deficit balance of about £40 million on an import bill from the Argentine of £80 680 million—in other words we are exporting only half of what we import year after year. We should use the commercial advantage which accrues to a very large buyer; we should use our bargaining power as a nation more successfully in economic spheres, and should turn our attention more trenchantly to the growing opportunities in Eastern Europe.
We must remember that they comprise a huge series of countries developing at something like 10 per cent. per annum, and they could make a demand upon us which would equate very well with our heavy industries. We must take into consideration matters of this sort and must make it clear to Europe that in the long run we have to develop viable alternatives. This would help to hasten the time when we sit successfully round the table and enter a Community, enlarged, I hope, beyond the Six of which it is at present composed.
§ 6.17 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (LORD WALSTON)
My Lords, we are, of course, all indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, not only for his own very comprehensive speech but also for giving so many other noble Lords the opportunity of sharing with us their thoughts and their wisdom, and particularly for giving my noble friend the Leader of the House the chance of making quite clear the views of Her Majesty's Government with regard to Europe at the present time. Of course we—with perhaps one exception—agree with the ultimate goal that the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, himself has in mind. We accept willingly and happily that we are part of Europe and wish to become ever more closely associated with Europe. But about the means of improving that association, there are, of course, differences of opinion.
I had some sympathy with the views expressed by my noble friend Lord Kennet, when he suggested that Lord Gladwyn was in fact trying to catch the late train to Messina. Very much has happened since those days. If I may change the metaphor from trains to ships, we came very close to the ship of the Community a few years ago, and we were all prepared to exchange crews—both of us being alongside in relatively 681 calm waters. We then found, to our dismay, and to the dismay of many others, that one of the principal members of the crew of the ship of the Community had cut the hawser while we were about to exchange crews; and we drifted apart.
We are now quite a long way apart. There is no point at the present time in our talking about exchanging crews or boarding parties to-day, to-morrow or even the next day. What we must do is to ensure that the courses of both our ships—not only the ship of the United Kingdom, but also the ship of the Community—should be set so that within a reasonably short space of time they will once more converge and so enable us reasonably to exchange crews. Until we have got to that stage, there is no point in talking about how the boarding-party should be composed. Rather we should concentrate on the courses on which both our ships are set.
So far as one of the more important matters is concerned, that of defence policy, I think we can say that considerable progress has been made in the past and is still being made. After all, NATO is a fact and we are co-operating with many countries of Europe in defence and in defence planning, and in many other aspects related to that. The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, suggested that we should take initiatives in this matter. I would remind him that we have taken an initiative: we have suggested the A.N.F.— a very concrete method of bringing Europe as a whole closer together in a defence alliance. This suggestion is still under discussion and will remain so for a considerable length of time; but because we did not deliver this as an ultimatum but as a proposal put to our European partners, I do not think we are to blame for that, or that it is any weaker for that. In fact it is stronger, and it is the type of thing which in the long run will strengthen our European ties.
I am glad to find, as many noble Lords who have subsequently spoken have found, that there is very little to separate the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, and ourselves. I was particularly glad to note that he mentioned our extra-European role and the important part we can play in Europe, and our value to Europe in that particular sphere; also 682 the help to the developing countries which a strong Europe can give—and the stronger the Europe the greater that help can be. A little later on in my speech I should like to return to this point of our role outside Europe.
At this stage I should like also to associate myself very sincerely with the tribute paid by my noble friend the Leader of the House and the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, to Sir Pierson Dixon. It is very appropriate, I think, on an occasion of this kind, when we are discussing one of the things which was so close to his heart and for which he worked so hard, that we should remember with gratitude his work not only in that sphere but in so many other spheres which were of importance to this country.
The noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, warned us against making too many preconditions and setting out too many blueprints, and I am sure he is right in that. It is no good, at this stage particularly, when there is no immediate prospect of our actually signing anything, for us to lay down the exact conditions under which we might hypothetically sign a document if it were there and if we were prepared to do so. All we can do is to repeat, as we have often done, and as we have done to-day, that our goal is that of closer ties with Europe. The actual form which that will take is a matter which we can continue to discuss with our European colleagues. The noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, also warned us that there could be no resumption of negotiations between the Community and the United Kingdom so long as the present French policy continues. But we should, as he said so rightly, co-operate with France and with other countries of Europe also in all manner of things which will bring us closer towards Europe, and in that way we shall, as it were by a functional approach, make the job easier as the years go by.
