§ 4.27 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD GRANTCHESTER
My Lords, I should like to speak this afternoon in support of a practical approach, in the circumstances in which we find ourselves, to the achievement of a wider European Community. The steps taken in the past must be kept in mind. As we remember, the first plan after the war was to build a European Defence Community based upon European multi-national forces. It was too soon for such a plan to be generally acceptable, and it was dropped. After further abortive attempts to work out some common plan on a European scale, we in Britain stood aside while discussions took place between the Six which led to the signing of the Treaty of Rome in March, 1957. Then, perhaps because the Community which the Treaty of Rome brought into being was called the European "Economic" Community (which obscured the rather subtly built-in assumptions that some form of political unity would follow) we affected to believe that its whole concern was in the economic field.
Many noble Lords will recall a speech in this House by Sir Alec Douglas-Home, then Foreign Secretary, in August, 1961. This was, I think, the first ministerial statement which stressed the political implications of the developments which were taking place in Europe. Some of the words he used were these:The centre of power and the weight of investment could well shift from this island of Britain to the Continent of Europe; and over 200 million people…can exercise a greater political power and offer greater opportunities…than 50 million people."—[OFFICIAL RFPORT, Vol. 234, col. 121; 2/8/61.]He went on to suggest that we had a strong interestto be inside this new power complex rather than excluded or on the periphery".He concluded:When the United States and Europe are more nearly equal in their achievements…then it will be more practical to join forces and men will be able to achieve a new impetus to freedom.My Lords. I think those words of the then Foreign Minister are well worth repeating to-day.
705 In the same year, 1961, Britain made formal application, in accordance with the Treaty of Rome, for membership of the European Economic Community. Negotiations followed, but only on economic problems. There were no parallel negotiations on political questions. As we all know, these economic negotiations were suspended early in 1963.
I think there are few to-day who would challenge the assertion that the question whether we join the European Community will be decided on political grounds. In the interests of brevity, I will risk the accusation of somewhat simplifying the position as I see it to-day by saying that our entry is dependent upon whether we can agree with France on three fundamental issues. The first is: are we prepared to work out with France a defence policy for Europe which is European-directed and maintained, whatever extra strength is added from non-European allies? The second: are we prepared to make it our aim to join with other European Powers to express a European view and so exert a European influence on world affairs? The third: are we prepared to stand firmly for a monetary system which is not inflationary?
If I were asked why I place emphasis upon a prior agreement on these matters, with France, rather than with any other European Power, I could give several reasons, but let one suffice. I accept the argument used by Sir Winston Churchill at the Yalta meeting, during the war, in discussions with Stalin and Roosevelt. At a time when this was not obvious to less far-sighted men, Sir Winston insisted that the co-operation of France was the first condition for rebuilding Europe and declined the primary role for this country. This view was, I believe, based on considerations of both geography and history.
Discussions with the French Government, when they take place, should, in my view, be free from strings, as other noble Lords have said. I am sure there will have to be political discussions, however much exploration is done in Brussels on economic and agricultural difficulties. So I prefer to leave Constitution-making until such talks start. An agreement, to be worthwhile, has got to work in practice. The only assurance that it will work will be the 706 will of the members associated together politically to make it work. I have not much belief in majority decisions where any great Power is involved. Nothing less than real agreement is worth much. The Community has already recognised this basic fact of life and has adjusted itself accordingly. This, I believe, as a good omen for its future.
We have in existence to-day a body which is probably not greatly different in constitution from what is likely to emerge as the political executive organ of a unified Europe in its early days, so it is perhaps worth while to study its work. I refer, of course, to the Council of Ministers of Western European Union where Ministers of the Six and of our Government meet and are in a position, if they so wish, to take decisions. Over the past months I have been trying to get a European answer on a question of policy which I think is the sort of question the political executive of a unified Europe would be called upon to consider when formulating European foreign policy. If your Lordships will bear with me, I should like to read the questions I put to this Council of Ministers because I think the Ministers' replies are of considerable interest. They have been communicated to the Assembly of Western European Union this month, so they are available to the public.
In June, 1965, I asked the following question:Ministers of the United Kingdom for some years have been drawing attention to the economic strain upon the resources of Great Britain, to their responsibilities in Europe and other parts of the world. As this strain is now threatening the structure of the international monetary system, will the Council of Ministers of W.E.U. consider the financial implications of British policies, suggest any modifications thought necessary and make recommendations to bring this programme within the purview of existing arrangements for monetary co-operation?The Council replied a month later, on July 9, 1965, as follows:Matters affecting the international monetary system can be more appropriately handled in international bodies other than Western European Union. The Council would, therefore, prefer not to comment on the substance of Written Question 95.I followed this up by a further question in August, as follows:Question 95 drew the attention of the Council to the economic strain upon the 707 resources of the United Kingdom caused by their responsibilities and obligations in various parts of the world. Does the Council of Ministers,"—and this is the important thing—meeting as a body which is concerned to co-ordinate the policies of Member States, consider that the discharge of these responsibilities by the United Kingdom, in particular those covered broadly by the description ' East of Suez' serves the interests of Europe?To which the Council replied in September:The Council are satisfied that by continuing to play her special part in maintaining stability in the areas referred to in Written Question 96, the United Kingdom is acting in the interests of the Western Alliance as a whole.I then tried a third time, with this question:Appreciating the Council's reply to Question 96, in which it states that the United Kingdom 'by continuing to play her special part in maintaining stability in the areas referred to in Written Question 96'—those covered broadly by the description East of Suez'—'is acting in the interests of the Western Alliance as a whole', may the Assembly assume that the Council of Ministers, reviewing these responsibilities, considered the acceptance of them to be of importance to Britain's European partners in Western European Union as a whole and is not passing on an opinion expressed in some other body?If so can the Council of Ministers say whether the sense of its relevance as of European concern was considered sufficiently strong that the duty ought to he shared by the seven members of Western European Union rather than carried by one member? If this consequence from the decision reached was not discussed, would the Council of Ministers give further consideration to the implications of their reply?This was in February this year. I received a reply, via the Secretary General of Western European Union, which informed me that the Council…is not in a position to reply to your question, as the necessary unanimous agreement could not he reached.As I have said, these questions and the replies of the Council of Ministers were communicated to members of the Assembly held in Paris earlier this month.
This exchange with the Council of Ministers might be regarded as a story of failure. I do not so regard it. The important thing is that this question was considered at all. Common action on foreign policy will not come easily. 708 Ministers will need a lot of practice in working together. People who ask questions are apt to be regarded as somewhat of a nuisance, but both Ministers and their deputies treated me with the utmost courtesy, and I think they were sorry to conclude on a negative note. Because of this negative note I think we must probe a little behind the reply.
I cannot imagine that the French Government would wish to re-involve itself in any military sense in the Far East. I cannot imagine that the Netherlands Government would wish to re-involve itself militarily in the Far East. In fact, I cannot imagine that any of the Governments of the Six would wish to be so involved. It may be deduced from their reply that the Ministers were not willing, collectively, to contribute to the cost of the policy which the British Government are pursuing, or even to endorse it. If the Ministers of the Six had been so disposed, I am sure the British representative would not have objected and there would have been unanimity.
As this could not be agreed, there was an alternative open to the Ministers. They could have tried to formulate a positive European policy, based, perhaps, on phased military disengagement in the area roughly north of the continent of Australia, such as has already been carried out by France and the Netherlands. A reply in this sense might well have had the support of all the Ministers of the Six, but from recent disclosures would have been unacceptable to the present British Government. I wonder whether all noble Lords who advocate majority decisions would have welcomed such a majority declaration, had it been made.
But what an opportunity those Ministers missed to offer in this area their combined influence to secure the settlement of existing disputes; to offer the fruits of the cultural heritage of Europe in exchange for the fruits of the cultural heritage of the East; to offer the scientific achievements of Europe in order that they may be disciplined by the philosophy of the East! So there could be built together a concept of human values more important even than human rights. My Lords, this is the sort of message which we want to see go out from the Europe which we are striving to build.
§ 4.43 p.m.
THE EARL OF SELKIRK
My Lords, I was abroad when the negotiations were proceeding in 1962, and when I came back I was surprised at the degree of unanimity, or, shall I say, the degree of support, which the Common Market negotiations had attained in this country. I think that the last time I spoke to Mr. Gaitskell, which was about that time, I was very surprised at the keenness which he showed, and the, to him, obvious economic necessity for going in with Europe. If I did come in the end to very much the same view as the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, it was not for the reasons he gave. He said that he would go into Europe because our future lay in. Europe. I would associate with Europe, because I believe that, if we do, our future can be more powerful and interesting outside it.
It is important to remember that a hundred years ago Europe was much more important, compared with the rest of the world, than it is to-day, and I rather guess that in a hundred years' time it will be considerably less important, compared with the rest of the world, than it is today. For that reason, I think we are right to go into it, and not because we are going to create in any way a circumscribed Community. It would be quite wrong, however, to suppose that there are not many people in this country who are concerned at what will be the effect on our Commonwealth relations, on the one hand, and on the question of sovereignty, on the other. This has been referred to by a number of speakers. I should like to say one or two words on these points, which, as I say, I believe are of great concern to many people.
First of all, I do not agree with the noble Lord. Lord Boothby, that the Commonwealth is a myth. It is anything but a myth, I would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, however, that it is an entirely different organisation from the one we are discussing to-day. We have no chance, and we have not had for fifty years, of consolidating the Commonwealth. At the end of the First World War the Canadians made that quite clear, and the consolidation of the Commonwealth has never really been "on" since that time. Perhaps I may add, too, that I do not think the Commonwealth Secretariat will make the slightest difference to that.
710 But I would also add that we are probably very lucky that it has never been consolidated, because as an economic bloc it is hopelessly unbalanced. And this fact is fundamental to our approach to this point. The Commonwealth can never be a viable economic bloc. One reason is that there is an unbalance between developed and underdeveloped, or developing, countries. About 90 per cent. of the Commonwealth consists of what we to-day call "developing countries", and the burden for the remaining 10 per cent. of developed countries is far too great. We could not possibly accept that burden, and we should be deluding ourselves if we did.
Secondly, many of the products of Commonwealth countries are far greater in quantity than we in the developed areas of the Commonwealth could handle. There is too much of them, and inevitably those countries will have to trade extensively with the rest of the world. Indeed, it is interesting to note that at the present time Canada and Australia, between them, are more or less feeding the Communist world; and we are very glad that they are doing so. This is part of the necessary trade pattern to which they have come. Of course, there is another point, too: that many of our products will be sold in developed countries, which are developing more quickly than the underdeveloped countries. We may regret that, but it is a fact. For these reasons, we can be confident that our economic association—and I will come in a minute to the political side—can go forward without serious damage to the Commonwealth, though inevitably there are a number of points which need particular attention.
I happened to be in New Zealand when they were complaining bitterly about their balance-of-payments crisis, and I explained to them what a tremendous benefit it was to the British householder to be able to buy cheap New Zealand butter. Of course, this was the obverse side of the coin. There were masses of butter for sale in this country and the New Zealanders were not getting a sufficient price for it. I am quite certain that this is a problem which will need attention during a transitional phase. I am also sure that it would be quite wrong to encourage New Zealand and Australia indefinitely to link themselves economically with this country, instead of 711 with their nearer neighbours. They are to-day taking a much more active interest in their neighbours in South-East Asia, and I am sure this is a wholly desirable and much more economically sound basis than tying themselves exclusively to this country. For that reason, it would be quite wrong for anyone to think that a Commonwealth connection would be a justifiable ground for our not going into Europe, if we got the chance. Indeed, it would be very unfair for the Commonwealth, which cannot supply an alternative market, to say that we should keep out of Europe because of our Commonwealth connections.
I should like now to say one word on this extremely difficult question of national sovereignty. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has given, very properly, some examples of what is involved in this matter, but I am going to deal with it from a very broad angle. I think the principle of national sovereignty has evolved out of all proportion to what could reasonably be accepted between nations to-day. There arc about 130 sovereign nation States at this time. I just do not believe that this situation can continue: that we in this world can have 130 States each with complete independence and claiming freedom from any external coercion. I do not think that this can go on. I know that some of them are modified by treaties; I know that many of them are members of the United Nations, and that some of them accept the International Court at The Hague. This is a useful step forward, but I do not really think it is enough. I believe we have to go forward and find other ways of modifying this conception of complete independence. Because, if we do not do so, it will be modified by force.
I have no doubt that, in the end, sovereignty cannot continue in its unlimited form. If I may say so, this is an idea which has evolved in Europe, just like the nation State, and to-day it is being copied all over the world. I think it is right and proper that we in Europe should try to take a lead in showing how sovereignty can be modified on a wider basis; and, if we are successful in doing it, other countries—other regions, shall I say?—may succeed. I do not know whether the qualified majority vote, which the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, refers to, is the best 712 way, but what I am saying is that I am sure some way or other must be found to get round it. If I may use a phrase which I think applies to individuals as much as to nations, unless a nation has sufficient internal discipline it will have to have external discipline applied to it. As I say, that applies to individuals just as much as it does to nations—and this is the problem which I believe we have to face. Again, I do not think we should hold ourselves back from Europe because of fear of loss of sovereignty. To begin with, the principle is so deeply engrained that it is not going to be modified very quickly. We can see that in Europe at the present time. They are not giving way very easily on the question of their national sovereignty; and, frankly. I believe it will be many years before there will be a deep inroad into the concept of sovereignty.
