§ 4.40 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, it is my very good fortune and great privilege to speak in this debate immediately following the magnificent speech of the noble Lord, Lord Constantine. I feel totally unworthy to praise one who has had such a distinguished career in so many different fields. However, with all humility, I should like to say not only how deeply impressed noble Lords on all sides of the House were with what he had to say, and how much cognisance they will have taken of it, but also how delighted we are to see him in this Chamber and how much we hope we shall often see him and hear his words of wisdom.
Most people are fortunate to be extremely good in one field. We know that the noble Lord, Lord Constantine, has already distinguished himself in two fields: on the cricket field, and in the more complicated field of diplomacy. He has now distinguished himself in a third field: that of oratory. He is a most distinguished Member of our House and, speaking for all of us here, I say: Thank you for your contribution, thank you for doing us the honour of being a Member of our House, and may we see and hear you many times in the future.
I am diffident at intervening in this debate, because I fear that I misread the terms of the Motion. This is a debate on the interests of Commonwealth people and the Common Market, and so far the debate, extremely erudite though it has been, has turned largely on the trade terms of members of the Commonwealth, or on how they will be affected should we join the Community. I am not qualified to talk on the effect on trade with different members of the Commonwealth, but I had intended to say something on two vital questions: the agricultural production of New Zealand, and the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. However, they have already been dealt with, with far more skill than I could possibly summon, so your Lordships will be glad to hear that I shall omit that part of my speech.
97 But I should like to add a rider that I, like other speakers, realise that those must be two sticking points in our negotiations. New Zealand is our friend in peace and war. The people there are our own kith and kin and we cannot sell them down the drain. The Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, as the noble Lord, Lord Constantine, and others have said, is vital to the economies of millions of people. So I would add my humble word to those who have spoken with far more eloquence before me, and say to our negotiators, to Mr. Rippon and his team, that these are two points which we must stand up for.
What I should like to do for a few minutes is to interpret the word "interests" in a rather wider and more social sense than strictly trade relationships and trade terms. It is one Commonwealth, but this afternoon I am doing something which I find rather distasteful, because I am going to divide the Commonwealth into two sections. I accept that that is wrong, because the whole essence of the Commonwealth is that it is one multiracial society; but when one talks of the interests of the peoples of the Commonwealth one finds that they must be divided into two. On the one hand, there are those countries which have received their independence since the end of the last war, the newly developing countries of the Commonwealth; and, on the other hand, there are those countries which in years gone by used to be known as the Dominions: Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
I should like first to talk a little about the developing countries of the Commonwealth. These newly independent developing countries are faced with hideous political and economic problems, but in this afternoon's debate I shall deal solely with their economic problems. As the founder of the Commonwealth, the first thing we should do is to provide massive aid in money, in machinery, in equipment and in skilled manpower. If I may digress for a moment, the greatest challenge of the second half of the 20th century is to bridge the hideous gulf between the rich "have" countries and the poor "have-not" countries. It is dreadful, it is shocking, it is deeply to be deplored that what we pay in national assistance in this country, what we regard as the bare minimum a family or a single 98 person can live on, with no money for luxuries of any kind, represents, I regret to say, affluence beyond the dreams of countless millions of people in Africa, Asia and, to a lesser extent, in the Caribbean.
So the interests of the newly developing countries demand above all else that their standard of living should be advanced by leaps and hounds, as rapidly as possible. Of course it cannot be done overnight; but that is a responsibility of all the "have" countries, especially ourselves, because we are the founder of the Commowealth. We are now only one of 30 countries in the Commonwealth, but without us the Commonwealth would never have come into being. So it is our moral duty and in our own self-interest to do everything possible to help get the economies of these developing countries, both agricultural and industrial, off the ground. It is a formidable task, but it is one from which we must not flinch.
The moral duty is obvious, but the case for our own self-interest is equally true. Communism breeds among poverty and we are all aware of the threat of Communism, whether of the Chinese or the Russian brand, in those developing countries in Africa and Asia. If the threat of Communism and all the evils it brings in its wake are to be rebutted, it will be done only by the Western World, the rich world, making life worth living for those whose lives are not worth living to-day. For once self-interest and what is morally right go hand in hand. So if we are talking of what is in the interest of the new Commonwealth countries, what we need above all else is a prosperous Britain, because the greater our prosperity the more we can provide in economic aid and—which is equally important—the more we can provide technicians to teach people all the trades and skills needed by an industrial country.
I do not know about the Common Market negotiations, but I am a loyal Party man and I believe our Government to be right in trying to get entry into the Community. Fortunately, this is a non-Party affair, because the previous Government took exactly the same view and made every effort to join the Community. Not least of all its benefits will be that if it leads, as it surely 99 must, to greater prosperity for this country, there will be more in our pocket to give out in a whole variety of ways to those millions who are infinitely poorer than ourselves—so much poorer that vast numbers of people in this country have no conception of their standard of living. Therefore, so far as the new, developing countries of the Commonwealth are concerned, I have no anxiety whatsoever in saying that it is in their interests, as well as ours, that we should join the Community, so that we can help to the greatest possible extent those who need such help.
To turn now to the other group, those who, as I say, used to be called the Dominion countries: Canada, New Zealand and Australia. This is a much more complex problem, because those countries, too, have, I would not say a divided community but a varied one. In the days when I had the honour to serve as a Minister in the Commonwealth Office, and much more recently when I was chairman of the Royal Commonwealth Society, I travelled extensively throughout the Commonwealth, and particularly Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and I could not fail but be struck, whether it was in 1961 or 1969, by the number of people who felt not only affection but deep emotion towards this country. There were many—very many—who would talk excitedly about their recent visit, or a visit in the near future, to what they still called "home", and to whom Britain was still "the Old Country".
There were those who had been prepared to give up their sons, brothers and husbands to fight in our cause in two world wars. There is a strong element of such people in all those three countries, and their views and their affection for this country, and their intense loyalty to the Monarchy, is something that we must never disregard.
But, my Lords, we must not put our heads into the sand. In Australia and in Canada, and perhaps to a lesser extent in New Zealand, owing to their desire to increase their population so that their natural potential can be fully developed they are expanding very rapidly and their immigration figures are ever-increasing. A high proportion still comes from this country, but there are many others who come from other countries in Europe—from Holland and from Italy in parti- 100 cular.These are new Australians, new Canadians, new New Zealanders; and their loyalty, quite understandably, is first and last to the country of their adoption. From first to last they are Australians, Canadians or New Zealanders. There is nothing wrong in that; there is nothing disloyal to us in it. They have chosen the country to go to, and their loyalty applies, first and last, to the country of their adoption. They will become—indeed, are becoming—an ever-increasing majority; whereas those who talk about Britain as "home", who have great feelings towards Britain, who have great nostalgia for the old days of Empire, must in the nature of things become increasingly a minority. Without in any sense wishing to be disloyal to these people, who are the most loyal of the loyal, times change, and as time goes by the emotional links between the old Dominion countries and this country must grow less. It cannot be otherwise.
Therefore, in thinking of the interests of these countries and their peoples, we must also think of our own interests. We would not expect Canada. Australia or New Zealand, any more than we would expect Uganda or Kenya, not to do something that was in their own national interest because it was in the interests of the United Kingdom that they should not do it. Rightly, they must put their own national interests first, just as we must put our own national interests first. Because of this, we must be chary of not doing something that we believe to be right, such as joining the Community, because it would offend a number of intensely loyal citizens—people who, whether one regrets it or not, are becoming increasingly a minority.
I think I am right in saying that when the former Conservative Government made the first overtures to join the Common Market Mr. Macmillan, as Prime Minister, made a speech in which he used a very telling phrase. He said:Remember, we are independent, too".That is a very true fact, and I am quite sure that Canada, New Zealand and Australia recognise it; and whatever noises they may make, they know in their hearts that if it is in our national interests, if it is good for Britain, to join the Community, then we must do it.
Having said that, I feel that I have been unsympathetic to our loyal partners 101 in peace and war. But, of course, times change; and the links between the old Dominion countries and ourselves must become more tenuous as they develop a sense of nationalism of their own. As the background of their population becomes more varied there will be fewer and fewer people who talk about Britain as "home". "Home" will be Canada, Australia, New Zealand—or wherever it may be. Therefore, I think that we are not doing their interests any harm by sticking out for joining the Community if we believe that it is in our national interest to do so. We should expect them to do the same thing.
After all, the Commonwealth, whatever else it is, is not an exclusive body. All the African members of the Commonwealth are members of the Organisation of African Unity. Some of them—indeed, many of them—are very prominent members of that organisation; but that does not exclude them from being equally prominent members of the Commonwealth. Australia has the closest of ties, from the point of view of defence, with the United States, as can be witnessed by the fact that there is a considerable Australian military presence in Vietnam; while the economic ties between the United States and Canada are as close as any two countries' economic ties can possibly be. So the Commonwealth is not an exclusive arrangement: that is the one thing it is not. And in many ways, as a previous speaker has said, should we join the Community we would be a most useful link in joining up the Commonwealth with Europe.
I have always said about the Commonwealth that future historians will regard it as a pilot scheme for world co-operation. There it is, this vast organisation occupying a quarter of the world's land surface; containing a quarter of the population of the world, with every race and creed, every different sort of way of life. And yet, tenuous though it may be, it exists. Many people have tried to kill it; many people have knocked it down—but, like Cassius Clay, it always gets up again. It exists, and it will exist. I am convinced that if we join the Community it will not weaken the Commonwealth, which in the past has absorbed many worse shocks. In the long run, it will strengthen the Commonwealth, and it will bring the world that much closer. The Commonwealth will be en- 102 riched by the added advantage of closer ties with the European Community. So I say that, although many of our greatest friends in, for want of a better phrase, the "old Commonwealth" may regret our joining the European Community, I am sure that in the long run it will be a step forward for the Commonwealth.
My Lords, I make this speech with great diffidence; because the last time I spoke about the Commonwealth, in the Defence debate before Christmas, I was promptly sacked from the Pres dency of the Royal Commonwealth Society. I hope that what I have said this afternoon will not offend any of my many friends throughout the Commonwealth; and I sincerely hope that I lave not trodden on anyone's toes this time. I will conclude by repeating that: we, too, are independent. We must do what we believe to be right. Certainly, so far as the developing countries are concerned, I am sure that it is right both for us and, with all the advantages that they may gain from associated status, for them, that we should join the Community. So far as the old Commonwealth countries are concerned, to some it will be a shock; to some it will cause grief. But the Commonwealth can absorb that shock. In ten years' time it will be forgotten, and the Commonwealth and the Community will be side by side as a joint force for peace in the world.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ BARONESS WHITE
My Lords, from these Benches I should like to add my most cordial congratulations to my noble friend Lord Constantine. He and I have been friends for nearly thirty years and it gives me particular pleasure to have heard him this afternoon I only hope that those of your Lordships who joined in the applause for his most moving speech will show later that you really received the message when we come to debate the Immigration Bill. But this is not the subject of our discussion this afternoon. I am much indebted to my noble friend Lord Greenwood of Rossendale for providing us with an occasion for discussing the wider aspects of Commonwealth interest in relation to the European Community.
We debated the general subject as recently as January, but although references were made to the Commonwealth in one or two notable speeches—one in 103 particular by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Eskan—this debate gives us a chance to look at the whole question in a much broader aspect. I think it is very important that we should do so, because it is important that public opinion in this country, in the Six and in the other applicant countries should be informed, otherwise our European neighbours in particular and our fellow-applicants may think that we in Britain are being unreasonable, sentimental or, perhaps, clinging to some vestige of our Imperial past if we insist on hard bargaining on some points which to them may seem relatively unimportant but which can be vital to some of the smaller (though not necessarily so small) Commonwealth countries. I say this with some emphasis because, only a few days ago, I had the pleasure of sitting at dinner next to a European Ambassador accredited to the Court of St. James who clearly supposed that sugar, for example, was a matter of some difficulty but one that could be solved during the transitional period. I did my best to disillusion him.
I view these questions as one who, in general terms, is in favour of our effort to join the Community. But I think we must look at the matter with realism, because there are two sides to the relationship which will exist between the Commonwealth countries and the United Kingdom if we join the E.E.C. There is the relationship between them and the Community including the United Kingdom but, on the other hand, there is the relationship to the rest of the world. I was glad that the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, indicated that this other relationship was in the mind of Her Majesty's Government.
My Lords, what could be the ultimate position? Outside the controlled Communist economies, the world will be divided into two great trading blocs: the E.E.C. and its associated members (which will be the largest trading organisation the world has ever seen) on the one hand; and on the other the United States with Japan as a third very important but minor centre. The more protective is the E.E.C.—and therefore the more valuable the returns of membership or association—the sharper could be the division of the world into these two opposing blocs. There could ensue a dangerous polarisation, it seems to me, in world trade; and 104 although in multilateral aid, trade and aid do not necessarily coincide, in bilateral aid, trade and aid are apt to go together. We could therefore have also a disquieting polarisation of aid as well as trade if the policies of the Community were less liberal than they should be.
Reference was made to this by Mr. Rippon in another place on February 22, when he reported on his visit to the Caribbean. He said that the small developing countries should not be faced with a choice between access to the U.S. market and access to Britain and Europe; that they need access to both. They also, incidentally, need Canada, which has shown an interest in investment in that area and which is a suitable and natural partner for them. One can see something of the same tug of interests in other parts of the world. Australia inevitably has been drawn more and more into the orbits of the United States and Japan. We do not yet know what will be the position of the Pacific countries of the Commonwealth; yet in the case of some of them, Fiji and Tonga, for example, it would be a great loss to weaken the present close and valuable British connection.
One of the reasons for our concern with New Zealand is that, for her, even if she wished it, a switch into the U.S. and Japanese orbits would be very difficult. The U.S. protects its own farmers vigorously, while Japan has the fastest-growing dairy industry in the world. One need say little more, except that I should like to emphasise as a housewife how angrily and bitterly I resent the indefensible muddle made by the E.E.C. over butter. This has done more harm to their image than anything else. It signifies both selfishness and inefficiency; and has become a potent weapon in the hands of opponents to our entry into the Community.