The noble Lord specifically asked me a question about the Kennedy Round and where it has got to. As the noble Lord knows well, the lists of exceptions have been tabled by the various countries, and I am glad to say our own particular list is among the shortest of them. I am sorry to say that the Community list is considerably longer, but negotiations are continuing at this present time in Geneva. There is some hard bargaining being 683 done, but I am quite sure that within the next few months progress will be made—perhaps not so far or so fast as some of us would wish, but at least there is progress in that field and Her Majesty's Government are certainly taking a lead in a very broad reduction of tariffs under the Kennedy Round.
I should now like to come to the speech of my noble friend Lord Blyton, and at the same time I can perhaps refer to the admirable speech, if I may say so, of my noble friend Lord Royle, because they both dealt very largely with the same problems that is, the problems of food, home agriculture, Commonwealth agriculture and food prices. We have known all along that there were many problems to be overcome before we could enter the Common Market. There was the problem of our foreign policy and our defence policy which, with NATO and other organisations, we are in a fair measure overcoming now by international co-operation and by interdependence. There is the problem of our own economic policy at home, and again through international interdependence, through the International Monetary Fund and such organisations, we are showing the form of domestic independence we could have at the same time as having international interdependence.
There is a problem of EFTA, which has already been referred to by my noble friend Lord Longford and by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, and the progress that is being made with EFTA with regard to the Community is of the greatest encouragement. There still remains the question both of the Commonwealth and of our home agriculture, and tied up with that is our home food prices. There is no point in pretending that these are not serious and difficult problems. At this present stage we are quite a long way apart from the Community in our agriculture policy, as has been pointed out, but I am not despondent about that. Although there are differences between us I am convinced that within the next few years those differences can be overcome, and that is what I had particularly in mind when I drew the analogy of the ships which were now far apart but should be coming closer together.
684 I am quite satisfied that, given the will, if we start now, and above all if the Community starts now, it will be possible so to frame our joint agriculture policies that when the time comes for us to join still closer with Europe there will not be a yawning gap for us to bridge, but our policies will be very much in line with each other. I say that not only because, if I may mention it in all modesty, a few years ago I wrote a pamphlet on this subject setting out the lines on which it should be done, but, more important, because, as the noble Lord, Lord Royle, has pointed out, the intentions of the Treaty of Rome are fully consistent with our own intentions in the Agriculture Act, 1947.
There is nothing basic which keeps us apart in that respect. There are, in fact, many things which draw us, or should draw us, closer together—not only the desire of all Governments, very properly, to safeguard the interests of their own agriculturists and primary producers but the very natural desire of all Governments to insist that the people of their country are provided with food in abundant quantities and at reasonable prices. It is not in the interests of any Government to insist that the people of their country should be forced indefinitely to pay exorbitantly high prices for their food. So our interests are common in that respect. Surely our interests coincide, because both the countries of the Community and of EFTA, and ourselves individually, have all stated very clearly and frequently—and have acted on the statement—that we desire to help the primary producers in the developing countries of the world, and that the best means of helping them is by giving their products free access to our own countries—to the highly-developed countries of Europe.
For those reasons, coupled with the final reason that throughout the whole world to-day there is a shortage of food, there is a shortage of primary products. and if there were a more equitable distribution of purchasing power we should never suffer the problems of gluts and surpluses—we should more likely suffer the problems of shortages—I see no cause at all for despondency about this. I believe that if we frame our policies to-day with a certain amount of coordination, talking with the Community, 685 with our EFTA partners and between ourselves, we shall find that within a relatively short space of years this present very wide gap, this apparently unbridgeable gap, will have almost disappeared.
Now let me come to the noble Baroness, Lady Emmet of Amberley, who said at the outset that as it was not her maiden speech she would indulge in a little controversy. I shall not follow her into that controversy as to who started it, who is most at fault that we are not in Europe to-day. I would, however, with the greatest respect, remind her that in the past thirteen years we have had a Government not composed of my noble friends sitting on these Benches. During that time there were many opportunities for us to go into Europe, and we did not go into Europe.
§ LORD WALSTON
It is always nice to know that our help is valued, and that possibly with our help the efforts might have been more successful. I do not want to indulge unduly in recriminations, but I think that the Government of the time must take some responsibility for what happens, and if things go wrong must not blame it on the fact that they did not get help from the Opposition at that time.
At the risk of being only very slightly controversial, I would also point out, with a little regret, that while in this admirable debate we have had one outstanding speaker from the Liberal Benches, contributions from two Cross Benchers and from five of my noble friends, apart from myself, we have had (although they made up in quality what they lacked in quantity) only two Conservative speakers. I hope that that is not in any way an indication of the degree of interest which the Party of noble Lords opposite take in this very important matter.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to intervene? I thought that he might say something like that; but, of course, there 686 really is no need for my noble friends and myself to speak all the time on this subject, and my noble friend Lord Dundee is perfectly capable of putting the Conservative case. But at least we are consistent. We do not have to eat the words we used only three years ago.