My Lords, I will add only this, if I may. This is, of course, on the principle that Europe will not be an in-looking organisation but an out-looking organisation; that it will not simply regard itself only, but will essentially regard itself as part and parcel of the world. It is in these terms, as outward-looking organisations, that I personally think that we should give the Government all encouragement to go forward with their negotiations.
§ 4.53 p.m.
§ LORD STOW HILL
My Lords, I suppose I should not be the first newly-admitted Member of your Lordships' House who had hoped to intervene in a debate and who, as he listened to the speakers who came before him, felt that they were so completely masters of their subject that almost everything he had prepared to say had been said much better and that therefore it had better remain unsaid by him. Nevertheless, there is a very narrow approach, possibly, that I think might not be wholly unuseful in this debate, and it is this. Many people—certainly I would include myself among them—feel strongly that we should sign the Treaty. They recognise that there are difficulties which have to be overcome, but their great hope is, as it is mine, that we shall soon be able to join the Common Market. But I think a number of people have a kind of anxiety that it is something like plunging into the unknown.
713 We in this country have a number of deeply-cherished concepts. We believe in our administration of justice. We have deeply engrained in our souls the maxim that nobody should be convicted in criminal process unless the case against him has been proved beyond reasonable doubt. We also feel strongly on the question of sovereignty, about which the noble Earl who last spoke was so extremely interesting, if he will allow me to say so. I think that a number of ordinary people, of whom I count myself one, ask: If we sign the Treaty, to what extent do we automatically bind ourselves to depart from a number of those things which we think are of inestimable value to the preservation of the liberty of the individual or of the Parliamentary process? How far should we have to alter, in order to conform to a European pattern, the delicate balance of our constitutional arrangements? Would Parliament change—or, indeed, cease to exist? What does signing the Treaty involve?
I thought I might perhaps offer to your Lordships some very tentative conclusions which I had formed. I do not claim for a moment that they are necessarily accurate, and certainly they are not exhaustive. I am emboldened to do so by the most interesting speech, if he will allow me to say so, of my noble friend Lord Silkin. He asked: What does signing the Treaty involve? In a sense, to try to draw a distinction between signing the Treaty and what will come after the Treaty is wholly unreal. All of us, I think, would be bitterly disappointed—I know the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, would be—if we signed the Treaty and then stood on a rigid interpretation of its terms, and nothing came after it.
Clearly, if the Treaty is signed, it is the gateway to a growing co-operation, a growing political and social integration of the nations of Europe into something which is completely different; something which, in a sense, may be not wholly different from the Commonwealth of Nations; something which must, in course of time, involve a considerable secession from what we regard as national sovereignty at the moment. But if one accepts that that dichotomy is unreal and that it would be very disappointing if we stopped at simply signing the Treaty, it is perhaps not wholly unuseful, never- 714 theless, to see what changes the Treaty would make it inevitable we should accept in our own domestic arrangements and in our own internal law.
Perhaps it is a truism to say that the Treaty is simply a contract. If we sign it, we enter into a contractual arrangement with the six other signatory nations. It is a contract of very high sanctity, and of course we would observe it, as it is our tradition to observe international obligations which we assume. But signing the Treaty does not alter our own internal law in the least bit. We can—and there are many precedents for this—by our own Parliamentary process, embody as part of our own internal, domestic law either the whole Treaty or specific parts of it. It may be it will be necessary to do that. Perhaps the Government have given some preliminary thought to this, although at this early stage I certainly would not expect my noble friend the Leader of the House to state any conclusions that have been formed. But, my Lords, it may be. There are many precedents. The Carriage by Air Act 1932 embodied a considerable part of the Warsaw Pact of 1929.
What of the procedure of our courts? Should we have to amend our criminal and civil processes in order to conform to European standards which may be very estimable in themselves but may not wholly coincide with what we regard as indispensable in our own procedure? I hope it is not simply a lawyer's sterile exercise to consider this. My answer would be that, subject possibly to one qualification which I shall indicate in a moment, signing the Treaty would leave our own courts absolutely untouched. Our procedure would be precisely the same. Our procedure before criminal courts would not alter in the least, and it would equally be the case in our civil courts. The slight qualification to which I should like to refer hinges upon the existence of the European Court, to which my noble friend Lord Silkin referred. That has—and I shall come back to it in a moment—a very limited jurisdiction, jurisdiction in a sense limited, at any rate; but we should have to accept the fact that British companies and, I suppose, British individuals might from time to time have to appear before that European Court by way of appeal, generally speaking, against decisions 715 made by the Council or by the Commission affecting those individuals.
The jurisdiction of the European Court is an economic jurisdiction. It is limited to economic topics. A nation—for example, one of the six or seven, or whatever the number would be—could be hauled before the European Courtby the Commission if the Commission complains against that nation that it had failed to comply with a regulation duly made by the Council of Ministers. Equally, one nation could cite another nation before the Court. An appeal lies to the Court at the instance of individuals against decisions affecting them. But subject to that, the Court would not have the effect of altering in the least our own internal juridical arrangements in this country.
That is, perhaps, subject to one qualification. Regulations, as your Lordships know, can be made by the Council of Ministers on the proposal of the Commission. They are in general only to be made by a qualified majority of 12 out of the 17 votes of the existing voting pattern. I suppose if a regulation were made, as regulations have to be obeyed by all member-nations our courts would have to accept in the administration of our own law the interpretation put upon a regulation by the European Court. Subject to that, it seems to me that our own existing procedures, the complete independence of our judges, the present system of administration of justice, would remain completely and absolutely untouched.
Apart from the possibility that we might have to incorporate in our law parts of the Treaty, is there any other change in our domestic law that we might have to make if we signed the Treaty of Rome? Changes could arise only in this way. The Commission makes proposals to the Council of Ministers and the Council of Ministers, on the proposal of the Commission, can make recommendations, which have no compulsive effect, issue directives and decisions and—and this is the relevant power—make regulations. Those regulations can cover broad economic matters only. If they go beyond that and with what we should regard as personal relationships in the field of criminal law, and so on, they can he declared invalid by the European Court. But if we signed the Treaty of Rome we should be 716 undertaking, by that Treaty, to give effect in this country to any such regulations. As I have said, it would be for the European Court to interpret them and they would have to be enforced in our courts. But, beyond that, we might also have to make changes in our internal law; and no doubt the Government will have to consider in due course what changes are necessary.
I have tried to envisage what they would be, what broad fields of our own domestic law might have to be changed in order to enable us to comply with regulations made by the Council of Ministers. Our law relating to monopolies, I think, undoubtedly would have to be changed, as would the Restrictive Practices Act and the Resale Prices Act. We should have to alter our aliens legislation in order to permit of the freedom of movement of persons. Possibly we should have to make orders under our Exchange Control Act in order to provide for the free movement of capital. But if one looks, for example, at our broad field of legislation covering trade unions, should we have to change that in any way? The noble Earl the Leader of the House will know better than I; but, so far as I can tell with the limited research I have been able to make in the matter, that would be a matter entirely for us and there would be no change we should find it necessary to make to comply with the letter of the Treaty or any existing regulations made under the powers conferred by the Treaty.
Our Agriculture Acts from 1947 to 1957 almost certainly would have to change. We should have to change, I suppose, the Acts relating to our social security provisions, in order to provide for the broad harmonising of social security benefits applicable throughout the countries of Europe. I do not know any other sphere in which we should have to make a change, and I do not think it in the least oppressive to expect us to make those changes. Subject to that, we could, by our own Parliamentary processes, amend our laws or take what steps we thought necessary to remodel or adjust our own economy, whether in the private or the public sector. It may be that we should enter into subsequent obligations, Euratom and the Coal and Steel Community which would impose obligations of that sort. But the Treaty itself would not.
717 With that review of the changes that we should have to make, I would say, as I said at the outset, that that is based simply on the wording of the Treaty itself. I hope that the Treaty would be simply the first stepping stone to a much larger identity of purpose among the nations of Europe: a growing mutual understanding, a growing interlocking of interests, a growing exchange of persons, ideas and wealth, which would make any new 1914 or 1939 unthinkable and impossible. If it did not have that result, although it has a fundamentally economic base, entry into the Treaty, I should have thought, would largely fail of its purpose.
I look forward to that as the beginning of the creation of another new enormous aggregation of persons (about 200 million), the existence of which in our present world would serve to buttress up the purposes of peace and preserve international authority. The United Nations is one aggregation, the Commonwealth (which, after all, includes 700 million people of all races) is another. By creating large units embracing hundreds of millions of persons and modelling them into an association, close or loose, based upon a Treaty or purely on the voluntary will of the leaders of those nations, seems to me to be the way in which to guarantee peace for the future. Narrow national sovereignty is antipathetic to that. As the Treaty matures into the post-Treaty history, I hope. as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, said in his fascinating speech, that the Council would increase in authority, that the European Assembly (elected on a basis of universal suffrage, and not as it is now) and the civil service of the organisation, the Commission, would grow in authority and would be recognised as being more and more entitled to speak, act and decide in the name of all of the nations of Europe; not constrained to it by the iron letters of a rigid Treaty but readily assenting to its decisions and recognising that it is in the interests of each of them to join in a common purpose for maintaining and supporting world order and promoting world prosperity and understanding. That is how I envisage the Treaty and its subsequent history. I greatly hope that once the initial difficulties are overcome—and there obviously are initial difficulties—we shall be able to sign it, and that that 718 will inaugurate a new page in European history which will be productive of immense good for mankind.
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ BARONESS EMMET OF AMBERLEY
My Lords, I am glad to be able to follow the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill in his reassuring speech about the Treaty of Rome. I myself have been a convinced European for some time. I was brought up in Europe, and perhaps I was conditioned in that way. I feel certain that our entry into Europe is a natural historical evolution, and almost inevitable. Had the present Government, when they were in Opposition, supported US at the time of the Heath negotiations, we might have been in by now, because it would not have enabled General de Gaulle to say that our country was not ready because it was divided. I am sure that it is just as necessary for Continental Europe as it is for us that we should join, but I do not believe that we can force the pace by signing declarations about a political future, such as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, would like us to do, at the present moment. I feel that this would be putting the cart before the horse. To my mind, economic unity must precede political unity. After all, until you have made good foundations and sound walls, you cannot put on a roof.
I think that it cannot be repeated too often (I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, reinforce this) that there is nothing in the Treaty of Rome at the present time which binds a signatory to any particular form of political future. Indeed, if we look at the situation among the Six, we see that they themselves are very confused as to which way they are going. General de Gaulle has pointed in no uncertain way to the liberty of decision which still exists, and obviously the political future of twelve or thirteen countries is going to be very different from that of six. I believe that we must give time for the political possibilities to evolve, and I would use the Latin expression solvitur ambulando. That, after all, is the way both our Commonwealth and our own Constitution have evolved, and I believe that a premature or hasty attempt to put something down on paper binding all parties through all time would be the worst possible way of proceeding.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lady to say that this declaration has been signed already by a number of Peers, including several of her noble friends; but it does not bind anybody to anything. It is merely an expression of intention on the part of some people who know where they want to go; that is all.
§ BARONESS EMMET OF AMBERLEY
My Lords, I agree. But those people who have signed that piece of paper have already decided what they want to do.
§ BARONESS EMMET OF AMBERLEY
My Lords, I do not want to do that at this stage. I should also like to express this view, which I think is very important. Signing a treaty involves for the Continental European a rather different outlook from that with which we, on our part, sign. The Continentals have signed the Treaty of Rome and are working towards the evolvement of the Treaty of Rome. In our country it has been very much more usual not to sign a treaty until we can immediately put the whole treaty into effect. I feel that this divergent attitude towards treaties is a very important factor, and one which, when we negotiate with our Continental friends, we ought to bear very much in mind.
I should like to say something on a completely different line about what one might perhaps describe as "grass-roots politics". If we are going into Europe, I think it very important that the political Parties in Continental Europe and in this country should understand each other better. I travel a good deal in Europe, and your Lordships may or may not believe me when I say that in some parts of Europe the image of the Conservative Party is grossly distorted. I have been told, quite definitely, that there are, of course, no Catholic Conservatives, and that the Party I belong to is composed mostly of Dukes and heretics. There is also in some quarters in Europe an impression that members of the Labour Party are all uneducated and died-in-the-wood nationalisers—a form of politics which the pragmatical Socialists in Continental Europe gave up a long time ago.