I have said that the other bloc facing the Community, if it is enlarged, is the United States, and that Japan is a subsidiary centre of trade, particularly in the Far East. We cannot suppose that either of these great manufacturing and trading countries will relish an escalating trade war which, from the way things are going, will extend far beyond Europe enclosing most of Africa—even into the enclave of Lesotho, though not South 105 Africa itself—and will, one assumes, if the United Kingdom enters the Community, extend into the Pacific, Caribbean and Indian Ocean. As at present envisaged, the great Asian members of the Commonwealth, India, Pakistan and Ceylon, will have to be satisfied with such benefits as accrue from the UNCTAD scheme of generalised preferences. I was glad to learn that Hong Kong is to be included in this. From the speech of the noble Earl, I was not quite clear as to the position of Singapore and Malaysia, and perhaps I could be further enlightened on that when the noble Marquess winds up; because the former takes more than half and the latter two-thirds of their imports from us and both export some one-third of their total exports to us.
It cannot be stressed too strongly that the kind of association encouraged under the Yaoundé, Arusha or other agreements is a two-way association not only providing free or favourable entry into the Common Market, but also the associated country has to give reverse preferences and other privileges in return, particularly where the movement of capital is concerned. That is why in East Africa, for example, there are now preferences for E.E.C. countries against the United Kingdom; though these, of course, would disappear if we joined the Community. But such return concessions for E.E.C. countries would stand against the United States, and might very well lead—for example in Africa—to a diminution in United States aid. So I repeat, my Lords, there is, it seems to me, a very real danger of polarisation in the world.
We shall then be faced also with distinctions in the status of various countries in the Commonwealth. There will be ourselves as, one presumes, a full member of the Community; there will be the independent Commonwealth countries to whom invitations are issued, and it will be for them to decide which, if any, of the three forms of association they wish to apply for. Presumably most of the dependencies will come in with us; at any rate, they will do so if we have a satisfactory settlement over sugar. I was very glad to hear the tone in which the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, referred to this point, because I, for one, believe that if we fail to secure an adequate agreement 106 on sugar we should not join the Community. I regard that as a touchstone, because if we fail to obtain adequate conditions in respect of sugar, it will be evidence of an ungenerous attitude on the part of the Community, and then I should not wish to be associated with it. Thirdly, we shall have a group of Commonwealth countries to whom invitations will not be issued because it is considered that they are not suitable for association.
So, my Lords, one must ask oneself: what will be the future of the Commonwealth in such circumstances? Again, my Lords, I was very glad to hear the positive approach of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, because I believe, with him, that the Commonwealth can remain as an institution in a meaningful way, provided always that we have the will, the means and the energy to keep our friendships in good repair. What worries many of us who sit on this side of the House is that certain Members of Her Majesty's Government seem to be lacking in the will necessary to preserve these friendships. With the reports that we have had from Singapore, some of us are very uneasy indeed; and it makes us all the more grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, for the tone of his speech to-day. After all, the French have kept very close links with almost all their former territories. It is interesting that they are following our lead, and setting up a Secretariat on lines similar to the Commonwealth Secretariat. Incidentally, their Secretariat also is directed by a Canadian, although in their case the Canadian conies from French-speaking Canada.
How far we succeed in maintaining the links which many of us believe to be valuable and enriching to both sides, in the human as well as the commercial or political sense, will depend largely, I believe, on how far we carry out our obligations regarding aid for development programmes. If we enter the E.E.C. we shall have to contribute substantially to the European Development Fund. The extent of that obligation will depend largely on what type of association is chosen by the various countries. For example, if Nigeria, with her immense population, should come in under a Yaoundé-type arrangement, that would add considerably to the obligations on the European Development Fund. Whatever 107 our obligations prove to be in that context, I believe that we must continue our bilateral aid to Commonwealth countries with whom we have had such long association; more particularly in the sphere of education and technical assistance, where we have great experience and very much to offer. It would be shameful if, through indifference or parsimony, we allowed our efforts to slacken.
The present Government have indicated that they propose to maintain the existing aid programme, though on present calculations I think we are unlikely to reach the Pearson target. But we must accept that if we go into the Community aid will cost more and not less; and I hope very much that the United Kingdom Government will fully accept the additional responsibilities that will be involved. If we are to obtain for ourselves the advantages which we are assured will follow from joining the Community, the least we can do is to share any increased prosperity that may come our way with the Commonwealth countries with whom we have been associated for so long; and from whom, after all, we have taken a very great deal.
Finally, my Lords, may I say a few words on some of what seem to me to be the hard economic facts which should be in the minds of our negotiators during the bargaining which is going on? There is a view, sometimes expressed in high quarters here, that because the percentages of United Kingdom trade with most of the Commonwealth countries have been declining in recent years, this trade is no longer important. But although the percentages may have declined somewhat, the absolute amounts are still very high indeed. If there has been diversification, and some movement of trade away from the United Kingdom, that is due, in part at least, as has already been mentioned in the debate, to the warning which countries have had since 1962, that it was likely to be in their interests to diversify their trade. One might also say that the relatively sluggish market in this country over the last few years has not induced them to increase their trade with us.
The fact is that the United Kingdom is still the largest single market for many Commonwealth exports and, as was so rightly said by the noble Lord, Lord 108 Constantine, over the years—over the centuries so far as the West Indies are concerned—we have actively encouraged Commonwealth countries to look to us and to orientate their products to our markets. I think, therefore, that we have a certain continuing responsibility. One important factor, which I very much hope our negotiators will bear in mind, is that although in most of the less developed countries manufacturing industry is still on a relatively small scale, it is growing; and in any agreement we make we ought to take into account the potential as well as the actual position. We ought not, therefore, to accept a pattern of tariffs or of quotas which would militate against future exports from less developed countries of manufactured goods. For example, escalating tariffs according to the stage of manufacture of the product could be very dangerous to developing countries. If the product is something which the country can produce, and which it would help the country to produce, to agree to establish such tariffs would in my view be neo-colonialism at its worst.
It is not only a question of primary products. Most of the manufacturing in such countries is also labour intensive, and therefore very sensitive socially. There is not much of a cushion of accumulated capital to absorb shocks or fluctuations due to changes in the market. In order to follow this kind of problem, close knowledge, close interest and concern at the centre are vital; otherwise, steps may be taken which, even inadvertently, may seriously cripple the promising growth which for a small community might make all the difference between comfort and destitution. I believe that in this regard we have a very great responsibility.
Generalised preference schemes, to which the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, referred, can be, and I am sure will be, of very great benefit to those countries included in them. But they are not a panacea. In the United States, for example, who have such schemes in prospect, they propose to exclude certain sensitive items such as textiles and petroleum products. The European Community, on its part, uses tariff quotas. These can be used progressively to keep out products, as they become more competitive. Again, it is extremely important in 109 our negotiations that we are aware of these possible dangers and make certain that we do not become a party to them.
Similarly, on the agricultural side also the policy of self-sufficiency which is part of the philosophy of the Economic Community—it is, frankly, one of the things that I find harder to accept than some of the political aspects of the Community—can be detrimental. Although we are not competitive with tropical products, even the increased production of wheat in Europe has meant that the export of coarse grain, used for animal feeding-stuffs and so on, from some of the less developed countries has been adversely affected. It is quite true, as has been said, that we cannot freeze, and ought not to attempt to freeze, the pattern of world trade. But we must, while pursuing our own interests vigorously, be fully alive to the repercussions of some of the practices of the Community on some of the countries for which we have a continuing responsibility.
I conclude, my Lords, by referring to the Annual Report of the Commonwealth Secretary, Mr. Arnold Smith, published a few weeks ago, in which he warned that if the Community were to be over-defensive or illiberal in its trading policies, then the effect on the Commonwealth countries, and particularly the less developed ones, might be very serious indeed. He said:What is needed is less protection on the part of all the developed countries and for them to act with foresight as responsible members of the world community.If we go into the Community in that spirit, and if we can prevail on partners in the Community to act in that spirit, then I believe that the Community has much to offer. If, on the other hand, we find that selfishness and narrowness of outlook prevail, then I am indeed much concerned and apprehensive about the future of many of our Commonwealth partners.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, I should like to join with other noble Lords in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Constantine, on a maiden speech of great charm, supported by true knowledge of the subject about which he was speaking. We owe a debt of gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, for initiating this 110 debate to-day, which, after all, affects the lives and wellbeing of Commonwealth citizens of three Dominions and more than six other Commonwealth countries.
In the Common Market debate on January 19, and again to-day, the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, dealt openly and boldly with the still undecided, open question in Commonwealth negotiations of safeguarding the developing countries over sugar tariff preferences and also New Zealand dairy products. The noble Earl the Lord Privy Seal said that the Community had received our proposals, but had as yet given no reply. Therefore, we do not know what the Government's proposals are, and we cannot expect to be told while they are negotiating. But we can, and I believe should, ask for more information as to where Her Majesty's Government stand on the issues raised in relation to the Brussels negotiations.
For my part, I put my request for information in the form of three questions. My first question, which I hope the noble Marquess who is to reply will be able to answer clearly, is this. Can we have an assurance that these issues will be decided and defined in the final terms of entry and not left for negotiation and settlement after entry? I say this as a member of the Conservative Party. Any such position of post-entry settlement would be totally unacceptable to a great body of Conservative opinion inside and outside Parliament and, I believe, to supporters of other Parties in the country, who would otherwise (as I would) accept our entry on suitable terms.
I ask this question because I have misgivings when I re-read Lord George-Brown's speech of January 19. If I may paraphrase part of it, he said that we should, on balance, take a chance, take a risk, as an act of faith. I believe it to be quite wrong to take chances or to rely on an act of faith when the very livelihood of tens of thousands of Commonwealth citizens is in issue. That is why I ask for an assurance that negotiations will be terminated and clearly defined as part of the final settlement, and that there will be no question of post-entry negotiations.
My second question is this. We are in the dark as to the Government's proposals to the Community. But can we take it that they are in such form 111 as will properly safeguard the New Zealand dairy products, the economic wellbeing of the developing territories, which has been touched on by several noble Lords to-day, and that there will not be some compromise formula accepted by the Community, failing half way to protect the economies of Commonwealth territories? I ask that because of words used to-day by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, who said that it was questionable how far we ought to go in negotiations and then compromise. That seems to me to be saying how far along the line of retreat we will be willing to go.
I will not go into the details that have been gone into by other noble Lords of the dependence of these developing countries on the continuation of present tariff and Commonwealth Sugar Agreement arrangements—in some cases almost mono-economies. It is sufficient, I think, to highlight that the whole of the New Zealand industry of some 28,000 dairy farmers is in peril if it is not safeguarded in the negotiations. It is, I think, sufficient to highlight the alarm in Australia at the proposals to phase out the present protection for the Queensland sugar industry, which exports approximately 500,000 tons a year to this country. I was recently in Australia (indeed the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, and I were in the country at the same time) and I heard from many directions the misgivings which exist in the minds of people in that country as regards the effect of the Brussels negotiations unless there is adequate understanding of their position.
My Lords, I think it is worth while keeping in mind that the lives in Jamaica of some 150,000 people, the prosperity of 80,000 growers, depend directly upon the continuation of satisfactory tariff arrangements. I will not mention, beyond a sentence, the position of the Commonwealth sugar producers. It has already been said that over 90 per cent. of the value of the exports of Mauritius and Barbados are in sugar. On my way back from Australia I was able to spend a few days in Fiji. There one heard from many quarters the plea that Britain should remember Fiji and safeguard Fiji in the negotiations which are now in train. Diversification of these mono-economies is desirable, but it is going to be inevitable that for years ahead they will rely upon 112 primary products of a traditional character. So there is no salvation in the idea of diversification as a solution to the Brussels negotiations. Incidentally, who led them into mono-economies in the past? It was Britain. We led them there, and it would be a betrayal of our trust if we did not safeguard their position now.
I am sorry that my noble friend Lord Lothian is not in his place to hear my third and final question. Perhaps the Whip on the Bench will make a note of it, because it is by far the most important question that I have to ask, and it is a political question. It is this: How do these questions of the Brussels negotiations, and their full settlement, rate with Mr. Heath's pledge of entry only if the terms are satisfactory? To-day my noble friend Earl Jellicoe spoke of fair and equitable terms. Would failure to achieve a solution at Brussels, acceptable as fair by the territories affected, rank as important enough to cause our rejection of terms for entry into the Common Market? Or, to put it in reverse: will the Government undertake now that the satisfactory solution of these open questions is an essential part of our final terms? I ask for a clear statement on what I hope is a clear question. I ask it with some anxiety and some misgivings, having regard to the views of some European enthusiasts in the last Common Market debate and the fact that so many speakers ignored, or brushed aside, the Commonwealth issue as a possible stumbling block to Britain's entry.
I have already quoted the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown. I notice that the noble Lord, Lord Sheffield, the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, and even the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, in his speech on that occasion omitted any reference at all to the open question. In their varying degrees of enthusiasm they forgot entirely to mention what we are fortunately able to debate to-day. Finally, the noble Lord, Lord Reay, alarmed me when he (and this again is a justification for my inquiry) said:… in the light of the importance of this question,"—that is, our joining the Common Market—the differences that now remain over the terms to be negotiated between ourselves and the Community are only trivial."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19/1/71; col. 410.]113 My Lords, "only trivial" when the wellbeing of those tens of thousands of people depends upon the result of those negotiations! Those speeches, coupled with Mr. Rippon's somewhat arrogant assumption of "when"—which he had to modify later and say "if"—we go into the Common Market, make my question reasonable and, I believe, vital to a great body of Conservative opinion.