§ LORD WALSTON
Perhaps the noble Lord would like to make the third speech from the Conservative Benches and elaborate that statement. However, with those very gently controversial remarks, I should like to say how much I agreed with the tenor of the noble Baroness's speech. But although she was unhappy about the harm that had been done to EFTA by the surcharge—I think she called it a traumatic shock—I would beg leave to disagree with her at the present time. Had she spoken before the last EFTA meeting in Geneva, I should have agreed with her; but after the announcement of the reduction in the surcharge, the atmosphere changed to such an extent that it was almost, in my opinion, better than it had been before there was any question of a surcharge being imposed.
§ BARONESS EMMET OF AMBERLEY
If you do something terrible and then retract, everybody is immensely relieved.
§ LORD WALSTON
So the fact that the trauma has now ceased, means that in fact we are now better friends than we should have been if there had never been any trauma at all. The relief of not hitting your head against a wall is such—but your Lordships know the rest of the story.
The noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, made many points of very great interest, and I am most grateful that he did so. I thought it extremely valuable to point out that many members of the Commonwealth are to-day trying to come into the Community. I think that those of us who are afraid of letting the Commonwealth down should remember that. I am quite sure that, as time goes on, the value of wider trading blocs will make itself known to the members of the Commonwealth, and also to countries outside the Commonwealth.
On the attitude to Germany, I would certainly say that there has been a most enormous change in this country in the last twenty years. I think that we all, 687 and certainly we on this side of the House, accept Germany wholeheartedly as an equal partner in Europe and in the Atlantic Alliance. We are happy about that, and if there is any need for those ties to be strengthened, we shall certainly do what we can to strengthen them. The noble Lord referred to the forthcoming visit of Her Majesty to Germany and to the visit of Herr Brandt to this country. I think that those are practical examples of the sort of things which are done, and which should be done; and there are many other exchanges of other people at all levels—young people, sportsmen, people interested in the arts and businessmen—which might take place.
In all these ways our ties with Germany are becoming closer, and the scars left by the events of 1939 to 1945 have to all intents and purposes disappeared. I am quite sure that the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, himself, under whom I was privileged, at a great distance, to serve in Germany shortly after the war, must carry a great deal of the credit for this change of attitude to Germany.
I have already dealt, I hope satisfactorily, with the observations of my noble friend Lord Royle, and there is now just one point of the very interesting speech of my noble friend Lord Brown to which I should like to refer. That is the clause in the Treaty of Rome which allows free trade between the Eastern Zone of Germany and Western Germany. It is, of course, perfectly true that that in theory could give a back-door entrance of cheap primary products into Western Germany, which could operate to the disadvantage of any of her Community partners—the present ones or ourselves if we were to join. But I hope and believe that we can rely on the good will of Western Germany not to abuse this clause. I am quite certain also that we can rely on the keen business sense of the other partners in the Community to jump on this, and to jump on Germany, if there were any abuse of this privilege. So I do not think that that is a particularly strong argument.
§ LORD BROWN
My Lords, may I interrupt for just one minute to prevent misinterpretation of what I said? I was not impugning the good faith of Western 688 Germany in this respect. I was lightly touching on the possibility of the East German Government being an agent for exporting into Western Germany goods which were not native to Eastern Germany.
§ LORD WALSTON
I am grateful to the noble Lord for making clear what his point was, but, even without in any way impugning the good will of Western Germany, I think that if there were abuses of that kind we should find that the people who were likely to suffer most in the initial stages—that is, the other partners in the Community—would take steps to see that this abuse was quickly brought to an end.
Now may I briefly restate our general policy, as my noble friend the Leader of the House has so ably done? We do feel ourselves as of Europe, and we feel we must get closer to Europe. We believe—and this is the point that the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, made to which I said I would return—that one of the important factors that we can bring into Europe is our interests outside the narrower European sphere. We have, as we possibly too frequently state, worldwide interests and world-wide responsibilities, and we have to co-operate very closely with, particularly, the United States in the fulfilment of those obligations. We do not seek any special relationship with the United States in order to do that. It is something which one can say is being forced upon us by the circumstances which exist, but we certainly do not ask for ourselves any special privileges because of this.