We also, I think, come across misunderstandings about Party politics be- 720 cause of the insistence of some European Parties to label themselve as "Christian"—Christian this or Christian that. This makes for misunderstanding, because it seems to label people who do not call themselves "Christian" as not being Christian; and that is a great mistake. The practice is understandable, because after the war there was a great upsurge of Parties in Continental Europe determined to defeat the Communist wave which was threatening Europe. That is how this label came to be attached to them, and we must praise those Parties, for they succeeded in holding back the Communist wave. But there are problems which have evolved from this aspect. It is interesting to note that last week in the municipal elections in Italy the Right-Wing Parties—splinter Parties, Liberals, Republicans, Monarchists and Misini—all lost heavily. The Christian Democrats, in combination with the Socialists, did well, but the Communists pretty well held their own and are now the official Opposition in Italy. One wonders what effect that may have at some time on the European Parliament.
My Lords, there are still strong religious influences in politics in Continental Europe. They disappear in time of war but they reappear in periods of dtente. It is sad to see how isolated the Iberian Peninsula is at present from the rest of Europe. There, of course, religion still plays a very difficult and complicated part in politics. Again, the Scandinavian Parties seem to be somewhat in isolation from the Six. I believe that if Europe is to come together, as I have said, we must try to get like thinking people of like Parties to try to work together and to travel along the same road. Institutions like Koenig winter and Wilton Park have done an enormous amount in this direction, and should be encouraged in every way.
In conclusion, my Lords, may I say that in my view this is the time for strong leadership. Sometimes, as a good British woman, I resent a little the fact that General de Gaulle shines out in Europe as the only strong man. Where is our country at this moment? There is much stirring in Europe. The Russian satellites are breaking out of their cocoons. East and West German relations and interchanges are taking place for the first 721 time openly. Russia, with the growing Chinese threat, may prefer to secure one front, at all events, and surely it would not be good for us, or for the world in general, if, as an alternative, we sank to becoming a satellite of the United States of America; though that is where the present Government appear to be leading us. I think this is a time when we need strong leadership. I do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, who said that no declaration of intent should be made. I believe that Europe needs the confidence of a declaration from us, and I am sure that if there were such a lead this country now would follow.
§ 5.19 p.m.
My Lords, I may be quite wrong, but the wording of the Motion on the Order Paper this afternoon in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, tends to suggest to me that he feels that the Government have failed to make their meaning clear in respect of the European Economic Community. I may be quite wrong about that.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, I think that they have come very near to making the declaration of intent which I urged on them a year and a half ago. They have come very near to making a declaration of intent to join the European Economic Community as such. What they have not made very clear—I am not asking them, naturally, to make any sort of political judgment now, but to consider it, anyhow—is where they are going from the political point of view if they do join. That is my point.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Lord. I think we ought to bear in mind that the Labour Party has stated its aims clearly and concisely over a period of several years and, I should have thought, as consistently as the Liberal Party has stated its own ends over that period. As far back as September, 1962, Hugh Gaitskell, on behalf of the Labour Party, made it particularly clear that we should be willing to go into the Common Market provided that five broad conditions were met. I am hoping that my noble friend and Leader is not going to say this afternoon that those five conditions are no longer of any consequence. I was surprised that the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, should describe those five conditions as 722 "platitudes", or even as ones on which there is general agreement.
If we examine the five conditions, surely they are most reasonable, if we are seeking to enter into the Common Market. The Labour Party said some years ago that there must be strong and binding safeguards for the trade and other interests of our friends and partners in the Commonwealth, that there must be freedom, as at present, to pursue our own foreign policy, that there must be the fulfilment of the Government's pledge to our associates in EFTA, that we must have the right to plan our own economy and, finally, that there must be guarantees to safeguard the position of British agriculture.
It seems to me that if we are going in, we must make our position perfectly clear. We must say what exercises our minds; we must say what disturbs us. And we must set those matters out very clearly. Whether we join or not, the E.E.C. is a question of grave moment. It is one of the biggest political issues this country has had to face for many decades. When we are faced with making the decision, it is going to be one of grave moment, which will have serious and far-reaching consequences for every home and family in Great Britain.
There is a tendency in debates (I do not refer to the debates in your Lordships' House) to see the Common Market as an economic instrument only and to lose sight of the fact that the economic aspect is only a part—an important part, I concede—of the Treaty of Rome. If we join the Common Market, it will mean accepting in toto the Treaty of Rome, including, as somebody put it very well, its disciplines. The Treaty of Rome seeks to do many things—many admirable things in theory—every one of which needs careful consideration. Among the various things it seeks to do are three which are well known, I feel sure, to your Lordships—to abolish import duties and other restrictions respecting trade between member countries, to establish identical import duties on goods coming into member countries from the rest of the world, and to set up institutions which will eventually take over certain powers, duties and functions from member countries and to deal with non-member countries in respect of those matters.
723 I do not deny for one moment that it sounds good to have a home market of upwards of 200 million people, within which manufacturers would be able to co-operate without facing import duties. The gradual harmonisation of social, economic and financial policies also sounds attractive. But we must keep in the forefront of our minds the fact that the Common Market is not just concerned with economic matters, as I believe many people outside your Lordships' Chamber think. The Rome Treaty is concerned also with closer political unity.
The principal aim is to build on the foundation of the Common Market a single political community, with a common Parliament and, eventually, a common Government—in other words, the creation of a West European Federal State. Is this what we want? This means that membership of the Common Market would involve commitments which, in their scope and depth, go far beyond our relationships with any group of nations. For the central purpose of the Common Market is not just the removal of trade barriers, but the conscious merging of the separate national economies into a single unit. Membership of the Common Market could—and I believe would—decisively change our political and economic relations with the rest of the world.
I would remind your Lordships—not that there is any need to do so—that Britain is the centre and founder member of a much larger and, I believe, still more important group, the Commonwealth. I do not accept the view that has been expressed in your Lordships' House to-day that the Commonwealth is no longer an important factor.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
The noble Lord is entitled to his view. I sometimes think that the noble Lord is a myth. As a member of the Commonwealth we have access to the largest single trading area in the world, and we also have political influence within a worldwide multiracial association of over 700 million people. It is a great pity, in my view, that many members of the Conservative Party have allowed themselves to be seduced from their traditional loyalty to the Commonwealth 724 and that the Conservative Party has become the pro-European Party of to-day. It is almost unbelievable.
The economic aspect has been given a great deal of importance, but what, if any, are the economic advantages to us? I do not think that there is any real evidence of any. I cannot see that we should be either stronger or weaker economically if we remained out of the Common Market. The Economic Director of the National Economic Development Council, appointed, if I may say so, by a Conservative Government, who is the Chief Economist in the planning set-up, said, after carefully and closely examining the Common Market proposals:There is really no compelling economic argument for Britain's joining unless it is thought that without being exposed to the blast of competition from the Continent she will never put her house in order.This cannot, surely, be sufficiently good reason for going into the Common Market.
Our entry would mean that barriers would go down between ourselves and the Six, but barriers would go up between ourselves and the Commonwealth, the existing association of 700 million people, who are our tried and trusted friends. If I had to make the choice, I should choose the Commonwealth every time. The Commonwealth preference system is good although, like many other things, it needs revising from time to time. We are given, as everyone knows, substantial trade advantages by the Commonwealth.
Agriculture is perhaps our biggest concern. If we go into the Common Market, we shall be obliged to import expensive foods from Europe in the place of cheap foods from the Commonwealth. Our food prices are bound to rise, and Mr. Heath has been honest enough to admit it. I think it was in March last, during the time of the General Election, that the National Farmers' Union bitterly attacked the Leader of the Tory Party for being prepared to go into the Common Market without reservation. The N.F.U. stressed the increased costs to the farmers and the housewives. As your Lordships know, various sums have been mentioned from time to time, ranging from £250 to £800 million a year in levies on food exports. I frankly am not an expert in this field and, therefore, I do not know 725 what the figure is likely to be. But it must be borne in mind that the policy of the European Economic Community would prevent our farming industry from being consulted about the price of food and the level of production costs. It seems to me that farm incomes would be bound to suffer.
I think we need to keep in the forefront of our minds the fact that the British price-support mechanism for farmers in the 1947 and 1957 Agriculture Acts has, on the whole, worked well. As a result of guaranteed prices and deficiency payments, the British people benefit from the cheaper prices. Our food prices are among the cheapest in the world. We need to remember that the standard of living in the Common Market countries is not as high as it is here, and I see no reason for bringing ours down to their level, as may well be the result.
§ LORD BOOTHBY
My Lords, the noble Lord will forgive me for interrupting, but that really is not true. The standard of living in France and in Germany is higher than it is in this country. And now that I am on my feet, I should like to ask the noble Lord whether he would seriously maintain that Tanzania, Zambia and Nigeria are tried and trusted friends of this country.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
I was referring to the standard of living in the whole of the six Common Market countries: the noble Lord chooses two out of the six. We are about the world's largest food importer, and we are an expanding population. Our food supplies come substantially from Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and have done for about a hundred years. I think it is worth while remembering that their development has been largely due to this vital trade with us.
It is by no means clear what will happen in the industrial field of we go into the Common Market. At present, investment abroad by our industrialists is under and subject to Government control. This would not be so if we go into the Common Market. There will be a free flow of capital and because—I repeat—of the low standard of living in the Common Market countries, and the low rate of wages—
My Lords, if I may interrupt the noble Lord, I wonder whether he would tell us which country out of the Six he has in mind when he says that there is a lower standard of living.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
The only country I would exclude would be West Germany; and I have had some personal experience of the others. Is there not reason to believe that industrialists will move their plants abroad and invest in Europe, which they are likely to do to the detriment of us at home? It is said that the Common Market industrialists will be encouraged to come here. But is it likely, in view of our high wage rates and—I repeat it once more—our better standard of living, that they will come and open industrial plants in this country?
The European Economic Community is held up as a dynamic force, and it is true that there has been a remarkable industrial expansion there. But this is not due, in my view, to the Treaty of Rome, but is due to the natural development following the war, and to the fact that American aid was poured into these countries, particularly Western Germany and Italy, immediately after the war. It was a case of the vanquished countries getting a fantastic amount of aid. Industrial progress in these countries was faster between 1950 and 1955, before the Common Market came into existence, than in the following five years.
The prosperity of Britain rests far more on our ability to make better use of our own resources than it does on securing tariff-free access to the Six, particularly in view of the price which we should have to pay in the long run. Many of our present economic difficulties could have been avoided if past Governments had faced up years ago to the need for economic planning. Rather late in the day, the Conservative Government did what many of us were pleased to see them do, and that was to set up the National Economic Development Council. Entry into the Common Market will not offer an easy escape from our economic difficulties. The truth is that the growth of our economy and of our trade will depend far more on our 727 own exertions; on the sensible planning by us of our economy; on reasonable restraint of incomes based on a fairer division of wealth, and on our ability to put investment and exports before home consumption. In other words, we must have a planned and controlled economy. Hence the Government's National Plan. Going into the Common Market is not going to be a cure for our economic ills, and I do not think there exists a sound or convincing argument on the economic side which will justify our doing so.
The real solution is a planned and controlled economy in Britain, and I think it is desirable that there should be frequent conferences between the Commonwealth and the EFTA countries to consider further measures to promote trade and economic development. I believe that if we could do this it would result in an even better trade association. As I see it, we cannot go into the Common Market and have an economic union without the fullest implications of Political Union, and I question whether some of the Common Market countries have the same understanding and concept of democracy as we have in this country. I am not persuaded that it would be right for us to join the E.E.C. I firmly believe that the world needs, however soft it may sound at times, or however muffled, an independent British voice, and I should like to see it free and unfettered.
§ 5.39 p.m.
My Lords, I rise in close physical relationship to my noble friend Lord Wells-Pestell, but I must declare that we are not in that degree of thought relationship. This subject contains such a mass of intangibles, with such far-reaching implications for the future of this country, that I hesitate even to offer a finger of direction within the seriousness of it all. Nevertheless, I should like to submit a constructive step in a small way to the solution of the most major policy problem and series of decisions that face this country to-day, to-morrow, and, indeed, for many weeks to come.
We depend—and those who follow in the future will depend—heavily on the Government of the day to fight very hard indeed for a just and proper place in an arrangement with our immediate 728 neighbours, which logically and properly progressed, I, for one, believe will bring supreme benefit to us all. I believe that my noble friend the Leader of the House has clearly given that undertaking, and he has my unqualified support for the effort that he and his right honourable friends are making to ensure our rightful place in the future economic sun.
But, my Lords, clouds, and particularly political and economic clouds, are quick to rise and pour rather dampening afterthought on the unwary and imprudent. We have had some cautionary fingers this afternoon from my noble friend Lord Stow Hill and also from my noble friend Lord Wells-Pestell. Our traditional links with Empire have gone, and those with the Commonwealth, I think in all fairness, can be seen to be slowly withering as the nations we have nurtured reach maturity and make their own arrangements for their marriage and their security, too, in the new kind of world facing all nations to-day.