I do not oppose entry into the Common Market on acceptable terms; I think there is no alternative. Ten years ago I was one who opposed our entry vigorously. I feet very much like the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, who said this in the debate on the Common Market:… four years ago there were other alternative policies, some of which had not then been fully studied or explored. At that time there were still those who felt that the Commonwealth could provide the large and expanding market which we need, but it is surely clear that while Commonwealth trade remains of great importance to us it is not of itself enough, and that Commonwealth preferences are a steadily diminishing asset."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19/1/71; col. 347.]In a sentence, my Lords, that is why I to-day would not oppose our entry into the Common Market, provided the terms are acceptable. But I would prefer rejection by Britain of entry at the expense of those who are part of the Commonwealth and who look to us to fulfil our moral and material duty to preserve their wellbeing. That, my Lords, is why I asked my third and final question.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ LORD GARNER
My Lords, I should like at the outset to join with others in paying tribute to my erstwhile diplomatic colleague, the noble Lord, Lord Constantine, on his maiden speech. He certainly sent a very fast one down the pitch, and I, for one, greatly look forward to seeing him send down a very hard full toss one of these days. I am personally very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, for initiating this debate. It seems to me absolutely right that the House should take a view on these important questions affecting the Commonwealth which, it seems to me, are sometimes rather neglected. I think that a good deal of reassurance will have been given by the words that fell from the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, at the beginning of this debate.
114 I have no wish at this stage to repeat what has already been said, still less to controvert anything that has teen said in this debate. But it so happens that I was in Australia last month, and as the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, has already revealed to the House, I was not alone there. It seemed to me that we had a most encouraging representation from your Lordships' House in Australia in February.
§ LORD GARNER
I visited a number of other Commonwealth countries en route. My general impression concurs with what was said earlier, that there is a broad recognition in most Commonwealth countries that British entry into the Community is probable. On the whole, I think this is welcomed because it is recognised that it will strengthen Britain. Incidentally, I received a good number of reflections of concern about the future of this country, resulting from the various industrial troubles and other things that have been happening. These are all widely reported in the Press, notably in Australia, but also elsewhere.
As I said, our entry into the Community is welcomed because they feel that it will be in Britain's interest and should lead, in the long run, to greater world prosperity. But this welcome is on the understanding that the reasonable requirements of the Commonwealth countries are met. This, it seems to me, is the crux of the question. I was fascinated by the third of Lord Balfour of Inchrye's questions: What is the definition of reasonable, or what is acceptable, and to whom must it be acceptable? It seems to me that one of the problems will be that a different view may well be taken by the Community, on the one hand; by Britain, as the negotiating Power, on the other, and thirdly by the country affected. This, I assume, is really what the negotiations will be all about. I take it from the debate that the need for New Zealand to be a special case, and the need for special treatment for sugar producers, have been made out. I felt that one could be encouraged by what I interpreted as the robust words of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, on the subject.
115 I should like to make two points about Australia. One often hears it said that Australia is a flourishing, thriving country, with a splendid and bursting economy; it is prosperous; it has diversified its trade very considerably, and of course it can easily look after itself. So in the long run, no doubt, it can. I would say that Australia diversified as soon as she saw the way the wind was blowing with British policy and the likelihood that she would be losing markets in this country. She diversified very successfully. This was prudent, and it is fortunate that things have turned out so well. Her trade with Japan is now, of course, very considerable indeed. On the other hand, I do not think any of us would wish to see this process pushed too far—certainly not to the extent that Australia became dependent on Japan for investment and possibly, to some extent, for ownership. In other words, one would not like to see her put herself in the position vis-à-vis Japan that Canada, to her regret, very largely is vis-à-vis the United States in terms of outside investment and ownership.
The second point I would make is that the Australian economy as a whole is a vigorous and strong one, and no doubt can adjust itself to any changes that occurred after Britain joined the Community. But the fact is that there are certain special, very sensitive areas in Australia, particularly fruit-growing areas—some of the canning districts—where the whole of her business has been built up on the British market. As a result, whole communities might well be ruined in these particular areas if nothing special were done on their account. These areas for the most part comprise some of our strongest friends and strongest supporters in the whole of the country. In general, Australia and New Zealand seem to me unique examples of British enterprise in which we ought to take some pride. They are also areas of considerable political stability, which is important in the broad Pacific area in which they find themselves. As has been said frequently earlier in this debate, they have proved themselves to be some of our firmest allies.
Moreover, one cannot go to Australia—at least I cannot—without experiencing a feeling of being totally at home there—there is no question about this. And I mean "at home" in a deep personal 116 sense—the kind of sense which I think the noble Lord, Lord Constantine, meant when he referred to himself as feeling British and at home in this country. These strong personal feelings exist, and no immigration rules or Act of Parliament can do anything to affect them. But quite apart from sentiment, it is not in the British interest, nor indeed in that of the Community, that these solid areas, Australia and New Zealand in particular, should be weakened or feel threatened in any way in their economies. Indeed, it seems to me important that the multilateral channels of trade should be kept open. This, after all, has been the British objective down the ages. One of the strongest reasons for supporting the enlargement of the Community is that it should become an outward-looking organisation, helpful to the interests of world trade and world stability. This will certainly involve making an increasing contribution to the stabilisation, development and progress of the Third World, on which other speakers have already said so much.
In conclusion, my Lords, may I say one general word about the Commonwealth? I have been considerably distressed in recent months and years at the bad connotation it seems to be having. The fact is that the publicity media naturally report everything that is bad and—not quite so naturally, but nevertheless it is the case—seldom report anything that is good. The good is ignored. The result is that the man in the street tends to equate the Commonwealth with rows at the "Summit" at Prime Ministerial level, with coups d'état in African or other countries, or with illegal immigration.
It so happens that the purpose of my visit to Australia was to attend the Fifth Commonwealth Education Conference. This affords a good example of what I am saying. It was strikingly successful. We had a most helpful and harmonious discussion throughout. A British lead was often looked for, and welcomed when it was given. We ended up with extremely constructive and sensible proposals. Indeed, I thought the conference showed at its best just what the Commonwealth is well equipped to do and can do so well in a field in which friends can operate together.
This was all the more significant as it followed almost immediately on the 117 heels of the Prime Ministers' Conference in Singapore. But we had no rows at the conference, and therefore there was no publicity whatsoever. So far as I am aware, there was none in Australia, and there was probably very little in this country. That does not matter, so long as people understand what lies behind the tip of the iceberg that is exposed every day to our gaze if anything goes wrong, and that there is solid worth and value beneath. It is an association which is very highly valued by all its members. Deep down there is a fund of good will towards this country, and I believe that this is the enduring reality—not the ephemeral conflicts which take place from time to time at Prime Ministers' meetings. Indeed, I often feel, if I may say so from these Cross-Benches with complete impartiality to the two Front Benches, that the Commonwealth is far too precious a thing to be allowed to be dealt with by the tender mercies of the politicians.
However, more seriously, I hope that in considering the Commonwealth interests at Brussels Her Majesty's Government will have in mind not the vexations at Singapore but the essential reality of the Commonwealth. Other speakers have expressed what this is. I would mention just the fact that it is a practical expression of ideals that seem so badly needed in this distraught world; that it stands for some of the things of the spirit and certainly for human values; that it is an association which has significance for all its members, certainly including Britain, and that this can continue; and that the richness of our own Commonwealth experience can make a great contribution to the future strength and influence of the Community. As I said earlier, I was encouraged by the thoughts which the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, expressed on this subject. And I trust that the message that will go out from this debate to the Community, to the Commonwealth and to the people in Britain is that the Government and Parliament here are mindful of these deeper factors affecting the Commonwealth.
§ 5.49 p.m.
§ LORD ROYLE
My Lords, I start my contribution with several handicaps. The 118 first is to follow the noble Lord, Lord Garner, a distinguished civil servant, who paints on a wide canvas, while I perforce paint on a much smaller one and concentrate on a particular part of the Commonwealth—in fact, I come back to the West Indies. Therefore I could not possibly hope to follow the noble Lord, Lord Garner—and I must ask him to excuse me—in the delightful speech he has just rendered. My second handicap is that I also follow my old, and now my noble, friend Lord Constantine. Obviously, I would join with everybody else in congratulating him on the moving speech he delivered to us earlier this afternoon. Although it has been forgotten in some places, he was not only a diplomat but a Minister; he was a very successful Minister of Trinidad and Tobago before he became High Commissioner for Trinidad and Tobago, in London.
Of course, we all know him, too, as a writer and broadcaster. And it has been mentioned that he used to play cricket. I am probably closer to him than anybody else in that respect, because, so far as I know, he and I are the only two Members of your Lordships' House who played in Lancashire League cricket. There was not much difference between our ability, I assure you! As the days went by I came to regard him very highly, not only as a cricketer but as a man, and I cannot express the joy I felt this afternoon when I heard the, latter part of his speech, particularly delivered in such a moving way. So far as the first part of his speech was concerned I have to follow it, and I found myself mentally crossing out my notes as he spoke with regard to the West Indies.
My third handicap is the fact that my noble friend Lord Greenwood mentioned in the course of his speech that his "noble friend Lord Royle would speak about sugar", and in view of the fact that he is here I am compelled to do it, but in a much shorter fashion than I had anticipated, although I might be forgiven if I spend most of the time I have on that question. My last handicap is the fact that it always seems to be my turn to speak in your Lordships' House round about sundown, and it is not the busiest time in the House. I find a great deal of comfort in the fact that the quorum of the House is three and I know 119 I can go on. May I start my speech now my Lords?
I do not hesitate to say in the first place that I support our entry into the Common Market, as everybody else has been saying this afternoon, on the right terms, but for me the definition of the phrase "right terms" must cover the full protection of the trading interests of the West Indies. We have a peculiar responsibility in the case of those territories. We actually made their society. My noble friends on this side of the House—and as I look across the Floor I can perhaps use the term "noble friends on the other side of the House", too—know of my love and concern for the people of those beautiful islands, the West Indies, and the group we know as the British West Indies. I am proud to have been a founder of the British Caribbean Association, which today does so much to strengthen the friendship between us and them, and to give expression to the views, and sometimes the grievances, of West Indians over here. At this point I would obviously be tempted to anticipate the discussion on the Immigration Bill which we shall be having in the course of a short time, but I could not possibly do it as well as my noble friend Lord Constantine did in any case; and I am going to resist. But I hope I shall be able to keep my powder dry for when we get the Second Reading of that Bill in your Lordships' House.
So I turn to the West Indies, to their economic problems, and I have one or two preliminary broad remarks to make. As came out very clearly in the recent debate on the Motion moved by the noble Lord, Lord Snow, in regard to world population, there is a particular need to fear the next decade or so in developing areas like the West Indies. There will be a vast increase in the working population during the 'seventies and the 'eighties. Between 1965 and 1980 the population in the Caribbean will, it is suggested, increase by no less than 40 per cent. But already—and this is the frightening thing—islands like Trinidad and Jamaica have at least 12 to 15 per cent. of unemployment and probably another 25 per cent. partly employed.
Already the situation is explosive, as we saw in the revolt in Trinidad a year 120 or so ago. Job creation is by no means keeping pace with population growth. It is against this background that we have to look at the impact of E.E.C. entry on the West Indian islands. What will happen, I ask, if, having shut off the immigration safety valve we now compound our betrayal by failing to take care of export opportunities for sugar, bananas and other products on which their life depends?
The reason why we must apply ourselves to the detailed protection of West Indian interests during these negotiations with the E.E.C. arises from the accidents of history and geography in the Caribbean. The noble Lord, Lord Constantine, referred to this and I do not apologise for almost repeating what he said. The French islands of Martinique and Guadaloupe are, for administrative purposes, parts of Metropolitan France. Therefore for their sugar and other products they are already part of the Common Market, and to be fair as between island and island we must therefore make sure that the islands which trade with us and are economically still very much our dependencies get treatment inside the widened Community at least as generous as do Martinique and Guadaloupe. This will mean privileged access—and I cannot stress this too strongly—to the British market, even when we are inside the E.E.C., in the way that products from Martinique and Guadaloupe have privileged access to France.
There is another general point I wish to make. I know that the British Government are fully seized of the British Caribbean problems involved in our entry—the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, said these things this afternoon, and Mr. Rippon has recently been out to the Caribbean. Mr. Rippon made a full Statement on his return, which was kindly repeated in your Lordships' House by the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers. He made the point that it is virtually certain that these islands will be offered associated status as part of the final package of terms for our entry. I accept immediately that in general this will be an acceptable solution for the Caribbean islands of the former British West Indies. It will give them access, tariff-free, to a wider European market and, incidentally, it will enable them to have help from 121 the European Development Fund, which has done so much for the African and other States already enjoying this form of association. This general solution of association will be satisfactory enough in the case of some vital exports like coffee from Jamaica and cocoa from Trinidad and Grenada. For other reasons we need not have much worry about bauxite and Trinidad oil, but there are three or four products in regard to which we must have absolute assurances and particular arrangements going well beyond simple association. That I wish to stress.
I want to spend a little time, if I may, on the sugar question. Sugar is the most obvious case, and strong assurances have been given by Her Majesty's Government, including those in the Statement of Mr. Rippon, to which I have referred. The subject is hideously complicated and it is impossible for me in the time available to go into details. The real point is that associate status of the present Yaoundé type has not so far covered products which compete directly with European farm products. Indeed, in the case of sugar, presumably because Europe has a surplus, albeit a small one, of home-produced beet sugar, there is a levy on cane sugar imported from associated countries. The home producer in Europe has a guaranteed price and market up to full consumption. On the other hand, the candidate countries applying for entry to the E.E.C.—Britain and the other three—import more than half their sugar. If enlargement takes place without special arrangements for Commonwealth sugar, the sort of arrangements which under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement have been of great mutual benefit to Britain and the West Indies for many years, then beet production will have every incentive to expand in Europe, to flood into Britain.
I hear that Britain has put forward proposals—we have heard it this afternoon—which, when there is a break in the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement in 1974, ensure that from 1975 onwards there will be arrangements to ensure that quantities equivalent to those of the present day shall enter at a good price from the developing Commonwealth countries. The E.E.C. Council of Ministers have so far made no comment on the British proposals, but I am concerned that the E.E.C. 122 Commission has made four points, one of which is totally unsatisfactory. It suggests that the developing countries should, so far as 1975 onwards is concerned, be given the assurance only that their interests will be taken into account (the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, referred to this) when that Sugar Agreement ends. My submission is that they should be taken into account now, during these present negotiations, and not left as a risk to be faced when 1974 or 1975 comes along. And the Commission spoke of leaving "reasonable room"—they are the words—for imports from the developing countries. All right, my Lords, that is the sugar situation. So far as the West Indies is concerned, it is desperate, and we have to watch it.