Indeed, we should be far happier if the responsibilities of our role in South-East Asia, in the Persian Gulf, in Africa or, indeed, in Latin America, could be shared to a greater extent—a far greater extent than they are at present with other European Powers. There are indications that that is being done. There is cooperation, for instance, with Italian firms in Africa and with German firms in other developing parts of the world, and, of course, there is the French membership of SEATO—albeit, I am afraid, at the present time, one which is perhaps not quite so strong as we should wish. But I hope that, in that sort of sphere, we can encourage Europe to take more interest in matters outside Europe and not simply concentrate on Europe itself.
689 Just a word, if I may, again, although I have mentioned it briefly, about the Atlantic Alliance itself, to repeat and underline what my noble friend said in his opening speech. We do not believe that the correct way to preserve peace in this world is by the two pillars. We believe that the Atlantic Alliance must be a homogeneous alliance, comprising the countries of Europe and also the United States and Canada on the other side of the Atlantic. I should like to read to your Lordships some wise words in the Guardian of April 14, in which is written:
You cannot have both the Atlantic Alliance and an autonomous political and defence community for Western Europe. For the foreseeable future the Atlantic Alliance is a wiser choice.I think there can be no compromise on that, and any approaches which we make to Europe in the belief that the Atlantic Alliance is going to be weakened would be dishonourable and unwise.
The second point I should like to make is that we must look at Europe as a whole and not at the individual countries of Europe. We have perhaps become somewhat too obsessed recently with the regrettable coolness that has existed between France and ourselves. No one regrets that more than I do: no one is happier than I am that that coolness is now disappearing and is being replaced by the warmth of spring. But the fact that we have regretted that and are striving to remove it does not mean that, when we talk about getting closer to Europe, we should simply be thinking in terms of getting closer with France. France is only one member of the Six. We must work to closer co-operation with all the partners of the Community, and not simply with one, even though it may be the leading one at the present time. Again, if I may quote from the Economist of April 10:In practice, piecemeal plans for joint production, sometimes with France, sometimes with Germany, sometimes perhaps with all Common, Market producers, seem a most helpful avenue of progress. Since this is so, they must point in the right direction, towards Europe, and not the wrong one, to a special relationship with France. That would make it harder, not easier, to join the Common Market".I think that is a warning which we should heed.
What we really want, my Lords, is to make it clear by our deeds now, not 690 simply by words, where we stand and what we are doing—and I suggest to your Lordships that that is exactly what Her Majesty's Government are doing. We have offered and we have worked out economic co-operation, not only with France but with other countries of Europe, also. We have taken a lead in reducing our tariffs. We now have this very great invitation by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister for EFTA to consider at Prime Ministerial level the problems of getting closer with the Community. Those are the things on which we must concentrate, because I believe it is on them that we shall be judged.
It is no good our saying to ourselves or to our friends, "We believe in Europe, we want Europe, we want to come closer to Europe, but not yet"; or, "We will not do it now"; or, "We will not cooperate with you at this stage." We must be honest, as I think we have been, in pointing out the problems and in pointing out the difficulties. We must be honest in realising that the time passed by three years ago when we might have gone in; that the time passed by earlier than that when we might have gone in; but that the time will come again although it will not be the same time and it will not be the same conditions. Our efforts now must be directed, for our own good, for the good of Europe and for the good of the world, towards seeing that the courses of the two ships steadily converge; and then, when the time is ready, that we once more make an effort which, this time, will be successful.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, I will not detain your Lordships, I promise, for more than a very few minutes, but I should like to say just a few words before withdrawing my Motion. First of all, I should like to say that in my speech I did not pay any tribute to the late Sir Pierson Dixon for the simple reason that I thought the initiative in so doing had better come, as it very gracefully did, from a representative of the Government, whose servant he was. But, of course, I should like to join my own feelings to those expressed by other noble Lords. Bob Dixon, as we all know, was a great diplomatist and, I think, above all, a great negotiator. He had an 691 extraordinary feel for this delicate operation. He was, of course, one of the ornaments of our profession and a splendid colleague. He succeeded me, incidentally, in three major posts between 1950 and 1960, and no doubt did very much better than I did in all of them. So all I can say personally is that I mourn his departure, along with all his colleagues in the service and, I think, all those noble Lords who knew him.
The conclusion I draw from this debate, which has been very interesting and, I think, on the whole, profitable, is a depressing one; because, although 1 hold the belief, as your Lordships know, that we ought, as it were, to go into Europe as an equal with our great partners across the Channel, I can only conclude from what has been said by the Government that this is not their intention, nor their desire and not their will. They do not want to join the European Economic Community, if only because, as was elucidated by the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Blyton, they say quite bluntly that they must insist on the five conditions laid down by Mr. Gaitskell in 1962.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I really cannot understand how the noble Lord who follows these things so closely could make that statement. I was asked whether those conditions were rejected. I said, "No". I did not say bluntly that they must be insisted on. I did not in any way suggest that. It is a different approach altogether.