We have a Britain becoming more and more alone in resisting the challenge upon her affluence and influence from many of those about her by new techniques of politics, economics, finance and aid programmes, all so complex that only those at the very centre of things, as the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, has made forcibly clear, can be fully aware of all the implications of any specific major decision and action. The long span of history, the dictates of geography, too, and daily bread, more and more seem to revolve around the word "Europe". But I, for one, do not quite know what constitutes the definition of "Europe". Does it, in fact, include Turkey, Greece, Morocco and Algeria? And what about Spain? Or is it the land mass bordered by the mountains of tariffs or of traditional safeguards, or by the bank of international settlements? It is quite clear, and I think has been made abundantly clear here this afternoon, that the terms "Europe" and "Common Market" are far from synonymous, and I venture to suggest that synchronisation of the two will eventually provide new frontiers that can only be broadly projected in our debate to-day.
For these reasons of definition, the well-known views of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, can, I think, be looked upon as a kind of bull's-eye on a distant target. 729 I do not know that I subscribe to every item of his broad concept, but I wholeheartedly agree with him that there is a vast amount of work yet to be done on a much more lowly level before that target can be achieved. Such a target will take a long time in which events from local pressures, national elections, commercial variants, and all kinds of shifts in international trading positions, will provide an ever-changing kaleidoscope within which Her Majesty's Government have to take progressive decisions on everyday relations. It is because of this state of flux that I welcome the Motion tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, with its inference that the terminology of both "Europe" and the "Common Market" should be continuously studied and observed, without the pressure upon the Government to disclose too many of its negotiating cards. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, will find it convenient, under those terms, to put down this same Motion again as soon as circumstances warrant it, for only by this continuous review can we work to the bull's-eye of the target of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn.
But where are we now? The history of the Six is weighted down with economic forces dictating the direction of political actions, and I doubt whether there is any very strong argument against that basic theme. There is no doubt—and your Lordships will forgive me for any over-simplification—that we live in an era of the economic grouping of neighbouring States. Only a few weeks ago we here agreed to contribute to the Asian Development Bank and we agreed very often before then to regional arrangements. In Europe we are already members of O.E.C.D., which embraces every member of EFTA, including Austria, and every member of E.E.C. We are also members of the Economic Commission for Europe. This, again, embraces all the members of both EFTA and E.E.C.
I am quite sure that the Government regard this halfway relationship with Europe as profoundly unsatisfactory. With apologies to those noble Lords with a military or naval background, it seems to leave us belonging to a kind of European "in-and-out" club. We are in some projects where we can be of 730 benefit, and we are out of others iron which we could benefit. We are in Concord for our technology; we are out of the Six's car markets by high tariffs. We are in for the pound as a reserve currency, and we are out for agriculture. It appears now that the present Common Market countries are prepared to share with us the burden of sterling as an international trading and reserve currency, and this has bedevilled our economic progress over the past decade. We cannot afford to stay out of Europe. We need consistent allies as urgently in peace as in war—and so do they.
When it comes to negotiating, I recognise that we must be mindful of our existing obligations to both the Commonwealth and EFTA, but we must not exaggerate them. Our attitude towards the White Commonwealth, if I may say so, is rather like that of the anxious parent thinking of his grown-up children. Having travelled in the Commonwealth a great deal, I do not think the children need us quite so much as we think they do. They are quite capable of standing on their own feet, and some indication of that has already been shown by the efforts of Nigeria to get into association with the Six. As an "in" club of a logical grouping, Europe and the United Kingdom can, and must, be able to play a decisive world role which no one nation among them could hope to sustain.
A unit of 340 million people with the highest proportion of skilled workers in the world, a gross reserve of gold and a level of steel production greater than those of the United States of America, a gross product just levelling below that of the United States, would be a voice of major significance in world affairs, political, financial and commercial, and the strength of this unity greatly enhances the strength of the composite parts.
We in this country do not number over 300 million Britons. We have not a gold reserve equal to that of the United States, nor a steel production equal to theirs; nor have we a gross national product in the region of £200 billion. But we in this country, as is well known to us all, possess an inventive, productive and political experience second to none, East or West, and these qualities will make of a united Europe incorporating the United Kingdom a whole far exceeding the sum of its constituent members 731 in initiating peace, stability, prosperity and aid to the developing nations.
The short time that I spent directing the investment of monies to aid lagging or emergent economies did little to fire me with over-enthusiasm for the continuation of the present system of aid-grants, aid investment or loans, and I must confess that I remain convinced that some deeper and stronger leverage is potentially available to help those nations help themselves. Indeed many of us have seen some such large programmes backfire with lessening to nil respect and good will to the donors or the investors who took the risk.
I have in mind the early days in the United Nations and the preparations for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, when I represented the World Bank. It was a most satisfying experience to be present when the United Kingdom proposed that this structure should be set up, and there we had no fewer than fifty varying national views; but after some time the United Nations Conference was agreed to and I think, after the study now being made by the World Bank, will be a great success, but on the initiative of the United Kingdom. The leverage, therefore, that I have in mind is from the beneficial consequences that would flow from a strong, outward-looking Europe with the financial resources, technical know-how and the commercial vision to embark on a logical programme of economic development overseas comparable to Europe's efforts in the century of peace from the Treaty of Vienna right up to 1914. These energies can be released only if Europe is coherent, united and at peace with herself. But how is this to be brought about?
The Common Market has already gone a long way along the road of organisation: it has its investment machinery set; it has its Coal and Steel Community set. It has its system of joint consultation between the Finance Ministers, and it has, most important of all, very decided views on new members and who they shall be. On this there are volumes and volumes of themes and theses, and pamphlet upon pamphlet on what should be done, by whom to whom and on what conditions. I regard, as I am sure do other noble Lords, the visit of Monsieur 732 Pompidou to London, hard on the heels of France's policy reversal on central banking support for the pound, as a hopeful sign that the main obstacle to Britain's conjoining into Europe may not be immovable. But, whatever Monsieur Pompidou may propose, there will remain other massive vital interests to be taken into account.
There is therefore at this stage, now, need on the general lines that have been outlined by the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, and also by the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, for a kind of forum in which the nations concerned can harmonise their economic differences away from the spot-light of publicity which bathed every manœuvre in Brussels at all times. Consider, my Lords, that there are possibly fourteen principals at least; a number of Commonwealth and other countries which will wish consultation; and deep division among all of them on the concept of the prime industries of each one of them. Fundamental issues are involved which demand logical, cool appraisal and very discreet negotiation. All these countries, and others too, arc represented by distinguished senior men on the executive boards of those harshly practical and proven inter-governmental organisations for whom most of the world has a great respect. I refer to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and to its sister organisation, the International Monetary Fund.
I do not for one moment even tentatively suggest that fiscal and monetary unity is the starting point in this problem. It is, if anything, the fruit of unity. But what I do maintain is that the gentlemen on the executive boards of the World Bank or the I.M.F. are people with long experience in the service of a Government, and more often than not in very differing departments of a Government, and that the overall experience of the Bank and the I.M.F. goes beyond direct financing to the area where economics overlap with politics. Consequently, I beg leave to suggest to my noble friend the Leader of the House that he and his right honourable friends may care to ponder upon the possibility of negotiating the setting up of a Working Party under the confidential conditions that surround the World Bank and the I.M.F., composed of those representative gentlemen who are appointed by their respective 733 Governments, to sit down together in a continuing and confidential exchange of views as a real Working Party to reconcile the interests of those primarily concerned and those secondarily concerned.
I submit, my Lords, that some such initiative is of vital importance during the present phase of toleration and moderation in East-West relationships, and at a time when some of the rigidities which have governed inter-European relations in the last twenty years are relaxing. We cannot count indefinitely on the support of our present allies within the Common Market and we certainly cannot afford yet another failure.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, will forgive me if I intervene for a moment in this debate, in view of the fact that several noble Lords have referred to the Gaitskell five conditions. For the Record, I should like to make it plain (I do not think this is generally understood, even to-day) that Hugh Gaitskell was not in principle against going into Europe: he was against going in without conditions. In 1962 he knew—and he had seen and talked to hundreds of people in the French Government, to Mr. Couve de Murville, a few weeks before he died—that there was not the faintest chance of our getting into Europe on any conditions, good or bad, at that time. Mr. Heath's attempts, admirable though they were, led him into wishful thinking that it was possible.
But, since 1963, things have changed, and I am sure that my husband, had he lived, would have taken this into account, as the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, said. I myself am not against going into Europe, but I am not in favour of rushing into Europe on any terms. I think, too, that we should take the first steps and join the European Economic Community before we begin to talk glibly about Political Union and before we begin to speculate as to whether Her Majesty The Queen will be known as Queen of the Common Market.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ LORD CAMPBELL OF ESKAN
My Lords, I wonder whether I also may be forgiven for intervening to make a very 734 short point; I feel very hesitant to speak after the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell. I want to make a plea that the most earnest consideration should be given to the effects on the Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean of Britain's possible entry into the E.E.C. I must declare an interest. I have business interests in the Caribbean. The problems and plight of the West Indies may seem a very minor point and a side issue to many of your Lordships in the context of the great range of national and international issues involved in the subject of this important debate. But the future of the West Indies and Guyana and British Honduras is not a small point or side issue to West Indians or Guyanese or British Hondurans.
I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Hall, that we cannot go on patronising and adopting a paternalistic attitude to the new nations of the Commonwealth. But we in Britain largely created these Caribbean societies and countries for our own strategic and trading purposes. We established their industries on slavery, maintained them on indentured labour and exploited their resources largely for our own ends and to our own advantage. We exported our language, our institutions, our values, our expectations to them, not to mention cricket. Now that most of them have become independent they are left with formidable inherited problems of our making.
These West Indian Islands and Guyana form a relatively poor, fragmented archipelago and have appalling pressures of population on their limited land and natural resources. Their economies are for the most part competing with each other and all compete with the larger economies of the Southern states of America and all the big Latin American countries. British trade and aid are still critically important to them, and so is access here for their export crops, such as sugar, citrus and bananas. It seems to me that we owe it to their peoples to ensure that their Governments are fully consulted and informed at every stage of our E.E.C. negotiations, to assure them beyond a peradventure that their vital interests in and relationship with Britain, and perhaps eventually Britain in Europe, will be fully protected. It would be fatally easy to sacrifice those countries unheedingly because they are small and poor and far away.
§ 6.6 p.m.
THE MARQUESS OF ABERDEEN AND TEMAIR
My Lords, with the kind permission of the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald I have a very few words to say, and it is about EFTA, which has been referred to by the noble Viscount, Lord Hall. Its importance in the discussions which have taken place is not, to my mind, realised. We are members of that Association by a perfectly clear and definite Treaty, and when, to suit ourselves, and without previous warning, a surcharge was made on imports from our EFTA associates it was a definite breach of contract. They took it pretty well, but obviously it caused some bitterness. For instance, there was some little difficulty in our trade exhibition in Oslo. The surcharge is now to be reduced, but some bitterness must remain.
If we are to negotiate with our friends when we put our case to the Common Market, we must get the full sanction of the members of our Association, which is the only one to which we are so closely bound. Let us not make that slight discontent even greater by deserting them and ignoring them in this very important matter. The noble Earl the Leader of the House will know from where I am quoting, perhaps slightly paraphrased:The perfect man is he who will not break an agreement with his neighbour though it were to his own hindrance".
§ 6.8 p.m.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, I was particularly grateful for the late intervention of the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell. I was grateful that she gave us that assurance about a man with whom I used to speak frequently on train journeys, he to his constituency and I to my home, and for whom, as I think she knows, I had a very great admiration—as all of us did. I believe that his opposition was based on an illusion, and I must say this because I shall be making it clear in the course of what I say. But the noble Baroness has made it clear that it was an honest illusion; indeed, he was a man incapable of anything but honesty. The important thing for us to know is that he was in principle in favour; he just thought there was not a hope.
My Lords, in ancient mythology Europa was depicted as sitting on the 736 back of a white bull. The noble Lord, Lord Boothby, makes an undeniably fine bull and Homer would be satisfied with him. He cast himself to-day as the proper vehicle for Europa. Unclassically there was a second bull, or a second Zeus disguised as a bull, in the form of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, a beast of a somewhat different style and tone, but also formidable. When pondering upon this early case history I recalled the unfortunate sequel. Zeus, in his disguise, having discovered Europa gathering flowers in a meadow, no sooner persuaded her to climb upon his back than he swam rapidly out to sea. On reaching Crete he resumed his proper shape and induced the infatuated nymph to discard her vows of perpetual celibacy and bear him three sons, whom he then deserted, together with their mother. She was taken pity on by King Asterius of Crete, who married her and adopted her sons. Just how Archbishop Makarios would come into this re-enactment of the legend I am unable to see. However, this is the way the mesmeric urbanity of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, sets my imagination to work. So suave, so silky-coated, so obviously utterly a bull of the world is the noble Lord that I grow apprehensive as to Europa's fate, were she to surrender entirely, and of course understandably, to his charms. Needless to say, I have no cause to suspect that there is any touch of philandering in his own already celebrated courtship.