What I have been saying about sugar also applies to bananas, and therefore I will not go into the matter in any great detail, except to say that, so far as Jamaica and the Windward Islands are concerned, 96 per cent. of their production is sold in Britain, with a preference of £7½ a ton. I could talk at length about other products—rum, cigars, citrus, for example. I am particularly concerned also about arrowroot, a special product of that delightful island of St. Vincent. I will not go into the details. I have tried to make my point.
As I have explained, I feel a special sense of devotion, almost of trusteeship, so far as the West Indian islands are concerned. This feeling is heightened by my sense of shame at the colour prejudice that has been mounting here in Britain and is now so clearly evidenced in the new Immigration Bill. I hope that this country will redeem itself just a little in the E.E.C. negotiations, and I seek the assurance that we will get absolute and firm agreements not only on sugar and bananas, on the lines I have tried to set out, but also on each other product where there is a special problem.
It is no good the Government's saying that associate status will have to be negotiated for each independent island separately and that we cannot therefore be sure of anything in advance. We are, after all, responsible for the foreign affairs of the Leeward and Windward Islands, our own associated States, and some, like Montserrat, that are still Colonies. For all kinds of reasons, it 123 is important that before we sign the Treaty of Rome we satisfy ourselves that detailed arrangements will emerge for these tiny States and islands; we must protect them in advance. I hope that I have not done too much in the way of repetition of what other noble Lords have said, but I felt there were certain things that needed emphasising.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BOYD OF MERTON
My Lords, I was in the Caribbean during the January debate, and therefore I am all the more grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, for initiating this discussion to-night and, in addition, for giving us something which those of us who heard it will never forget, the chance of hearing the most memorable speech by the noble Lord, Lord Constantine.
Certain broad issues have been raised this afternoon—and this is the sort of debate in which they should be discussed—not least the broad issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Garner, in what was, I thought, on the whole, despite the criticism that he rightly made of the various media, an encouraging speech from the Commonwealth point of view, and made by someone with very considerable Commonwealth experience.
I hope your Lordships will forgive me if I deal only with the broad points with which the noble Lord, Lord Royle, has been dealing in regard to the Caribbean, though there are many other issues and a number of other territories in the Commonwealth whose interests also must be safeguarded. In particular, I want to take up various points that he made and stress them again, because these are islands and other territories whose economic growth has been guided—and indeed, as the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, said, directed—by the United Kingdom for many generations. I shall be brief.
Before I start my few observations, I should declare a business interest. After a respectable interval of seven years after leaving the Colonial Office, I joined the board of Tate and Lyle, which company is dependent on continuing supplies of raw sugar, supplies already threatened by the planned phasing out of Australian sugar exports and the ending of the imports 124 of raw sugar, mostly hitherto from the Commonwealth, which have come in at world prices and not at Commonwealth sugar prices. But quite apart from this particular commercial interest, I, like many other noble Lords, have a deep personal involvement in the welfare of these territories, which rely on sugar for their employment and their revenue. This interest is based on long personal association, lengthy Ministerial responsibility, many friendships, and a sense of Britain's deep and permanent involvement in their welfare.
References are often made to diversification. I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, stressed that the West Indian islands ought to be always on the look-out for other suitable things to grow or make, but showed how impossible it was in the near future to switch away from sugar. In these countries, as a result of their soil and climatic conditions, no other crop which can be grown extensively shows as much as a quarter, it has been estimated, of the gross return on foreign exchange earnings per acre. I was very glad that my friend the Chancellor of the Duchy paid his recent and very useful visit to the Caribbean, and it was greatly appreciated by all those he met that he took the time to do so. I am sure that he will have realised the social and economic consequences of any collapse of the sugar industry, which is, as he knows and noble Lords know, by far the biggest employer of labour there in the Caribbean, and in British Honduras, Mauritius and Fiji.
I do not doubt that it was made abundantly clear to him how desperately anxious these countries are that they should be reassured before British entry into the Common Market, if it comes off, that they will be able to continue to have access for not less than the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement quantities at a fair price, and indeed—and they are entitled to this—to a share in the expanding consumption of the Community. Their desire to have this assurance in advance is based in part on an argument with which I agree: that we cannot rely on getting, when we are safely in, acceptable terms from the point of view of the other nations in the Community. It is also based on their acknowledgment that, without an agreement on an adequate quantification of supplies before 125 entry, the cane producers will continue to experience the present great difficulty in getting the necessary credits to carry on and modernise their methods. Indeed, they are at the moment, as I know well, having great difficulty in financing their production and modernisation. Until they can plan production ahead with the same degree of assurance as they enjoy under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement this difficulty of raising credit will continue.
There is one other point. There was a recent article in Le Monde which suggested that the Six might propose an increase in prices to compensate for a reduction in tonnage. Welcome though price increases would be to the producers, I very much hone that Her Majesty's Government will not fall for that one. I realise the difficulties in which our negotiators are placed. We all welcome the initiative shown by the Chancellor of the Duchy; and I am sure that we all found considerable comfort in the tone of the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe. I would not, however, want any of my noble friends in this House, or the members of the Government in another place, to be in any doubt that for some of us the guarding of the interests of the Caribbean and the other Commonwealth countries is of just as much importance as the protection of the interests of the United Kingdom itself.
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ LORD ENERGLYN
My Lords, I, too, would like to add my good wishes and congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Constantine. It was a moving occasion for us, and we are all so pleased. I share some of his thoughts. Although I am a Welshman, I still like to think that I am British. With your Lordships' permission, I should like to apply some geopolitical approaches to the relationship of the Commonwealth and the so-called Economic Community. If we assemble a geopolitical formula composed of trade, manpower and finance it is an incomplete formula and as such is an irreversible formula. That means that if we go in there is no process for coming out. If, on the other hand, we assemble the full geopolitical formula, then we combine energy and raw materials with trade, manpower and finance. With these ingredients the correct use of geopolitics can be made, and from it can emerge a 126 formula which, like all good scientific formulæ, has a balanced reaction.
In order to look at such formulæ one needs to look at stimuli, and to do this I should like to enter into areas of comparison. I should like as my first point of comparison to compare Britain with Japan. Both countries are islands, and islands are the most important of the geopolitical units of the world. Both are islands situated on densely populated areas of a continent, and in this sense they are comparable.
Japan has developed a broad scale of forethought; she is thinking big and is travelling alone. This was precisely the position of Britain when she was at the head of the British Empire. We thought big, we built big ships and big railroads; we were the biggest smelters in world and had huge coal mines. Two global wars failed to destroy this geopolitical picture. In 1939 the United States of America and Britain controlled more than 40 per cent. of the world's output of minerals from the earth's crust Even to-day, cur contacts with these mineral resources have not been broken; indeed, they are part of our invisible earnings. This has not been the fate of the European countries. Through their own fault they have been dependent upon their indigenous resources, in particular on their coal and iron. These are wasting assets, and it is this depletion of reserves that should be examined critically and even ruthlessly before we decide to go in or to stay out.
The other geopolitical factor that we should remember is that it costs ten times as much to move minerals on land as it does across the sea. In this sense, we should look at the growth of the Japanese Empire, because she is an island and can bring materials to herself cheaply and swiftly. Then, if we look, for example, at the accident of the 49th Parallel which placed the richest part of the North American Continent in the British Commonwealth of Nations, we see to-day the clear geopolitical trend of that line, because we now see the effect of the Canadian mineral wealth upon the destiny of the United States of America.
Already the citadel of the American steel empire, which is still the greatest steel empire in the world, has to be preserved by the import of ore from Canada. 127 Canada possesses vast untapped natural resources, many of them still to be discovered; and yet we find that Canadian companies are prepared to invest exploitation money into the minerals of the British Isles. We must not forget this. This is important, because at least it provides us with a sound commercial and emotional link with Canada. It could well be that this in itself could occasion in the youth of this country the rebirth of the ideas embodied in the youth of the past, when young men and young women went out and explored and built the British Empire—because we did not conquer it; we built it.
So I again look at the steel empire of America. Although it is still the largest in the world it is no longer the most powerful. Like most of the steel empires, with the exception of Japan, it is suffering from old age. It is now dependent upon imports of iron ore from many distant parts of the world, such as Brazil, Venezuela and so on. But what is more interesting is that not so long ago mountains of iron ore were discovered at Orissa. At that time it was thought that they were of interest only to India. What do we find now? We find American and Japanese capital being poured into that rich iron ore field, to build railway lines to the coast to ship the ore to Japan and eventually to America.
Perhaps the most vivid facet of this geopolitical picture of the Commonwealth is provided by Australia and Japan. The Japanese have practically no resources worth speaking of in terms of iron and gold. She has built her industrial empire on imports of raw materials; on the simple maxim, as I have said, of it being cheap and easy to move things across the oceans of the world. Her needs for coal at this moment are critical, but if she could obtain the full discovered resources of coal in Australia, she would be self-sufficient. Also we must not forget the recent discovery in Queensland of probably the largest reserve of uranium in the world. This, I am sure, interests Japan, too. In short, what I am suggesting is that we should go back to the days when we were investing capital, energy and knowledge into the Commonwealth, at a greater rate and on a greater scale than we are doing at the present time.
128 Like Japan, every country needs energy, but I suggest to your Lordships that Britain has it. We still possess the greatest reserves of coal in the whole of Europe, and by geological events we are now presented with the biggest known gasometer in the world, the underground resources of natural gas in the North Sea. With this in mind, we ought to reassess our geopolitical position in relation to Europe. To illustrate this, let us look at the empires of coal and iron, because these form the core of the economy of every country about which we are speaking. In doing so, we must also remember that we are dealing with empires that have grown old, and we ought to look for the signs of old age, and especially the irretrievable signs of old age.
If we take the figures produced by the Institute of Geological Sciences concerning outputs of steel and coal, and take a formula which most people will accept, namely, that one ton of steel can be represented by two to four tons of iron ore and, what is more important, two tons of coal, then we find a very interesting picture emerges. Italy, for example, in 1968—these are the latest figures that I can rely on—produced 16½ million tons of steel. That would require, according to that formula, 33½ million tons of coal. She produced only half a million tons of coal; she had to get 33 million tons from somewhere. Luxembourg produced 41 million tons of steel, and that would presumably need 9 million tons of coal, and she has no coal. That has to come from somewhere. We then come to France, which produced 20 million tons of steel, and that would require 40 million tons of coal, but she produced 41 million tons so one can see that she broke even. We next come to the citadel of the steel-making centre of Europe, the Ruhr. Federal Germany produced 41 million tons of steel, and therefore needed 81 million tons of coal; she produced 110 million tons of coal, which left a surplus, for all other things, of 30 million tons.
Now look at this in terms of Britain. We produced 26 million tons of steel, and that would require 52 million tons of coal. We produced 157 million tons of coal, and that left us with a surplus of 100 million. Even if we had increased 129 our output of steel to match the Ruhr at, say, 40 million tons, we should still have had nearly twice as much in reserve as Germany.
My Lords, that is the geopolitical picture that this form of analysis produces. It means that we have energy factors that the Continent no longer possesses. Remember, when you look at the reserves of the Ruhr, which is supposed to have large reserves of coal, that those reserves of coal have been dislocated by two major earth movements. In essence, that means that the coal becomes progressively more difficult to mine. Now our coalfields to the East of the backbone of England have not been so affected, and they extend for miles under the North Sea. Then we must remember that we have this great reserve of natural gas and oil. We must not forget our growth of nuclear energy; this build up of energy. We must also face the fact that we shall have to our advantage abandoned coal mines, which will become the underground storage centres for the natural gas we shall take out of the North Sea.
That is the energy picture that we have of Great Britain, and that is the geopolitical picture that I present to your Lordships in terms of our relationship to the Community and to the Commonwealth. From this I am forced to conclude that in terms of energy and coal Europe has absolutely nothing to offer Britain, but Britain could be the salvation of Europe. We could examine every other aspect of this geopolitical picture, and the answer would be the same. In all these processes, whether we like it or no, we must face the undeniable Darwinian principle of the survival of the fittest, whether it is in biological processes or whether it is industrial growth. Therefore, we must try to diagnose what are the characteristics of the fittest. I suggest that they are principally those industries which possess the most sophisticated and versatile techniques, coupled with the widest possible range of raw materials.
All this was realised a long time ago. May I, with your Lordships' permission, quote from a report presented to the Congress in America in 1952—the report is often referred to as the "Paley 130 Report", but it has the attractive title of Resources for Freedom—and in this Paley offers a solution for the future of the United States of America. This is possibly our solution, too:The industrial nations of Western Europe and Japan, on the one hand, have strong industrial capacity and labour skills but severe resource limitations. They can prosper in the future only on the basis of heavy imports. At the other extreme are numerous nations of South America, Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East, whose average living standards are low but who possess rich and relatively undeveloped natural resources often in excess of their prospective needs. These countries need heavy imports of capital, technology and trained management abilities from other areas.In between these two groups are such nations as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand whose resources are relatively strong, whose industry is advanced and whose living standards are high. These three groups of nations could co-operate economically over the next 25 years to the tremendous advantage of each.I think that puts it clearly; and if we replaced the name of America with the name of Great Britain, Paley has presented us with a solution. In assessing this subject we should be clear that we still possess the seaways from Britain to the Commonwealth, and that we ire in a far more enviable position in this respect than any other country in Europe.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
My Lords, I should first like to apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale—who is at the moment absent—for the fact that, due to a longstanding business engagement, I was not in my place when he opened this very interesting debate. But I shall study his speech with the greatest interest. I should also like to add my own congratulations to those already offered to the noble Lord, Lord Constantine, upon a maiden speech of unusual distinction. Some of us in this House were schoolboys when he was at the height of his cricket career. He has had a distinguished diplomatic career, and I echo what was said by all those who wish him well in your Lordships' House. In his first innings here he has certainly made an excellent century.
