HL Deb 24 July 1969 vol 304 cc1070-2

2.43 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the speech made by the Foreign Secretary supporting a supranational type of Parliament for Europe represents Government policy.]


My Lords, I believe my noble friend is referring to certain remarks made by my right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary during hi; visit to Brussels on July 15. My right honourable friend in fact made no public speech during that visit. What he said at the meeting of M. Monnet's Action Committee—I hope it is in the context of my noble friend's Question—was fully in accordance with the policy of Her Majesty's Government. The Government accept that Britain must join a developing community; we accept the political implications of the Treaty of Rome; but they do not include federation.


My Lords, may I ask whether my noble friend is aware that there is so much double talk in the air that I should like the Government to "come clean" on this issue? The facts are that the Leader of the Liberal Party, who was at the Monnet meeting, said that the Foreign Secretary accepted without reservation the political implications of federalism. The Prime Minister does not accept that. Are we not entitled to say that before we hand over the sovereignty of the British Parliament to a European Parliament the people of this country ought to be allowed to determine that issue?


My Lords, of course my noble friend is right. This is a most important issue. But in the first place let me say that whatever was said about the proceedings of the Monnet Action Committee, that Committee was engaged in confidential discussions, and therefore anything that has been said about it publicly ought to be regarded in that context. I can only repeat that there is a clear policy of Her Majesty's Government in this context. As my noble friend says, that policy has been made clear by the Prime Minister on more than one occasion. What the Foreign Secretary said at the meeting of the Monnet Action Committee was not in conflict with that policy.


My Lords, would not the noble Lord agree that there would be small point in trying to exercise some democratic control over the whole machinery of the Common Market through a Parliament with no powers composed entirely of national representatives?


My Lords, I think it would be inappropriate to enter into a debate in your Lordships' House at this stage on supranationality. I can only say that there is of course nothing supranational about the proposal for an elected European Parliament. As I say, I think it would be the wrong time to enter into a discussion about the powers of that Parliament. But let us be clear that there are two concepts being discussed here: one is federalism—and there is nothing in the Treaty of Rome about that—and the other is the direct election of a European Parliament which does not involve either federalism or supranationalism.


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that Dr. Luns, who supports the Government, has stated that this is Britain's last chance, and the last chance was because of the opposition by the anti-Common Marketeers? That was followed by the private speech of the Foreign Secretary. I hope I shall not get the reply that he was a delegate of the Labour Party, because he still spoke as Foreign Secretary; and I think that this double talk is monstrous.


My Lords, I really do assure my noble friend that there is no question of double talk. I, too, was present at this meeting as a Labour Party delegate, and I can assure my noble friend that, whatever has been said elsewhere, the Foreign Secretary said nothing that is not in full accordance with the Government's policy. We have not accepted federation because we are not required to accept it under the Treaty of Rome.


My Lords, if it is a case of handing over the British Parliament, would not the House of Lords alone be enough?