My Lords, even before this debate there could be little doubt as to the European-minded nature of your Lordships, at least on this side of the House. On three successive Wednesdays in this month Europe will have been a theme of the main debate. Last week, from this Dispatch Box, my noble friend Lord Nugent of Guildford, urged the Government to pay special attention to the harmonising of our agricultural system with that of the Common Market, with a view to joining it. To-day, we have been discussing for several hours the particular issue of our entry. Next Wednesday, we shall be debating the problems and the future of NATO.
With the best and friendliest will in the world, it could not be said that the noble Lord, Lord Champion, gave a heartening reply to my noble friend Lord Nugent of Guildford last week. My noble 737 friend behind me has already drawn attention to this, but I will do the same. In response to my noble friend's direct request, he said that he did not want to go into it too deeply, although there was a fair amount that he could say about it. In the passage which followed these cryptic, somewhat ominous words (the passage is recorded at column 386 of Hansard for June 22) he made it pretty plain that whatever he might have said, had he been so minded, would have been markedly unfavourable. He also declared—and here is a fairly telling quote (col. 385):…this we must consider in connection with the whole business of, perhaps, going into the European Economic Community. We must consider this as a factor and we dare not lose sight of it.There is a fine, positive, dynamic approach, if ever I heard one! There is something to warm—
§ LORD CHAMPION
My Lords, what is the noble Lord complaining of: that I came forth treading delicately, like Agag? I should have thought that was my function.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, what I am saying is that there was nothing very much in that to warm the cockles of the hearts of our friends across the Channel, or to persuade them of our burning sincerity:We dare not lose sight of it"—for fear, one gathers, of what they might be getting up to across the water. I can only equate this remark with the revealing headline which I once saw in a London evening paper: "Fog in Channel. Continent isolated". I am aware, as I say this, that flippancy in such a context may be inexpedient. Here I am not referring to a newspaper headline; I am speaking of a ministerial attitude—and ministerial attitudes concern us very deeply at this time.
The last occasion on which your Lordship's attention was focused on the main issue of our relations with the Community was on the third day of the debate on the Humble Address, which was April 27. On that day, the noble Earl the Leader of the House made one or two forthcoming—(or should I say "frank"?) observations. Among other things, he said, most quotably and commendably, I recall that: 738success in entering the Common Market is the firm objective of the Government"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 274 (No. 5), col. 154.]He also said (col. 150):We in the Government agree entirely that it would he to our political and economic advantage to join the Community.Were we truly entitled to take these reassuring remarks, separate them and decontaminate them from the main corpus of ministerial utterance on the subject: could we safely regard them as the Tablets of Stone, accepted and revered by the whole of the Government and their supporters, then there would be less need for me to speak doubtfully and probingly to-day about the Government's proposed course of action or inaction in this vital area? It is true that the mood of the noble Earl on that occasion was one of pained surprise that anyone could possibly doubt that that was the attitude of the Government; and when the noble Earl expresses pain and surprise, as he frequently does, his mobile features portray greater agony than most men could bear.
I am not forgetting that, by way of backing up his personal pledge, the noble Earl referred the same day to two other well-disposed statements, made in the course of the same week by two other Cabinet Ministers. In qualification he said (col. 211):I should be much surprised if those views expressed were not those of the Prime Minister.The trouble is, of course, that Ministers in the present Government are continually surprising each other, and the Prime Minister—that is, when the Prime Minister is not astounding them. So, unhappily, although the sincerity of the noble Earl is a byword, inside and outside this House, we cannot separate the attitude professed by him on that occasion from the quite opposite dicta issued by other Ministers on other occasions, most strikingly by the Prime Minister, and not, as yet, corrected or withdrawn by "the boss" himself.
There were, we recollect, those earlier, slighting references to "a rich man's club" which Britain was "not going to join, whatever the terms". There was Mr. Wilson's dynamic, forceful influence in that Labour Party Conference in the critical autumn of 1962. Since he obtained leadership and power, Mr. Wilson's statements on the Common Market have been 739 at best of a caginess cautious enough to confine his own field of action, and to implant in the minds of others the impression of a most uncertain-tempered political animal, self-confined but probably, on the whole, better kept behind bars, for the health and safety of the Community.
At the EFTA Summit meeting in Vienna, in May of last year, attended by 30 Ministers, including six Prime Ministers, he spoke blandly of building bridges between EFTA and E.E.C. "or else digging tunnels". When Mr. Harold Wilson begins digging a tunnel, the devil alone knows where he is likely to surface; and I do not think anyone, on either side of the Channel, or the Atlantic, would care to lay a bet. More lately, and far more gravely, in the Election campaign three months ago, he delivered that utterly deplorable, almost lethally damaging Bristol speech, by which his attitude is identified in Europe to-day. After virtually blackballing himself and his Administration from leading us into the Common Market, he said, in a typical piece of fanfaronade:Of course we shall negotiate, with our heads held high, not crawl in.What, in essence, he was demanding in that same speech was that the six Governments themselves should go down on their knees, to beg him to enter, like some portly Sultan from the Arabian Nights.
He came as close as he could, from a purely Party political platform—though speaking as Prime Minister—to proclaiming the ban upon his own intrusion into a powerful and proud, existing and expanding community of nations. That sort of capering will not get us into Europe. However, a lot of what is said on Socialist political platforms is, in charity, forgiven and forgotten. He was not content with such forgiveness. On May 5, in the House of Commons, he explicitly ratified the terms of that hustings speech as Government policy. That, I fear, was bound to eclipse the comforting words of the noble Earl delivered nine days earlier in this House.
§ LORD BOOTHBY
My Lords, would the noble Lord forgive me for interrupting, just to say that you cannot go into a tunnel with head held high, you have to crawl in.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, that, of course, is a good point. It is not the first of the good points that we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, and I hope that the Prime Minister will hoist it in.
There is one point on which I must myself directly contradict the noble Earl; that is, in telling him that we in the Conservative Party are in a position to advise the Government on what will take us into Europe. In that speech of the noble Earl from which I have already quoted, he also said, referring to our endeavours four years before (col. 151):I would point out that they failed to get in. So I am afraid that we cannot turn to them for information on how entry should be secured…This was an error both of implication and of judgment. In fact, the element of success in that endeavour was one, I should think, that he is intellectually best able to appreciate. It was a moral and a technical triumph. Out of the six Governments scrutinising our application, five at least believed—and still believe—that agreement could have been reached; so indeed did we, and do we, as my noble friend Lord Dundee has already said. The implementation of that majority belief and desire was prevented. We were disqualified by a purely political decision, made in Paris—and not in Brussels—at a point when the remaining technical obstacles had been stripped of their credibility. We were disqualified and excluded for the time being.
Our two purposes had been to seek conditions for entry suitable to Britain's interests, and to convince the Six member countries that our entry, on such conditions, would benefit Europe. Five, as I say, were openly convinced; the sixth was perhaps also convinced of the benefit to Europe, but more exacting on purely national grounds.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, perhaps this might be a good moment for me to interrupt the noble Lord. I gather he is correcting me about something. He said I made some false statement.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
No, a false statement and a false judgment. I 741 was told that I had said something incorrect in announcing that the noble Lords opposite had failed to get in. I gather they won what is called a moral triumph, but they did not get in; so I am afraid I was right.
LORD ST. OSWALD
If the noble Earl reads my words with an even more subtle mind than any of his companions, he will see the point that I am making. It was not the sort of judgment which I should expect to come from him. The statement that we had nothing to offer to the present Government by way of advice on how to get in, simply because we were excluded by this political decision, does not in fact make any sense. Moreover, Ministers of the present Government, leaders and spokesmen of that Government, have certainly done themselves no service by falsifying the evidence and pretending publicly that our purpose then or our purpose now has ever been to seek entry without conditions. They have done themselves extensive damage by pretending that they might possibly force an entry for Britain, through a breach in the Treaty of Rome.
This volume which I have in my hand entitled The Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community and Connected Documents is composed, physically, of two almost exactly equal halves. The first half is the Treaty of Rome itself, 248 Articles. These have remained inviolate since the signing in March, 1957, and will remain inviolable certainly at the hands of any new country seeking membership. Ministers must not deceive themselves or the country as to this. Any postulant will have to accept the Treaty as it stands. The Community cannot be pressurised from without. The rest of the volume, the second half, contains the conventions, and these were negotiated separately, with each of the founder members putting forward its own special interests—firmly, persuasively—and seeking, from its co-negotiators, acceptance of those special needs and interests. This mechanism, this means of incorporating special requirements of an individual country into the processes of the Community, is still at the disposal of any new candidate. It is presumed by all existing members that this machinery would be called into action by any candidate in a period of negotiation, such 742 as we undertook with such a high measure of success in 1961. Every doubt expressed by present Ministers as to our own potential under the Treaty as it stands is a doubt cast directly on their own negotiating skills.
When the Prime Minister uttered those brash and braggart words about holding our heads high, not crawling in, his only effect was to sicken and dishearten those whom, in wisdom, he should he trying to impress—those friends in the Community who remember best the talks which ended, so sadly for so many, in January, 1963. What our negotiators achieved—and this I think answers the noble Lord's point and objection to a very large extent—during those 15 months (and I am thinking in particular of my right honourable friends Mr. Edward Heath and Mr. Christopher Soames) was of true and enduring value. They established themselves in the minds and hearts of the other participants as hardy, shrewd and skilful defenders of their country's standing, but also as sincere and dedicated Europeans. When a thorny problem was presented, their attack upon that problem was to demand, "What is the best solution for all of us?" They sought a method most beneficial to a Community including Britain, not along lines of "special pleading" for a new member alone. They recognised from the start that the common good would contain within it the benefit they sought for the individual member.
It is a proud thing, travelling in the countries of the Community to-day, to witness the manner in which these two British negotiators, and their advisers at the time, are spoken of, after what the noble Earl has been pleased to call "their failure". In the minds of all within the Community they stood, and still stand, as two European statesmen. Let me remind your Lordships of the words of Mr. Edward Heath in the moment of setback, which no loyal European saw fit to gloat upon. His closing words, which deeply moved some of the toughest bargainers at the table, were these:We in Britain are not going to turn our backs on the mainland of Europe; or on the countries of the Community. We are part of Europe; by geography, tradition, history, culture and civilisation. We shall continue to work with all our friends in Europe for the true unity and strength of this continent".743 Those words and the impression left by those words are part of the inheritance now paid over to the present Government of Britain. I hope they will turn it to good account.
Some Ministers, we know, would sincerely wish to; and the noble Earl is certainly one of them. Yet it must be said that up to this moment the Government of noble Lords opposite have not produced one statesman of the calibre, insight and prestige in Europe of either of my two right honourable friends. They have not provided a voice which could echo those words with equal power or equal conviction. They had not done so before, three months ago, they began to toy more amiably with the concept of Britain in the Community. They have not done so since. I pray they will neither squander, nor allow to devalue by negligence, the moral credit contained in that bequest from their predecessors.
To sustain this advantage more will be required than simply tying the label of "Minister for Europe" round the neck of some amenable politician, even with all the Scottish qualities attributed to him by the noble Lord, Lord Caccia. Labels as such do not impress. The mentality, the conviction, the insight and the energy of the man so designated may impress. None of this implies any discourtesy to Mr. George Thomson, whom everyone appears to like and who seems anxious to learn about the facts of European life. It is no fault of his that he has been given as yet no opportunity to impress. The men, the Ministers, the Governments he has to deal with on the Continent will want to know what strength of purpose, what sincerity, lies behind his appointment and behind his approaches, the first of which was made yesterday.
Of late it has become clear that the mood of this country is more favourable to entry than before, despite the bashfulness or reticence of the key Ministers of the day. Unhappily this improvement has been coeval with a weakening of our economic position. There has been a panic and uncertainty since Autumn 1964, panic paraded before the world. It will not be so effortless to hold our heads high as it was on the previous occasion. In 1961 our heads were not 744 bowed beneath the debt of £900 million to other countries. The industries which we now need to help us fight our way back to solvency were not crippled and bewildered as they find themselves today.
In the meantime, the trade and production figures in the Community have outstripped all estimates, and the internal reduction of tariffs is impressively ahead of schedule. Since 1963 the rise in the rate of industrial production has doubled, an increase from 119 to 132. Exports have risen by 23 points. Gold reserves in the Common Market have gone up by 1,414 million dollars. Both absolutely and relatively to the Common Market we are not so strong as we were. But that should not deter us from stating now our readiness to enter, and it seems that it has not.