My own contribution to this debate will be centred on one country, New Zealand, mainly because in a month's time my wife and I are going out to New Zealand as guests of the Auckland City Council for the centennial celebrations of that City. 131 It will be our first visit to that country which bears the name given to it by one of my ancestors. I have no doubt that, although it will not be an official Government visit, or anything like that, the subject of the Common Market will be one with which we shall be faced. This is a very timely debate, because the present negotiations are likely to be the last which we shall be in a position to enter into, and if we do not manage to get admission to the European Economic Community on this occasion it is doubtful whether another opportunity will arise for some time.
Like many noble Lords and many people in this country, I wear at least two hats so far as this matter is concerned, because as a businessman I am a director of a company whose business extends both to Europe and to the Commonwealth. In the management consultancy field one has to seek business in all parts of the world, and obviously Europe is an area in which, for geographical reasons, we must do a great deal of business. But to those who regard New Zealand as a parochial country—and I have heard that said—and to those who say that New Zealand is 13,000 Trifles away and Brussels is perhaps only 300 miles away, the answer is surely that communications are now much faster. One can fly to New Zealand in, I believe, thirty hours. Furthermore, anybody who has sampled the products of that country will know their high quality. A good deal has already been said about the part which New Zealand has played not only in the two world wars, but in other confrontations—in Korea, in Vietnam and elsewhere. For that reason, if for no other, we owe New Zealand a debt of gratitude.
I noticed in to-day's Financial Times an interesting article headed:United Kingdom puts pressure on Six over New Zealand".I should like to ask my noble friend Lord Lothian what is meant by the words:Thereafter continuing arrangements should be made to protect New Zealand's interests".That seems a slightly vague statement, and although it is encouraging I hope that something more positive will appear. 132 I have recently spoken to many New Zealanders in this country. Most of them feel that whether or not we join the Common Market is a matter for this country, and they have no wish to pressurise us unduly. But they ask, quite rightly, that we should give them every reasonable consideration. At the risk of wearying your Lordships with two or three figures, I should like to point out that over 90 per cent. of the butter, 78 per cent of the cheese and 88 per cent. of the lamb produced by New Zealand is exported to this country. Anyone who has tasted Canterbury lamb will know what good food is.
Another aspect is that there are more and more New Zealanders visiting this country on holiday or on business; and many, for reasons of distance, combine both. They love this country and many of them return, although the fare is not cheap. Much has been contributed by New Zealand and Australia to the cultural life of this country—in the field of singing, in the field of orchestral playing, and of course in the field of sport. Anybody who watched the All Blacks when they came over, anybody who watched the Fijian Rugby Football team, would have seen sportsmanship at its best; and I had the honour of meeting the New Zealand cricket team when they came over to this country two years ago. All of them praised this country to the hilt.
More and more trade missions are leaving for New Zealand. I do not know the exact figures, but the London Chamber of Commerce, the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and others have sent out missions in the last few years, and they have been very successful. I am not suggesting that our negotiators in Brussels should be too much influenced by all this, but it is a point to bear in mind. These visits are not made for fun: they are made in the belief that trading relations between this country and the Commonwealth, particularly New Zealand and Australia, are as firm as ever.
The Foreign Minister of New Zealand, Mr. Marshall, spoke these words in 1962 to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg:We have every good reason to place a high value on a strong, stable, peaceful European Community of which Britain would be a member, but we could not ourselves pay a price 133 which undermined our own prosperity and sacrificed the standard of living of our own people. In the past, New Zealanders have come to Europe to fight and to die. Today we are here to fight to live.Those words, my Lords, were spoken nine years ago. If they were true then—as they were—how very much truer they are now!
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ LORD BLYTON
My Lords, at the outset I should like to congratulate Lord Constantine, who has been a friend of mine for over twenty years, on what I regard as a brilliant maiden speech made by a member of our old Commonwealth. I hope that we hear him many times again, because I believe his was one of the best maiden speeches I have heard in my Parliamentary career.
My Lords, the Government are now negotiating our entry into the E.E.C., and Mr. Rippon has made great concessions since last October. He has accepted the common commercial policy of the Six; he accepted the agricultural policy on meat, milk and eggs, and he accepted that agreement on the association of Britain's remaining dependent territories will be reached later. He appears to be pleased with the agreements that he has reached so far. But, my Lords, it is always possible to reach agreement by giving way, and he has given plenty. I was interested to hear the Leader of the House say that Hong Kong will be considered in any associated agreement, because I remember that in 1962, when the present Prime Minister was negotiating for us, Hong Kong was going to be excluded entirely.
The Government sent a paper to the Six in Brussels. It was not published in England; it came through the Continental Press. This paper suggested an annual cost to us of over £400 million, and I believe this to be a low estimate. The astounding fact is that the Government are not seeking to change this policy, because they know they cannot. Indeed, the Government have publicly accepted the Common Market argricultural policy. All that Mr. Rippon, the Minister in charge, is doing is to seek an assurance from the Six that steps will be taken at Community level if it appeared that Britain was paying an unfair share of the budget at the end of the transitional period; and since then, since France made an attack on the budget, Mr. Rippon has 134 said that he is prepared to consider paying more. Such an assurance is not a change in the financing of the agricultural policy; it is not a hard and fast guarantee: it is just a form of words in the hope that the Six might consent to ameliorate the burden after we have joined the Market. At the end of whatever transitional period is fixed we shall carry the burden, and I believe it will be a crippling one.
But what of our Commonwealth partners? Mr. Harold Wilson, now Leader of the Opposition, speaking in Bristol in March, 1966, when he was Prime Minister, said:If conditions are right we should go in, and those conditions require that we must be free to go on buying food and raw materials as we have for 100 years in the cheapest markets—in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries—and not have this wrecked by import levies which the Tories are keen to impose. What the Tories propose would mean an unacceptable increase in the cost of living and hence in wages and export costs. There would be an unacceptable increase in our imports bill, and a total disruption of our trade with Commonwealth countries".I hope, whatever views he now holds, that this condition as to a total disruption of our Commonwealth trade still holds good. There is no doubt that the Labour Party stands by this view, as will be seen whenever the terms of entry are disclosed. Hugh Gaitskell laid it down quite firmly in his speech at Brighton in 1962 that the Commonwealth interests were paramount; and there is deep consternation in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Caribbean.
The Minister of Agriculture announced in the House of Commons on October 27, 1970, that it is proposed to introduce higher import prices on cereals, and to impose levies on beef, mutton, lamb and milk products other than butter and cheese. These are to be introduced on April 1 this year, and we do lot yet know what has been the result of the consultations with the Commonwealth countries. For my part, I regard this as a regrettable move harmful to the primary producers both in Australia and n New Zealand. It will result in increased prices to the United Kingdom market, which will make the Commonwealth produce less competitive. In other words, the extra expense will be largely passed back to the primary producer. The aim 135 of the levy scheme is to transfer the cost of the farm subsidies from the Treasury to the housewife, who will pay more for her food—and, by heavens! prices are high enough now. It also paves the way for the adoption of the Common Market agricultural policy, which is an acknowledged failure and which the Government will support with funds from other people's pockets. The British housewife, on the other hand, is being "kidded" into paying more for her food and less, in theory, as a taxpayer. Experience does not lead to much hope in this direction. The fact that higher prices will reduce demand means a loss of earnings to the producers in the Commonwealth, higher costs of production and a huge addition to the present price spiral.
When the Minister in charge of these negotiations was reporting to Parliament on October 29 last year, he said that for the dairying interests of New Zealand and for sugar production of the developing countries of the Commonwealth it might not be found adequate to have simple transitional arrangements, and that it might be necessary to have continuing arrangements subject to review. It is significant that Australia was not mentioned in this context. When he was asked whether he would make it clear to the E.E.C. that we were deeply concerned that we should not be compelled to turn preferential trading with Australia into discrimination against her, the Minister replied that he had certainly made what the Community regarded as quite a severe demand upon it. This looks well in the Parliamentary Record, but when read in the context of other remarks by the Minister and his colleagues, with the public comments of the leaders of the Community, it appears to me to lack sincerity.
At the end of the debate in the other place on October 29 last year, Mr. Rippon, the Minister in charge, was reminded that over the years, in peace and in war, cheap food had been available to Britain particularly from New Zealand and Australia, and he was asked to give an assurance that nothing would be done that would hinder the free flow of imports from these countries. He gave a surprising reply. He said:Trading patterns and trading agreements change all the time. When the changes are 136 made, we must consider their impact on all concerned".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, 29/10/70, col. 454.]I have heard that this is now adopted as a guiding principle in Whitehall; and it has been said that when changes occur some people get hurt. I must say that the Minister has not yet voiced this piece of discomfort.
My Lords, let us be frank about the Commonwealth interests and the Common Market. People in Australia, Canada, the Caribbean and New Zealand are now very dubious about the Minister's claim that he is deeply concerned about Commonwealth interests and our traditional suppliers. He promised the New Zealand Ministers last September that he would fight for a continuing arrangement for the entry of New Zealand dairy produce and convince them that the question of their lamb would receive all the attention possible when the need arises. Yet on the same tour he is reported to have told a Press conference that no-one is going to get a permanent arrangement.
So far there has been no flexibility in the attitude of the E.E.C. Last November, President Pompidou is reported to have told the French Cabinet when discussing our application for membership that Britain would be expected to give full preference to French and other Common Market farm produce over food purchases from the Commonwealth in accordance with the principle of Community preference. This is an uncompromising stand by the French and in the face of this we ought to show equal firmness to them that we are not prepared to accept policies which will affect the interests of Britain's traditional supplies. Whenever one seeks in Parliament details of exchanges in these negotiations, one is generally met with the statement that the negotiations are confidential and that their content cannot be revealed. Yet from the other side of the water, every time a British proposition is made the nature of the Community reaction to it is "leaked" to the Press—even to the point where it is only a recommendation of the Commission submitted as a secret document for adoption by the E.E.C. Council of Ministers. The leaks are regular and expressed in identical terms in all the foreign papers of the Six. They 137 must be deliberate and are not any sort of journalistic speculation.
It was widely reported on November 5, 1970, in the Continental Press that the E.E.C. Commission sent a confidential report to the British Government in which it forecast that consumption of dairy produce in Britain and other countries was likely to drop as new members aligned themselves on the higher E.E.C. prices. This must clearly mean a meaner diet for us. The same increases in prices, it was said, were likely to stimulate production in the candidate countries; although this was impossible to forecast. The Commission offered no solution to the problem of New Zealand dairy exports. They merely stated that they would be considerably reduced unless special arrangements were made. The Commission's paper to our Government thus echoed the fact-finding document presented two months earlier by the British Government. How is it that we cannot be told much more? How is it that the British public have to be kept in the dark, when the information can be gleaned from the Press in the Community of the Six?
Yet another leakage has taken place. The news came from Brussels. It was that the British side had submitted concrete proposals on two subjects: New Zealand produce and sugar. This was on November 9, 1970. It was reported in the Continental Press that the British Government paper had said the enlarged Community should continue to import the same amount of New Zealand dairy produce as is sold on the British market, at least during the transitional period. The United Kingdom is said to have estimated such exports of butter and cheese to be equivalent to a milk production of about 5 million tons, which it proposed as a reference figure. To meet the New Zealand demand for a continuing arrangement, the British paper is alleged to have proposed a review of the situation twelve months before the end of the transitional period to ensure an extension of the suggested arrangement for the protection of New Zealand's vital trade interests.
On sugar, the British submission is said to have been that if the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement ends in 1974, the enlarged Community should import the 138 same quantities as are now imported by the United Kingdom from the developing countries, with provision for a periodic review. In the case of both sugar and New Zealand butter and cheese, special levies should be applied to ensure for these suppliers a return equivalent it to that which they now receive from their sales in Britain. The Pressmen in Brussels go further and say that the British piper contained specific proposals for the phasing out of Australia as a developing country from the protection suggested for the other signatories to the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. It must be remembered that there is a surplus of sugar beet in the Common Market. If this is true—although I hope that it is not; and in any case, we should be told—it will be the first time that a Commonwealth country's interest has been forfeited by us. We should be told whether this information "leaked" to the Press is true.
What of the feelings in Australia? I was a little surprised to hear the noble Earl the Leader of the House say to-day that there is not the hostility in the Commonwealth that there was a decade ago. Well, my Lords, August 16 of last year is not a decade ago. Mr. John McEwen, Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister, warned Australians and the British public in Sydney that the terms of British entry into the Common Market would most certainly rule out traditional trade links with the Commonwealth. This warning he gave after visiting Brussels to discuss Australian trade prospects. He went on to say:I got nothing to encourage me in Brussels. Our trade could be in jeopardy. If Britain joins on the terms operating at the present time in due course our dairy products and soft wheat would disappear.He also said that we should be violating the rules of GATT which state that no new barriers to trade should be erected.
On August 20—and again that was not a decade ago—he told the Australian Parliament that Britain's entry would mean the prospect of a retreat by many nations into trade blocs. He told his Parliament that after a fact-finding tour of Britain, the Continent, the United States of America and Canada he had not been encouraged by the Six to believe that Australia would receive favourable treatment from them. He went on to say that he did not find any 139 evidence in Britain that the British Government were prepared to stipulate conditions which would give protection to the interests of Commonwealth trading partners like Australia.
My Lords, this is pretty strong stuff from a very responsible Minister in Australia. It is all the more remarkable that this considered statement, made in the Australian Parliament, should have brought no denial or comment from the British Government that I have been able to discover. Those of us who are opposed to E.E.C. have always understood that the Government would safeguard Commonwealth interests; but in the light of the speech of the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia I ask: are we now head-on to abandoning the Commonwealth? How can it be said that there is less apprehension in the Commonwealth? To do this will create a wave of anti-British emotion through the Commonwealth, and it will do enormous and irreversible damage to British interests. It could even wreck the Commonwealth.