§ LORD GLADWYN
The conditions have not been rejected; in other words, they still stand. I quite understand the Government may change their view. It is possible. I do not say that I hope they will, although everything I say is designed to induce them to change their mind one day.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
The noble Lord has completely distorted my words in saying that the Government spokesman said bluntly that they must be insisted on. He dragged in the word "bluntly". It was complete misrepresentation.
§ LORD GLADWYN
I am sorry if I misrepresented the noble Earl in any way. If the conditions are insisted on, I say there is no chance of our ever going into 692 Europe. It does not make sense, because, first, one cannot insist on total independence of foreign policy and if E.E.C. goes on there is bound to be some political content. If we join E.E.C. we are bound to try to approximate our foreign policy with that of our neighbours. In the second place, under the fourth condition, it comes down to saying you must have an independent economic policy in this country. The noble Lord, Lord Blyton, nods his head and that is what he said. If we insist on these conditions we shall never get into E.E.C. Nor can you think of it in terms of uniting Europe unless you believe and hope and work for the disruption of E.E.C. itself—which may, of course, happen. If you believe in that, our policy might make sense. What the Government mean to do now is still unclear. They want better relations between EFTA and E.E.C. We are all for that. Nobody is against it. I am bound to say that I am, and we all are, passionately in favour of the suggestions of the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, and of everybody to that effect.
The crucial point, however, is: Do we want to join E.E.C. or not? It is as simple as that. On that the Government are quite unclear. The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, said that I missed the bus, or train or ship, years ago; that I am still thinking in terms of the remote past, in 1956—the Conference of Messina. Well, my Lords, I am. I do not think I missed the bus at all. I think that Messina and the constitution of the E.E.C. represent an extraordinary step forward in the unity of Europe and a great constructive force for the future. That is what I still think. I gather that the noble Lord feels that this idea of unifying Europe, and of employing those techniques which he called the "techniques of the Community," is all completely out of date. According to him, all this is an ancient superstition which cannot work.
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, may I correct the noble Lord? I said that only as regards political unity and the Defence Community; but not as regards economic unity.
§ LORD GLADWYN
That is all very well; but if you think there is going to be a real economic union and not just a tariff union—a Zollverein—you are bound to get into the position, before 693 many years, when you will have some kind of political content and it will become a full political entity. If you do not believe that and think it is merely to be a comfortable Customs Union, then we apparently ignore that and work for a larger Europe, containing I do not know how many States of Eastern Europe, and no doubt also the Soviet Union itself. Then we shall get into the position in which we get a kind of vague association, extending as General de Gaulle wants, from the Atlantic to the Urals. Everybody will then be happy; Germany will be united in this larger whole. But in practice you will never get anything if you go after this larger conception except possibly the victory of the Soviet Union in Europe.
§ LORD GLADWYN
Yes, of course, but in some ways he is rather a "rogue elephant", if it comes to that. Others apparently think that all blue prints and all pre-conditions are bad in themselves. That is the view of the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield. He is entitled to it; he is more experienced than I am. He is a hard negotiator; he knows the tricks of the trade, and I accept his judgment in many ways. But I think that on this field of Europe that is really a kind of no-policy policy. It is not even trying to think out in advance what we want. It is not even having an objective in front of us. We just deal with things as they come; but we have no kind of conception or theory about what we want. I do not believe in that. We should have an idea, a conscious constructive idea.
I am afraid that I thought the no-policy policy of the Government, their not-having-made-up-their-minds policy, has to some extent permeated to the Front Opposition Bench as well. It 694 seems to me that here again, as on defence, a large measure of understanding exists between the two Front Benches; and I think it is really an understanding to push this issue of Europe "under the rug" because the time is not yet ripe, the people are not yet educated, we do not know where we are, and therefore we had better wait and do nothing at all except go on talking about methods of getting together on the Concord or the Channel Tunnel; and go on as if apparently nothing had happened. That is the policy now. But we can only hope that at some stage the two Front Benches will wake up to find that this is a policy that cannot be pursued much longer. I tried in my speech to take a stand and to make constructive suggestions. I hope that noble Lords will read my speech to-morrow. I still do not believe my suggestions are short-sighted or revolutionary.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I should like to put a question, possibly on behalf of the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, too. The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, has asked us to read his speech. I wonder whether he would read mine.
§ LORD GLADWYN
It may be that I have not fully understood the inwardness of the noble Earl's speech. It is possible that if I read it to-morrow I shall discern something more positive in it than I heard with my own ears. I hope that I shall. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.