There is good and immediate reason for this. Ministers have grown wretchedly aware that our word weighs less than it did in the councils of the world, since their assumption of power. There are many places in the world where we are treated with less than courtesy, as the past months have shown; where we are considered a spent force, a withered influence, in world affairs. All the Prime Minister's rhetoric has not altered this false belief. There is one important part of the world where that belief is rejected; that is, among our European neighbours. They have known us too long, they have shared too many sacrifices over the centuries, to accept so quickly and easily our apparent decline. They see it not as a decline in national character, but only as a patch of bad leadership which is more simply remedied, or so they hope. They are holding open for us the option to reclaim our influence and their regard.
The disturbing fact is that at least some senior Ministers seem so utterly oblivious of all this. I do not know, in all honesty, whether the Prime Minister understands very much about the world beyond the Scilly Isles. There is so little sign that he perceives the need for the launching of this magnificent European enterprise. While in Opposition, there was nobody so vociferous or so baleful in complaint about American pre-potency within the Free World. To-day the rectifying of that balance is being effected, and it behoves Britain under whatever leadership to strengthen that 745 process. The slogan which I offer to Her Majesty's Government, waiving all claim to copyright, is "Stop ticking! Get weaving!"
Not since the days of the Roman Empire has the civilised world been so dominated by a single great Power—so reliant upon that one great Power to make all major decisions, to protect the remainder from the barbarian forces threatening all freedom and all achievement. It is the boon of our civilisation, the saving factor, that this great Power of our epoch, the United States, does not wish to dominate selfishly. Her own innate scruples make her loath to occupy this all-providing, all-deciding, monolithic role among responsible, civilised mankind. Most happily of all, the United States does not wish to devour the weaker peoples as other great Powers past and present have desired. Her own ambition, so often demonstrated, is that the smaller Powers should grow stronger.
By their own historic experience, the Americans know that such strength comes from a combining of interests and aspirations. This was the meaning of Marshall Aid, and the insistence that Europe should form her own indigenous council and authority for the sharing out of that restoring aid. It was part of the American design, part of the terms of Marshall Aid, that O.E.C.D. was formed, which was mentioned by the noble Viscount, Lord Hall. So we, the peoples of post-war stricken Europe, had our first plain, practical incentive and opportunity to combine. We had the splendid voice of Winston Churchill, identified with triumph through adversity, describing the unity which could be ours. In weakness we discovered the means to strength. It would be a disaster and a disgrace if, once this strength had been won back as it has, we should forget the new lessons and return to weakness. Such strength as Europe now possesses is still only relative to the exhaustion from which it grew. It is healthy only in contrast to the sickness of the war years. It is purposeful in comparison to the aimless greed of bygone rulers. Unless the present rulers of Europe, including our own, can appreciate this, then all that has been achieved could be illusory, ephemeral unmerited.
At this point I feel impelled to say something of an aspect which is more 746 constantly in my mind, perhaps, than in the minds of other equally thoughtful but more significant men of affairs. When we speak of Europe, in the context of this debate, for example, we tend to mean Western Europe—the countries and the peoples on the lucky side of the Iron Curtain. We commit, to that extent, an error and an injustice. I have tried hard to excuse myself for describing what is at present a token Europe as if it were the whole, because I believe that one day it will be.
Unless we believe that, in the full dawn of the Europe we are working for, the now captive nations will be free and desirous to join the expanding Community, there is bound to be something incongruous, something invidious, in this use of the term "Europe". So long as it is a Europe limited to Six or Seven or Eleven, or even the whole score of countries now formed of free men, it remains incomplete. It is still a Europe bereft of nations which provided so much, and until so recently, of the rich store of culture and civilisation which we have inherited, and which we could ignore only at our own considerable loss. This is an undoubtedly heavy-tongued way of saying that I believe in the wholeness of Europe, to embrace ourselves and those other nations with an equal and historic claim to the standards and responsibilities of being a European. That concept is at all times in my mind, when the vast and valuable puissance of this Continent—our Continent—stirs my imagination.
I totally disagree with the 80 Labour Members of Parliament, who also touched upon the idea in general terms of an all-embracing Europe, in the declaration last Monday—the declaration referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, as "octogenarian mutterings". They assumed it was necessary, to make way for their new order, for the whole of the present foundation of the Community to be demolished; for a new start to be made. Should such a destructive work be carried out, I do not believe that building would begin again in our lifetime, perhaps in many lifetimes. To realise the dream of a whole Europe, we cannot evaporate the present success; we have to expand it.
To-morrow morning I shall fly to Bonn to attend a conference of the Central 747 and Eastern European Commission of the European Movement. We shall be discussing, in particular, the possibilities of closer links with the satellite countries, as they are at present governed. We shall undoubtedly be speaking of another conference to take place in February in Brussels under the auspices of ELEC—the European League for Economic Cooperation. That will be attended by key men in the Eastern European countries—directors of planning, bankers, leading economics experts, and the heads of branches in the main industries. The purpose will be to discuss economic relations, and it will be the first such discussion, called by an organisation concerned with European unity, to have representatives from the countries of Eastern Europe. It is hoped that it may open the way to a wider dialogue within the framework of such European unity. In doing this, the organisers are trying to prepare the ground ahead for a far later stage, a long span beyond that step from which our Government—at least until yesterday—appeared to be shrinking.
Let me specify, as my noble friend Lord Dundee specified earlier, that we look to the Government now for a credible declaration of good faith, in specific and practical terms, towards the Community. In the light of Mr. de Broglie's encouraging remarks in Brussels yesterday, the moment for such an application may be earlier than it appeared. Next week M. Pompidou and Mr. Couve de Murville arrive in London. This must be significant. It could be fruitful, especially if the Daily Telegraph is right in deducing that the first full-scale studies of British problems of entry will take place when M. Pompidou meets Mr. Wilson on July 7. Perhaps the noble Earl will be able to confirm this report. Certainly, the meeting will allow a peaceful reconnaissance patrol into French thinking at this stage. If only the noble Earl, in a few minutes' time, could be more definite than Mr. Thomson about our acceptance of the Treaty, that patrol would have an easier time and the way forward into Europe might become clearer.
Now I have, against the wishes of Lord Caccia, called for a declaration of good faith couched in specific and convincing terms. I hope that the noble Earl does 748 not think that this is terribly caddish. It is not a case, as Lord Caccia suggested, of requiring a declaration every week or two. The worrying factor is that when the Prime Minister has pronounced on these matters the effect has been very disturbing. We hope that he has had a change of heart, and we hope that the noble Earl will tell us so. To compare the Prime Minister's speech at Bristol with Mr. Thomson's words yesterday is to compare chalk with cheese. We are so accustomed to the Prime Minister having a card up his sleeve, to produce with aflourish to discomfort his opponents: but we are not gambling with opponents here, we are negotiating with friends. There are certain cards which could kill the game, if not the dealer.
Has a Cabinet decision been taken to seek entry into Europe? If so, it would be pleasing to hear it in Parliament as well as to infer it from Press reports. Suppose it has: what is the next move? What are the terms that the Government anticipate, and what are the objections they have withdrawn? Will they accept the common agricultural policy? And again I ask: what is the next move? All these things the noble Earl can tell us to-day, and I lay particular stress on the last of these questions.
It may well be in the hands of Her Majesty's Government to carry this endeavour forward to success. Will they therefore, I ask the noble Earl, endorse to-day the words, so well remembered in Europe, spoken by my right honourable friend Mr. Heath when he opened the first negotiations on October 10, 1961—the negotiations with which yesterday's words have been compared? He said:We are ready to accept and play our full part in the institutions established under Article 4 and other Articles of the Treaty. We fully share the aims and objectives, political and otherwise, of those who drew up this declaration, and we shall be anxious, once we are members of the Community, to work with you in a positive spirit, to reinforce the unity you have already achieved.
LORD ST. OSWALD
I am asking the noble Earl to-day—and it is a straight question, satisfied by a simple, "Yes": Would his Government at least endorse now those words on behalf of the British people? Nothing less will do. When the noble Lord, Lord Champion, mocks me 749 again by saying, "We did not get in", perhaps they think that they will have to say something more, but they can say nothing less. It will not be enough, I fear, for the noble Earl to repeat in this instance that he would be surprised if those were not the views of the Prime Minister. Plenty of people would be very surprised indeed—though it would be a happy surprise. For the words of the noble Earl to have significance to-day, they must commit the Government in a clearer and more specific manner than has been done so far.
LORD ST. OSWALD
We went into fifteen months of negotiation. If that is not committing the Government, I should like to know what is.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, in one respect I think I may find myself in agreement with the noble Earl. He smiles disbelievingly. If Britain cannot be expected to enter the Common Market without any conditions, as we all agree, still less can Britain or any other nation attempt to set a rigid pattern for the future of the Community. I am not ready to say that Europe, five, ten or fifty years hence, must conform or could conform complaisantly to a design drawn up by one highly intelligent man at one particular stage of its development—or even by a group of highly intelligent men. I believe in an evolving Europe, and I insist that Britain ought to influence that evolution from within—the sooner the better.
I do not and cannot believe in a prefabricated Europe constructed from an arbitrary blueprint dated 1966. That cannot be our duty to posterity. It is inviting posterity to laugh at us, rather as we tend to laugh at dusty copies of Baedeker's Europe to-day. Lord Gladwyn's book, which has been described by the Leader of the House him- 750 self as "a small classic", begins with Charlemagne and ends with Gladwyn. I am not positive that he draws any clear distinction in his mind between the two. I regret to say that this particular Roland would find it hard to accept a post among his Paladins.
My Lords, in closing, I wish to put it to the Government, through the noble Earl who will reply, that there can be political guilt in omission as well as commission. For Britain to flutter nervously or negligently outside this emerging Europe would make a culprit of every serving Minister.
LORD ST. OSWALD
Living as we do in the second half of the twentieth century, inertia in this issue can be classified as a political offence. We can apply one very extreme, one violent but telling comparison within the political memory of most of us. Twenty-one years ago it was enough for a British Government, in Cabinet, to decide that Hitler and his all-conquering savagery should be stemmed, should not be any longer licensed by our apathy to continue plundering the lives and liberties and decencies of human existence. It was a decision between world war and a kind of peace—peace in an ever-expanding concentration camp which would have engulfed the whole of Europe, as well as Britain. It was Britain which decided, at this climacteric, upon war instead of slow surrender, and the world followed us into war on one side or the other.
To-day, what sort of comparable choice could be made by us or by any one European country? The naked answer is, "None." Many noble Lords present—perhaps the majority—will say that this is an excellent thing in itself. I am not here to mourn the fact: I am simply stating it as a touchstone of all political life in this decade. It seems undeniable to me that what applies in the power to declare war applies also in the power to prevent war. It applies in the power to make a decision of any magnitude, of any significance whatever, for the well being, the elevation, even the maintenance, of man on this planet. Yet, knowing as we do that Europe is the repository of so much accumulated experience, wisdom, culture and love of freedom, we should be betraying our duty to those 751 who follow if we allowed the voice of Europe to be neglected, dissipated among a score of quarrelling tongues.
This Continent, to which we are linked by bonds far stronger than any bridge of earth, has inherited the secret of survival in the face of catastrophe, repeated times without number. We must pass on that secret to a world beset to-day by dangers of a scale never dreamed of before. We must pass it on, obviously without threats, yet with authority—an authority rooted in conviction and reinforced by unity. This congenital wisdom of Europe, born from so much death and misery and survival, cannot conceivably urge us to build unity in order to create a Third Force to defy America, and so divide the Free World. That would be madness, and we are speaking, very precisely, of sanity. Sanity will create a Europe to share the effort and responsibility of peaceful advance: to share it on equal terms with America and with any other great Power which may turn from the aims of domination to the aims of brotherhood.
I say that we owe this not only to ourselves and our history, and to the world at large, but also, in a private sense, to the United States. For what a friend that nation has been to Europe and to every European! Yet now we see that the greatest mortal Power humanity has ever known can feel lonely, faced by humanity's present problems. Twice in our lifetimes the New World has come to the aid of the Old. Now is the turn of the Old World to come to the aid of the New. Now is the turn. Now is the opportunity. This great, mutually powerful partnership is what the wisest leaders of America have urged us repeatedly to create, out of our own resources, spiritual, intellectual and material. This equally, has been the aim and aspiration of the wisest leaders, the great political philosophers and statesmen of Europe. Here is the rendezvous of great minds, great men and great nations. That is a rendezvous which Britain must keep.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, this debate was initiated some hours ago by three most earnest, well-informed speeches by the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, 752 and, from the Front Bench opposite, the noble Earl, Lord Dundee. It was continued on the same level by other speakers. I find it hard to comment on the speech to which we have just listened. It hardly rose to the same level, and at times it sank slightly lower than is usual for speeches from either Front Benches. I will leave out the audacity of the noble Lord's suggestion that, in some way, his good friends won a moral triumph in their European policy. Very belatedly they did what they could, but they were, of course, defeated.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
The noble Lord has addressed us at some considerable length. Perhaps he will let me continue.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I am going to challenge the noble Lord a good deal more. He is not finished with yet. What I am afraid was much more repugnant to many in the House was the extraordinary tone of personal abuse, very carefully prepared with the help of midnight oil, that he found necessary to adopt towards the Prime Minister. He achieved the miraculous feat of being frivolous and ponderous at the same time to an extent that I cannot recall being equalled in this House. So I should only hope that the noble Lord (whom we all like) will think twice and spend still more midnight oil over the next speech of this character before he decides to inflict it upon us in quite that form. It was a very unpleasant experience to have sat through it for some who admire the Prime Minister and, indeed, for most of us who have any feeling for the House. So much, just by way of friendly comment on the speech of the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald. I now return to the grave issues—
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
Later on. I think the noble Lord has had a good spell. Someone said he had spoken for an hour, but I think that was an exaggeration.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
There will be plenty of opportunity later on. Perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to get under way with some of the other speakers.