To me it seems that we are going to get the worst of both worlds. We shall be alienating our tried and trusted friends, and we shall gain no new ones. Further, New Zealand and Australia are very bitter about what they regard as a double threat. They say that not only is their market under attack from Britain, but also a large surplus build-up in Europe, resulting from the unrealistic high prices paid under the E.E.C. agricultural policy, is being disposed of in Hong Kong and other Asian countries. This is being done with a huge subsidy so as to preclude competition from the traditional suppliers to that region. So not only do New Zealand and Australia find their trade threatened by the United Kingdom, but they are also being prevented, because of dumping, from taking advantage of alternative markets in Asia. They regard this as adding insult to injury, and they are saying quite openly that it is utterly unreasonable that Britain should be a party to the killing of the most efficient dairy industries in the world. This position is felt so keenly that Mr. McEwen, when he spoke on August 20, foreshadowed a vigorous protest to the Council of GATT.
There is also much talk in the Commonwealth countries of retaliation by 140 raising tariffs against our goods and giving preference to other countries. I find this a dreadful development in respect of countries which have been so loyal to us. It must be remembered that they came unhesitatingly to our side during two world wars.
From the posture of both sides in the E.E.C. negotiations some idea may be formed of the way these negotiations will unfold. We have declared that we accept the Treaty of Rome and the agreements that flow from it; the Government have accepted the basic principles of the Common Agricultural Policy. France has underlined this basis by stating that she will welcome Britain's entry into the Common Market, provided that it is the Community as at present organised, without calling into question any of the rules that are enforced. The Community has offered half the benefits Britain sought for New Zealand butter and has practically rejected, for the long term, any relief for New Zealand butter and cheese. Regarding sugar, we are alleged by the Australians to have abandoned advocacy for Australian producers, thereby threatening not only the Australian industry but also, as a consequence, the whole balance on which the 1968 world Sugar Agreement depends.
Even for developing countries like those in the Caribbean, and Mauritius and other Commonwealth countries which are members of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, the E.E.C. offer is no more than a promise to consider their interests in 1974. It appears to me, my Lords, that the Government are prepared to pay an enormous price, in money and in Commonwealth good will, to secure an imagined influence in Europe which may be achieved only by economic servitude. I believe that what the Government are doing will result in the surrender of much of our sovereignty and democratic political independence. Inevitably it will estrange our friends in the Commonwealth and in many parts of the world. The attitude of most of the Commonwealth countries is that our application creates a disastrous prospect for their producers, many of whose industries were encouraged by Britain and developed for our markets. I should have thought that self-interest and honour would have obliged us to safeguard our Commonwealth trade and make it a sticking point in the negotiations with the Six.
141 My Lords, I want to trade with all the countries of the world without the rigidity of the Treaty of Rome. If half the zeal exhibited by both Governments in the last fifteen years had been used to develop the Commonwealth instead of the Common Market, it would have been much better. If I had to choose between the Common Market and our trade with the Commonwealth and the rest of the world, I would plump for the Commonwealth and the outside world. To me, the British Commonwealth is a unique association of peoples, independent and sovereign, who have helped one another to build up a common heritage and tradition in a manner which has been beneficial to us. It has provided a working example of how sovereign States can work together harmoniously. The Commonwealth has shown how the best traditions of the past may be joined with the best that lies in the future: how freedom may be balanced with law and order, and how free men may live together in peace and true community. In spite of all its faults the British Commonwealth is still the most successful example of true internationalism that the world has seen. Is all this to be brought to an end, and the independence of the British world system destroyed? This is the real issue arising from this hell-bent desire to be absorbed into Europe. British prestige in the world would be nothing like it is to-day were it not for the fact that we have had the Commonwealth behind us.
Time will tell, my Lords. The Commonwealth issue will demonstrate whether the British people have so lost faith in their own traditions and institutions that they are prepared to retreat from the stage of world history; or whether they are ready once more to fight for the great principle of self-government and freedom to control their own affairs and to sustain the Commonwealth—that is, if they are given the chance to choose. In the old Commonwealth, Britain's sons and daughters have built up the countries that adopted them, and I shall never be a party to casting them aside like old shoes. It is our duty to see that Africa and the Caribbean countries are not left to face the consequences of our disastrous decision to try to get into the E.E.C. We should sustain them as they geared their economy to meet our needs, and fight to 142 see that they are not left to face economic disaster.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, as one of those who has spent much of his life in various countries of the Commonwealth, I should like to take this opportunity of recording the pleas ire with which I listened to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Constantine, early this afternoon. It was a speech, if I may say so, of impressive knowledge, clarity and courtesy. We hope to hear him many times again. I should like to express my gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, for giving us this opportunity of discussing what I regard as the most important subject which has been discussed in this Chamber since I have been in it. The noble Lore may be surprised to hear that I agreed with every single word that he uttered in his speech, and I am grateful to him for having expressed with so much greater clarity what I should have tried to say myself had I his ability to do so.
In making my own small contribution to this debate, I would remind your Lordships that the Commonwealth Producers Organisation, to which the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood, referred, and of whose Council I have the honour to be a member, has published a small booklet dealing with great ability with the subject we are debating to-day. I want to quote only the first sentence of its first page. It runs:The assertion that Britain's entry into the European Economic Community would not seriously injure Commonwealth trade is not supported by the facts.Then, in conclusion, it says:To sum up, we believe that large communities of overseas producers face disaster if their material interests in the U.K. market are not safeguarded; that these interests are capable of being safeguarded without hurt to the E.E.C., but Britain will have to fight to obtain the substantial safeguards requited; that failure to secure these safeguards would add enormously to the cost of Britain's entry both in extensive imports and lost overseas markets; that Preference Area countries offer increasingly good prospects for the expansion of Britain's future exports.It would clearly be impossible to deal adequately with the issues so convincingly summarised in the 30 pages of this booklet, but I suggest that it would do us all good to study it with care. It is 143 expressed by people intimately in possession of knowledge of their subject.
It has seemed curious to me that the E.E.C. is not willing to have the United Kingdom with her Commonwealth links in good working order. One is entitled to suggest that possibly there are reasons which seem good to them but which would not appeal very much to us. Voluntary co-operation would surely benefit all parties: common self-interest—an economic cement, as it would be—would enhance Britain's membership of the E.E.C. Ours is not a Commonwealth of sentimentality but one of mutual trading advantage and common interests. We cannot hope to win new friends by abandoning old ones. Recent trends have been in this direction. There is a need for permanent arrangements. The idea of transitional phasing out of Commonwealth ties would be merely a camouflage of unscrupulous abandonment of our friends.
Our recent debate on the Common Market roamed widely over this and other fields, but to-day we are, I venture to think, quite appropriately confining ourselves to the interest of the people of the Commonwealth in what are called the Brussels negotiations. To my mind, it is precisely this interest which is our own interest, too, and must negative such a restriction over our time-honoured policy of world-wide commitments of trade and aid. The problem posed by the present situation is how best to continue the momentum of the post-war period towards free trade, and particularly how to break the stalemate in trade policy created by a Common Market that has decided to turn inwards on itself.
Those who advocate a policy of wait and see ignore the dynamics of commercial trade development. The natural pressures in all countries are towards increasing protectionism. Concessions to particular vested interests are always expedient and can always be defended as not infringing a general commitment to free trade principles. To stand still in principle, as has been well said, is to slide backwards in preference. Put it how you will, my Lords, the E.E.C. is at present an exclusive club with stringent rules of membership, rules which any member could interpret as it liked to exclude other countries that might be anxious to join. The E.E.C. seems to be 144 a device for increasing the bargaining power over countries anxious to join such an exclusive club.
With particular reference to agricultural products, the freedom of trade is important and of much concern to Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but a welter of protective devices in force over the world, and its political and social importance, makes progress difficult. Both the U.S.A. and the United Kingdom, despite occasional aberrations, are, on past records, committed both to the pursuit of freer trade as desirable for the world as a whole and to the promotion of the ecomonic development of the developing countries.
A club whose main purpose is to promote political integration of the exclusive membership by discriminating economic means is not in accordance with Britain's future interests or, for that matter, her past record. Participation by Britain in the E.E.C. is recognised, I think, as an expensive and risky venture economically—in terms both of direct economic costs (especially the cost of participation in the Common Agricultural Policy) and the disruption of established trading relationships throughout the Commonwealth. The argument that the political gains (whatever they are) would be worth the economic costs seems to the Commonwealth countries an unscrupulous argument, whose truth is questionable, anyway. How much better to turn to a special relationship with the United States of America and the old ties of the Commonwealth rather than go into this dubious position!
I should like to deal now with some of the Commonwealth interests and the E.E.C. We are told about the pooling of resources—money and brains. We can do all this without political union: for instance, our negotiations with France on the matter of Concorde. Better an American hegemony in Washington than a European ruling body in Brussels or Rome. The countries that constitute the Commonwealth have complementary economies to our own, whereas the countries of Europe have essentially competitive economies to our own.
Our Commonwealth partners are largely primary producers. They have the goods we need: we have the goods they need. The Commonwealth has the potential to grow during the next century in 145 the same way as America has grown during the past century. The Commonwealth lands are the lands of the future. We have a tremendous chance to share in that future, whereas in Europe we have no future. The policy of close knit Commonwealth threatens no one. Today's trend is towards joint decisions in monetary as well as commercial policy, and it may profoundly affect the balance of the world system of economic relations.
Common self-interest is very important and this has to be actively built up. Commonwealth of interests—to wit, mutual trading advantages—are its cement. The self-interest of Commonwealth members in continuing association is its essential foundation. Sentiment is a superstructure which could not survive, say, membership of E.E.C. on unsatisfactory terms. A combination of that will kill the former "Commonwealth loyalty", as it is called, the feeling of being among friends. Nothing would destroy that more quickly than going into the E.E.C. on such terms as have been suggested. This new regionalism of E.E.C. is contrary to Britain's part as a seafaring world trader. The idea of Britain as part of Europe is a false one and tends to pervert our policy. You have only to look at history from the Roman Empire right onwards to Napoleon and Hitler, to see that the bloodthirsty wars in those days were the result of the attempt to unify Europe by force. Perhaps the modern idea of unifying it by control of capital, and by economic pressures, would be equally unsatisfactory, although perhaps not quite so bloodthirsty.
The neglect of Commonwealth trade by Britain is sometimes described as "realism". It is necessary, we are told, to be realistic. Wanton abandonment of mutual advantage is not realistic. It can appear so only on definitions under which it is realistic to replace cheap goods by dear ones, to get into E.E.C. without securing our external balance and hope to win new friends by abandoning old ones. If adequate steps cannot be taken to make sense of the terms of entry to E.E.C. so, as to preserve British Commonwealth interests, then one has only to consider the results of unwise acceptance of terms excluding the Commonwealth interests. These are a few of 146 the results: the replacement of efficiently produced butter from New Zealand by high-cost butter from Normandy; of cheap Canadian soft wheat by bogus-priced wheat from France or Southern Germany; of low-cost grey cotton cloth from India by high-cost shoddy from Southern Italy. All this is surely undesirable misdirection of the resources of a few marginal, inefficient and subsidised producers scattered around Europe.
Preparedness to adopt in toto the Community's farm policy will involve a loss to the United Kingdom balance of payments of £300 million per year, in direct support of the least efficient farmers in Europe, and a big rise in British food prices over and above the cost of changing our system of agricultural protection from subsidy to tariff. Here, as in the acceptance of C.E.T. (the Common External Tariff) on cotton textiles, serious and lasting damage will be done at once to British consumer welfare, Commonwealth capacity utilisation and, ultimately, European productive efficiency.
The Commonwealth and Europe could be complementary trading blocs linked by Britain. We need wise and courageous leadership which would restore our confidence in our own future aid would refuse to regard the 25 per cent. of British trade and 65 per cent. of British capital in the Commonwealth as a millstone, not a dowry, in Britain's bid to enter the E.E.C. The special strength of the Commonwealth lies in the ability of its members to negotiate, disagree and even transfer aid as countries enjoying what is called parity of esteem. The Commonwealth Sugar Agreement shows how interests can be reconciled by friendly negotiation between interested parties.
In conclusion, my Lords, may I quote from a recent article on Commonwealth co-operation. It runs thus:Sir Roy Harrod has rightly pointed out that a Commonwealth Indicative Plan does not require complete commitment by all Commonwealth members but could begin to be constructed out of those members willing to join, and later enlarged. Probably the initiative must come from Britain, with her predominant trade, investment and currency interests. Can Britain wake up in time? Or will Britain persist in regarding her enormous Commonwealth assets as liabilities, in spurning her overseas allies, in destroying the trust promising link now extant between rich and poor nations, and in negotiating entry to Europe on 147 illiberal and restrictive terms that will paralyse and parochialise world trade for decades.My Lords, we are playing with destiny—the destiny of our nation—and the Commonwealth countries watch with anxious eyes decisions in which their own vital interests are deeply concerned.
§ 7.29 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, may I apologise for speaking when my name is not on the list? This was due to some failure in communications. As soon as the debate was announced, I indicated that I wished to speak, but I recognise that it was my failure to confirm that which led to this omission. I make no charge at all against the Whips' Department. I should not have wished to speak if the considerations which I desire to put forward had already been expressed in this debate.
I want first, in accordance with the traditions of this House, to pay some reference to the speech which has preceded mine: that of the noble Lord, Lord Milverton. I have been a little surprised in that I think this is the first occasion on which I have agreed with a great deal of what the noble Lord has said, particularly in relation to the Commonwealth, but he may also be a little surprised when I indicate my reasons for that support. I would express my deep appreciation to my noble friend Lord Greenwood of Rossendale for raising this debate. The subject is of tremendous importance, and he introduced it in a speech which made us all welcome the fact that he is now a Member of this House.
I do not know how to express my feelings about the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Constantine. I forget for how many years we have been comrades in the struggle against racial discrimination in this country. I remember how he was among the first to challenge one of the great hotels in London when it refused hospitality to him because he was not of white colour. That challenge did a great deal to inspire me in the Bills which I introduced against racial discrimination. It is a wonderful joy to find him now in this House, welcomed as the only non-white among us and having the appreciation which Members of the House have shown to him to-day.