The noble Lords, Lord Gladwyn and Lord Boothby, have, of course, contributed enormously to this cause. If it has advanced a considerable way in recent times, I suppose there are no two Britishers (I was going to say "Englishmen" but I assume that would not be quite correct in the case of the noble Lord, Lord Boothby) who have done more than those two noble Lords. If any cause with which I myself had been identified had made as much progress as theirs has, I should be very complacent. I will try to answer some of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, clearing the personal issues out of the way. He made it difficult for me in one respect, for he treated me as a well-meaning person, at one moment of great significance (as now, apparently) but as of no significance on past occasions. He wants me to make some great declaration; although as soon as I make it he is going to tell me that it does not amount to anything.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
Nothing have said has been contradicted by the Prime Minister. I am afraid the noble Lord must look up the Prime Minister's speeches and he will see that what I say is correct. I have said nothing in this House that has been contradicted by the Prime Minister.
May we see what we can say on this subject? I am bound to say that I, at least, found a good deal of wisdom in the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, who has been compelled to leave the House before the end of the debate. He pointed out that it was rather difficult for a Government to make a fresh statement of their attitude or intentions every few weeks. It is not so very long ago since I made a very careful, deliberate statement in your Lordships' House of our whole philosophy in this matter, and other Ministers have spoken freely since. The most important speech recently was by the right honourable Mr. George Brown. There have been all these statements 754 and it is impossible for me to advance beyond them. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, or others will not think that I am retreating from them. Our attitude cannot be said to have changed. In that sense it has not moved since the last discussion on these matters. That I must make plain.
The question now is not the broad one of whether membership of the European Economic Community is desirable for Britain. That is now accepted. The noble Lords, Lord Boothby and Lord Gladwyn, are preaching to the converted. I must beg the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, who is so sceptical about this, if he attaches any importance to my words to accept that re-statement. The question of principle is accepted. It is now simply a question of the terms. It may also be said to be a question of timing and skill in negotiation. Naturally, these questions have been raised to-day and I am going to try to deal with some of those terms.
The noble Earl, Lord Dundee, was very courteous and gentle; and I hope he will allow me to say that I found some parts of his speech a little difficult to follow. He was saying, in effect, that we ought to indicate, lay an emphasis on, our readiness to enter—and that we have already done—but that we ought not to lay any stress on the conditions that there ought to be. He called them platitudes and said that they ought in some way to be taken for granted. I must apologise to the noble Earl, but in a debate of this kind it is my duty to spell out the conditions or difficulties or platitudes. Because once we are all agreed on the objective—I say "all": the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell was the only speaker (and I was glad we had the other point of view) who, so to speak, disagreed (I think that is a fair way of putting it) with the objective—then, if we are going to have any further debate at all, I must deal with some of the conditions; otherwise I might as well sit down now after reaffirming our desire to enter.
May we look at some of these conditions? I think we were all moved by the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell. If I have been too offensive to the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, let me apologise for that. May I join in what he said about Mr. Hugh Gaitskell, who was one of the most splendid 755 Englishmen of our time, a man who was taken away from us on the threshold of greatness. I think it would be rather impertinent of me to add any more about Hugh Gaitskell's point of view to what was said by the noble Baroness. I am sure she would not disagree with this way of putting it. We try to find different ways of saying the same thing. Perhaps this new way of referring to the five conditions will help to make things plain.
We regard them as a convenient yardstick of our requirements which must be viewed in the light of circumstances at the time we reopen negotiations. What the noble Baroness said is conclusive about Hugh Gaitskell's attitude. It is also the attitude of the Government. They are not five reasons why we should not join. Some of them now seem easier of attainment then they did when the conditions were formulated. That comment also may be offered as some reply to the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell. May we just look at some of these conditions and other points of difficulty? We have said that we are ready and willing to join the European Economic Community provided that certain essential interests are safeguarded. That is surely obvious, that particular statement: every Government tries to safeguard its national interests. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, in calling that a platitude; but it is necessary to labour it in this connection only because all the other countries are consulting their own interests, and if we had said we were so ready to join that we were going to neglect our own interests then we should be behaving in a way which would be despised by other countries and would not get us anywhere at all.
My Lords, may I just deal with one or two of the difficult points? There is agriculture. The noble Earl, Lord Dundee, and the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, and others, are agricultural experts. I am certainly not an agricultural expert, but it is necessary, at any rate for the Record, to point out why there are certain difficulties about agriculture when we come to join the Common Market. They have been mentioned many times before, but I will touch on them briefly without spelling them out. First—and here we must all agree—if we change over, as we should presumably have to, from the British system 756 of agricultural support to the system used in the Community, there would undoubtedly be a great deal of disturbance. That must be accepted. It would be a far-reaching disturbance.
Secondly, after that, so to speak, was completed, there would be a significant distortion in the present pattern of production in Britain. Producer prices would rise, but so in many cases would producer costs, and that again is going to create difficulties. It is not for me to say that you cannot overcome these difficulties, but difficulties would be found here. Our consumers, clearly, would have to pay more, however you like to work it out. This would mean a substantial rise in the cost of living. Furthermore, if the system recently agreed for financing the Community's common agricultural fund were applied to Britain in its present form, it would impose an exceptionally heavy burden on our balance of payments. That is a fact, so far as anything which is an economic calculation is a fact. It is a painful fact, but obviously we must take account of it when we are deciding what terms are acceptable.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl this on a point of clarification? Is he now saying that we shall have to change our agricultural policy when we do go in? That is one of the points which I particularly wanted cleared up, because some of the statements which have been made by the Prime Minister implied that we could go in only if we did not agree to the agricultural policy which has been established by the Six. We all recognise the practical difficulties which would follow, and some adjustment might have to be made, but it is important to get this principle clear. Does the noble Earl now agree that if we go in we shall have to accept the agricultural policy which has been already adopted?
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
No, my Lords, I am not giving a pledge of that kind; and I am not giving a pledge in the opposite direction. It would be a matter for negotiation and discussion.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, if the noble Earl will not answer that, surely it shows how undesirable it is to have these conditions stated when nobody knows what they mean.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I am explaining the agricultural difficulties. I am afraid that here I cannot follow the noble Earl at all. If he was negotiating himself, he would have to state these difficulties. Whether or not he stated them in public would be for his own judgment. In fact, with a nation-wide international argument going on they would be bound to be stated in public; they could not be kept up one's sleeve. The difficulties are obvious. At the moment I am not trying to explain how the problems would be solved; I am only mentioning that this is the most difficult area. I should have hoped that the noble Earl, who is an agriculturist and understands these matters, would agree that our difficulties are to be found in this field; that is all. I cannot be thought to be labouring it unduly, I am speaking as briefly as possible about it.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, with respect, everybody knows there are difficulties. What we want to know is, are we trying to get in, are we hoping to get in, are the Government hoping to get in and still to maintain our present deficiency payment system and not adopt the system of the Common Market? If so, they are entertaining an impossible hope.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, anything the noble Earl says about that is well worth attention, but the answer to his question is that this is a matter for negotiation. I am afraid that the noble Earl and I are not understanding each other as well as usual. I am really saying something so obvious that I should not have thought it was capable of argument. It may not be very interesting, but it seems to me perfectly obvious that there is a difficult problem. We are not adopting a dogmatic attitude about the solution. It is a matter for negotiation and discussion. Perhaps I may point out a few of the other difficulties which arise.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, I think that it is the noble Earl, Lord Long ford, who is not grasping the point. We accepted the common agricultural policy before we went into negotiations. We are asking him: does he accept the common agricultural policy before he goes into negotiations?
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, we are ready to discuss the whole matter in the negotiations. If the noble Lord cannot understand that, one of us is below par to-day, because it is one of the most obvious points that any public man can offer to another. May I proceed—after half an hour of brisk interruption—with the rest of my speech?
Let us take the question of the Commonwealth. Lord Campbell of Eskan raised a particular point about the West Indies, but he has been compelled to leave the debate. I would say about the Commonwealth that one would hope that there the problems would be lesser. I am saying, frankly, that from our point of view (I am not talking as an expert on this, I am talking as someone with a great deal of advice available to him), the agricultural side of it is the hardest. Assuming that one problem is harder than another, this, in our opinion, is the hardest aspect of it.
If you take the Commonwealth, there are problems there, but we would say that they are somewhat easier than they were. Let me say—I have not been particularly chivalrous to the efforts of the noble Lord and his colleagues in 1961 and 1963—that I would agree that there, in the case of the Common Market, a good many plans were provisionally worked out; and one would hope that arrangements of that kind, or at least as good, would be available. And in other areas there have been developments since that time which again suggest that the problem will be somewhat easier.
The more intractable problem is presented by Commonwealth countries that export temperate products—Canada, Australia and particularly New Zealand. But I want to stress that we do not regard these problems, these difficulties, as insuperable. But to stand up here and announce what we would and would not accept, to conduct a sort of public negotiation with our European friends while we are at the same time disclosing all our methods and bargaining positions in public, would, I should have thought, be impossible, and certainly such a course was not adopted by the noble Lords opposite.
Then again there is EFTA, which was mentioned by a number of speakers. I 759 know that the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, has always taken a great interest in EFTA, and the matter was stressed by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and the noble Marquess, Lord Aberdeen and Temair, who has had to leave the debate. I am advised that the position there is that certain EFTA countries have indicated their readiness to join us in negotiations for entry and that others are less willing to do so. But it seems not unreasonable to suppose that, if they did wish, it would probably be open to them to negotiate agreements of association. So that there again I think one can draw some encouragement from recent events.
At the recent EFTA ministerial meeting at Bergen our partners showed a very full understanding of our position, as we did of theirs. The EFTA Ministers pledged their Governments to pursue by all available means their objective of European integration and undertook to keep each other fully informed of their individual efforts and to remain in close consultation at all stages. So we can be reasonably optimistic about developments on that front.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
Well, my Lords, I think that things are going better now. I am not trying at this stage—if the noble Earl will forgive me—to make a Party point and say that we have been doing something which other noble Lords would not have thought of doing. But there has, in fact, been progress. It may be that it would have been made by the noble Earl but, it is—if I am allowed to offer any opinion—
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
May I finish my sentence? Because it has a bad effect on me if I stop in the middle of a sentence. I was saying that the situation is now easier than it was in 1963, so it appears. We consider that progress has been made. The noble Earl shakes his head, but I am only giving what I regard as the best information available, and I am afraid that there is not much more that we can clear up between us.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, I was intervening only on the point about 760 EFTA. That was exactly the position in 1961 and 1962. We always knew, and always said, that we would not go in unless EFTA would come in; and it was understood that those members of EFTA who belong to NATO would probably be full members, and those who were not would probably be associates. There has been no change at all.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, there has been a change. I am sorry: the noble Earl misunderstands me. Perhaps this microphone is not working, though I am only a few feet away from it. There has been progress since 1963. The noble Earl can disbelieve it, but I am called on to make statements on behalf of the Government with expert advice. I am telling him where the difficulties are, and I am challenged on those; and where it is becoming a little easier and I am challenged on that. I am finding the noble Earl very difficult this evening. But, in our view, I repeat, there has been progress since 1963. And I am not making a Party point—after all, the noble Earl may have made it himself.
Now let me come to the issue of negotiations. I should have thought that noble Lords opposite—I think this is certainly true of the noble Lords, Lord Boothby and Lord Gladwyn—would not expect me to enunciate in detail the negotiating terms that we shall be seeking. Here I must say something which I do not think should discourage those who are closest to the situation. We do not intend to embark on formal negotiations in the immediate future, but what we want to emphasise—and I hope these words will carry outside this House—is that the objectives we shall pursue are moderate and reasonable, and I hope that our partners in the negotiations will display similar moderation and common sense.
What of the timing? Here I would ask your Lordships to ponder some factors. We have got to look carefully at all the implications of joining the Community, and on this the Government have already embarked. To some extent we can take advantage of the experience of previous negotiations. When I say that they failed, I do not deride them. We will certainly take advantage of what was learned in the course of that failure. But in three years a good deal has 761 happened, and there are many new developments that must be taken into account—not least the consolidation of the Community. We now have an external problem, in addition to our own internal studies and investigations, of probing the views and, attitudes of our potential future partners. We must satisfy ourselves, not only that adequate and viable solutions to the problems involved can be found, but also that there is a fair prospect that they will prove acceptable to our partners in the Community. We must assure ourselves that the Six are anxious as we are that negotiations should not this time go un-rewarded. In other words, we cannot afford another open failure. If it be at all feasible—and I hope that this will seem reasonable to your Lordships—we should prefer to discuss well in advance how the major obstacles can be overcome, so that when the formal negotiations can begin, they can be brought quickly to a happy conclusion.
My noble friend Lord Silkin expressed the hope that negotiations would not drag on. I should also hope so, in the sense that when they are started I hope they will be rapidly concluded. I believe he will agree with me that a very careful and long period of initial discussion is necessary in order that formal negotiations can be embarked upon. Accordingly, we have taken every opportunity to have discussions with the Governments directly concerned. If anybody asked me here and now, as a straight question what we are doing about it, the answer is clear and positive. We are engaging in active, but informal, discussions with the countries in question. They cannot be called negotiations.
In this connection, may I particularly welcome the forthcoming visit of the French Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. I am sure that the words that fell from the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, about France will be particularly acceptable at a time when their feelings may be a little sensitive. We shall naturally be having conversations with our French visitors over a very wide field, including the matters I have mentioned, and a great many related considerations, such as collaboration in technical work. We look forward to hearing at first hand the views of the French Government.
762 If anyone asks me what is our attitude to France, I feel that to satisfy the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, completely I had better quote what the Prime Minister said yesterday, and he will feel that he is getting the authentic voice:While, as the House knows, there are differences of view between ourselves and the French Government on questions affecting the organisation of the Atlantic Alliance, it is our constant purpose to maintain the best possible relations with France."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 730 (No. 42), col. 1592 28/6/66.]He went on to say that he was looking forward to the visit of the French Prime Minister as a welcome opportunity for improving these relations. I do not think that I need say any more. I recognise that the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, must be regarded as the greatest expert on France in this House. I think he would feel, in his old diplomatic capacity, that what I have said is all that can be said this afternoon.
On their side, the Community have emerged fairly recently from a prolonged crisis, which has left them with a heavy backlog of work. In all the circumstances, it does not look as if they would be ready immediately for formal negotiations. In other words, whatever we did or did not do, it does not seem that the Six themselves would be ready for formal negotiations in the immediate future. No doubt they will be a little further on.
My noble friend Lord Silkin, the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, and other noble Lords, raised the large question of sovereignty. I do not feel qualified, either on behalf of Her Majesty's Government or even as an individual, to make a world-shaking pronouncement on this subject this afternoon. My noble friend Lord Stow Hill, who has had to go—and I would pay tribute to his extremely interesting spech—dealt with that theoretical issue and also made practical points of the first importance. My noble friend Lord Silkin and I for many years have been members of a Party which has always stood for the ultimate disappearance of national sovereignty. Nobody, unless it be my noble friend Lord Attlee, has worked as hard for World Government as my noble friend, and if I say that his objective and mine are identical, I think that he will understand me very well. And to some extent this also answers the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk.
763 I would agree very warmly with what the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, said about Europe becoming an outward-looking community. I should like to underline his precise words. When my remarks are read in Hansard—if they are read—I hope that the reader will turn back and read what the noble Earl said on this subject. I am afraid that I cannot reply to my noble friend Lord Hall as I wish to. He raised some points of special interest, and I shall write to him or communicate with him in another way.
We come to the terminology of the Motion in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. He suggests that your Lordships should draw the Government's attention to the desirability of working towards a number of specific political objectives, in addition to joining the E.E.C.—at least, that is how I interpret it. My noble friend Lord Hall referred—I thought happily—to this objective as "a bull's-eye on a distant target." That seems to me to be a reasonable description of it. We all salute the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, not only for his persistence, but for his views in these matters. But, speaking for the Government, I must ask him whether he believes that the purpose he has in mind would best be served by a specific declaration on these lines at this time by the Government.
I am not for a moment questioning the wisdom of the noble Lord in raising this issue, but I am asking him seriously whether it would be prudent for the Government to make a declaration on these lines at this time. Indeed, I am not sure that the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, agreed with him, or that the noble Baroness, Lady Emmet of Amberley, who spoke so well about these matters, agreed with him. Unless I misunderstood the noble Earl, he was very doubtful about the wisdom of a statement of the kind called for by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. It is no secret that the views implicit in such a declaration are not shared by all the present members of the Community. That is common knowledge. One is bound to ask whether the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, really believes that we should be more likely to overcome the difficulties which arose last time if we took sides in a dispute or difference of view within the Community. So from the prudential point 764 of view, apart from any other, I must put it to the noble Lord that it would apparently be wiser for the Government to steer clear of contentious issues such as the one he has raised.
What I have said may seem to emphasise the negative rather than the positive aspects of the Government's intentions. There is a difficulty about doing anything else. The phrases required to indicate our desire to enter the Common Market have been used, and used more than once, and one cannot go on repeating them indefinitely. Because I have pointed out the difficulties—obviously my remarks will be read by some persons abroad, and it is my duty to call attention to those difficulties—I do not want anybody to suppose that the Government are not fully conscious of the great benefits that might flow to us once we have become members of a large European community; and not only the benefits to our own economy, though we believe they will be manifest, but benefits to Europe, as a whole (and when I say "to Europe as a whole", I do not mean only Western Europe) and benefits to a strengthened Europe, which will help Europe to play a greater part in giving help to the underdeveloped countries of the world.
In order to avoid misunderstanding, I should say that I hope nobody abroad who reads my remarks will suppose that we are using the Common Market as it were to bail ourselves out of our difficulties. We are determined, with the help of the whole nation—and there is no Party issue here—to put our own economy right, and that must be achieved whether or not we manage to enter the Common Market in the foreseeable future. So it is not a question of a country in difficulties scrambling into the Common Market in order to get out of them; it is a question of a country that recognises the loftiness of this ideal, and the untold benefits, material and moral, that could accrue, not only to us but to others as well.
To sum up, we want to see an expanded European Economic Community; we want to be a member of it. We shall do our best to find a basis on which such entry may be possible, and we intend to ensure that our efforts are in the end crowned with success. The noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, asked me whether we 765 accept the Treaty of Rome. As I said two years ago, quoting the Foreign Secretary,Our membership of the Community, if we can achieve it, will involve acceptance of the objects that are in the minds of those that framed the Treaty of Rome".It is no good my going beyond that statement—it goes as far as anybody can go, I think—but I willingly reaffirm it, if there is any doubt about it in the mind of any noble Lord. I end as I began by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, for starting this debate, and all who have taken part in it, and by apologising again to the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, if I was a little rough with him, but assuring anyone who is anxious to see this country enter Europe that our heads are ceaselessly active and our hearts are in the right place.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ LORD BOOTHBY
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Earl the Leader of the House for his gracious and generous speech. I think we have had, on the whole, an interesting and constructive debate, although it has made me a little sad. I am bound to say that I thought the speech of the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, was the worst that I have ever heard in my life; and that is saying a good deal. I was a delegate to the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe from 1949 to 1957, and I can tell the noble Lord quite straight the names of the two men who smashed the Council of Europe and refused any kind of British participation. They were the noble Earl, Lord Avon, and the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. That is what we were up against. For the Conservative Party to try and "cash in" on what I can only regard as a disgraceful vote-catching racket now—well, they will not get away with it as long as there is breath in my body: I will go to every town in the country, and tell the truth.
§ LORD BOOTHBY
Avon and Salisbury were both against us, and Churchill was ostensibly in favour, but had not got the guts to stand up to them.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, I am armed against any "rubbing in" by the fact that we did enter into negotiations and sustained them for fifteen months, and, as I said, five of the participants thought that we should have succeeded but for a political decision.
§ LORD BOOTHBY
Years too late; years too late! Churchill had demanded in the Council of Europe a European army in which we should all bear a worthy and honourable part. Avon went to Rome and at a Press conference said that we would not touch a European army, although Lord Kilmuir had said on that same day at Strasbourg that there was no question of any British refusal. If the noble Lord wants the facts of this, he can get them from my books; but I do not want the royalties. I commend him, strongly, to the autobiography of the noble Earl, Lord Kilmuir, because they are all there. The facts are absolutely horrible. I had to suffer; he did not. He is now converted, and he makes a passionate speech about going into Europe, with declarations of intent and the like; but for ten years the Tory Party smashed it all up, and that is what they cannot get out of.
The year 1962 was too late; we had missed the boat; de Gaulle was there. We could have got in on our own terms at any time during the previous ten years. I am sorry to speak so passionately about this, but I did give something like ten years of my life to it; and I know what I am talking about. The noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, does not know a thing about what he is talking; he has not got a clue. I simply wanted to say that; and, having done so, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion, for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 7.28 p.m.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, owing to the fact that there could not be two Motions before the House, I could not move my Motion earlier, and I was told that, since I was expected to say a few words for about three minutes at the end of the debate, the technical procedure was for me to move my Motion then, which I now do. We have had an interesting and passionate debate, full of sur- 767 prises. I must say that the most staggering allegation I heard was that I was aspiring to the throne of Charlemagne, and that when I achieved this high dignity it was apparently thought by the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, that he would not, on the whole, like to serve as one of my Ministers. I assure the noble Lord that if I did achieve that eminence, and there was any question of this, he would quite likely be disappointed.
I have the impression, above all things, that the European idea, in principle, has made an enormous advance in this country in the last five years, since I began to urge our joining the European Community in 1961. I assure the noble Earl the Leader of the House that I do not intend to harry him or to harass him, and I am sorry if I ever appeared to do such a thing; and I do not even intend to harry or harass the Government. I do not think I am doing that. All I really want to put across is this. I am not asking the Government to come out with a full statement in the sense of my Motion, and to say that they agree with all the points that I made in my Motion as an ideal solution for Europe—although it may appear that I was doing this—but simply to make noises, as it were, that are not inconsistent with that kind of development. Here I join forces with the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, and I hope that they will avoid statements such as that made by the Prime Minister in Bristol, which seem to me quite disastrous and inconsistent with any such solution, even if it was consistent with the idea of a Europe of States.
I said that the European idea was making progress, but if you say that, you come back to what is the idea. The idea is of immense importance. I know the British hate ideas; we cannot bear them; we dislike talking about them. I think that was represented in the powerful speech of the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, who seemed to think that it was almost disrespectful to the Government for us even to discuss long-term policy at the present time. That, without any disrespect, is the voice of official pragmatism—the idea that you put something from the in-tray into the out-tray and at any rate for the time being it will not come up again at you, and that is that. You do not welcome any outside advice. 768 Ideas of this kind should be debated constantly in this House, even if they sometimes embarrass the Government—and we are not trying to do that at all. We are trying to get the national will in favour of a national long-term idea, and I cannot see that that is harassing or stupid or anything like that. I think it is something we ought to do in this House, because that is what we are here for.
I know that many people still do not want to join the Community at all—the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, clearly did not want to join the Community as such—and I respect their views. I think it is a diminishing view, and I feel that they cannot have examined all the relevant facts which have now succeeded in persuading the Government that we must come in, if we can. Here again, I do not myself accuse the Government of not having made a statement of intention, which I remember urging on their predecessors about two years ago. I think they have come effectively to the point where they have made that declaration of intention. I think that has been recognised by de Broglie in the W.E.U. the other day, so far as I can understand it. That is a good thing: we have arrived at a certain point.
I think that many people, perhaps an increasing number of people, who want us to get into the E.E.C. quite genuinely are oblivious of the fact that a great ideological dispute (if you like to put it this way) has been, and still is, raging on the Continent of Europe where, after all, unlike us, they take ideas seriously. The dispute is as to the kind of Community which they want to create. Quite a few maintain, and, incidentally, many of our best friends, that the present French nationalistic thesis would, if adopted, mean that the whole thing would not and could not work, and would eventually crash, even if we did come in. That is what they maintain, rightly or wrongly, and the Government must understand that.
There is also a danger which is apparent to my friends and me if to nobody else. If the Government by any chance should accept the Gaullist proposals as regards NATO as some kind of price for our admittance into the Community, that would be really dangerous, for it would almost certainly mean either that 769 the German problem would become insoluble or absolutely impoisoned or that the Russians would eventually have Western Europe at their feet. It is useless to try to ignore these horrid possibilities, and to say that the only thing is that by hook or by crook we must get into the show and then we can do what we like once we are in. That is extremely short-sighted and dangerous, because if we come in on the wrong foot I assure your Lordships that these horrible possibilities might arise.
This, in any case, is the point of the declaration already signed by over 200 Parliamentarians, soon, I hope, to be many more. It has been hailed by those great Europeans, MM. Spaak and Monet, as an event of great importance and significance. That is what they said.
This is entirely in harmony, or course, with the Motion now before your Lordships which, since it is has now served its purpose, I have much pleasure in asking leave to withdraw.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.