148 I should not wish to speak if I were not going to approach this subject from a rather different point of view from that which has been reflected in preceding speeches. It was a little indicated in the well-informed speech (if I may say so) of my noble friend Lady White. We have not been quite honest in our approach to this subject. The general trend of our debate has been: "Yes, we are all in favour of going into Europe, but of course we want to maintain the Commonwealth." I will not say that we are deliberately dishonest, but we are misunderstanding the tendencies of our time. There is a different attitude on the part of many members of the Party opposite.
I am old enough to remember when they regarded the Empire and Imperialism as the great glories of British policy. The Empire has now changed to the Commonwealth of Nations. Am I straining things too far when I say that among those who admired the Empire there is not now the same enthusiasm for the Commonwealth? This has been partly due to the dissolution of the old mystique. It has been partly due to our disappointment with the administration of Commonwealth countries as they have obtained independence. It has been partly due to resentment in this country of the challenge which those newly independent countries have made to our policies.
And we must recognise, on the other side, that there has been the same tendency on the part of the newly independent countries in the Commonwealth, particularly as a result of their recent disillusion with the policy of Her Majesty's Government in their intention to supply arms to South Africa. We are being a little unrealistic if we do not now recognise that, both in large elements in our country and in Commonwealth countries, the enthusiasm is less than it was. I begin by deploring this. I regard the Commonwealth, with its membership of all races and all religions, as one of the most hopeful institutions in our present political life. While what happened at Singapore was deplorable, the Conference endorsed a Declaration of Principles which has some comparison with the Declaration of the United Nations; and if the Commonwealth can 149 remain true to that Declaration its future contribution to the world is undoubted.
I want to introduce three almost unexpressed points in this debate. First, there is a great danger that the European Community, representing the largely industrialised nations of Western Europe, may be regarded as a consortium of industrialist Powers in relation to the developing nations of the world. Colonialism left these developing territories with unbalanced economies, producing food for us, producing raw materials for us; but with little industrial development. Except for the mines to be exploited, there was little such development in these territories until they obtained independence, because we regarded them as reserves to supply us with cheap food and cheap raw materials. There is now the danger that the European Community may become a consortium of industrial Powers seeking their own interests, in contrast to the interests of the developing nations.
Let me put it this way and illustrate the point from the situation in our own country. We need a balance of payments. Balance of payments means that we must pay less for imports. Paying less for imports means that we must pay less for the products we receive. It means that we must pay less for the cotton, the wool, the tea, the sugar, the cocoa, the coffee which come from the developing nations. In the past, the relationship between the developing nations and the industrialised nations has been settled in commodity agreements in which the industrialised nations have had the whip hand. I suggest that one of the immediate necessities is an international convention which would lay down that in the relationship between the industrialised nations and the developing nations there should be a provision insisting that these agreements should not be at the cost of the living standards of the people in the developing countries. The convention should also lay down that there should be a progressive advance in their standard of life.
During this debate moving pleas have been made for the ending of the poverty of these countries. The most effective method by which to end this poverty would be to enter into agreements with them by which their produce—still largely foodstuffs and raw materials—would be sold at prices that would enable their 150 peoples to live at a decent standard of human life and give some opportunity for progress in the future.
§ LORD GLADWYN
I am following the noble Lord's argument with the greatest interest, and I must say that I agree very much with his suggestion in regard to a convention. But would be not agree that it would be far easier to arrive at such a convention if we had a common policy among the extended Community than if we tried to do it among thin separate nations?
§ LORD BROCKWAY
Certainly, my Lords, it would be much easier within the European Community than it would be by independent action by or e Government. It would also be much easier if the problem were approached on an international scale rather than on a European scale. And my suggestion (which I have made elsewhere) is that a convention of this character should not merely be European but should be under the auspices of the United Nations and should be a parallel to the conventions which the I.L.O. initiates regarding labour conditions. That is the first point I want to make, and I want to make it very strongly.
My second point is this—if my own Front Bench will listen to me. Most of the Commonwealth countries now declare for an unaligned policy in international affairs. They do not want to become committed to a Community of the West which would exclude the East. They want to be genuinely unaligned. I never realised the depth of this feeling so much as when European Socialists, led by French Socialists, called a Conference at Puteaux in 1948 of representatives of African and Asian Liberation movements and proposed to them something very like the present European Community; proposed to them a common plan for Western Europe and Africa and Asia. There were very many representatives from Africa and Asia, and their response was to the effect that they did not want to become identified with West Europe if it would exclude their association with East Europe. They said, "We are unaligned. We do not want to become 151 identified with either of the great power blocs in the world". My Lords, we have to look at the problem of the Commonwealth nations with the European Community, recognising that very deep emotion in their attiude.
My Lords, I recognise that precedents have been set in this regard which are hopeful. The ex-British Colonies in East Africa have become associated nations with the E.E.C., and Tanzania and, until recently, Uganda, have at the same time retained their association with the East. I only say in warning that if there is to be an association of the unaligned countries of Africa and Asia with Western Europe, that association must allow for their coming to agreements and arrangements with the East, and must not be exclusive in its definition of its relations with the West.
The last point I want to make is one that may become increasingly serious for those on the opposite Benches. The new nations of Asia and Africa are increasingly becoming Socialistic in their economic basis. Within our own Commonwealth it is happening in Zambia, Tanzania, in Uganda (that may be disturbed by recent events) and in India, because every one of us knows that Mrs. Indira Gandhi will win the elections that are now taking place. Those countries are becoming Socialist countries. As they do so they will come into conflict with capitalist interests in Western Europe, because they are largely the interests which under Imperialism gained control of their economies. Already in country after country in the British Commonwealth, Governments are taking over 51 per cent. of the ownership of industries. Therefore, when we are considering the relationship of Commonwealth countries to the European Community we have to stress tremendously that it must be liberal, that it must accept co-existence with socialist countries, and that it must not allow conflict between vested capitalist interests in Europe and the people of those countries to interfere with the terms of its association. The issues which I have raised are long-term issues which are of fundamental importance, and I believe that the relationship of Commonwealth countries to the European Community will largely depend on the way in which we reach a solution of them.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, there are a number of congratulatory remarks I should like to make in winding up from this side, but as with all other speakers, my warmest congratulations go to the noble Lord, Lord Constantine. So much has been said about him that I shall not add to it, beyond, first of all, expressing his apologies because he has not been well and has had to go, and at the same time saying that we were all deeply moved, particularly by his reference to the people of the West Indies as "black Englishmen". That really struck a chord in your Lordships' House. The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, referred to the New Zealand Division and those who lost their lives fighting with us in the last war: we need to remember, too, the Fijians who are buried in Samoa and Malaysia, the Indians in the Western Desert, the Africans in many theatres, and of course the West Indians, the "black Englishmen", who served in the R.A.F. and in many theatres. It is against that background, that a feeling of considerable emotion still exists. I rather agree with my noble friend, Lord Brockway, that there is a slight change of emphasis on the other side as regards the Commonwealth as opposed to the Empire, and I shall have a word to say to the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire.
My opening notes read that the purpose of the debate was not to discuss the general principle whether we should seek to negotiate our way into the Common Market, although it has gone a little further back into that argument than I had expected. There have been some very able speakers, and nobody is better qualified than my noble friend Lord Greenwood, with his present interests in Commonwealth development as well as his long experience as a Colonial Secretary and his deep feelings in the matter. We have had a wide range of speeches. My noble friend, Lady White, again with a deep knowledge of the Commonwealth, stated in a most dispassionate way the sort of factors that would influence her in judging whether or not in due course we should enter the Common Market. We had a very interesting speech from the noble Lord, Lord Energlyn, on geopolitics, which has for me rather a nasty ring, remembering the Germans before the 153 war. He is a very distinguished geologist and perhaps geology leads one to geopolitics. It was an interesting speech, and perhaps on another occasion I shall be able to debate it further. The noble Lord, Lord Blyton, made a forthright and, if I may say so, however much I disagreed with some of his conclusions, exceedingly well-argued, I might almost say well-researched, speech; he had really done his homework.
But the purpose is not just to pay tributes but to deal with some of the issues. As noble Lords who have heard me speak will know, I am one of those who believe that Britain inside the Common Market will be stronger and more valuable to our friends in the Commonwealth than a weaker Britain outside. Even leaving aside the purely practical arguments, if—and I acknowledge that there are many "ifs" about going in and many "ifs" about not going in—our wealth creating capacity grows greater, we shall be able to make a greater contribution to raising living standards throughout the world, as in fact the Common Market countries are now doing. This is a point I would emphasise to my noble friend Lord Brockway, because if there is one thing that strikes me—I may be misguided and misled in this—it is the extent to which the Common Market have been deeply concerned about their responsibilities for developing countries and their liberal approach. I see no incompatibility between nonalignment and association with the Common Market. If my noble friend Lord Brockway is right, it would be a very serious matter. It may be that the noble Marquess when he winds up will say a word about it. I believe that great efforts are being made by the E.E.C. to contribute towards raising living standards and playing a responsible role in the world.
I think we all agree that there are points that we particularly want our negotiators to bear in mind. We are all also agreed that the price could be too heavy, and it is not good enough just to say to our friends and cousins in the Commonwealth, "I'm all right, Jack." There is no doubt that serious anxieties do exist, though I believe that they have been overstated, particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton. I, like the noble Lord, Lord Garner, was one of the seven 154 Peers who contrived to find themselves in Sydney during the final Test Match. I think that, on the whole, we did rather a good job there. Having recently been in Australia and had many talks with Australians, political and academic and businessmen, I believe there is no doubt—and they take a very proper and a generous attitude in this matter—that it is for us to take our decision. And the bulk of them, the bulk of Australian businessmen, I believe, are not particularly worried. But this does not mean—and this could be argued—that there are not certain areas where there is very grave anxiety indeed.
I should like to say a word about Australia, because there is a tendency to brush it aside; a tendency to say that her exports to this country, originally much higher, are now only 12 per cent. of the total; that the figure is declining and therefore we do not need to worry. Australia is a marvellous country. I have never been there before. It is a country with enormous potential. Anyone who has seen the iron ore mines, this high quality haematite ore, cannot fail to be impressed, and there is little doubt that whatever happens it will continue to be an important area for British investment. On the other hand, although great efforts have been made to find other markets—and both Australia and New Zealand have been active in this direction—certain parts of Australia are still heavily dependent on the British market. The same is true of New Zealand. We have, I think, fairly espoused the ca use of New Zealand in the negotiations. But it is worth remembering that much of the wealth of that beautiful State to of Tasmania is dependent on canned fruit. Of course the most serious problem, the theme of which has run through this whole debate, concerns sugar. Queensland sugar is something that we ought not to forget. I shall say a word in a moment about the problems of the West Indies and other former colonial territories.
It is a fact that if we enter the Common Market we shall be providing further opportunities for the expansion of beet sugar development in Europe and whatever happens it is likely that they will benefit. But it will not be good enough to say, "We will shut Australia out". The world sugar market is a delicate affair. While very little has so far gone to Japan, and it is estimated that Japan 155 could take large quantities of sugar, we cannot just brush aside Australia's 300,000 to 400,000 tons provided for under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. If we do, it could be most disturbing to whatever international sugar arrangements there are, and it could therefore be damaging to the welfare of those countries which everybody who has spoken in the debate has been concerned to protect; namely, the West Indies, Fiji and Mauritius. I do not know whether any special association status could be provided in regard to this matter, but I would ask the Government to bear in mind that they cannot just ignore Australian sugar and say, "Well, Australia is all right", because it may be damaging to the rest, and of course it could be very damaging to the life of Queensland.
This leads me on to two other points. Obviously, it is accepted that there is a need to provide for our traditional sugar producers in the former colonial territories. But there is a particular qualification which has been made by a number of noble Lords, particularly by my noble friend Lord Greenwood. It is a point which in another context the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, has made. This is not only a question of providing cash for living, but of providing a life to live.
Some noble Lords will remember our recent debate on world population. Some of them have had communications from the International Labour Office drawing attention to the major studies they are engaged in in seeking to provide employment throughout the undeveloped countries. It is not only a question of providing cash incomes for the people, but one of providing them with jobs. Whatever price may be paid, cutting down on the production of a Fijian or a West Indian farm, and the reduction in employment opportunities, could have the most damaging social consequences. These are some of the issues that confront countries throughout the world, anyway, but particularly the developing countries.
Large-scale capital investment, a point I make to my noble friend Lord Energlyn, is by its nature not labour intensive. These tremendous, wonderful and most impressive mines in Australia provide employment and community life around them. But they do not provide employment for a whole population. There is at this stage 156 in our development no substitute for steady rural employment and development, unless people are to be driven into the cities. Therefore, we must never think in crude economic or financial percentages.
My noble friend Lord Greenwood, and the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, on another occasion, spoke a great deal about the problem of bananas. We asked a Question about the outcome of the talks between the Government of Jamaica and the Windward Islands. St. Vincent, St. Lucia and Dominica are heavily dependent on the British market. The arrangement with Geest's has done much to develop their economies and to relieve this country of budgetary assistance, while Jamaica relies on her arrangements with Fyffes. But again, many bananas are grown by smallholders, and if the right decisions are not taken the effect on the economy and the political stability of the area could be disastrous. As with sugar, the growers need long-term arrangements if they are to improve their qualities and to modernise their gathering, packaging, carriage and shipment of their products. Unlike sugar, which can be shipped in dry cargo ships, they need special ships and ripening houses in the United Kingdom. I do not know whether the Minister will be able to say something on this subject; I hope that he will. I have put these particular points which I believe to be crucial, and which I think all your Lordships are concerned about.
The noble Lord, Lord Auckland, and others referred to New Zealand. It is worth noting the changes that have taken place there. Britain used to take 82 per cent. of New Zealand mutton. Now they take only 20 per cent., with the lion's share going to Japan. If anybody can challenge my figures they are welcome to do so. I expect the Minister has these figures. I understand that 75 per cent. of New Zealand beef now goes to the United States. But we are still a vital market for New Zealand; and noble Lords have pointed out (and I will not repeat it) the moral obligations that we have to that country.
I should like to touch on one point which has not been referred to a great deal in to-day's debate. One of the most interesting developments about the Common Market, and one to which we have devoted little attention, concerns the 157 development of the democratic institutions, and in particular the Parliamentary institutions. The semi-Parliamentary institutions between the Common Market and the Associated States arising out of the Yaoundé Agreement seem to be completely unknown to opponents of entry into the Common Market. These are now being extended, partly on a consultative basis; and there is, as I understand, opportunity between African States and the Common Market countries for Parliamentarians, and not just Ministers, to discuss the welfare of their countries, and not to be wholly concerned with economic questions.
I take it that if we enter the Common Market we shall be involved in this. If we do not enter the Common Market, undoubtedly the majority of the former British African countries will be involved in it. But they will be discussing this matter with the European Parliamentarians and not British Parliamentarians. This is a point that is worth remembering. I have some details, but I will not take up the time of your Lordships, of some of the issues that have been discussed by these semi-Parliamentary institutions. It may well be that the noble Marquess will be able to give us a little more information in regard to them.
Time is pressing and I do not propose to keep your Lordships much longer. Let me make just two points. First, I should like to say to the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, who I know is a devoted supporter of the Commonwealth, that I was not very happy about his speech. I was not very happy about the concept of the diminishing interest. Obviously he was not happy about his own speech—he said so—or about what he felt he had to say. I am not happy about the division in the Commonwealth between those countries with British connections and those without any. This horrible business of the "patrial", too, is going to divide Commonwealth countries. This is not the time to discuss it, but I believe that many of the new citizens in Australia are deeply interested in their relationship with this country. I hope, and believe, that it will be our duty not to weaken but to seek to foster our relations with countries with which we have a very natural understanding, not just because we all were originally British, but because of the way their institutions have developed. 158 They even drive on the left hand side of the road—and how badly I think they drive in Australia! But that is another point. I suppose I cannot withdraw that remark now.
The noble Duke made a powerful argument that if we did not do something about some of the Commonwealth countries, they were in danger of turning into "Cubas". This is the sort of argument that I find the least attractive of all. I admit that the noble Duke said that this is an occasion where self-interest and moral duty combine. I have no doubt that in these matters it is the moral duty that must predominate.
This brings me to my final point. I would argue with noble Lords—and I would put this to them as a proposition—that they ought not to assume that the development of the Common Market, Britain's entry into the Common Market, is automatically bad for Commonwealth countries. There is a good deal of evidence to the contrary, notwithstanding the problems of sugar. The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, made some interesting points with regard to the way the Common Market, or all countries, should deal with these developing countries. But, of course, this is precisely what is beginning to happen. The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, referred to the UNCTAD Agreement which, in fact, is greatly advantageous to the developing countries and goes a long way towards doing exactly what the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, wants done. This has to some extent, indeed, overtaken the favourable arrangements which have been made by the Common Market—and made with former British Colonies, regardless of us. There is no doubt that, so far as Africa is concerned, there are all the signs that they will benefit from the Common Market, whether we go in or not.
I hope noble Lords will bear in mind that there is another case to be put on this. We have pointed out in the course of this debate some of the considerable anxieties which, if the negotiations do not go well, will present the Government and the British Parliament possibly with a very difficult problem. I am sure that we are right to face these issues. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, I do not believe it is possible at the moment to get answers from the Government, but I am sure that the Government 159 will have taken note that at some stage or another Parliament will want answers to some of these questions. Therefore, my Lords, the message of this debate is to encourage the Government to pay careful heed to issues on which many people feel very deeply indeed.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE, FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE (THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN)
My Lords, may I first of all add my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, for initiating this debate. I think we are all agreed that it has been useful and extremely interesting, and, from the point of view of the Government, we have received some most interesting and useful suggestions. May I also add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Constantine, who unfortunately has "retired hurt", as I think he would describe it, and has had to go home. I would agree with what everybody has said, that his was a most moving and inspiring speech, and I hope that he will come back before long and take a full part in your Lordships' House.
I shall try, during the course of my speech, to answer some of the specific points that have been raised, so far as I can without unduly trespassing upon your Lordships' time. If, for some reason, I omit anything, I hope I shall be forgiven, but I will, as usual, undertake to write to any noble Lord I have not answered properly. I think your Lordships, as a result of this five hours' debate, have made the House fully aware of the sort of problems that Britain's entry into the European Community, if it happens, will pose for some of our friends in the Commonwealth. I hope that my noble friend Lord Jellicoe made it absolutely clear to all in the House that Her Majesty's Government share the very real concern which has been expressed in many quarters. I want to re-emphasise his statement that the Government are taking active and positive steps to ensure that the essential interests of the Commonwealth are protected in our negotiations with the Six.
I think there has been a general feeling echoed in the House to-day, although 160 we have had exceptions to it, and it is a feeling which successive British Governments have held; and that is, the conviction that this country's future really lies with Europe. At the same time, it is clear that this conviction has been tempered with the desire to ensure that, in pursuing our own interests, the interests of the Commonwealth should not, and must not, be lost to view. Nobody must run away with the idea that Britain is negotiating to go into the European Community only with her own advantage in mind. We are convinced that an enlarged Community can have only one result, and that is a politically stronger and economically more dynamic Europe which, in its turn, means a richer and more fruitful market for the trading countries of the world.
The Commonwealth has proved itself in the past to be a powerful force for international trade, as noble Lords have pointed out to-day. In our view, the healthy challenge which is presented by the enlargement of the Community can only, in the long term, benefit our Commonwealth trading partners. The European Community is, in my view, an outward looking group. It is obviously as much in the interests of Britain herself as in those of the Commonwealth to see an expansion of world trade, and we expect the enlarged Community to generate just such a growth in trade, just as the present Six have achieved general growth. It would, of course, be ostrich-like to say that Britain's entry into the E.E.C. will have no effect on the existing trading relationships within the Commonwealth. Of course there will be problems, and we have given them a very good and long hearing in the House this afternoon. We do not pretend that we have found the answer to all of these problems, but what we do say is that we are tackling them and that we have given a great deal of thought to them in what is, I hope, a sensible and realistic way.
May I take up a few points that were raised this afternoon? The noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, and the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, mentioned Queensland sugar. I entirely take the point about Australian sugar, but at the moment we are not seeking arrangements for Queensland sugar similar to those for which we are hoping for the developing 161 countries, because one can hardly regard Australia in the same category as a developing country. But we have well in mind the interests of Australia in this matter, and if there is any question of a phasing out we hope that it will be done very gradually during the transitional period. The noble Lord, Lord Greenwood, asked about the freedom of movement. We are clarifying with the Community the categories of national who will benefit from the provisions of Community legislation on the free movement of labour. As the noble Lord knows, the provisions governing the free movement of labour in the Community are based primarily on nationality rather than on residence. But, as I said, we are looking into this point and are trying to get clarification.
The noble Baroness, Lady White, asked me one or two questions in a most interesting speech. She asked about the position of Singapore and Malaysia, and I can tell her that those two countries are included in the agreement which has been reached with the Six about the Asian Commonwealth, about which my noble friend Lord Jellicoe spoke earlier but just did not mention them. As the noble Baroness is aware, the Six have agreed to consider any trade problems which may arise for those countries, with a view to extending their relationship with them. The noble Baroness also asked me about bilateral aid. I think I can tell her that our expectation is that our bilateral aid will continue if we join the Community. Noble Lords will be aware that the existing members of the Community give aid, both bilaterally and multilaterally, through the European Development Fund, and we should expect to follow the same pattern. I think I can also say that we should expect that, as at present, most of our bilateral aid would go to Commonwealth countries.
The noble Lord, Lord Royle, who very kindly told me that he could not be here for the end of the debate, touched on the problems of sugar, as did many other speakers. Noble Lords know that we have made proposals about sugar to the Community. As my noble friend Lord Jellicoe pointed out, we have not yet had any reply from the Community. But I want to assure the House, on behalf of the Government, that I absolutely accept and understand, and indeed share, 162 the feelings that have beer expressed, that this matter is one of vital importance to the sugar-growing countries of the Commonwealth not only from a cash point of view, but also from the far wider point of view of social problems, employment et cetera. As the noble Lord knows, my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy was in the Caribbean area very recently, and he is very much seized of this problem. In fact, I might remind your Lordships of what he said in his Statement a few days ago, which was repeated in this House, because it shows that the Government are taking this problem very seriously.
He said:So far as the Commonwealth Caribbean Governments and sugar producers are concerned, the principal problem is to be able to plan production ahead with a similar degree of assurance to that which they now enjoy under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. For this they require what the Jamaican Minister of Trade and Industry described to me"—that is, to Mr. Rippon—as 'bankable' assurances; in other words, assurances which would persuade bank managers to provide the credits necessary for the roll-on of sugar production."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22/2/71; col. 842.]That Statement has been communicated to members of the Community, and I think they can be in no doubt whatsoever as to our feelings on this point. The situation regarding bananas is not quite the same, because the Community have no banana policy at the present time. In the talks which I had the other day with the Jamaican and Windward producers, they expressed their worries about what might happen if we joined the E.E.C. But naturally our talks were primarily concerned with rather more short-term problems than any questions regarding the Economic Community.
I understand that my noble friend Lord Auckland, whose speech I was sorry I had to miss, asked me a question concerning a quotation from the Financial Times of this morning regarding New Zealand's interests. We have made proposals to the Community which we believe to be the most likely to produce a satisfactory solution. They involve a form of continuing arrangement for New Zealand's dairy produce, subject to a review. We have reason to believe that the New Zealand Government find these 163 proposals satisfactory, but we have not yet received any reply from the Community. The purpose of what was said yesterday in Brussels was to remind the Community of the importance that we attach to a satisfactory solution of what I may term New Zealand's difficulties. I hope that that will answer my noble friend's question. I do not wish to take up too much of the time of the House. I hope that I have satisfied your Lordships—
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
I know that the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, has asked me three questions, and I am going to say something about them. But before I do so, I should like to endorse everything which the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said, and which I found extremely interesting, regarding Parliamentary institutions. I entirely agree with him on this. It is very important, and it is something that we should think about very seriously, because if we join the Community we shall obviously look forward to playing our full part in the European Parliament. I am glad that the noble Lord mentioned this fact, because it is something which perhaps the country does not always realise, though to my mind it is of equal importance to any of the economic considerations.
The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, asked me three specific questions, and the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, indicated to him that he did not think he could expect an answer at this stage. Lord Balfour asked me two questions which I think are worth referring to. I think it was in his second question that he asked for an assurance that the proposals which we have made to the Community regarding New Zealand and Commonwealth sugar have been in a form which will protect Commonwealth interests. I should like to assure him that this has been, and is, entirely our intention. The only proposals which we have framed have been designed to do this.
The noble Lord also talked about the open-ended questions which were being raised, and asked whether, if the assurances that we were getting appeared not 164 to be satisfactory, we should, to put it bluntly, call the whole thing off. I can only repeat the position of the Government in this respect—and it has always been our position. We said that we would attempt to negotiate our entry into the European Community, and this is what we are trying to do. We also said that only if the terms appeared to be satisfactory to us—and this includes the Commonwealth—would we put the matter before Parliament. That remains the situation to-day. If we believe that we can get terms which are satisfactory then, as the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has said, these will be put before Parliament. I hope that to some extent that satisfies the noble Lord, Lord Balfour—though probably it does not.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
Well, I hope it will ease the noble Lord's mind for the night.
My Lords, it is a little difficult, I think noble Lords will agree, in a debate of this nature, when negotiations are actually taking place at this moment, to say very much, because so much is being discussed at the moment and remains to be settled. Many hopes and intentions have yet to be translated into facts and agreements. I have tried to give the House as many facts as I have been able to give. Noble Lords will know that a good deal of agreement has already been reached and achieved, and I hope that this is a good portent for the future. At the same time, we must not underestimate the difficulties facing our negotiators; nor should I like it underestimated how seriously we take this matter, or how strong is our determination to overcome these difficulties—because we sincerely believe that it is in the very best interests of the Community, the Commonwealth and ourselves that we should enter. These are not incompatible interests, my Lords. I believe they are essential to the greater Europe in which Britain should, in my view, play her full part.
I hope noble Lords will not think that Britain's entry into the Community means that she is turning her back on the Commonwealth. Quite the reverse. Regardless of our entry, the ancient links of the Commonwealth (we have heard a great deal about them to-day, and I 165 entirely endorse all that has been said) which bind our members together will remain; and I am sure it is the profound wish of all of us that these links should continue and grow stronger. Of course there will be changes, but we feel that these changes are likely to be for the good. The relationship between the enlarged Community of ten countries and the developing countries, including the developing countries of the Commonwealth, will be an important and, we believe, a meaningful relationship. The existing relationship, as has already been said, between the Six and the associated States has worked to the benefit of them both. We confidently believe that the relations between the enlarged Community and a wider grouping of developing countries, including the Commonwealth, will equally be to their benefit.
§ 8.34 p.m.
§ LORD GREENWOOD OF ROSSENDALE
My Lords, this Motion has attracted so much support from your Lordships that the debate has lasted longer than one might reasonably have expected, and a number of noble Lords have asked me to convey to your Lordships their apologies for not having waited to the end of the debate. I am sure that, like myself, your Lordships will accept those apologies in the spirit in which they have been tendered to us. This has been, I think, a memorable debate, with a number of most valuable and important speeches. I am not quite sure whether the debate has taken us very much further. I asked the noble Earl to tear aside the veil of obscurity, and he referred two or three times in his speech to dropping fig leaves. But even when the dance of the seven fig leaves was completed what was really important still remained discreetly obscured and not open to public view.
But I hope the message has gone home. I hope that people outside the House, in all parts of the Commonwealth, will realise that they have friends on both sides of your Lordships' House; and I hope that the Government will have heeded the warning given by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, so eloquently in the course of what I thought was a most moving spech. It should, I think, be compulsive reading for all Her Majesty's Ministers; because all of 166 us want to be sure that we do not go into the Common Market unless the terms are right, and the Government must not think that they can just slip in without the rest of us noticing. So to-night we are putting the Government on probation. If they appear to be slipping, we shall bring them back to court; but in the meantime I ask leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.